Back in my early blogger days, I wrote a post about how I consider South Park a good resource on parenting. All my three and a half readers were very impressed. Likewise, when I read and re-read the Song of Ice and Fire series, I see it not as a tale of a remote fantasy world, but as the best resource on office politics I have ever read. I saw the reviews on Amazon once. "Where are the monsters?", people bitched. What they need to understand is that this series is not about the monsters. This series is about surviving in a modern-day corporate America. I changed jobs recently. After I realized (pretty soon) that my new place is an extremely political environment, I picked up SoIaF and re-read all four books cover to cover. I feel a lot more confident in my new place of work now.
Every day, when I wake up, I dream of a perfect IT department, populated entirely with characters from the series. It's pretty much a no-brainer, for example, that Ned Stark should be the corporate CIO. He's an honest guy with tremendous integrity. You don't have to worry about him selling his people down the river outsourcing the entire department to Bangalore because he thinks he may get a fat bonus for doing that.
Jon Snow, in my ideal IT, would be the manager of production support. Zombies, irate users, wights, clueless helpdesk technicians from Bangalore... he has ample experience dealing with all of those. In my divisional IT department, Tyrion Lannister would be the IT manager. The man is unbelievably smart and creative, wants to do good by his people, and can play politics with the best of them when the need arises. For my direct supervisor, I'd choose his brother Jaime. He is intelligent and plays fair, but, most importantly, he's happy with the position he's in, so he won't try some stupid shit in the hopes that it would get him promoted. For my teammates, I choose Brienne of Tarth and Barristan Selmy. They have the work ethics; they won't make me take their blame or dump their work on me; and they will always have my back when things get tough. And I will treat them the same, because, incidentally, that's how I operate. If only I worked in an IT department like that, I dream, I'd never have to change jobs again.
And if you guys think I'm a crazy dreamer, then tell me why, all too often, we end up reporting to people like Cersei and Mad Aerys and the three Baratheon brothers? I worked for a Gregor Clegane once. Remember? The guy who burned his little brother half to death, and his Dad covered it all up and made him knight? Here's what happened with the man I worked for. When he was a teenager, he and a group of friends stopped a random guy on the street and beat him to death. After our hero got out of jail, his rich parents used their connections and made him IT director. Pretty sweet huh? I didn't know the story back at the time - all I could see was people suddenly leaving in droves.
So, you see what I mean? This series is totally about office life. GRRM has described it precisely. Now, if someone could get him to finish the fifth book already, because there are a few situations at my office that I need his advice on.
Gee thanks, Matt and Trey, for finally managing to create an episode that we cannot discuss with anyone but our immediate family. If anyone asks me at work today, I went to bed early and missed the whole thing - you can't pay me enough to talk about it. But what good, I ask you, is a South Park episode if it does not promote discussion and instant bonding with coworkers?!
In just about a month, the Goldie family will be hosting the traditional Easter party for our friends. We have been doing it for about five years now. It's a potluck; we take it outside if the weather is good, otherwise, we eat inside, play pool and air hockey, and good fun is had by all. We tried an egg hunt too, but it took me weeks to gather all the plastic egg shells and candy wrappers from all corners of the house, so I gave that up.
But why are we even doing Easter parties, I wondered the other day. We're not that pious. How'd we get the idea? And suddenly I remembered. It all started with a woman, I'll call her Beth, that was at the time married to one of my family members. (That marriage has since ended, as has my obligation to interact with Beth. Whew!)
I cannot say much about Beth, other than she had a humongous self-esteem and a natural ability to insert her foot into her mouth at any given time. Beth had been drop-dead gorgeous in her younger years. That probably contributed to her belief that she could say anything to anyone and get away with it. People do tend to forgive an obnoxious statement if it comes from a gorgeous woman. Problem is, with time, the beauty wears off, but the obnoxious personality remains.
Since Beth had lived a thousand miles away from us, in my Dad's home town, I hardly ever had a chance to talk to her until we all came to America. When we bought our house, I invited all my relatives to the housewarming party, including Beth. She drove me up the wall.
When Beth tasted my potato salad, she said:
"Wow, you put real ham in it?! I cannot afford it. I use cut-up hot dogs."
And she added a second helping to her plate.
For the main dish, we had ordered shishkebab from a nearby restaurant. The shishkebab came with a large side of home fries. After it was delivered, Beth commented:
"Gee, I really wonder whether I should teach my daughters to cook so they can make their own fries, or to make money so they can order them."
And added a second helping to her plate, of course.
Finally Beth was full, so she didn't feel like commenting on my food anymore. Instead, she switched to racial issues.
"Say, what's the big deal about segregation anyway? So they had separate bathrooms for blacks and whites, so what? We still have separate bathrooms for men and women and no one complains. What's the big difference?"
How can I make this bitch from Hell shut up, I wondered desperately.
"'Cuz having separate bathrooms for blacks and whites would be the same as having separate bathrooms for Jews and Russians," I offered.
Out of sixteen people at the table, only two were ethnic Russians - Mr. Goldie and Beth herself. The rest were Jewish. Beth had no other choice but to shut her trap for a few minutes, giving us all a much-needed break. As soon as the guests left, I told Mr. Goldie that I didn't want to ever see Beth in my house again.
A year later, Beth called and invited us all to an Easter picnic at the park. The weather was nice; Beth was being Beth; we tried to have fun anyway. It was taxing, though. So when, another year later, Beth left a message on our phone inviting us to the Easter picnic again, I realized I couldn't go through with it. I'd had enough of the woman.
Next morning, I emailed all my girlfriends.
"Guys, help!" - was the subject.
I then proceeded to explain:
"I have this really awful relative, and she's inviting us over for Easter, and I don't want to go. But I need a good excuse. Such as - I'd love to come, but I'm already having a party of my own and all my friends are coming over. Can you guys make it?"
I have the best friends in the world. Less than half of them celebrate Easter. But every one of them said yes.
Thus, the tradition was born.
There is of course a moral to this story - one, annoying relatives can be a blessing in disguise. And two, don't be a pain in the ass, or else people will invent new holidays just to get away from you.
Yesterday, one of ChinchillaBoy's little friends came over to play. The two boys went into ChinchillaBoy's room and decided to do something really stupid - make a prank call. They'd been prank-calling their friends for a while now. I've been telling them that it is a dumb thing to do and that they had to stop, but they always replied that their friends didn't seem to mind. This time, however, ChinchillaBoy decided to do something new - to prank-call a kid down the street that he wasn't really friends with. His friend "Bobby" had never met the kid at all.
"So what do you think, Bobby?" - asks ChinchillaBoy excitedly. - "Should I call him?"
"Yeah, sure," Bobby replies. So ChinchillaBoy calls the kid's house, and lo and behold, the kid's mother answers the phone. Now's the perfect time for ChinchillaBoy to apologize and hang up, but no, he keeps talking. One thing leads to another and he ends up telling the poor woman to suck his balls! Bobby just sits there, speechless.
Did the woman have caller ID? Heck yeah! So after an irate phone call from her, the doorbell rings and the police is in my house, telling me that the woman wants to press charges against both boys. Both?! How did she know Bobby was even there? I have no idea. We talk to the police and manage to convince them to let the kids off with a warning. It is a terrible ordeal and I am all shaken up. So what do I do? I give Bobby a piece of my mind. I tell him that his behavior was despicable and that I am sure his mother didn't raise him like that. I then swiftly drop Bobby off at his house and tell him to stay away from ChinchillaBoy from now on. Then I call Bobby's Mom, who is yet unaware of the whole thing.
"The kids made a prank call while at our house, and they said very nasty things to an adult," - I begin and then proceed to tell her the rest. Needless to say, Bobby's mother is mortified and agrees completely when I tell her that our kids should not play together for a while. She says good-bye and hangs up on her way to give Bobby the worst punishment of his short life.
I think I handled this pretty well... what say you?
This was a trick question. Scroll down for an answer.
Heh heh heh. So, have you delinked me yet for treating poor Bobby in this manner? Please don't. The roles in this story were reversed. Everything really happened, but it happened at Bobby's house. Bobby made the call; ChinchillaBoy was the silent witness; and I am pretty confused right now.
Yes, it was a dumb thing to do. But was there really a need to make everything look like it was entirely ChinchillaBoy's fault? All he said was "yeah, sure", for Pete's sakes! And was there really a need to question his upbringing and to ban him from seeing Bobby because suddenly ChinchillaBoy is bad influence? Spineless, yes; bad influence - gee, I wonder!
On the bright side, ChinchillaBoy got the scare of his life and has definitely learned a lesson. I will be surprised if he ever makes a prank call again. Of course, if he really does, there will be consequences. But, in addition to that, there were several more lessons that he learned that were not necessarily called for.
He learned that, in this country, people will try to press charges at the drop of a hat.
He also learned that, if your friends are doing something dumb and barely legal, and you happily tag along for a ride, then, if you all get caught, your friends will try to put the blame on you, and their families will be more than willing to assist.
I am actually glad that it all happened last night. Better for ChinchillaBoy to learn these things now, over a prank call, then ten years from now, over things like drunk driving, drugs, group rape, or other similar exciting stuff.
ChinchillaBoy has always had this fascination with being accepted by the cool crowd. When he was little, he'd give the cool kids quarters and candy so they would let him play with them. Now he's allowing them to drag him into doing all sorts of crazy stuff. Maybe it's time he started losing this fascination, or things may get way more ugly.
Some days I wish both my kids had Aspergers and didn't care if they are accepted or not.
Did any of you have this happen to you as a kid that you were unable to stay on top of the latest fads and slang words? As soon as you'd pick up the latest stuff, all other kids would move on to something else and you'd be forever behind. Lately I feel the same about healthy foods. It's like I can never keep up with a lot of folks, on the 'net especially. By the time I finally realized that fast food and junk food were bad, my virtual friends had already excluded all bread, potatoes and pasta from their diet. By the time I cut down on carbs, they had moved on to all-organic and (cherry on top) quit eating red meat. I finally convince myself that I like oatmeal - my friends only accept steel-cut oats and stare at my Quaker brand like it's a triple cheeseburger with fries.
It's not that I have any health or weight problems, it's just that I'm tired of being the eternal uncool kid.
Of course, I had friends who started out with an innocent no-carb, no-sugar, no-salt diet and ended up with full-blown urine therapy. So in my opinion, there can be too much of a healthy lifestyle.
Apparently I'm not the one pondering these questions, as seen from the discussion at Michele's today. (Many thanks to Michele for always giving me material for blog posts). An English mother has an eight-year-old son that is five feet tall - pretty impressive height for an eight-year-old. Unfortunately, the kid also weighs about 300 pounds. The authorities considered placing the child in foster care, because his mother has failed to feed him properly, but reluctantly agreed to let her keep him. Many of the commenters at Michele's agree that the child needs to be taken away because his mother is not feeding him right.
This raises a whole lot of questions. Can they take my child away because he's overweight? Do I get to keep the other one, who is skinny? Who decides what consitutes healthy food? If I decide steel-cut oats are healthy, can I report my neighbors for not feeding their kids steel-cut oats? The list goes on. I think there's some overstepping of the boundaries going on here. I also think that, as one commenter stated, there must be something wrong with the kid's health as he is abnormally tall as well as overweight. Maybe the energy spent on trying to rip the kid away from his mom's evil clutches and into life-saving foster care could be used on getting him the medical attention he needs.