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7 Easy Steps (and 180 Sleepless Nights) To Becoming Your Own Boss

This is the true tale of my transition from corporate mid level exec jockey to mid priced self employed business consulting dude and largely the reason why the Donut Monday has been on hiatus the last 6 months or 180 sleepless nights. Large bouts of joblessness and possible financial ruin strangely dulls my humor. Only the names and the companies have been omitted to protect the not so innocent starting with yours truly who doesn’t want to get his ass sued as I recount my journey.

Step 1 – Get Fat and (Un)Happy In the Corporate World

You blink and all of a sudden you’ve been at one company for 13 years. You didn’t plan on it but you figure out how to not only survive but thrive in the corporate matrix. The pay is good. The benefits even better and the 6 week sabbaticals downright intoxicating. You think about leaving but they toss in Sr into your title. You think about leaving again and then they start calling you Director and that’s got a nice ring to it. Now it’s business class bookings on corporate travel and a cute admin. At this point you’ve dodged atleast 6 or 7 company wide layoffs so you think you’re untouchable or just damn lucky but who cares. You made it through the gauntlet and you start buying into the hype. But even though you’ve built up a dream and become a delegation superstar you’re in meetings 8 hours a day and 200 daily emails is a regular occurrence so you catch up at night after the kids are in bed a couple (every) night a week. Your friends start calling you a lifer and you think maybe they just might be right.

Step 2 – Buy Into the Start Up Dream

The dirty little secret is that living in the bay area can be a grind. So much wealth abounds and even though you’re W2 would bring bring no sympathy to anyone else in any other part of the country you start to feel like you settled and the house starts to feel smaller. And you’re about to turn 40. So you start to put out feelers on making a move to a start up , kick your feet up and wait for the offers to pile in like high priced veteran ballplayer who has just become an unrestricted free agent. But no offers come in. Sure you’re great, wicked smart and you put in the hours but you’re a corporate guy and you’re best years are behind you. You don’t know how to work in an environment without process. Can you sell the vision and close when the company’s existence depends on it? Can you work in an environment where everyone is 20 something and that salt and pepper hair is not helping things. No one tells this to your face but that’s what’s going on.

But then all of a sudden an offer comes in from a start up. OK it’s a start up that has been a start up for 10 years and you’re not feeling good vibes about the founder/CEO but then again every start up founder is a bit of a mad scientist so you talk yourself into this being the one. Who cares if it’s the only one. You take the job. The wife is supportive but starts to update her resume just in case.  The company is not based in the bay area so you become a temporary road warrior but you can handle it until you see the hotel reservation the company made for you and you think the one star rating is a typo. It’s not.  Business class is a long way away from your new home in row 39 middle seat. But you’re a seasoned veteran who knows how to play hurt and you soldier on. And before you know it you’re living the dream. Deals are closing. Attaboys and high fives all around. You start sitting in the quarterly board meetings. Your confidence skyrockets and you’re already counting ways to spend your forthcoming start up stock option wealth. Life is good.

Step 3 – Get Fired

While you are hitting nice strides in your job the revenue numbers come up short and your team members are getting picked off one by one. Rationale thought is in short supply and then one day the mad scientist CEO sets his sights on you and next thing you know you’re fired. I’m not talking about one of those prolonged individual performance plan layoffs with a soft landing and a fat severance plan kind of terminations. Or  the  sorry that risky new direction we took the company in didn’t quite pan out so we need to perform a mass casualty slaughter set of terminations. No I’m talking about a coming out of no where-in your face-made for TV-you’re fired-no soup for you kind of terminations transacted in about 15 seconds at curbside pick up at the airport by your boss who you were there to meet and drive to the big customer meeting that you set up. So now you suddenly find yourself curbside and jobless. And the airport cop behind you telling you to pull forward right afterward is not helping the situation at all at the moment. Curbside and jobless.

Step 4 – Have the Sure Thing Job Offer Fall Through

You know you had not been happy in this job for sometime anyway so the feeling of shock is quickly replaced by relief and ultimately joy because another large company had been recruiting you for a few months leading up to this moment. You were hesitating up to this point about going back to the corporate life but after getting virtually gunned down in broad daylight you start thinking maybe this start up life is not for you. Collect a severance, sign a fat offer and walk away unscathed. But just as you’re pricing out a 4 star family trip to Hawaii to celebrate the hiring manager calls up says the open headcount has been pulled but let’s talk again in 6 months and that’s when you really start to sweat.

Step 5 – Consume Large Quantities of Humble Pie

You’re a survivor so you shake it off, fire up the laptop and make LinkedIn your default home page. You punch out some key words in the job search that are representational of who you are and what type of role you are looking for. “VP”… “Team Leader”….”Superstar”.. “Generous Compensation”.  A few weeks later you’re resetting your expectations to “Entry Level”…”Flexible Hours”…and “Free Uniform Cleaning” It’s not going so well. You become a networking mad man. Lunch meetings are your daily ritual and while you put on a good face for friends and former co-workers who actually answer your email or calls no good job leads are materializing and you start to wonder if in fact your shit maybe does stink afterall.  You sit and your home office and do the job math. One unemployed single household income earner times  2.5  months average interview to offer time divided by 6 weeks left of severance to the power of end of season/holiday no one hires this time of year. Don’t forget to carry the one.

Step 6 – Reinvent Yourself

You’re on the 48th coffee meeting when a wise man asks if you’ve considered consulting. You had not. You’re a one company kind of guy but maybe it’s time to reinvent yourself. It’s 10am on a Sunday morning and there is an industry trade show Monday where you know everyone. 2 hours later you’ve booked a flight on your dime and 10 minutes before your local Fed Ex store closes you’re printing out the last batch of home made business cards. JSW Consultants is born. You’re on the 7th hour walking the tradeshow floor when in fact one of your former business contacts says they could use your consulting help a few hours a week. That grows to a few days a week and as you’re filing your business license, installing QuickBooks and pondering what exactly you can and can’t write off on your taxes in your new self employed status an email comes through on a new consulting opportunity referred by one of those networking lunch contacts you thought might be a waste of time.

Step 7 – Remake the Dream

Now it’s 6 months later and you have multiple consulting projects going at once, a few more in the pipeline and atleast 2 intriguing job offers, both of which you turn down for now. You understand the perils of consulting and realize there is no job security and it could all go away in less than 30 days but for now you’re not just surviving your thriving. You are the salary man who only knew one way to earn a living consciously took an unchartered career path and in the end learned alot more about yourself along the way.

The Case For Rational Politics

As I turned off the election results of 2012 last night what resonated with me is that I lost any real interest in the presidential election many months ago. It was not because of over saturation of television ads, mailers and robocalls. Being in solidly blue California this state only served the role of being an open checking account for both parties looking to bankroll a $1B+ campaign expenditure. It was not because my personal beliefs are that each have some character flaws that prevent them from reaching a similar level of achievement from some of our great presidential leaders of the past. Rather it’s the fact that it became pretty clear that nearly every incumbent in the house of representatives and senate was on track to win re-election, thus ensuring the American people inherited the same dysfunctional congress that refuses to work together in any meaningful way and act in their own best interests to ensure future re-election and personal prosperity. Sub15% approval rating collectively for Congress does not deter each parties polarizing actions that promote an even greater divide and frankly why should it if we just keep re-electing them anyway? I no longer say shame on them. Rather shame on us, the constituents that they are allegedly representing for essentially endorsing their actions.

With the election over I want to make the case for a new era of rational politics. Where compromise, negotiation and deal making is not looked upon as being weak but rather a character trait that we not only strive for but demand in the policy makers we elect to office going forward. It’s a trait I rely on every day in my sales career. Hell my 5 and 8 year old sons have already mastered the trait as they trade off between what they want (treats and toys) and what they have to do to get it (chores and homework) Why can’t congress figure this out?

I propose over the next 2 years we focus more on the collective efforts of our congressional representatives (house and senate) and less on a singular leader who can influence but ultimately not write the policy that will greatly affect the future of our great country. In order to do that there has to be a rallying point that serves the best interests of all citizens. A call to action for congress to align on legislative policy that is simple to outline and easy to track for compliance of our congressional representatives and is non-partisan in nature. Consider this the Rational Congress Act of 2012

1. Congress shall pass a balanced budget amendment to the U.S. Constitution by end of the 2013 next congressional session and instill a long term debt reduction plan.

It is in every citizen’s collective best interests to get the U.S. pulled back from our fiscal crisis. This cannot be fixed with just spending cuts. This cannot be fixed with just tax increases. No program is sacred. No idea too stupid. Pass the amendment with no provision for breaking this without a supermajority. Then lock yourselves in a room and figure out a long term U.S. debt reduction plan that will span a 30-35 year horizon to pay off.  Given the absurd bill we’ve run up it’s going to take that long and possibly longer. Its time to sober up from a drunken generation of spending.

2. Congress shall pass stringent campaign finance reform.

Rarely if ever does corporate America nor high wealth individuals who invest heavily to influence legislative policy have the collective best interests of the average U.S. citizen in mind. Similarly congressional representatives are too weak to avoid the influence of these special interest groups and individuals. They are human afterall (allegedly) Congress will pass campaign finance reform that limits contributions of individuals and corporations and enact stringent firewalls with special interest groups and lobbyists to reduce if not eliminate policy making decisions. The reform will likely be far from perfect but it has to start somewhere and will symbolically represent that congress is aware they need to be regulated in this capacity when writing policy.

3. Invoke a Congressional member civility and bipartisan score index.

Can’t we all just get along? Its unfortunate that the extremely divided congress we have today is influencing the next generation of voters who think this is normal and acceptable behavior. It’s ok to disagree. It’s ok to be passionate. It’s not ok to insult, tell lies and stop acting in the best interests of their constituents and the U.S. population. It’s completely unenforceable but I propose the creation of a non partisan congressional behavior index. Each congressional member has a score based on traceable and straightforward metrics agreed upon by a panel of representatives from each house and each party. Metrics that measure both positive and negative score influencing acts. Things like attendance statistics in congress, votes cast across party lines, filibusters invoked (the opposite of negotiation) participation in committees that result in bipartisan policy passed into law, and anything else that promotes the collective best interests of this country. At the next election each congressional members score is identified and posted for all voters to see.

Every congressional member is given the benefit of the doubt from day one and will ultimately own their fate depending on their ability to execute to fulfill these 3 simple, straightforward but ultimately crucial policies to help get our country back on track to being more unified. Those who do not vote in favor of all three and maintain a minimum bipartisan score index are subject to being voted out office, regardless of party affiliation.

That’s it. It’s time to put congress on notice and tell them what we want for once. Or atleast what I want but I don’t think I’m alone.

If you like, pass along. 

Hell on two tires: the fine art of navigating the streets of Ubud, Bali by scooter

A friend currently residing in Bali wrote an interesting story of the perils of scooter riding. Worthy of a guest blog post. Enjoy

Let me preface this piece with I am no first time nervous nelly scooter rider. I cruised the mean streets of Key West on my little purple, plastic, Japanese scooter for an entire summer with the biggest hazard being dodging the occasional inebriated tourist on Duvall street. But Bali, is no Key West! Think turn three at Talladega, within inches of 40 of your most fabulous scooter riding buddies dodging, numerous potholes, various hanging vegetation, no street lights, and various wild life obstacles from monkeys, dogs and chickens, to snakes. It is the ultimate live video game that you get to play again and again every time you need to go somewhere. And did I mention, they drive on the wrong side of the road! Great for the Brits, not so good for us hodophobic Americans.

Bali is where the scooter reigns supreme over the car.  I have witnessed entire families 2 kids, Mom, Dad, and the family dog all piled on one scooter on the way to school drop off. The ubiquitous orange Home Depot truck exists not. Instead, every construction material imaginable from bricks, to 40 foot lengths of rebar and coconut are some how precariously piled on the scooter for transport from A to B. Lunch time roach coach, think “scooterized” with large metal hot box containers piled sky high on top of each other looking as if they may topple over at any moment.

Rules of the road – there are none and I mean none, zippo nadda. One way streets no problem, passing on the other side of the street at any time into on coming traffic sure, stop signs and traffic lights(although there are very few) don’t apply to the scooter and street signs so you can actually find your way around rare very rare.  Turn signals, mine as well just stop manufacturing them on the Balinese scooter they are not needed nor used. But, the horn, now that is another story all together, as the Balinese toot all over town beeping continuously for no apparent reason. The result; full out melodious mayhem everywhere all the time. It is every scooter for himself in a mad race to get from nowhere to somewhere the fastest way possible.

Maybe, the peaceful, non assuming Balinese, find it an invigorating game to play chicken with an oncoming equivalent of a grey hound bus every 2.3 minutes. Or perhaps, they get a kick out of passing as many other scooters as fast as possible with inches to spare in a kind of “see my wheels” sort of bragging rights. I don’t know, but they seem to speed bye me leaving me put put putting away, with my right hand in permanent “throttle death grip” until I reach my next destination whereby I immediately drop to my knees and kiss the earth for letting me remain alive to make it to yet another yoga class.

But by far, the most endearing part of my daily commute is monkey forest road which as you guessed it, goes right into the monkey forest which yes, you guessed it, is a forest full of monkeys. So, I am scooting along minding my own business, oblivious to all the monkey statues outside the local shops that are obviously not for decorative purposes, but rather subliminal warnings of the impending danger zone ahead when all of the sudden I am in monkey world. One climbing over the power line above my head, several running across the street, more sitting on a wall ready to pounce on me at any site of food. God help you if you are scooting along and eating a popsicle or piece of fruit. The monkey forest – the animal kingdom alive and well for your scooting pleasure.

Yet, with all this mayhem, I have yet to see an accident. Apparently, the ability to navigate multiple obstacles at break neck speeds, with your toddler aboard all whilst talking on your mobile is some sort of inherited Balinese genetic trait. One that I will never be blessed to receive. Yet, there is nothing quite like the joyous freedom of riding though the rice paddies at sunset with the wind in your hair until a very large unidentifiable bug smacks you in the face, jolting you out of your day dream just in time to dodge the formidable boa constrictor on the road in front of you.

Peace & Namaste y’all from Bali

Men Are Like Cars and I Need a Man-Up

I believe men are like cars and if that’s true then I’m a 1971 baby blue Dodge Dart with a Slant-6 engine, aka the 1971 Donut Monday Man. I’m not the fastest or the prettiest but I rarely break down and we both consume large quantities of semi flammable liquids, typically on the weekends. Also like cars, you never really know what exactly will break down once you put more than a few clicks on the highway of life. I’m 41 so in the car vernacular my odometer meter just passed the 60K mark. The warranty has long since expired but as long as you keep up the maintenance this baby has alot of good years left in him. Yet no matter what you do there are some rather quirky things that come up over time that you don’t anticipate having to deal with, whether you’re talking about a middle aged car or a middle aged man. For instance.

Cars sometimes get oil leaks.

The 1971 Donut Monday Man now experiences the occasional pee leaks. I attribute this directly to a flaw in the overall design of the 1971 Donut Monday Man related to the bladder storage tank. It was made too small. My capacity to hold pee never achieved higher than a 3 year old toddler’s output and that’s a problem after drink #3 on a hot summer day. This widely known design flaw of the 1971 Donut Monday man is well known to the point that my friends and family commonly call me “thimble”. I’m the annoying guy in the window seat on the airplane that has to get up 4 times for a 2 hour flight. Since that time I insist on seats next to the aisle in movie theaters and sporting events and even then I end up missing key plot lines and grand slams, especially if the beer if flowing that day. I break out in a sweat at the mention of a night out on a party bus. I want to buy one of those discreetly hidden urine containers you wear under your pants but my wife is worried about a possible breach while she’s sitting next to me. Frankly I don’t blame her.

Cars sometimes have computer glitches, especially newer cars made recently. Stuff like initiating your left turn blinker and the car seat warmer kicks on. Let me tell you that’s fun in July.

The 1971 Donut Monday Man’s pinkie fingers sometimes fall asleep at night when I sleep on my back. Ummmm…WTF? I know! The first time it happened I woke up in a panic and thought I was having a stroke, and a lazy one at that. Turns out that was wrong but hence forth the phenomenon is now lovingly referred to as Stroke Pinkie. How and why this only affects my pinkie fingers I don’t know but the concentrated affect must not be enough to wake me up immediately as when I do finally come to it feels like I have 2 slabs of dead baby finger meat on both hands. I imagine hours of no blood circulating to the body part I rank #24 of most important body parts I don’t want to turn black from lack of circulation and fall off my body, ranked just before my ear lobes and 4 ranking spots higher than bottom lip. I imagine a life much less fulfilling where the loss of my pinkies would mean I can no longer give a proper Shaka sign, rock out at hard metal concerts and my Vulcan Salute would forever be off balance. The only solace I could take from the tiniest of dismemberment is that my nail clipping output would instantly be reduced by 20%. My wife sees this as a strong upside so its unclear how unhappy she would be if a woke up pinkieless. Similar to thimbleitis, this strange phenomenon has also become common knowledge in my family to the extent the term is now used as a weapon in day to day teasing. “You throw a ball like you have Stroke Pinkie!”

Cars, especially those exposed to harsh Canadian winters, are susceptible to rust.

The 1971 Donut Monday Man, also exposed to harsh Canadian winters during his earlier years gets the occasional toe fungus. Let me tell you even my best power moves to put Mrs Donut Monday in the mood for frolicking (typically cash payments) can be undone in an instant if she gets a glimpse of those bad boys. I’m thinking this fungal issue may be linked to the fact that I have yet to get around to wash any of my hockey gear, skates included since sometime in the late 90’s but I can’t be absolutely sure. The doctor offered to prescribe an antibiotic but it meant I would have to give up drinking during the treatment and I couldn’t quite figure out what I’d do with the extra 2 hours every day I would not be in the bathroom peeing.

Cars batteries can sometimes go dead.

The 1971 Donut Monday Man 190 lb burger injected body is lucky to get 6 straight hours a night in the parking garage of life. How is it that the older you get the harder it is to sleep though the night? I heard it but never believed it until recently. I chalk it up to constant years of waking up due to  pee outs, night feedings, barfing, crying and the sometimes even my kids wake me up. And yet during the day I not only crave but need a power nap which I can take just about anywhere. At my desk, At the movies, virtually every Raiders game. But my favorite place now is the car. It’s not unusual for my wife to send me out for a quick grocery run and I return 2 hours later very refreshed and full of vigor sporting dry drool from a slumber fest in the SUV parked in front of the Safeway. Because of this I’m now no longer allowed to grocery shop without supervision.

Cars sometimes get flat tires.

The 1971 Donut Monday Man has yet to experience that phenomenon 🙂

FarFromGroovin – Down with Rental Car Companies

I put myself in the category of the classic business trip mid level exec grinder. Having not (yet) achieved superstar CEO status where access to private jets and town cars are at a moments notice and working for a start up, I pack my bags for each trip, kiss the wife and kids goodbye and prepare to go to battle. Flight delays, tight connecting flights that require full sweat maximizing sprints between terminals and surly flight attendants don’t phase me anymore. Bring on the excessive drinking repugnant customer who orders his 3rd last round on my tab at 1am the night before a 5:30am wake up call for an early morning flight home. No problem because I play hurt. Yet rental car companies cut me down at the knees. They are my kryptonite. While the world continues to evolve, the rental car industry embraces 40 year old practices with their proudest achievement in the last 5 years being the introduction of the flexible fueling option/wallet vaporizer, and super sized rental car lots that are outfitted with every imaginable type of car ever made except the one I actually reserved. A random sampling of their practices I find the most annoying

1. Forcing me to deal with actual humans

The airlines have taught me the less human interaction the better. I embrace a kiosk driven interactive business lifestyle. With exception of the frequently pleasant and borderline hygenic rental car shuttle drivers who pick me up to take me to the rental car lot located as far as possible from the airport, everything about a rental car experience can and should be automated so no one has to deal with an actual rental car company employee. That world does not yet exist and regretfully there are a few occasions when I actually have to walk in and talk to a customer service reservation agent. That usually instigates the official start of a shitty business trip day. Not that I have anything against the employees personally. They work exceptionally hard for minimal pay. Its the process they are forced to follow. The encounter typically starts with me queuing up at the end of a what resembles a depression era bread line with fellow customers at various stages of frustration. Your estimated wait time is 20 min (+1 day). When my turn finally arrives I present my drivers license and credit card used to secure my reservation to the service agent who proceeds to type uninterrupted into a computer screen I can’t see for a minimum of 20 minutes, supposedly processing my reservation. Its the most inefficient process I’ve ever encountered. I truly wonder at some point if the agent is Facebooking, or perhaps instant messaging with a friend to bet how long I will stand there blankly waiting before I loose my mind. My alternative theory is they are talking directly to the insurance arm of the rental car company to plot their strategy to see how much they can fleece me before I can leave the lot in the compact Ford Fiesta that oozes my “playa” status. Which leads me to my next gripe…

2. Enough of the hard sell on insurance

Suckers and grandmothers buy rental car insurance. Yet the world must be filled with the former because the rental car companies remain relentless in this practice. First it was the peace-of-mind tactic. “Sir why would you not consider protecting your company and person financial liability for a mere $15 a day.” Then the direct threat tactic. “Sir you will be charged a minimum of $1000 for any damage to the vehicle.” Now it’s a scare tactic. These words actually left the lips of a service rep recently. “Sir it’s 1000 times more likely you will get into a car accident than an airline crash so you should really consider liability coverage.” Well thank you for reminding me that my imminent death is mere moments away, knowing that you will be there to cover the cost of the burned out car that my unrecognizable charred remains will be scraped from after I’m t-boned by a gas tanker leaving the rental car lot.

3. Phantom daily rental rates

There is basic arithmetic. There is Calculus. And then there is rental car math. I have a PhD in rental car math yet even I’ve not completely figured out how my 2 day compact car rental comes to $232.34. The typical rule of thumb on calculating the real cost to rent a car is double any advertised daily rate and  pre-anticipate some additional hidden fees such as the  $5 “We bought too many Chrysler Sebrings and now we can’t unload them” fee, the $12 “Buying 150K shares in Facebook stock seemed like a good idea at the time” fee and the $15 “Reservation agent carpal tunnel syndrome epidemic from excessive typing producing unanticipated medical costs” fee.

4. Practicing IVU – (Inept Vehicle Up-selling)

it’s 8am. I’m in a business suit. I’m in Minneapolis. It’s February. Hmmm..do I want the Mustang Convertible upgrade? Fuck you.

5. Optional Safety Accessories

This one comes directly from Mrs. Donut Monday and falls more in the vacation rental scenario. Renting a baby car seat. This was when we still had some faith in rental car companies. Silly new sleep deprived parents. The first time we rented a seat and arrived to pick up our car the agent said they no longer had any available. Oh ok it’s 10pm and we’re an hour drive from our hotel but we’ll just put our 3 month old on my wife’s lap in the front seat and pretend it’s 1962 again. Can I also get a 6 pack of beer and a Jack Daniel’s chaser for the long ride since drunk driving is optional in this time warp universe you think we’re in? And come to think of it, yes I’ll take the fiery crash insurance option. The 2nd time (yes we did this twice) the rental car seat was covered with an inch of baby vomit and a belt restraint system that only worked with their higher end car models. Crafty

Logical conclusion – Rental car companies enjoy making babies cry

My only hope is a Virgin America equivalent of the airline industry breaks into the rental car market and shakes things up to reinvent the whole rental car experience. Already we’re seeing that with Zipcar and other similar start ups. Or I get that upgrade to CEO. Stay tuned….

The Loneliest Toilet On Earth

I’m all for innovation. The team that invented wrinkle free dress shirts, thus ensuring I never have to touch an iron in my life again is impressive. The man who invented the Umbrella hat should be knighted. And yet no one has figured out how to create a diaper that can properly contain the volume of pee produced from a 4 year old at night. I ask WHY? Having two aggressively hydrated boys and what is clearly an insufficient two bathrooms in my house, my wife and I find ourselves out gunned when it comes to containing the multiple pee perpetrators in our household. Until then our status remains at Code Yellow

Pee Perpetrator #1

This is the only known existing photo of our primary pee perpetrator, the 4 year old. The boy rarely stands still, likely too excited stalking out the next area to mark his territory. This ninja trained pee out warrior has mastered the art to refuse all liquids until the last 30 minutes before bed, at which point he consumes at a rate better than that of our best beer anchor man in my college fraternity days despite our efforts to limit his intake. This technique has increased his overall bladder storage capacity, thus increasing the damage he can do later that night. Night diapers never have a chance. Rather than being contrite, he’s actually proud of his achievements, typically entering our room at 3am with a big shit eating grin like he just broke the new pee out Olympic record. Averaging 1-2 “breaches” a week, we’ve also set a new record on how fast we can change the sheets in the dark…correction how fast “I” can change the sheets in the dark.

He’s also not one to be defined as solely a night pee out master. Freestyling with his finest Spiderman underoos during the day, his decision making process when the need to pee has reached Defcon 5 is made on a case by case basis.  Yes conceptually he could stop the Wi hockey game and go potty in the toilet after doing the pee dance for a solid 5 minutes straight but there is only 30 seconds left in the period, he’s up by a goal and the toilet is a mere 10 feet away so better to defer this decision for now as higher stakes are on the line. Envision the Wi victory dance moments later, hands held up with a big wet crotch and proud of it. That’s my boy

Pee perpetrator #2

This is our 8 year old and its impressive how he has mastered his craft. We’ve shielded his identity in order to avoid psychotherapy years from now when he realizes his Dad brazenly called him out in a desperate attempt to get his blog visitor count up. Diaper free for a few years now he rarely pees the bed but rather takes a more unorthodox approach of sleep walking and peeing in random locations which includes the closet, his clothes hamper and on one occasion his grandma who made the critical error of sleeping in his room once one night while visiting. Just once. My personal favorite is when he actually makes it to the bathroom during a sleep walking incident but forgets to actually lift the toilet lid. Forget the horse whisperer. My wife is the pee whisperer. She senses when he’s roaming the house in the middle of the night, dashes out of bed and brings him back from the brink of making our house his own personal urinal.

Pee perpetrator #3

This is Daisy our cat the most ruthless pee perpetrator of all. Her identity also protected because she is now in the cat witness protection program eluding the hitmen my wife has hired to eliminate her for good. Cats we found have mastered the art of carrying a grudge. After having our first child she was regulated to 2nd fiddle status and never truly forgave the wife or I, thus when her evil campaign of urinal redemption started. At first her acts were more like firing warning shots over our bow indicating she meant business. She would pee in random places without discrimination but when child #2 arrived she realized she needed to refine her game and make it personal. The wife was isolated as a key target to take out when she started peeing on her shoes in the closet. Apparently Daisy has an eye for fashion as she only went after the high end DKNY’s and the Mojo Moxy’s.  The $8.99 Ked slip ons purchased at Target on sale were surprisingly left alone. In a tactical move apparently taught to her by feline special forces, she next went after the primary shoe source, the shoe closet which is locate in our garage. After a merciless bombing campaign the shoe closet eventually collapsed when the weight bearing side walls were completely saturated with cat pee. I have to say I was most  impressed when she took the final nuclear option of peeing down the heater vent in our bedroom. It’s a real treat having hot cat pee smell emulating throughout the house on a hot August day.

Side note –  This is the industrial clothes washer we purchased. It’s been running 24 hours a day since about August 2010. I love this washer. This washer keeps our marriage intact.

Redemption will be mine in about 40 years assuming they don’t invent a way to contain pee outs from an 80 year old man who lost control of his bladder. I’m not holding my breath

How to Spot a Yoga Poser

It seems virtually everyone, including yours truly, is getting into yoga. Entire retail chains are dedicated to properly outfitting the truly committed “yogi” as well as those that want to lead a “yoga inspired” lifestyle – i.e. those who are inspired to not actually practice yoga. Perhaps that is best because I’ve come to the conclusion that there is a world shortage on yoga studios. I showed up to mine the other day and the line was out the door to get into class and around the block. I had to scalp tickets to get closer to the front of the line and mow down a nice lady just to grab one of the last spots. The mark from my It’sJustZen(R) new yoga sandals were still on her back when I left which seemed rather un-Zen like in retrospect.

In the 14 weeks since I started hot Yoga (which more than qualifies me as an expert on the subject in my warped protocol of written subject matter justification) I’ve come to the conclusion that mixed among any class there are the true Yoga disciples and then there are the Yoga posers.

Yoga Disciples – Dedicated, Disciplined, Spiritual. In other words..boring!

Yoga Posers are much more fun to observe because they come in various forms and almost assuredly provide delightful material for an observationalist like myself. I say this with the full disclosure  and humility that I’m a card carrying Yoga poser myself. Until I can actually sit in a lotus pose for more than 30 seconds without sobbing uncontrollably from pain and find enough mind discipline to not get distracted by the hairy guy in front of me who is wearing Yoga shorts atleast 2 sizes too small, I am far from disciple status. That said, regular class attendance has allowed me to observe that there are distinct classes of Yoga posers you’ll find in a studio at any given time. Surprisingly I have yet to find any of these types published in any yoga journals I’ve browsed so consider this an unofficial list until they are formally recognized. There’s a higher likelihood that I’ll be kidnapped by the Yoga secret police and put in Yoga jail and made to sit in a Lotus position for the entire term of my sentence. Here’s the list

The “Whoa I didn’t sign up for this!” Yoga Poser

There’s nothing easier to spot than someone in a hot Yoga studio that is not sure how they actually got there and clearly wants to leave immediately once the wave of heat hits them. My statistical calculations conclude that 37% are those who were talked into going by a friend, 17% went because they are trying to date the aforementioned friend and wanted to get them in bed to try all those poses that only yoga masters can accomplish, and 100% are male. You see a few of these guys come in and know they have no chance of survival just from the sheer look of terror in their eyes.  A few are blissfully ignorant like sheep being lead to the slaughter house but most accept the fate that awaits them and revert to the fetal position around the 2nd or 3rd pose and spend the next 87 minutes trying not to die.

The “Weapon of Mass Destruction” Yoga Poser

I think it was the 3rd yoga class I ever took I was in a forward bending position and a momentary lapse of strategic “clenching” resulted in the escape of a nano sized package of poisoned air from my backside. I was mortified and immediately tried to pass it off on the cute girl next to me who probably has never farted a day in her life and if she did it would smell like plumeria. WOMD Posers laugh at that. They live in a clench-free world where whatever escapes from their body is as its meant to be and typically park themselves in the first row of class to more efficiently distribute their fermented concoction to the already hot room. And they take pride in their output capabilities. The first time I experienced this I thought it was a joke until I saw the guy directly behind the culprit taking a direct hit and was mere seconds away from passing out due to oxygen deprivation. It was anything but a post yoga meditative state in the mens locker room after class when he confronted the violator who clearly forgot to check his weapon at the door. The only thing keeping this guy from body slamming guru McNoxious and put him in a savasana like coma were me and my posse of fellow posers holding him back.

The “I invented this pose” Yoga Poser

For every sport and other discipline that requires time and effort to master the craft there’s always the poser that wants to take the short cut. “Nice new impulsive $5000 road bike purchase bro. I’m sure that’s going to be the motivating key to finally getting rid of your beer gut” Yoga is not immune to these kind of swaggy bros. I’ve seen a few deviations but the proper recipe for this kind of yoga poser is 1 part loin cloth, 1 part male ponytail and 98 parts chutzpah. These posers walk into the studio like they are Bikram Choudhury himself, the pioneer of hot yoga and the reason you willingly plunk down $100+ per month to sit in a hot box for 90 min straight.  As a IITP poser they flaunt it like they have mad flexibility skill(z)s and could literally bend to kiss their own ass if they felt like they wanted to, but they don’t. The move is to work the room like they own it and slyly chant to themselves using sounds like resemble a 1st  century ancient language that only 3 people currently alive in the world can speak. Then they find a spot in the back of the class so they can minimize exposure on the fact that they really could care less about class, can’t hold the positions and spend the majority of the class transfixed on the hot girl they have strategically parked their mat behind.

I look forward to more yoga observational adventures once I come up for Yoga parole in 2020.

Namaste

10 Tips for a Successful Business Trip in Paris

10. Prior to leaving refrain from complaining to others that you have to take yet another business trip to Paris. You will get zero sympathy and a 12% chance someone punches you in the face

9. That 2 star hotel your company booked for you which is quite “charming” and is moments away from getting a 3 star upgrade is guaranteed to be dump. If in doubt send a work colleague a day ahead of you. You can borrow mine if needed. This is Mike. I now call him Recon Mike.

8. Forget trying to pretend you’re really French. French purposely named their cities so that non-natives cannot properly pronounce them. It’s not “Reims”, it’s “Reeeiiiiuuuummmmeeeesss”

7. No business meeting will start until the room is represented by atleast one Philippe, a Pascal, 2 Oliviers and a Gaspard. And Gaspard is on vacation until September

6. Showing up for a business meeting on a motorcycle (+ 5 points). Showing up on a moped…driven by someone else (- 25 points)

5. Accept that pate will be served at all meals

4. Be warned that French taxi drivers, when given the option to take an extremely generous 50 euro offer for a 3 mile fare or send 2 Americans walking home at 1am in the morning to their certain death..will choose the latter option

3. That friendly ribbing about France loosing in the last World Cup just cost you the business deal

2. The only no-smoking section is 40 miles outside of Paris

1. Refrain from documenting all business trip debauchery on Facebook while you’re wife is home with the kids. Trust me on this one.

United (Epic Fail)

It’s a sobering thought when you come to the realization that you are in a loveless marriage. After almost 15 years since we first consummated our love, travelled countless miles together, experienced many sleepless nights, endured crying babies and built up what I thought was ever lasting loyalty I’m packing my bags and leaving you my once beloved United Airlines. Not that you’ll miss me or my 760K of lifetime miles travelled. You only barely acknowledge my presence now anyway. I remember when we first started dating. I was still young and inexperienced..barely logging 20K miles a year but you saw the potential in me and gave me my first courtesy upgrade. They say you never forget your first time and that was never more true than for me. The flight attendant offering to take my coat. Sitting down in a plush seat and actually being able to cross my legs. Unlimited warm mixed nuts! I was drunk on that feeling, supplemented by 2 rather strong jack and cokes which were also on the house. I never wanted to go back to coach and it was at that moment that I pledged my love to you.

Things between us initially were great. After all it was our honeymoon. As my business trips became more frequent and my airline status increased, first to Premiere, then Premiere Executive and even that one year I hit 1K you spoiled me with love and attention. Courtesy passes to the Red Carpet Club. Frequent reward travel booked by real people on the phone. And who could forget that last minute trip around the world in 2005 where a mere 20K miles got me bumped from Business Class to First the entire trip. We were young and crazy and you were always ready to travel at a moment’s notice.

But then a few years ago I saw the first signs that things were in trouble. First there was the occasional missed upgrades with no explanation. I’d sit by my computer waiting for the confirmation email that never came. And when I confronted you about it you just played dumb like it was no big deal and said it would never happen again. And I believed you! But then I got stuck in coach in a middle seat bookended by 2 people that had not showered in days and thought that brushing twice a day meant their hair. How so passive aggressive of you. That’s when I knew you our best days were behind us.

I could never admit that our relationship was crumbling even though all the signs were there. I just didn’t want to see them. The more I tried the more you’d push me away. Charging me a hefty co-pay on seat upgrades that used to only cost me miles. Introducing a new intricate boarding process that put me in seating category 8 just above lepers and parolees. Scheduling me with the hot friendly flight attendant crew…if it were 1967! And I told you it was a bad idea to adopt that shady Continental family and bring them into our home with all their riff raff friends who would come between us and leech off you. You said things between us would not change but all my calls to you went to voicemail after hearing that you were experiencing higher than normal call volume. Must be all those slick Global Service guys calling you. I see how you look at them when you think I’m not looking. You’re so materialistic.

So I’m leaving you for good United. You should know I’ve met someone else. She’s so clean and beautiful unlike your tired and worn look. She likes all the cities that I like and we have plans to travel to new places together in the new year. She’s always available when I call and best of all she’s a Virgin, saving herself for just the right guy and I think we’ll be together forever.

Finding my Inner Don Draper

I find this email in my inbox from my wife the other day….

Ladies,
Does the man in your life need a bit of polishing up? We have the answer for you! Our stylists have been inspired by the cool styles of Mad Men and have created great looks for the modern guy. This month Barberia is offering a Mad Men Makeover package at an exclusive price. It includes everything your man needs to go from dud to stud in one appointment!
And once he is looking great, enter him into our Make Over Contest for a chance to be named Hottest Makeover & win one of three great prizes (and bragging rights, of course).
 
INCLUDES
+ cleanse & cut + high shine color enhancer (or gray coverage) + b.e.n.n. + facial hair design + styling product

$145  now only $80 (save almost 50%)

At first I’m perplexed.   Makeover? I keep the haircuts high and tight. No beer belly. I even own a v neck black shirt. I’m the after picture! Then it hits me..my achilles heel.   The gray hair. I’m a walking advertisement for Just for Men..the before picture. Ironically after sporting gray hair for over 20 years now I’ve   finally felt like I’ve grown into the look. Gray hair at 20 – freak of nature. Gray hair at 41 – distinguished. Apparently my wife is not yet ready to be married to distinguished. She wants a Mad Man.

After further contemplation I’m impressed by her subtle move. Lure me into a trance by affiliating a call to action with one of my favorite TV shows. Embrace my inner Don Draper, the antagonist hero of a 1960’s man as portrayed on Mad Men. But why stop at hair coloring? This is more than that. She is telling me to live a Don Draper life. A Don Draper takes it for granted that he will have a solid coif of jet black hair which would not dare stray out of place until the day he dies. That is wasted energy. He’s more concerned at the moment   that the bottle of bourbon in his corner office is over half empty and it’s only Tuesday afternoon and his secretary just turned 25. Time for a younger   secretary. He’s also annoyed that it’s 11am and he has not put anyone at the office in their place or rallied the team that indeed we’re going to win that new advertising account we are pitching. Because in a Don Draper life you always win the new advertising account you are pitching.

Instantly I take a broader assessment of my life. Don Draper does not do school drop off or pick up with the kids and if you tried to put a crossing guard vest on him Don Draper would punch you right in the face. Don Draper loves his kids but he’s never changed a diaper in his life or dealt with a “pee out”. His kids know  you don’t wake up a Don Draper when he’s sleeping unless the house is burning down but a house would know better than to do that. Don Draper laughs at triathletes. His 3 sports are boozing, skirt chasing and glaring. He’d light up a cigarette, take a long pull and blow the smoke in your face when you tell him you’re heading to Yoga class. Namaste that!

Don Draper does not sit down with his wife with the calendar and plan his weekly guys night out to make sure it does not conflict with her schedule. Every night is guys night out until he says otherwise. Don Draper does not have a Facebook account. He has a little black book and he “Friends” about 3 new ladies a month on average. Don Draper does not write a blog. He dictates his musings into an 8 track tape and has his new 20 year old secretary transcribe it for him.

Inspired I seek out my wife and thank her for inspiring me to take a new lease on my life and life the Mad Man life she so wants me to embrace.

She throws a box of “Just For Men” into my lap and says get over yourself already. And think about what you want to make for dinner. It’s girls night out.

Here’s how the hair in a box experiment turned out. Don Draper does not approve