Month: December 2010

Subject To Good Behavior

Well, I’m back in the saddle again. I gained 4 pounds over the Holiday(s), and part of it was not going to the gym as often as One Should. So this week has been a week of going to the gym and eating Lean Cuisine for dinner, which is just about as enchanting as it sounds. Don’t get me wrong, a good point of spin class is that Instructor Deb (the former cheerleader) has some excellent tunes. A good point of weights class is they vary the routine so often you’re pretty much ready to switch up when they are.

Is it bad that I spent my entire hour of weightlifting class fantasizing (as my muscles burned and twitched and shook uncontrollably, especially toward the end) about what I would *eat for dinner*? Knowing that it would be a Lean Cuisine? I think so.

Something that I’ve learned: Lean Cuisines will warn you in very STERN TERMS that they should be cooked properly. The shrimp pasta one will insist you cook it until the shrimp reach 165 degrees. Tell me: do YOU stick a thermometer into your shrimp pasta when you cook it? I do not. I cooked it until those suckers were pinky orange. If I’m dead due to undercooked shrimp tomorrow, now you know why.

Something else that I’ve learned: the guy in the weightlifting class who has the most to prove will wimp out fastest. This is an hour of loading up a bar, lifting it above your head, doing deadlifts, doing lunges with it behind your neck, doing crunches with it above your head, etc. This is not a lightweight (no pun intended) class. So YOU, Mr. loaded your bar up to prove something, you really oughtn’t’ve, and when you give up on your overhead lifts (shoulders and biceps, yo!) instead of just downweighting, it’s very sad. For you. Also, don’t wear those shorts anymore. They’re too loose and when you lift your legs for bicycle crunches I know WAY too much about you.

More sad is that I’ve spent the night (not including a conference call) watching Food TV. That’s right: I worked out to the point of shaking, I ate my 300-calorie Lean Cuisine, and now I’m watching Guy Fieri stuff his face at multiple restaurants. Tonight’s theme is apparently Italian, and if you think that some parts of my brain are screaming at other parts of my brain in what we ought to do about that, you’re right.

I could spit, but it would just burn calories.

Holiday

I am, perhaps regrettably to others, without the ability to take some things on faith. That is to say, I have faith in science. I have faith in the abilities of my brain. I have faith in the abilities of my son’s brain. I have faith that the sun will rise (and I equally have faith that I will not see it, for I live in Washington and here there is a permanent cloud layer from October to April).  “Faith” is defined in Merriam-Webster several ways, including: 1. allegiance or fidelity to a person or duty, 2. belief in God or religious doctrines/a firm belief in something in which there is no proof, and 3. something believed with an especially strong conviction.

So this post, then, is about that #2: firm belief in something in which there is no proof/belief in God/religious doctrines. Like most “simple” words (note: there are more definitions for small, “simple” words like “set” than there are for long, obnoxious ones like “onomatopoeia”. Check it out for yourself) this requires checking into what “proof” means, and that is defined in the MW as “the cogency of evidence that compels acceptance by the mind of a truth or a fact b : the process or an instance of establishing the validity of a statement especially by derivation from other statements in accordance with principles of reasoning”. Well that certainly clears things up.

What I am writing here is that I am devoid of the ability to believe in something that does not have a solid foundation of evidence or has not gone through a process to establish its validity. I believe the sun will rise tomorrow because it’s been doing it on this planet for some 5 billion years and I believe the science and the methods used to determine that. This does not mean that if Aliens blow up the Sun tonight I will have been wrong — that’s what’s called introducing new data and would require a new scientific review. Unfortunately, a small side effect of Aliens blowing up the Sun is we’d all kinda be dead.

I digress (always).

What I’m getting to is Why Then Does Bobbie Celebrate Christmas? (Bobbie, it should be noted, celebrates the following holidays in some form or fashion: New Years’, Mardi Gras, St. Patrick’s Day, 4th of July, Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas. Bobbie will gladly participate in your celebration of Hanukkah, Solstice, etc. Bobbie thankfully takes the day off presented at Presidents Day, Memorial Day, and Labor Day, and really and truly does reserve a moment of those days to thank those nameless (and named) who have served and sacrificed.  Bobbie does not acknowledge the existence of Valentines Day).

So if I have no faith, why celebrate a holiday *built on faith*. The very idea of it is a prophecy culminated in the birth  of a child to newlywed yet somehow chaste parents, and that child grew to be Jesus Christ, and he was nailed to a cross for living in what amounted to a non-free-speech state, and he purportedly rose 3 days later and thereby proved his status as the son of God (and also God and also the Holy Ghost). Schizophrenia jokes aside, this is not what I celebrate when I celebrate Christmas. I could start by pointing out the new spring lambs referenced in the Bible probably had no business being around December 25th at the time of birth and it’s far more likely he was born in Spring, but that would have messed up with that whole Catholic-Church-Taking-Other-Peoples-Holidays-For-Easier-Assimilation thing. I could also point out that the Romans kept meticulous tax records (our IRS has nothing on them from what I understand) and yet there is no Jesus or Yeshua etc. in the areas he was supposed to be at that time. Perhaps he was also got for tax evasion? At any rate, no I do not celebrate that Christmas. You are absolutely, totally, and completely welcome to. I personally like the way Churches get all dolled up for the occasion and actually liked going when I did.

I celebrate the one with Santa Claus. And Reindeer. And getting a large tree (fake or real, your choice) got up in the gaudiness apropos to a 1970’s disco dancer. I celebrate the making *and burning, occasionally* of cookies, of lax gym use, of exchanged fruitcakes and dubious stocking stuffers. I celebrate the silliness of a jogger in her Santa hat and sleigh bells on her shoes (hi, Christine!), of family photos posted in seriously cute sweaters, of Norskie brunches (hi, Mindi!) and a plethora of baked goods coming in to the office and into homes (hi, Jim!). I celebrate the lights people decorate their houses with, of two weeks off of school, and the casual observations of frenetic shoppers. I celebrate the adventures of new families (and growing families) as they navigate the season, baking and prepping for days of delicacies and fun (hi, Ali!). I celebrate your best friend calling to inquire if she can in fact get the missle-firing droid robot with extra death-kill stuff for your son, because she spoils him every year (hi, Candie!). I celebrate folks who have the sanity to leave and celebrate it somewhere else (hi, Cindi!) and folks who are willing to celebrate even though they swore, they absolutely swore, they would never do it again (hi Jeff!). I celebrate a time where you can ask your coworkers, family and friends to donate money or toys or food to complete strangers, and even if they have already done it, this season, they will do it again (hi, Expedia Stairing is Caring team, and your $3000+ raised for kids!!).

Most of all, though, I celebrate a time of year where it is *expected*, almost demanded, that you are a better person. This is the time of year that you at least have to pretend to be nice, to care about your fellow man, to do the Right Thing. You may do it all year round — or you may do it this once, as a sort of Red and Green Yom Kippur. But you do it, because it is What Is Done. For about two weeks every year, people, for the most part, are Who They Should Be. They may be crowded in elevators but they’re smiling, they may be racing through Target but they’re making way for others, they may be frustrated in the baking aisle but offering recipe tips.

I celebrate that. And maybe *that* is what others celebrate, and maybe not. What do you celebrate?

Pajama Party

Today at work, I gathered the fruits of my labor. That labor was a hastily one-week planned pajama party.

OK, let me back up.

A week ago yesterday, I was severely inebriated. That’s ok, because I was severely inebriated with 2000 other people at the XS club at the Wynn Hotel in Las Vegas. It was fantastic — flowing booze, good music, yes I did find myself dancing on a table. The fact that I originally planned to come in, make a one-or-two drink round, and leave was lost halfway through drink one: some Work Fun events are more Work than Fun, this was not one of them. Everyone shucked off the stress of the previous days/weeks/months and kicked in to have fun.

So partway through the fun an idea that Alison* (person at work, not Ali of Doug and Ali) came up with: wouldn’t it be great to come to work in our PJ’s. I got sign off from the boss, and got sign off from a few other VP’s. And then continued to enjoy myself.

Hungover I flew home on Friday.

On Saturday I emailed a few more work folks to ensure we weren’t expecting clients on the Chosen Day.

On Sunday I emailed the last few people and got sign-off.

On Monday I emailed the entire floor and gave them the prospect: come to work in your jammies. Get a doughnut (From Top Pot — Thank You Top Pot!). Give a kid a gift from the HopeLink tree: the day after the company Holiday party.

Today we had twelve people bring in gifts, and another 20+ provide what amounted to substantial cash for kids who otherwise wouldn’t have got much of anything for the holiday. We had slightly more than that show up in jammies or sweats. And we left about a dozen doughnuts behind (apparently the excesses of last night got to some).  Next year: fewer doughnuts, and maybe adopt a family instead of kids off of the tree. Or maybe both. All I know is the planning will be better done than one-week and starting at a massive party.

It’s weird to come home and not have to change *out* of my clothes and *into* PJ’s.

The Venetian

When travelling for work, you expect different things out of your hotel from what you would expect on a leisure trip. For example:  I want my work hotel to have high-speed, wifi internet. I want it to have an iron, and  aboard, without calling someone. I want it to have basic toiletries, I want it to have space to spread out. I want it to have wake up calls, a tv in the room, and access to coffee.

In a leisure room, I want luxury toiletries. I want an amazing view. I want the TV to have multiple channels, I want lots of extra pillows. I want an extra towel or two. I wouldn’t mind a sofa or sitting area.

Hello, Venetian: you have all of the above. Let’s start with the most awesome and relevant to the Bobbie: toiletries.

There are the basics: shampoo, conditioner, body lotion. Then there’s body wash. Oh and then there’s the amenities, which include Q-tips, a nail file, a cuticle pusher, and not only a shower cap but a SCRUNCHY to go with it.

A scrunchy. In a hotel. Wrapped in plastic. Like, “this is your scrunchy, you can use it, and if you don’t it remains in plastic, and don’t worry we have 80billion more in plastic just waiting”.

Then, there is the view: I can see the entire north end of Las Vegas. The Las Vegas Hilton, over the Wynn’s golf course, and up on to the mountains.

Then, there are the five (5) pillows that come on my bed. The sofa and separate sitting area. The three (3) flatscreen TV’s. There are the incredibly friendly and helpful hotel staff, there is the assiduous security, there is the overeager climate system (warning: if you want snow in your room, you can very nearly create it with  the air conditioning. If you want a sauna, you can do that too).

I really love this hotel.

I’m here in Vegas on work. This means each morning I get up no later than 7 — often earlier, if I want to work out in their gym*, which is just slightly smaller than my expensive fancy gym back home and just as well stocked — and I’m in their meeting rooms until 5 or 6. Then I’m eating in their restaurants, decompressing in their bars, and back to my room to sleep. The entire experience is one where the only thing that is taxed is my liver and my working brain. This is good.

But every thing reaches a point of excess where it’s just too much, and you want to go home: I’m not there with the Venetian. I’m kinda there with Vegas. As I haven’t spent much time outside of my hotel, this makes zero sense, I know. But after work and work and work, and party and party and party, I’m just a little vegas’d out. I should’ve ridden the bull at Gilly’s last night.

*Gym: comprehensive weight room. Several cardio bikes, several treadmills, several stair-steppers. Full set of cardio weightlifting machines. Yoga/Pilates room. Spin class. Spa.

Drive

There is a really, really good short video on “Drive”, aka, what drives people. What makes them want to succeed. And things not to try in that venue.  You can get it here.

I have spent  the last two days in Vegas surrounding various concepts of “drive”. How to drive money. How to drive production. How to drive traffic. How to drive employees.  How to drive change, innovation, and how to drive drive itself. You name it, we have contingency plans to push it. We are a V8^2 machine, on racing fuel, listening to Metallica.

This evening’s party was at Gillys at Treasure Island. For those of you not familiar with Gilly’s it features bikini-and-chaps clad drink waitresses and a mechanical bull. And really, that about sums it up, doesn’t it?

Except yours truly decided to find something to do. Now when you’re at Work-Fun events, usually there’s a center of interest — sometimes it’s the “boss”, sometimes its the event itself, but this event was about release. And there was a mechanical bull.

I decided to work on my powers of persuasion. You see, I’m a geek. I was trained to ferret out information, issues, data, contingencies, anomalies. I was not trained to convince, addle, wheedle, or persuade. This is something that has, until recently, been merely a hobby.

I am proud to report I got someone up on the mechanical bull. The fact that he nearly broke his nose is not a point of pride… he is clearly more man than I … and I did NOT succeed in convincing my boss, my boss’ boss, or my boss’ boss’ bosses into doing it. Still: I got one up there.

After nearly two weeks straight of daily work, at 10-16 hour days, to get Plan out (and other initiatives), I find myself exhausted in Las Vegas. I have an incredible room — next post is a hotel review about The Venetian and It’s Inherent Awesomeness in One Thousand Words or Less — and supportive folks and I have no right to whine. I even have Discovery Channel on the telle.

And with that I’m going to it. It’s almost midnight, I have meetings in 8 hours. Whee!