Friday, May 29, 2009

The Wheels on The Bus Go . . . Very Quietly

Driving to work isn’t so terrible.  I surely don’t have a nasty commute like some folks.  I knew a guy in DC once who drove 2.5 hours – ONE WAY to get to work.  Absolutely nutz.  I’m fairly certain he spent more time listening to talk radio and bad pop songs than he did actually working every day.  My little jaunt to the office is only about 35 minutes.  But last week I decided to try out our company-provided bus system.  I’m totally sold and I’ve done it pretty much every day since.  In fact as I write this I’m semi-happily seated on the morning bus listening to all the people around me saying . . .

absolutely nothing.

See, in spite of putting a bunch of people in an enclosed space there’s like zero social interaction here.  The closest thing to a conversation I’ve observed was this:

Guy 1:  “Achooo”

Guy 2:  “Bless you.”

Guy 1:  “Thanks.”

And that’s about it.  (mind you there was zero eye-contact in that “conversation”)  Different than a plane, I guess because the ride is shorter or maybe there’s the possibility that you’ll see that person next to you again on the bus some day… not sure.  Also void of actual words is the strange line that we form to get on the bus.  As you walk to the line you’re greeted with blank stares, perhaps a raise of the eyebrow, and in rare occasions there’s a difficult-for-the-human-eye-to-detect head-nod.  These non-verbal cues just scream out: “Welcome to the area . . . I’m good with you as long as you don’t stand in front of me or too near me.”

So my wife asks sarcastically if I made any new friends on the bus each day.  A question always good for a chuckle.  Well, these may not be total social butterflies, but I did get TWO head nods this morning, so I’d say I have some commuter-friends-for-life!

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Flo Revisits the Blog

I think Prequels are totally awesome. It's like somebody made a movie/book and forgot to write about the good stuff that lead up to it. Or perhaps they found out that they could make a lot of cash from legions of geeky fans for that untold story so why not milk that cow?! So the following post, even though it's an old one is a prequel to an upcoming post that will be named "Corporate Joe," so I give you an oldy, but a goody from 2007 (made better because of an awesome picture I added of important corporate heroes). . . Corporate Flo:

Corporate America is an important place where serious things happen and important, serious people have serious meetings about important things that will have serious impacts that eventually will become important to others who are serious about Corporate America being an important place. By which I mean, there's a reason that Dilbert and The Office are so popular. The Corporate-World is laugh out loud hilarious, and that's all because of the people in it.

Example - I recently attended a meeting where there were 5 of us in a large conference room. In addition there were 20 or so people conferenced in on the telephone. Well, 15 minutes after the meeting started this lady blasts into the room. (I will refer to this woman as Flo - for no particular reason) Flo was clearly hurried and stressed. She's texting and apologizing simultaneously, without noting that she totally just interrupted the conversation of 25 people. A simple "sorry" would've sufficed. As she takes her seat she continues to apologize and repeatedly (I stress that word) send to the uninterested audience the following messages with her words and actions:

- First and foremost, Flo is important, and that clearly, is why she is late
- Flo had "back to back meetings" (translation: "I am very important")
- Flo was several buildings away in her last meeting (translation: "I am very important even in other buildings"), and that's another reason she should be excused for being late
- Flo would like to start the meeting over now. (Translation: Flo is so important that the combined importance of the rest of us is way less than her importance alone)

Something to know about Flo - as corporate ladders go, she's at or below the rung that the rest of us hang on to. So it's not like the CEO just waltzed in.

After several minutes of this the moderator graciously (by which is mean she's way too nice) begins getting Flo up to speed. While the moderator is talking across the table to Flo, our important guest pulls our her PDA and starts texting/emailing. Yes, she's that important. The moderator pretended to be blind and just kept on talking. At the end of the monologue, she asks Flo if that all made sense. Without making eye contact Flo's response was, "not really, but I'll catch up." At this point I wisely covered up my laughter with a fake coughing fit.

There were several other comments from Flo as the meeting went on where she again made sure that we understood that she was sorry for being late because she had back to back meetings in another building. Apparently, she feared that after a couple of minutes our child-like minds would forget how important she was. The absolute kicker though was when the meeting was opened up for questions. Now, I'm pretty forgiving on dumb questions. Heck, I ask lots of 'em. But Flo uttered one (which I can't repeat for fear of the corporate blog hounds) that was so bizarre my jaw hit the table. It was akin to you asking the woman who gave birth to you (Mom) if she's ever been pregnant. Have you ever heard something that was so funny that you couldn't even laugh at it? After the initial shock wore off and the meeting ended I was able to get my hearty chuckle.

Long post here, but the lesson is that we corporate citizens probably aren't quite as important as we think ourselves to be. I suspect that several of you know Flo-like people. If so, will you please invite me to a meeting with them some time? I haven't laughed that hard at work in a long time. Meanwhile, I'm guessing that our friend Flo is at this very moment in another serious back-to-back meeting in another building. So if you see her . . . don't open the floor for questions. (If you do though, can I just call in and listen?)

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Does that thing burn?!

Guys were meant to burn stuff.

There can be lots of deep philosophical debatering (not actual word) about what’s truth and what isn’t but that little statement is right up there with - “Dude, she’s a girl, so you have NO idea what she’s thinking right now.”  Last weekend the Pope Men, myself and the little male HTFers, went on the annual Father and Sons campout that we do with other guys from our church.  We’re not huge campers by any measure, unless you count BBQing in the backyard as “roughing it.”  So I was intrigued to see how my fellas would dig the event this year.  They absolutely loved it AND we didn’t die, so we’re calling that a success.  A few of the highlights/learnings were:

  • As if I needed more evidence, I observed irrefutable demonstrations that my 7 year old son is in fact my SON – he spent hours scavenging the campground for new things to burn in the fire.  It started with small sticks, then on to paper plates and eventually he was caught backing up some guy’s Volkswagon into the fire pit.  That’s my boy!!
  • Guys standing around the fire left to their own devices will have conversations that would (and should) trouble their wives.  And these will DEFINITELY not be focused on any one topic.  In one two minute stretch of time I heard earnest bantering about first-person-shooter video games, exploding motorcyles, movies with monkeys, and socks.
  • Guys snore . . . and lots of guys together snore LOUDLY!
  • Lots of preteen boys put together in the wild will rove around inventing games that don’t make a lot of sense, but will certainly result in injuries and clothes that will never be clean again.
  • My boys do in fact believe that tents put themselves up and that marshmallows on fire are WAY better than the non-flammable version.marshmallow.jpg image by Skorp88

It was a great time and highly entertaining.  If you’re a guy, I’m sorry you weren’t there, if you’re not a guy, be glad you didn’t have see it all.

Monday, May 04, 2009

Who Knew?! Not me.

Deciding to have kids is a huge deal.  I mean, deciding which college to go to was kinda big.  What to major in . . . yeah, that mattered . . . unless it was psychology or poly-sci.  Who to ask to prom . . . that one seemed pretty much like life or death.  Except for the time I actually got a big, fat NO (but that’s a story for a sadder blog).  But I’m pretty sure that nothing is as foundationally life-altering as the the baby-decision, which I had no idea would eventually involve smelling things I never wanted to smell, microwaving platefuls of chicken nuggets, or watching hours of Dora the Explorer.  See that was back when I was all about moderately-rational decisions like how much Pasta-Roni or frozen pizza I could buy and still have money to see the new Adam Sandler movie.  There’s a formula there – involving numbers and stuff.  I always had a plan.

I had a similar plan about when there would be a little me in the world.  Kinda hard to remember the plan now – but I’m pretty sure the baby part was after college/job/grad school/mortgage.  See the little people were always gonna be a part of my life at some point.  But the thought of that all seemed like something that might be more for “other (older) people.”  A few years wouldn’t hurt, right?  Seemed like an awfully good idea.

Sometimes life comes up with a better idea.

Now I kid you not when I say this, but I had some crazy epiphany while we were at the Mask of Zorro movie in 1998.  Can’t really explain it, but something in the melon clicked and I decided to be totally irrational.  (cuz there’s NOTHING rational about having kids)  You should’ve seen Traci’s face when I made my little pronouncement driving back to our humble, QUIET, apartment.  She was ecstatic, but probably had little big-decision whiplash (BDW) from my sudden change of heart.  But I was a senior in college and she was a first year school teacher in Utah, which means that she spent more money buying laminated letters and glue than she actually got in her paycheck each month.  There was no WAY this was gonna work.

Well, we had 4 kids by the time I was 30.

Has it complicated life?  . . . . Perhaps just a bit, and in ways I could NEVER have guessed (and I’m glad I didn’t know about).  But in a simple way, it has become life.  These little people are great (except when they’re just a little less great).

I’ve decided that the whole rational planning thing is best left to grocery lists.  Cuz even though life gets harder at times with 4 demanding little people who are needier and more complex (and messy) than I ever could’ve imagined-

The good parts are way better than I had planned.

A New Record, The Golden Toes, and A Crowning Moment for A Brick

Last week was a big one here at HTF.  We actually surpassed our highest single-day visitor total EVER with huge thanks to the kind, highly-insightful, folks (by which I mostly mean the marvelous Emily Jensen) at Mormontimes who again linked to one of my posts.  So thanks to you all for reading along as always!  Other blogs may have more readers, but you all are clearly smarter and better-looking than the rest (not to mention that your attention to dental hygiene is off-the charts!)

Tonight I took a gander (not goose-related at all) at the HTF mailbag and found this deeply-troubling question sent in by an alert reader who has a problem that we’ve all had or will have at some point:

Dear HTF,

I have an extremely important problem.  You might remember that, after way too many embarrassing instances of finding my empty Diet Mt. Dew bottles, boxes of Chick-Fil-A, and cupcake containers strewn all over my street, I now have a super-awesome brick to put on my recycling bin so that my recyclables don’t blow away and totally clue in my neighbors that the reason why I have been too busy to mow the lawn is because I’m spending all my time gobbling up sweet processed food (yum it up!).

Well, my super-awesome brick is so incredibly, well, super-awesome, that he deserves a real name instead of just “my super-awesome brick.”  The best name I came up with is “Mr. Justin Timberbrick,” but he just doesn’t seem like a “Justin Timberbrick” to me.  For one, he has no mad dance $killz.  Number two, don’t even think of trying to get him to sing in a falsetto.  It’s really painful to watch.  Most importantly, I can’t find a fedora small enough to fit him.  So incredibly sad.DSCF1009

HTF, you’re always great at coming up with catchy nicknames.  If you are looking for inspiration, here  is a picture of him hard at work on the job.  Look at that dedication!  That strength!  That . . .  strange block of dirt on his head!

Now . . .   name that brick!!

Sending great respect to the Froginator,


Thanks for the challenge, AGM, we’ll see if I’m up to it.  First, you clearly haven’t done a search on the interweb for “JT the Brick” – your shot at a name is higher quality than you give yourself credit for.  But I’ve done some painstaking research and serious brainstorming to come up with some possibilities for the birth certificate of your hard-headed friend.  By “research” I mostly mean that I ate some strawberry applesauce, which totally rocks (pun blatantly intended) by the way.  The brainstorming consisted of a thorough process involving sunflower seeds, an episode of 30 Rock, and a new pair of black socks with the gold toes.  So after all that, here are a few options for you:

  • Hard Rock Toupee
  • Mortar Mouth (in case he gets sassy)
  • Big Red
  • Kansas (due to his “figure”)
  • Ed
  • Chip (off the old block)
  • Sir Rocks-A-Lot
  • Bar-Knee-Rubble (his Indian name)

I hope that helps a bit.  That’s a fine looking brick you have there.  As always, thanks mucho for the question, AGM.  May you and your new friend (who needs a bath indecently) live happily ever after.

If YOU have a question/comment/insult for me please send it in to  You’re guaranteed to get a response either here on the blog or via the auto-reply that I have set up when I get e-mails.

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