THIS BLOG IS MY BLOG. THIS BLOG IS MY BLOG. Welcome to the Home of Hyperopia.: June 2006

Thursday, June 29, 2006

On Multi-Tasking - Part 1

Remember in Less Than Zero when James Spader (he was in that, wasn't he?) was on the phone while he was swimming? He had his phone and they showed him just finish up a call and toss the phone into the water. I've always remembered that.

The phone was yellow, I think. The color of a Sony "Sport" Walkman. I like that color.

Anyway, now that we have a pool at our house and since I spend a lot of time on the phone these days at the new job (4400 minutes last month on my cell phone), I find myself seriously wanting a phone like that. Of course since he was acting in a movie in the scene I remember it was probably just a prop and not a working phone at all.

Damn Hollywood.

Photo Credits: here

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

On Truth in Advertising - Part 1

Following up on our signage tour through the Erewhon suburban sprawl (which I cherish, of course), let's take a moment to enjoy the picture below. But don't linger (unless you're willing to pay) -- the meter is ticking.

Now this is a business that knows how to state -- clearly and definitively -- what it is selling.

And they've got their phone number right there on their sign.

Easy shopping. Easy living.

Pleasure at your fingertips.

I wonder if the price is right?

Monday, June 26, 2006

On Nomenclature, Commercial - Part 1

This picture reminds me of that famous saying: "When you mix raisins with turds, you've still got turds." (Charlie Munger)

It also makes me giggle. In a juvenile way. At the distant memory of surrending to the need of a surreptious squat behind someone's shrubbery squeezing out a steamer during a teenaged midnight mischief prowl. Good thing we were prepared to TP our target. If you catch my drift on the breeze.

Why would anyone name their eating establishment after such a movement?

Saturday, June 24, 2006

On Currencies, Marital - Part 1

The key facts you need to know to appreciate this entry:

  • I like to gamble (for small stakes). I like to wager (about small things). I'm a (two-bit) gambler. I'm a (non-degenerate) wagerer.
  • I am the sole breadwinner in our family. We are enormously blessed, and my wife wants to and is able to be a stay-at-home for our children.
  • Before we had kids, my wife worked.
  • I like to make bets with my wife. Frequent bets. Amusing wagers.

So back when she was employed and earning cash compensation for her toiling, we could gamble and in theory I had an opportunity to win money from her if I chose the right side of our bets (which occurred too infrequently). But she hasn't been employed for a little over four years now. She hasn't been earning cash compensation for her toiling (motherhood) over the past four years. No, instead of money she has been earning my undying affection and gratitude.

But you can't buy trinkets and baubles with affection and gratitude.

And I can't "win" back my affection and gratitude from bets.

So I've been struggling now for these several years (four counts as several, doesn't it?) to identify meaningful stakes for our bets (which we have continued to make). Prior to today we had continued to wager for money, but that just doesn't make sense. My wife, bless her heart, appreciated altogether too completely that she didn't really have anything to lose if we were making bets for money during this period where I am the sole breadwinner. So she wasn't properly motivated to evaluate my propositions. She wasn't adequately incentivized to push the terms of the wager into that wonderful middle ground where each wagerer genuinely believes they've got the best side of the bet. In other words, she just didn't care enough to make it fun. She was playing with the house's money, and she knew it.

But today I figured it out. Instead of wagering for money, the currency of our wagers needed to be we needed to be that most precious of commodities, the currency of our wagers needed to be the only resource that is equally available (and scarce) to all persons: time.

And today we were going to get the oil changed in her minivan. (She drives a 1999 Dodge Grand Caravan "Sport" model; it has a spoiler. Seriously.) We went to Subway for lunch on the way to the oil change place. I was confident the four of us could remain in the car and eat our sandwiches while the mechanics changed our oil. My wife was not. She thought we would have to get out of the car and go into the little waiting room while they worked on the car.

We bet one thirty-minute "vacation." If I won, my wife would take the kids out of the house sometime for thirty minutes so I could do whatever it is I would do if I was not working and was in the house by myself. If she won, I would do the same for her. (Notice that in a sense, winning this bet is losing something of significant importance to me -- thirty minutes with the tots. As hectic as my schedule has been lately, those thirty minutes with the kids are seriously precious to me. But you can't have everything, where would you put it? (Steven Wright))

I won the bet.

Sometime soon I get thirty minutes of solitude in our house. When I can play the piano as loud as I want.

So check back for a video of me singing and playing my heart out. To a famous Journey song.

It's going to be spectacularly embarrassing.

I can't wait.

Photo Credits: here.

Thursday, June 22, 2006

On Doing the Right Thing - Part 1

So earlier today I'm sitting in my desk chair at work. I'm behind my desk. A colleague is standing on the other side of my desk. We are discussing a fascinating topic: how to properly calculate the capital accounts of certain subsidiaries in our organizational structure, given the capital contributions made initially by those subsidiaries and subsequent developments.

Then, unexpectedly, my body promulgated a noise of considerable duration. The noise was plenty loud; I am totally certain the colleague heard it. In addition, the sound could have come from a variety of places on my body. The noise could have been occasioned by pressure in my body being released in a variety of ways.

Based on the tone, texture, and frequency of the sound, my unfortunate colleague could have believed that the noise was simply the result of things moving around inside my stomach. My colleague could also very easily have believed the noise was the inappropriate result of air escaping my body out the business end of my large intestine.

The real tragedy in this is that I was speaking when the noise began. And I was inadvertently and temporarily distracted by the noise so I stopped speaking. I probably had a look on my face like I was pleased to be experiencing the sensations of whatever was making the sound. It pains me to admit, as a matter of fact, that I was so distracted by how long the noise continued that I stopped talking and listened to it. I focused on it. This couldn't have helped, since the proper goal in this situation in an office setting (and most other settings) is to take some action to conceal what is actually happening: I should have yelped or slammed some books down on my desk or frantically clicked a pen or something.

But I didn't.

I haven't experienced very many noises quite like this one. I thought it was interesting. And I savored it. Inappropriately, I am sure.

All of the foregoing I have a reasonable handle on. What happened happened. There wasn't anything that could've been done about that. With greater foresight, I could've anticipated the sound, I could've anticipated my reaction, I could've tried some sort of red herring.

But I didn't.

What I'm not sure about is the decision I made in the moments right after the sound stopped.

Now this part is important. I can tell you fine people, with total and complete honesty, that the noise was simply a stomach gurgle. It was just a stomach gurgle. It was just a significant, very audible, quite long, and regrettably ambiguous stomach gurgle. Seriously.

So, given that, my question is this:
  • Right after the sound stopped, should I have acknowledged that the sound had occurred and assured my colleague that it was a stomach gurgle? Or was I correct to pretend it hadn't happened and just try to continue the conversation?

One other piece of data for you to consider as you prepare response: whether I made the right decisions or the wrong decisions in those difficult moments right after the sound stopped, I know I did one honorable thing -- I ended the meeting almost immediately after the sound and my colleague left my office. I figured that way if she thought it was a fart (which it wasn't), at least she would've been pleased to escape before she had to smell it.

Your input is hereby solicited.

Photo Credits: here

Saturday, June 17, 2006

On Aging Grayfully - Part 1

This morning I was sitting and doing some of my best thinking. My nose itched.

I reached in there with my thumb and forefinger.

I grabbed ahold of something.

I tugged.

I removed a longish hair.

It was gray.

I am aging grayfully, apparently -- even my nose hairs show it.

Photo Credits: here.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Mopping Up With the (Carlos) Zambrano(ni)

The pitcher pitchered (sic) above chucked a purty good game for los Chicago Cubs yesterday evening. Carlos Zambrano is a reasonably large man. He throws a baseball reasonably accurately. And quite hard. He faced 21 hitters and got 21 outs through the first seven innings of play (he didn't have a "perfect game" going because he walked one guy then induced the next hitter to ground into a double play). In the eighth inning, unfortunately, he walked a guy then Preston Wilson singled through the gap created by the first baseman holding on the runner. So no no-no. De doo doo doo, de da da da.

As a loyal client of an excellent Houston law firm, an honorable gentleman honored at the end of this entry graciously invited me to join him to watch the game live and in person. From an expensive seat in the sixth row directly behind home plate. In the cluster of expensive seats known as "The Diamond Box."

It was spectacular.

Food and drinks (non-alcoholic) included. I gorged myself on club sodas (2), brisket (1 slab) with piles of picles, salad (with hard-boiled eggs and salt), ice cream (Dreyer's) and cotton candy.

I love cotton candy at a baseball game.

Just as an aside, one thing my brain remembered as I typed that paragraph at the beginning describing the action resulting in the end of Zambrano's bid to pitch a not-hitter is this -- the Cubs were ahead 8-0. Why bother holding the runner? Wouldn't it have been smarter baseball to just give the guy second base? Then you could have the field defended most effectively, increasing the chances of helping Zambano pitch a no hitter. Query whether this was an instance that customary baseball strategy was less than ideal.

Thinking about that led to my brain thinking about something else as well. What would the best hitters' averages be if there were only two outfielders? Could somebody hit .600? And if there were only two outfielders and if the best hitters were carrying .600 batting averages, what would the run-of-the-mill hitters' averages be -- over .400? .500? And if even the average hitters were .400 hitters, how many runs would be scored in an average game, 15 per side? And if 15 runs were scored per side, how long would the average game take to complete, 5 hours?

My conclusion? Designing the rules for the game of baseball had to be a damn complicated thing. Modifying the rules to keep up with players and coaches figuring out how to take advantage of imbalances between offense and defense must also be immensely challenging. Ah, for the love of sports.

* * *

Finally, as mentioned above, special, special thanks to the fine fellow smiling to the left of this paragraph.[1] It's a great pleasure and privilege to work with you, sir, and many thanks again for the fabulous entertainment.

I hope this entry was everything you expected and more!

By request, the photograph originally provided has been replaced with the caricature now pictured.

Friday, June 02, 2006

Credits and Debits are the Best Medicine

The funny stuff below was sent to me by the accountant at my new job. As you'll see, it is a parody of the scene in A Few Good Men where Tom Cruise (portrayed here by the "accounting" guy) is interrogating Jack Nicholson (portrayed here by the "operations" guy). I am happy to report that I think it's genuinely funny. I laughed, and you'll laugh, everybody wins.

Read it. You'll get a decent return on your time investment. I double dog guarantee it.


Operations: "You want answers?"

Accounting: "I think we are entitled to them!"

Operations: "You want answers?!"

Accounting: "I want the truth!"

Operations: "You can't handle the truth!!!"

Operations (continuing): "Son, we live in a world that requires revenue. And that revenue must be brought in by people with elite skills. Who's going to find it? You? You, Mr. Accountant?

Operations (continuing): "We have a greater responsibility than you can possibly fathom.You scoff at operations and you curse our lucrative incentives. You have that luxury. You have the luxury of not knowing what we know: that while the cost of business expenses may be excessive, they drive revenue. And my very existence, while grotesque and incomprehensible to you, drives REVENUE! You don't want to know the truth because deep down in places you don't talk about at staff meetings ... you want me on that well. You NEED me on that well!

Operations (continuing): "We use words like drilling, wellbore, fracture stimulation, lease automatic custody transfer, pumping unit and flow rate. We use these words as the backbone of a life spent building something. You use them as a punch line! I have neither the time nor inclination to explain myself to people who rise and sleep under the very blanket of revenue I provide and then question the manner in which I provide it. I would rather you just said "thank you" and went on your way. Otherwise I suggest you contract a drilling rig and drill some wells. Either way, I don't give a damn what you think you're entitled to!"

Accounting: "Did you expense the lap dances?"

Operations: "I did the job I was hired to do."

Accounting: "Did you expense the lap dances?"

Operations: "You're goddamn right I did!"

* * *
Photo Credits: here.

Thursday, June 01, 2006

On Looking Back (and Forward) - Part 1

Sometimes I talk to people about the hours I work (which are fairly extreme). Sometimes during those conversations I talk about how I regret the things I am missing out on by working the hours I work (it's a fairly long list of things) and the sacrifices my schedule requires, especially for my wonderful family.

Sometimes during those conversations we'll get to talking about regret. That part of this sort of discussion sometimes focuses on the sacrifices that have been required in the past or the sacrifices that are being required in the present because of the work schedule of people in my sort of job. To do this job successfully does require material and frequent sacrifices. And sometimes that's regrettable. Of course.

But today it occurred to me that doing this job right now may allow me more freedom (and concomitantly, mean I can avoid making sacrifices) in the future, provided things continue to work out according to my mid-term and long-term plans.

So when you're evaluating the choices you've made in your life (and when you're evaluating a new opportunity or weighing the pros and cons of a new endeavor), I think you need to consider the benefits not yet reaped as well as the costs already incurred. There is opportunity cost today for choices made. There is opportunity cost tomorrow for choices made.

All you can really do is do the best you can and make the choices that seem the most right at the time. And be humble to what is right, especially morally.

Jumping topics slightly,
I am firmly convinced
that the investment decisions
you make with your time
are the most important investment decisions in life.

"When you come to a fork in the road, take it."
-- Yogi Berra.

Photo Credits: here and here.