Thursday, December 31, 2009

My 2010 New Years Resolutions

• Write the Great American Book Review on

• Earn a PhD. in air conditioning and refrigeration.

• Travel to a wildlife preserve operated by Six Flags.

• Have a threesome for Scrabble or Netflix.

• Learn to fly a plane simulator on the PC.

• Have a career I enjoy fantasizing about during office hours.

• Help my fellow man by actually putting something in the tip jar at Subway.

• See the pyramids for what they really are on the Discovery Channel.

• Start eating healthier junk food or at least fewer Diary Queen Blizzards.

• Get a tattoo appointment.

• Learn another language is hard to master…or even converse in above a nursery school level.

• Reorganize my priorities by deliciousness.

• See more of the U.S. through various business flight connections.

• Start exercising my options about which gym to join.

• Learn to play an instrument, like the tambourine or triangle.

• Fall in love with a television character.

• Get to know more people through “The Sims.”

• Backpack across Staten Island.

• Study art by way of museum gift shop postcards.

• Create my own small company letterhead.

• Start watching less television while driving.

• Go cliff diving, skydiving or mountain climbing out of necessity to escape an angry mob.

• Learn to appreciate opera references in old Bugs Bunny cartoons.

• Take up horse riding at a Shetland pony ranch.

• Remove the clutter in my life through delinquent payments.

• Prepare to eventually enter a marathon by carbo-loading today.

• Achieve greater spiritual enlightenment by starting less fights on the supermarket checkout line.

• Not only come to terms with my shortcomings but also embrace them as valid excuses.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

How to Make the Most of the Time between Losing a Job and Finding Yourself in Another Job

How many times have you sat in your office/cubicle/taffy stand and thought to yourself, “Man, if I didn’t have to show up to work every day I could really make something of myself. I could really make something of my life! I could learn a language. I could write a book. I could backpack around the world. I could masturbate furiously without impunity!”

Well, thanks to a still struggling economy you can consider your newfound unemployment “your time.” A time to not only discover what a meal consisting entirely of Lucky Charms and Pabst’s tastes like at 10 A.M. (and then again at 2 P.M., 6 P.M. and 3 A.M.) but also a chance to feed your mind. A chance to feed your soul! No longer bound by the demands of your department, your work schedule or a Draconian office dress code that considers pajama pants “home clothes,” you are finally free to explore your dreams, map out your future and find something, anything, to kill eight to ten hours each and every day.

However, like an artist staring at a blank canvas, a writer staring at a blank computer screen and a freshly terminated employee staring at their grimy, unshaven, dead-eyed visage in their bathroom mirror, it can often be hard to decide what to do first. Do you reorganize your home? Do you take up an instrument? Do you start talking to yourself, then to your pet, then to your cutlery, giving each fork, knife and spoon both a name and a motive? The choices are as endless as the mornings and afternoons! But to give you that extra push you may need off the couch and away from the cable remote, Wii controller and sleeping pills, please consider the following to-do list for all those moments you’re happy to be out of the office but scared to be alone with their thoughts.

• Start a blog! What better way to work towards writing that book, play or film script then by getting into the habit of jotting down your thoughts every day? Each morning just sit yourself behind your keyboard and let the thoughts flow out of you, stopping occasionally for nourishment or at least punctuation. Want to share a childhood memory? Want to throw your two cents in about a recent news development? Want to take the opportunity to remind hundreds of people you never met that it’s your birthday and once again you’ll be celebrating alone at the same diner you celebrated your college graduation all by yourself? Put it in there! Before you know it you’ll have a rapt online audience completely taken with your elliptical, Joycian prose, your keen insights into just what a bitch your ex-lover was, your seemingly encyclopedic knowledge of 70’s cartoon series and commercial jingles and your complete willingness to let just anyone gape into the dark nether regions of your soul as you type just fast enough to outrun your demons.

• Start a business! If unemployment will teach you anything it’s that you can’t count on others to keep paying you (and that most physical injuries seem to occur the second your health coverage lapses). So why not make your own money?! By becoming an entrepreneur you not only get to be the captain of your own destiny but also the crew, the shipbuilder, the dockhand and the one who first comes upon the wreckage on the beach. Hours once spent on one mind-numbing job can now be spent on countless heart-racing tasks, from drawing up a business proposal to conducting a market analysis to ascertain the viability of your idea to deciding on whether it will be a general partnership, limited liability company or sole proprietorship to securing the necessary permits and licenses to determining whether or not to file for S Corporation status to selecting and reserving a company name to developing a capitalization/borrowing/debt service plan to obtaining all required government forms to drafting all employment contracts to establishing check-cashing procedures to having an independent appraiser calculate the replacement value of your property to shopping for the best loan terms to identifying all trademarks, patents, copyrights and service marks you must register or purchase. And that’s just the first ten years! Soon you’ll be working three jobs just to secure the initial capital and expenses reserve you’ll need to operate a full-time business that you can now only find time to keep open between midnight and five a.m. You may not make a fortune. You may not even live to see forty. But you will have certainly made the most of your time off by ensuring you never, ever have the chance to nap or even sleep again.

• Start a militia! By the third or fourth month of unemployment your self-recrimination will slowly, magically, transform itself into martyrdom. Statements once phrased as “How could I let this happen?!” will be delivered as “How could this happen to me?!” Random fears will coalesce into focused rage. Scapegoats will be uncovered for your career demise. Federal agencies will be blamed for your inability to secure another job. Agendas will be put in motion to exact revenge on a government that no longer has your best interests or desire for a third car at heart. Soon you’re finally out of the house and once again communicating with other likeminded individuals. Days once spent indoors with only a box of wine and Kleenex to keep you company will now be spent in the woods or caves in the company of trained marksmen and people who know how to make an explosive out of tree bark. Who knew you could feel such a renewed sense of purpose?! “This is our time!” you’ll shout, spirits and rifles raised high. Finally you’re making something of yourself. Finally you’re making something of your life! Finally you have a course of action. But let’s just hope you get captured or shot before you achieve a sense of accomplishment.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

How to Survive Your Office’s Holiday Party with Your Dignity Intact, Your Job Still Secure and Your Fool Mouth Shut

Much like a recently orphaned nine-year-old who's left not only to look after his younger siblings but also the day-to-day operations of Exxon Mobil, the holiday season has far too much riding on it for one time period. Stores need it to survive. Families need it as one more chance to come together and make it finally work. And children need it because, well, if some poor kid in a manger could score both frankincense and myrrh the very least today's kid should expect is a Zhu Zhu Pet. So thank God for the office holiday party, that one event during this tense time of year when you can really let your hair down, drink on someone else's dime and maybe prove to your coworkers that you are not in fact a scary loner who's going to snap one day and kill them all.

Now I have attended more than my fair share of such festive gatherings—from opulent Bacchanalian soirees replete with full orchestras, multiple carving stations, make-your-own sundae bars, sushi chefs, animatronic ice sculptures, high-wire acts, personal massages and the vague sensation that the open bar is in lieu of any Christmas bonus, to smaller scale events consisting of a single Entenmanns’ Danish Coffee Ring and multiple admonishments to quickly get back to work—each indicative of how business has fared that year.

But no matter if your company goes all out this holiday season—or just goes out for a Taco Bell run—make certain to review and remember the following crucial office party guidelines. After all, wouldn’t it be nice to show your face in the office the following morning without having your coworkers say, “Well at least you’re not showing us your ass again like you did last night”?

1. For the love of God, do not hit the dance floor: With the exception of concerts, people usually dance for one of two reasons: because their significant other asked them to or because they wish not only to bust a move but also put a move on someone, often in the form of rhythmic thrusting. And since most office parties don’t allow you to bring a date and most offices frown on public displays of erection, there really is no reason for you to show your inability to follow even a simple bass line. In fact, all you’re likely to get for your efforts is a little sweaty and a lot of stares. So before you make your way to the dance floor with drink in hand and pride in absentia, think twice. After all, just because the gin is free doesn’t mean flailing like a drowning victim to the tune of “Hey Ya” in front of your entire department won’t come at a steep price.

2. Drink until you have a good buzz but before you have a great idea: Ever noticed how many “brilliant” ideas arise when you’re drinking with friends. Ideas such as, “Hey, hey, hey…shut up! I’m trying to…I’m trying to say something important, guys. Guys? Guys! Will you listen? I just had a great idea. A really great idea. What if we…get this…what if we all quit our jobs and open up an ice cream parlor that serves nothing but vanilla? We can call it ‘Whitey’s’!” And have you ever noticed how the very next morning you thank God no one had the presence of mind to draw up a contract or tell their supervisor to go to hell? In short, what may sound like a statement of pure genius after six vodka tonics will certainly seem less so after eight hours of sleep. So to ensure you don’t go into exhaustive detail with your CEO about your idea to telecommute through Ouija boards—complete with schematics hastily drawn on most of a cocktail napkin and some of the bar top—know your alcohol intake limit. You may not remember who you talked to the next day but there’s a good chance you wrote your name on your boss’ tie so he’d never forget.

3. Make sure you’re seen but not remembered: When attending an office party, it’s important that your supervisor, the vice-presidents and the chairman know you knew to show up. Make the rounds, thank the senior members for arranging the affair (then thank their assistants for actually putting it together), joke with a few coworkers, have a few drinks and appetizers and then get the hell out of there. After all, the point is to make your presence known, not your actions recalled. Better your department head ask, “Did you have fun last night?” than “Did you tie one on last night or what?!?” That’s because while people may have trouble placing names or recognizing faces, they can always point out the person who screamed over the DJ’s speakers “I’ll show you mine if you show me yours!” And they will always, always talk about it. In other words, be the minor footnote of your company’s party, not an entire sad chapter in your company’s history.

4. Nibble for the night, don’t store for the winter: For many younger employees, the holiday office party may be the first time in ages they’ve had a meal that did not come with the instructions “For best results, cook until raman noodles are al dente.” Even the more established coworkers may see the spread and think, “They took 50 hours a week away from me, I’m taking the fucking lobster roll tray away from them!” But this is a professional affair and some social decorum must come into play. While you certainly should help yourself to the buffet table, don’t take so much food that people will wonder if you have family members waiting just outside the exit door or a tapeworm residing somewhere in your intestines. Don’t try to maintain a conversation with senior executives between bites of a chicken/smoked turkey/honey-glazed ham/lasagna/Chilean sea bass/chocolate truffles sandwich. And don’t walk around with two or more plates piled high with hors d’eurves unless you’re planning on making a run for an idling cab. Eat sensibly, maintain a reserved demeanor and never, ever say, “Give me four more just like that” when the cater-waiter cuts you a slice of raspberry cheesecake.

5. Should all else fail, seize the moment: Sometimes despite your best efforts, everything just goes to hell. You stop at one glass of wine, you avoid food with red sauce, you make eye contact with all department managers and still one verbal or physical slip can bring the whole evening crashing down around you. People stare wide-eyed, comments are muttered, supervisors shake their heads in disgust, all while you keep trying to make it known that what you actually said was, “Please pass the peanuts.” When this happens, you have no recourse but to forsake decorum, forfeit shame, forget you still have several boxes of personal belongings in your cubicle and just tear into everyone like a hobo into an unsuspecting dog. Name names. Highlight faults. Reveal secrets. Keep pointing fingers, keep badmouthing, keep uttering one slanderous remark after another until everyone either shares your pain or is calling for your immediate dismissal. You may not have a job to go back to, you may not even have a career to salvage but you will have the memory of that one great day you weren’t afraid to tell it like it is, to finally speak your mind to your so-called superiors and to run out the fire exit, sirens blaring, with dessert cart in tow.

Light Snowfall Signals End of Civilization in Southeast

FORMER STATE OF GEORGIA—A light snowfall gently dusted the Southeast, delighting children but reversing 10,000 years of human civilization in the process.

Armed only with a single snowplow, a can of Morton Salt and a "can-do" spirit, cities from the Carolinas to Alabama were quickly overwhelmed by the oddly crystallized shapes falling mercilessly from the heavens. Minutes after the initial flakes appeared, 23,000 cars, trucks and trains collided on I-20. By 7:00 AM, unattended automobiles had begun to simply explode on driveways and in parking lots throughout Tennessee. In Atlanta hundreds of planes were first delayed, then grounded and then eventually consumed for nourishment. Within two hours oxen and other beasts of burden were demanding hefty prices—or pelts—as they were now the sole means of transportation for commuters and scavengers alike.

As of late morning chaos had become the order of the land, with thousands converging upon Wal-Marts looking for any weapons--or "firesticks"--to battle the storm. Currency soon became worthless as financial transactions were replaced with bartering, Chick-Fil-A biscuits and, finally, indiscriminate stabbing. Local governing bodies were quickly displaced by a rather confusing system of tribal law, Mother Nature's whimsy and a dice pop-o-matic from an old game of "Double Trouble." By noon, the Southeast had indeed become a very different place.

"Owa Goona! Owa Goona!" exclaimed a villager and former tax attorney in a tongue that has become both a prime means of communication and a source of bemusement to the few reporters who have yet to be sacrificed to the various winter deities, shamans and the occasional can of corn. This journalist has managed to fend of the rabid masses thanks to quick thinking and the flicking of a Zippo lighter, leading the people to believe that I not only control the fire gods but also store them in a rather stylish cage. But soon it will light no more and I, as so many before me, will meet my terrible demise in the Glorious Killing Ring, formerly a Ruby Tuesdays.

On a side note, College football games continued as scheduled, with the Gators thumping the Terrapins 56-23.