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Living Large in Little League

This dad shares his experiences as his kids progress through little league baseball

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Dear Liver

Dear Liver,

First off I just want to say that I love you. We’ve been through a lot together and I’ve not always treated you with the respect you deserve. There was that malt liquor phase in college which I’m not proud of.  Oh and spring break in Mexico where I set the record for most consecutive tequila popper shots. Come on that was fun right? Fist bump! Come on don’t leave me hanging. Yeah I get your still mad about those early days in my career where I got a little carried away with the free soda perk and only consumed water in the form of ice cubes in my jack and cokes. Thank you for sticking around with me during those days and by sticking around I mean not shutting down so I’m on dialysis for the rest of my life. I appreciate it.
But hey we are in a much better place now right? I’m drinking tons more water, no more soda and I’ve cut way down on my day drinking at work. I don’t take you for granted anymore and I’m committed to you for the long haul. You know that now and that’s why I feel comfortable telling you that I’m taking a 3 day trip to Vegas with the guys.

Oh please don’t cry.

No really it will be fine. I’ll be sure to hydrate. Already I’ve had 3 glasses of water this morning before I head to the airport. Yes I’ll probably have a few drinks at the bar. Yes those are a stack of Southwest drink tickets in my pocket but it’s just an hours flight and how many can I really use in that time? Last trip was 4 coupons? Really? Wow I’m good but that’s besides the point. I’ve been preparing for this trip and taking a holistic approach to improving all of my organs health. There’s all that hot yoga workouts with those moves that improve the health of my pancreas, kidneys and gall bladder. My gall bladder is rockin right now. It should be on the cover of gall bladder monthly it’s so finely tuned.

Who’s going on the trip with me? Well there is Tom, Dave and my brother Sean. Yes my Canadian brother is going. Ok you need to just calm down. Yes he can be a bad influence on me but I haven’t seen him in almost a year and we can’t even go back to that bar again since the fire we accidentally started burned it down and all charges were eventually dropped. I know it’s not fair that his liver died many years ago from that trip to Saskatoon when it was all you can drink Molson’s night but it’s not my fault that he has free health care and got the titanium liver transplant. We just have to deal with this together.

So let’s just get through these next 3 days and make the best of it. I’m not going to lie to you that it’s going to be easy but I’l stay clear of the double vodka/redbulls (I get annoyingly chatty) and be sure to hydrate regularly. Tonic water counts right?

Last minute Donut Monday Dad Christmas gift ideas

Struggling to find a last minute Christmas gift that merits the awesomeness that Mr. Donut Monday delivers day in an day out? Never fear. I’ve compiled a list of ideas that meets such criteria

10. Someone to re-engineer my Comcast Home security system to no longer make an audible ping on the master console in our bedroom when the system detects a door being opened in our home. This crafty feature was intended to say “Alert –  Someone might be breaking into your home!!” but in reality its sole use to date has been for the sole benefit of Mrs. Donut Monday – “Alert – Mr Donut Monday is rolling in at 1:18am after a night boozing with friends who you don’t approve of!  Also he forgot to take out the trash”

9. A walk on role for Mad Men’s final season as Roger Sterling’s younger, better looking yet boozier brother who engage in hijinx with the secretary pool and bring in the biggest client to date for the ad firm, Scooter Tuna.

8. Someone to train my kids to no longer pee with the seat down and to flush when they go #2. I continually realize the importance of this wish being granted every time I sit on a wet toilet seat and look down.

7. A photoshopped picture me hoisting the Stanley cup over my head surrounded by the San Jose Sharks. I’ve been waiting 42 years for this moment. Time to take matters into my own hands

6. $10,000 cash to hire a team of analysts to determine how I found a way to miss my fantasy football playoffs this year with Peyton Manning, AJ Green, Marshawn Lynch and the Seattle Defense on my roster and form my draft war room for next years season.  If there is any money left over it can be used add metallic toilet seats to my home to instill electro shock therapy for any future peeing violations from the kiddos

5. A magical hockey stick that pulls me around the ice craftily with Sydney Crosby like prowess to unleash a slap shot that elevates my game above the wounded moose like skills I currently bring to the ice in my current state

4. A hired hit man to make my raccoon and gopher problems to go away quietly. Plus maybe one of my cats but don’t tell the wife.

3. A super sized bladder transplant with camel like prowess so I can actually make it through a sporting event, movie, or a full night of sleep without the need to go. This wish is sponsored by Flomax.

2. A hovercraft to take me to work daily and avoid the jackelopes who somehow found employment in this improved economy, thus wrecking my commute. Will also accept a transporter device

1. To be “freshly pressed” on WordPress yet again and inflate my already dangerously large ego.

Happy holidays

Leftover Wars – The Final Battle

It’s Donut Monday at  at 3pm and I’m on day 5 of staring at a single piece of bacon sitting in a clear plastic container in my fridge since it arrived late last week. It looks lonely and confused. It’s a class B felony to instill willful neglect on such a tasty morsel in the Donut Monday household with a minimum 1 day ban on chores during football and the option for me to eat aforementioned tasty morsel without repercussions. I could and should eat it right now like a ravenous hungry male lion king but I know this is a trap that has been carefully placed by the only other species that dare challenge his reign – the lioness aka Mrs Donut Monday who “claimed” to be full and brought this piece of bacon home from breakfast out last Thursday in the aforementioned to-go container. Not that this action is out of the ordinary for her.  I’ve seen her first hand drop kick any hovering waiter who dares to prematurely remove a plate and cross forearm windmill block an approaching fork from anyone else at the table she shares as long as there is a reasonable amount of food for later consumption. A single piece of bacon meets that threshold it seems but there’s much more at stake here. I could now see this  to go order was clearly a throw down test of wills between man and woman and the sweet elongated strip of meat goodness  that would ultimately decide the winner, and she had bet large money on the swine.

My track record up until that moment had not been strong. Since our initial courtship I have conservatively obliterated somewhere in the range of 30 meals that the wife had staked claim to for later consumption. I suspect this phenomenon occurs in most other relationships. It’s just one of the differences in the DNA between man vs woman that surfaces during long term co-habitation/aka marriage. A woman orders a meal based on a game-plan where crafty planning can stretch a doggie bag to make 3 additional meals over 7 days. A man takes a different approach and orders a meal based on 3 part rating system

If I order a meal and finish it will it be free and I’ll get my name on a plaque on a wall next to morbidly obese past customers?

If I don’t finish the meal will other men mock me in shame and will my wife start to wonder why I can’t get the job done?

If I don’t finish the meal and deny leftovers out of false bravado how much will  I hate myself when I stake claim on the leftovers my wife will leave unattended in the fridge later that evening?

At first any self inflicted food ownership violations were met with playful banter with minimal repercussions.  But as the violations stacked up over time and she realized no leftover was truly ever safe,  pity gave way to frustration, anger and ultimately threats of sewing my mouth shut. I quickly realized the negative reaction upon confessing to my sin was a direct correlation depending on the anticipation of the illegally consumed leftover multiplied by the complexity of replacement. I call it the Highly Anticipated Nourishment Detriment Syndrome or the HANDSoff effect.

For instance eating the last 2 slices of pie from our local pizza joint only scored a manageable 4 on the “You Suck” scale as I could quickly make amends within a quick call and 20 min drive to make a pick up. On the other end of the spectrum, consuming the remainder of a shrimp burrito recently hauled back all the way from her favorite burrito joint in her college hometown 100 miles away scores a solid 9 with a ten minute sustained stare-down like a man who was just caught clubbing a baby seal.

Back to the single piece of bacon in the present moment which has been tormenting me the last 5 days. I decided early on to to fight the good fight and represent manhood full on knowing that I’m a seasoned pro that is going to own the bacon situation and not let it own him. I document my journey along the way.

Thursday Day 1 – I check to see what the expiration date on cooked bacon under the notion that the threat of food poisoning will mitigate my primal urge to consume. No data exists. Studies show no bacon has lasted longer than 30 minutes before ultimate consumption in 150 years of studies in controlled environments.

Friday Day 2 – Bacon themed nightmares begin. I bolt up out of bed that night in a cold sweat when my wife won’t stop the car to pilfer free Premium Center Cut product from a jackknifed Oscar Meyer delivery truck on the side of the road.

Saturday Day 3 – During my daily refrigerated pork surveillance, the 9 year old asks if he can eat this last piece of bacon in the fridge and for a moment I contemplate letting him just to see what happens. I imagine poison darts shooting out to cut him down mid bite or a trap door opening up beneath him and I think better of it. I let the boy live atleast till Sunday and re-evaluate my options.

Sunday Day 4 – 37 minutes. Turns out that’s how long you can stare blankly into an open fridge before you permanently screw up the cooling system.

Monday Day 5 – I gather the family in the kitchen and announce there is no Santa Claus just a moment before I eat the singular piece of bacon in one bite. I figure better to embrace the role of scoundrel and control my destiny. On the plus side it’s one level higher than that of an accused baby seal clubber.

I am a weak yet fulfilled man

TV Time Out – So That’s What HD Looks Like!

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Oh yeah check out that bad boy the 32 inch Proscan. RCA’s “in your face” answer to Sony’s Trinitron and Pioneer’s Elite series harnessing the best of TV technology circa 1998. That was back in the day when you had to call in atleast 2 buddies to help carry a beast like this when moving and if you dropped this TV on your foot you were definitely going to the emergency room. Not like the featherweight slim LED TV’s of today that my 9 year old could move himself. I took a picture of this relic from a rather odd angle with bad lighting because I literally can’t move it any further by myself.  In short, a man’s man TV. Or some would say a cheap man’s TV. And the reason I know so much about the Proscan TV is because this monster has until about a week ago, been the primary TV viewing home experience for me and my family the past 15 years. RCA may have gone out of business but not in my house.

Truth be told I didn’t even care about replacing the TV the first 8-10 years. TV technology at the time was good enough for me and 50 inch plasma TV’s back then would set you back a good $3-4K. Why get a SmartTV when I had hundreds of physical DVD’s that I could ignore and store in my house taking up precious room while collecting dust? The real shunning began about 3 years ago. Buddies dropping by for a Sunday afternoon watching football slowly dwindled. One friend walked in to my house one Sunday afternoon to watch the 49ers, took one look at the TV and walked out immediately without saying a word. Since then I send him (just him) a Super Bowl party invitation every year with a picture of the TV on the front of the card telling him to RSVP ahead to guarantee I could make room for him. Last year I had my Comcast cable boxes updated and asked the installation technician how much to upgrade to an HD signal. He just looked at me and said “Why?” When the Comcast guy shuns you and gives you the virtual “L” pasted across the forehead you know you’ve hit bottom.

So 2 weeks ago I drove down to the local Best Buy with a stack of gift cards accumulated from 10’s of thousands of dollars in DVD purchase rebates on my credit card and headed over the TV section. The discussion with a very nice sales lady went something like this.

Sales lady – “Can I help you sir?”

Me – “Yes I’d like to buy a new TV”

Sales lady – “Is there a particular set of features you’re looking for in a new TV?”

Me – “Yes I’m looking for a 50 inch TV that has new features developed since 1998”

Sales lady – “You have a TV from 1998?”

Me – “Yes. Please don’t shun me”

Sales lady – “No worries. Are you going to give it to a museum or something”

Me – “I would but I can’t physically move it out of my house. We are going to stack the kids toys all around it until they move out for college which is about when I’ll be ready to upgrade my TV again”

When I finished picking out the TV from the Best Buy Labor Day Sucker sale the nice sales lady said they would bring the Slim LED TV around front to load into my car. In my customary fashion I waited for 3 large men to come by to load the TV but the sales lady brought out the TV herself and loaded it in the car, with one hand, while texting her friends.

Installing the new TV in my living room was relatively pain free save for lifting the old TV off the stand and moving it 2 feet which is where it still sits at this moment. When i turned on the new TV for the first time an impressive graphic display of HD awesomeness appeared before my eyes and that was just the TV set up wizard. Even the set up prompts were impressive and intuitive. “I have detected Comcast Cable as your primary provider” (yep)…”I have detected your home wifi and connecting now” (impressive)…”I have determined your top 10 favorite shows after analyzing your DVR saved programs and past viewing habits. Would you like me to recommend shows to you automatically?” (tears rolling down my face) Once the set up was complete the TV crescendo built up while the TV automatically downloaded a software update. In the background set up music I swore I heard the words “Looooooosseeeerrrr” whisper into my ear.

The next morning was like summer Christmas in casa Donut Monday. The kids reiterated their love for their father and the wife said rent something “frisky” on the Netflix app later tonight, in HD. My Comcast guy looks me in the eye again.

Until my next TV revolution circa 2028

The Father’s Day All Dads Really Want

Father’s day is like Christmas morning for dudes over 35. It’s the one holiday I really look forward to now that I’m a dad, a husband and a worker bee (I mean consultant) And it’s placed at the perfect time of year, just before the wife and I run the gauntlet on a summer when the kids are home 23 hours a day during school break and just after 17 other occasions that are not centered around me. That Hallmark driven marathon starts with Valentine’s day which is a mere 2 days after my birthday (barely enough time to sober up) with a checkpoint at Mother’s day, 12 eight year old kid birthday parties and finally a sprint to the finish line with the wedding anniversary. Speaking of which I’m married to the most shizawesome wife in the world. She knows that while many of my crew of fellow dads get stuck going to expensive Father’s day brunches with the extended family or play dates with other families at the park I get the day off to do whatever I want with no contingencies or lectures after the fact. It doesn’t even have to be legal though she asks to keep it to misdemeanor level offenses

Each year she will ask me what I want to do for Father’s Day and I walk her through the most epic day ever. This would be the Mount Everest of Father’s Days and if I’m only able to achieve a fraction of this it would be a great day still. Let me walk you through it.

The morning starts with a true opportunity to sleep in rather than the daily ritual of a 5 year old projecting at 50 decibels “MORNING DADDY!” 3 centimeters from my eardrum at the side of my bed at 6:30am. The wife has pre-briefed the children the night before that they get 20 minutes of TV cartoon time for each pound of bacon they cook up to prepare for Daddy’s day and an extra 30 minutes if they hear the lock engaged on Mommy and Daddy’s bedroom door in the morning. That’s how I want to be woken up to on Father’s Day morning…the smell of bacon being cooked illegally by minors who earn 5 dollars a week and the bedroom door being locked by my wife.

Once the all clear sign has been given the wife and kids gather to formally present daddy with their father’s day presents. Mommy goes first with a trio of gifts. The first is a tribute to introducing more danger into my life. Up until now the most traumatic experience is whether or not I pull a hammy sprinting out to the curb every Wednesday at 6am to catch the garbage truck after forgetting to put the trash out the night before. So she rewards with me a  guest star appearance as a lowly deck hand who gets promoted to skipper after all the other deck hands are swept to sea on Deadliest Catch.  A spinoff series is being discussed. The second gift is absolute forgiveness for not reminding me that this is the 12 time I’ve forgotten to take out the trash in the last 13 weeks. The third gift is washing the seasick induced puke off my shirt after my guest appearance as a deck hand/turned skipper on Deadliest Catch goes horribly wrong and the spinoff series talks go south.

Then it’s time for the kids to present their gifts to me from youngest to snottiest. The first gift is a solemn oath to from this time forward to flush the toilet after taking a number 2, (an oath that will be broken a mere 20 minutes later) , the 2nd to grant me preemptive forgiveness for blowing they college 529 college money on a weekend bender in Vegas and the third for my oldest boy to commit to learning to drive by age 9 so I can have 24/7 DD access at all times. None of this is legally binding in the court of child rearing but I appreciate the effort and hustle.

Upon completion of the gift giving process and proper consumption of  mass quantities of illegally baked bacon I get dressed and walk outside to see Emma Stone washing my new Tesla Model S hybrid in a bikini. I immediately upgrade her to my caddy where she will carry my bag on a round of golf at Pebble beach with 3 of my heroes: Wayne Gretzky who brings a upgrade to my mad E level hockey skills, the dude who plays Don Draper on Mad Men who shows me how to be productive at work after 12 Scotch drinks accompanied by a power booze nap and a persistent scowl and my Dad who is the only man I know who can pull off a pink shirt and white trousers. Yes I said it. Trousers. It’s father’s day. I get to say whatever I want.

After golf I’m helicoptered into the final table on the World Series of Poker where I put on a clinic to capture my first of many WSOP bracelets, train with the Navy Seal equivalent of Canada (the Beaver Battalion) for an upcoming raid to get rid of the province of Saskatchewan (we’re just tired of having to spell Saskatchewan) and asked to write an op-ed piece in the New York Times on how donut consumption will ultimately save the world. Amen to that brother.

Long Live The Annual Guys Getaway

Mancation….Guys Weekend Away…Boys Trip. Call it what you will just don’t forget to call me if you’re putting one of these bad boys together. Since the beginning of time when Fred and Barney would take a road trip with their fellow Water Buffalo brethren into the prehistoric minivan and head off to Rock Vegas for to blow off some steam and throw down some bets (Did someone say b.b.b.b.bet, bet bet?) men have come to love the ritual of the annual guys getaway. It’s the only reliable environment where you can take  a collection of otherwise responsible set of dudes who are generally upstanding citizens and have them voluntarily subject themselves to photo documented acts worthy of extortion. For evidence I present you with Exhibit A.

Exhibit A

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These are men in full scale annual guy trip mode. Note their temporary departure from self pride fueled partly by brotherly companionship and partly by the 19 beers consumed by the time this picture was taken…at 11am. You may think this picture is an anomaly but I’ve trained this crew to willingly put on an umbrella hat in public during perfectly sunny days at major sporting events for 10 years running. Do not underestimate the alluring power of the annual guy getaway. That and 19 beers.

I used to think that guy trips were just something you only did in your college days but when you are that young with little or no responsibility your whole life at that moment in time is practically in constant guy trip mode. Your only concern when you return from a trip at that age is whether you left the beer fridge open while you were gone and whether you will get the damage deposit back on the house boat rental (You won’t). I suspect the allure of the guys trip fades for those in retirement age as well given the abundance of down time already readily available or because there is only a 78.3% chance you’ll survive the ordeal.

It’s actually us middle age dudes that truly embrace the guys trip and get the best return on our investment. We are in the sweet spot of life where downtime is rare and you don’t pass up the chance to break out of the normal routine. Nothing makes you step up your game and temporarily loose your mind on a testosterone filled excursion knowing that when the sanctioned debauchery ends  you will pack your bags to head home to start a 48 hour diaper duty shift, face a shit ton of work to catch up on and a get a freshly updated HoneyDo list from wife who’s looking to collect on all the man point credit cards you charged this trip to to get out in the first place, with interest. But that’s not for another 3 days 7 hours and 15 minutes from now and it’s time to live large.

Like most things in life there is a hierarchical pecking order in the various preferred formats of the annual guys trip. Any quality time away with the guys is a good thing but the first annual trip is always touch and go and the casualty rate is high. The rule of thumb for a first time getaway is invite 30% beyond trip capacity knowing some never make it past the budget talks, others get D blocked from the boss on a last minute conflicting business trip and then there is the rare occasion where a poor soul gets machine gunned on his front lawn within visual range of their target getaway vehicle by the wife who was never properly briefed on the original mission. We attempt to recover the body later.

Any guy getaway that makes it to year 2 is officially considered a tradition according to worldwide man code which instantly upgrades your weapons cache for counter assaults in subsequent years by aforementioned barriers to entry. Void where prohibited. The gold standard is the annual guys trip established before you even settled down to got married and have kids. This pre-nuptual agreement term was recently upheld in a challenge in front of the Supreme Court of ManJustice. You’re grandfathered in and can play the tradition card every year with no expiration date. “Honey you know I want to be home for Christmas with the family but we’ve been doing our annual guys Halibut Be Thy Name  Alaska fishing trip since 1986 and I can’t let the guys down.  The key is don’t miss even one year or you loose all your accrued vesting and we won’t see your ass on that trip again until the kids are out of college.

Annual girl getaways, while fully endorsed and encouraged by my fellow male brethren,  don’t come together nearly as easy. Women are much more polite then men and will try to work around everyone’s schedules to find a compatible time before an entire year has gone by and they have to start over for the following year. If they do actually agree on a  time there’s talk of what to bring, what kind of clothes to pack and pre-planning some excursions. No such silliness on guy getaways. Without prior notification or planning guys just show up in front of your house the same day each year, the car filled with beer based on a 24 bottles per person per day consumption rate and poker chips. No words are exchanged. For girl getaways, themes will change every year and there’s debate and discussion about what to do to “build on the experience”. Yawn. Men invite the same other men every year, wear the same shirt, order the same beer and sit in the same chair and if someone’s in their chair they will crop-dust  the area until the perpetrator is forced to exit from lack of oxygen. Don’t mess with tradition.

One final little tidbit on the subject of guy getaways. Contrary to what you see in the movies and outside of any excursion involving Charlie Sheen, most men I’ve seen don’t completely loose our minds on these kind of trips and do stupid shit. If  someone new is initiated into the excursion and shows up with hookers and coke they are quickly excommunicated from the group and shunned from existence. The fact is we’re not out to cheat and break laws. We just want to drink beer, shun responsibility for a few days and have something to look forward to next time around, which according to my calendar is a mere 187 days away and counting!

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