Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Looking over the walls of Shawshank

Wow, it took awhile to have the creative juices dry up, perhaps all this rest and recouperation from yet another challenging quarter of college has left the guard down and allowed the unspeakable writer's block onto my now seemingly regular day of posting on Tuesdays.  Windows are finally down, air is just starting to get a little thicker outside as both my kids tackle baseball during the summer months with soccer in the fall.  Watching the five year old daughter blossom into the Patti LeBelle of T-ball after a rant about receiving a commoner's drink of water in her Barbie sports bottle.  Refusal to hussle, turning a deaf ear on the high school juniors working for $10 a session with "Park and Rec" emblazed in gold across the baby blue t-shirts like a spoiled Manny Ramirez she pouted until daddy coming straight from the office dropped by with an individual serving of Sunny D.  Soon afterwards she combined the speed of Flo Jo with the defensive ability of Ozzie Smith to show her parents that an attitude adjustment (absent of shock therapy and threats of the removal of toys) would be in her future after returning home.

The boy is the same but different.  His issue isn't defiance or a need for attention but more about trying to find a reason to show what talents he may have hidden.  When prodded he regularly beats out the other boys in races, shows a fluid swing at the plate, and isn't afraid to get a little dirt on the gray pants. 

Likewise for their father during the changeover from quarter to quarter, I try to re-evaluate why am I doing this?  The easy answer is for a better future.  Stability at work, gain of knowledge that I normally would not have had the drive to seek, and the satisfaction of following through on something that was started 16 years ago in a dorm room at ASU.  No, not the quest to get laid, but to finish the bachelor degree that seemed so easy to grab but personal insecurity, financials, and health reasons pushed finishing my education off. 

Image credit

The hard answer is do I want to remain in this corporate setting?  Meet person X, do project Y, get reward Z.  Its a formula learned in a middle school algebra class but also by watching Red speak to the parole board near the end of The Shawshank Redemption.  He talks about normalacy, and how when someone is accustomed to a certain setting that they let go of their individuality, let go of hope, let go of the drive to seek new things and allow themselves to be swallowed into whatever is spoon-fed to them via company email and internal classroom settings.  While I love the corporation, there's a nagging piece of me that wonders what's beyond those walls, what if I took a rock hammer to the soft brick and tunneled into something new? 

Barring a complete meltdown of the company, my employement here is relatively secure since for the most point I keep my head down, work hard, learn everything I can, do extra projects, make friends, in other words exactly the type of suit they like.  But, am I reaching my potential?  Granted my options are not endless as my wife and kids come first before any life-changing decisions are made.  But, when you sit back in your computer chair and gaze across the screen to read about the exploits of friends and seeing yourself sitting on that barstool/typing on the laptop next to them, or see yet another promotion pass you up there's self-doubt that trickles in, feeding the fire that maybe this isn't the right path.  Would happiness be found by tossing away a decade and half of climbing a ladder that seems to be slicked with bacon grease for the unknown?

For now things are stable but just to make sure there's a little sriracha sauce in my life, I've poking around for a new job here with any hope I can put together enough corporate cliches that would get me to a more interesting job and check out the view from the next rung on the ladder. 

Just like Red would say that rehabilitation is a made-up word, and that a person should get busy living, or get busy dying.  Or in my words, stop fucking around and get something done.  Too bad it took me 36 years to finally realize that.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Watching the future

For the nearly decade of working in an office building, you try to find something different or at least something constant to pique your interest should the job behind the cubical walls not satisfy those few intellectual brain cells not harmed from the flowing river of rum and coke downed while parked at a bonfire the past weekend.

If you're curious enough, people watching is a fascinating way to get through what normally would be a run-of-the-mill corporate hustle workday.  While braving a shopping mall this definitely comes into play as there's so much cheap college perfume/cologne waffing from American Eagle/Abercombie/Gap or the annoying salesguy at Brookstone telling you its not ok to sit in the full vibrating recliner for 30 minutes with a huge grin on your face.  Taking note of that guy with the sullen look on his face as his helicopter wife rattles off 15 things the kids are doing to embarrass her in public as she exposes her XXXL black lace thong from Fredrick's of Hollywood while picking up pennies that someone threw but couldn't quite make it into the fountain that collects money for the local food shelter.

There's that guy at the office you always nod to but don't know his name, where he works, but a silent understanding that a greeting must take place since you both walk down the same hallway at the same time each day.  You with the glass of ice water, him with a toasted bagel and a tub of Philly cream cheese on top.  Then there's oddballs like the security guard you have passed every morning for the past nearly 10 years.  Looking more like your average Euchre rounder at the VFW, in the twilight years he decided to take an easy job and probably earned it after fighting in a war, working the assembly line as a steering wheel adjuster at the local Ford plant for 35 years and now passing time until an Arizona retirement community calls his name.  But it would take several years to notice a pattern of behavior that struck as odd but funny in way.  If a male enters the building under his purview he will completely ignore that person regardless of dress, size, shape, or even if he approaches the guard desk at which time the guard steps back and lets one of his co-workers deal with you.  If a female comes through the door he ALWAYS greets with a smile and remembers most of their names regardless of dress, size, shape.

He may not even realize he does it and it's behaviors like the security guard's that I find add a little spice to the current rushed lifestyle.  Yes, a rent-a-cop's proclivity to boobs is amusing to me.  When I can't be in Vegas due to time and family constraints and have to live vicariously through my many friends swimming through the muck of reporting from the WSOP, it's the little things that keep you going as I just finished the half-way mark of my college journey hoping to finally bed a junior or senior this quarter from the softball team or I could stay with status quo and enjoy not invoking the wrath of my wife while continuing the awesome resurgence of my marriage. 

Even at home I've noticed more things about her just by slowing down to watch instead of letting the time pass in a rush, and how beautiful she becomes as I appreciate her more each day. Whether I turn into that horny security guy in 35 years is beyond me but for now I'll take every chance to hug my daughter despite knowing she just downed a giraffe's neck worth of Fruit by the Foot or my son who can't peel his eyes away from Johnny Test.  And in six quarters, they'll get their dad and husband back full-time.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Of Places I Would Rather Be

WSOP time.

Twice I have made the journey to the seemingly bottomless pit of cards, booze, and degenerate prop betting.  The first time was do to the real thing, crossing off a bucket list item by actually playing in a World Series of Poker event.

That did not go well.

Despite high hopes I made two fatal flaws.  1) Played with scared money  2) Failed to drink

At the time it should not have been scared money as my bankroll was large enough, had backers, and online money was still flowing through ads, writing, and bonus whoring.  Nonetheless, I was not as aggressive as I was sitting behind an avatar but instead adjacent to Marcel Luske and arms reach from the 2005 Main Event champ Joe Hachem.  Noted warthog Joe Speaker was there to record my exploits to the masses but my tepid play had me fizzling out on a non-descript hand shortly after the first break. 

Two years later I found myself in Vegas during the WSOP again, but this time it was to sweat the media at the World Series of Pai Gow, an event I'm much more equipped for and play downtown at the Binion's Poker Classic where the buy-ins fit my bankroll much more easily.  CK, Tuscaloosa Johnny, and myself braved the other side of Vegas, a throwback to what Vegas used to be before the corporations splashed gold-tinted mirage of $100 margaritas, and five star dining two doors down from the 24-hour McDonald's.  This time I played it right.  The game was Omaha Hi/Lo again, this time limit but a game I'm most comfortable with in any setting with any stakes that does not cost me a mortgage payment to check-raise the turn. 

But instead of listening to blog postings about playing "optimal tournament poker" by "getting sleep", "staying away from the pits", and most of all "not drinking".  I did the opposite.  Instead I got myself into that comfort zone.  You know the one.  It feels like fantasy sex, downslope of a rollercoaster, the perfect lick of ice cream on a day reaching triple digits all while sitting on a cloud.  After hour four the waitress who seemed to be the only one serving the 214 players in the tourney didn't even bother asking if I wanted another and would just switch out the cup of ice for one filled with spiced rummy goodness and a splash of Coke. 

Later on that night my friends, the ones with press badges around their necks, already taking a beating from the grueling WSOP workdays in the Amazon Room encouraged me to stay in my zone, especially one AlCantHang whom I would walk stumble back to the final table with holding two drinks after a shot at the bar right before chop talks began. AND still had enough in the gas tank for watching my card-rackery continue at the Pai Gow tables at the Gold Coast.  True friends, they are.  Almost kin-like to my degenerate side.

I mention this now because life is in the way of hopping on a plane to create another Vegas memory.  Work, lack of vacation time threw away the keys as for once, money isn't throwing up the bars of steel, nor is my understanding wife who actually encouraged me to go.  But, thanks to Twitter, the PG-13 rated version of my friend's exploits come to life in 140 characters or less.  I'll have to wait until December or a possible WPBT side trip to hear the XXX version only available after a full night bender and a few toasts to those who couldn't make it but wished they were here.

Tuesday, June 07, 2011

Redirected to virtual oblivion

There's a moment each workday morning if the weather is particularly calm and not freezing things at the rate of liquid nitrogen where this suburbanite can stand outside the home he grew up in after tucking the kids in with nana and pa for the day to reflect for two seconds.  Much Arthur Dent watching Earth being put back together, there's an eerie fakeness to how calm everything seems without another soul moving or making a sound.

Then like a record that suddenly has the needle slammed down on it and scratches a few moments become picking up the music embedded below, life continues on with grabbing my wife's ass and piling into the car for another day of climbing the corporate ladder.  Then after a hard day of spreadsheets, and a spittle of inane shop talk there home with a five year old with too much energy and the body that can't keep up with band-aids covering 70% of it from various falls.  The boy quietly laying the groundwork to become a gamer and requires a few pokes before he comes to life and get a few details about the final days of his second grade year at school.

But, before crossing threshold of the porch is the kitchen which underwent a massive remake from a hindrance into the best part of the house besides the family room/porch.  On the floor are little black critters which have been squished, poisoned, and flicked like those paper footballs that you hit Carly Cosgrove with right between the eyes with 28 years old.  No, these are not Otis' ants, those spawns of Satan can stay in the South, just annoying black ants that crawl around for the sake of getting my preschool graduating daughter to try to pick up a bowling ball to kill one. 

Subtlety is not her strongest suit.  Make note of that future ex-boyfriends.

Last on Sunday night as I was wrapping up my second to last week of the Spring quarter (only six to go WHOOOOOOOOOWHOOOOOOO!!!) on a spreadsheet solving for a company's ROE and suddenly one of those ants seems to have burrowed its way into my laptop as one by one my windows started shutting down.  For the next two days, thanks to the wonderful hacker that found a way to set a redirect virus into my laptop, the ant became the one squishing me.  Nothing work, all my school/PokerStarsBlog/music files were gone and it seemed like there was no way of getting them back.  Luckily enough my friends are smarter than me and pointed me to malwarebytes.org to patch the problem, then last night after some research I was able to restore my files by reloading from a time where I didn't worry about ants attacking my hard drive.

The laptop is still infected despite the malwarebytes holding off the actual virus while browsing the internet, as luck would have it again, I have been looking for a new laptop anyway.  Luck?  No, more like a lesson as I was ready to tear the hard drive out, have it professionally "cleaned", and throwing a bunch of cash at this just because I wasn't diligent enough to turn on the anti-Malware package that came with the computer.

Never again.  And no, there will not be another convert into Steve Jobs' techno-borg beyond a possible iPhone5 purchase in a few months (oh you know its coming stop thinking its not) by snapping up a MacBook Air that I can't afford .  Another PC laptop suits me just fine but time I'll be laying some virtual cornmeal laced with a little acid around the perimeter so no more ants find their way to my armless midget porn and schoolwork that become less and less with each passing week of the year.