Tuesday, January 31, 2012

On "Hey Phil!"....

I’m befuddled.  Over the last 6 months or so I haven’t been able to steer co-workers away from calling me Phil.  I think that it started last year with our most recent merger/acquisition and since then I have fought an almost constant battle against my seemingly inevitable transformation from Phillip to Phil.  I’ve always wanted to be called Ace, but Phil?

Like I said it seems to have started with our most recent merger/acquisition.  With each acquisition the culture of the company has changed a little.  I call it a merger/acquisition because like everyone else in the company I don’t know what to really call it anymore.  Just like with the previous merger/acquisition, this one was publicized within the company as an acquisition, but those employees who were allegedly acquired acted like they were the ones who did the acquiring and this one has felt pretty much the same. 

With the first big acquisition (there have been other smaller ones) the company picked up the term “meeting maker” from the company that we acquired, which replaced the old tried and true “meeting request” or “calendar notice”.  These are the Outlook meeting requests that we get for conference calls.  I’ve refused to use the term meeting maker because it represents the new; there’s a certain bit of familiarity that the term meeting notice carried with it.  Now everyone in the company sends you a meeting maker; no one sends a meeting request anymore.  I Googled the term Meeting Maker and it is a program that allows you to see other people’s calendar and send out meeting requests, so apparently the company used to use that software and the name stuck, much in the same way that adhesive bandages are now called Band-Aids.

With the second big merger I slowly became Phil.  Actually it wasn’t very slow, it happened almost overnight; one evening I went home as Phillip and the next day I was reborn as Phil.  There was no pain involved with the transition.

I counted and I had 18 conference calls last week and on nearly all of them the same thing happened.  As people joined the moderator would ask “who just joined” and Sally would answer “this is Sally” (Sally's clever like that) which usually elicited a “thanks for joining, Sally” from the moderator.  I joined with a “hi, this is Phillip” and got a “oh, hey Phil, thanks for joining”.  The same thing happens on probably 95% of the calls that I attend.  Why?  My only guess is that it has something to do with the culture of the company we acquired, or that acquired us, or whatever the hell happened.  Prior to the acquisition no one called me Phil.  Now EVERYONE calls me Phil, including people that I’ve worked with for 13 years.

I tell people about this and they tell me that I should correct them.  It does no good.  There was one moderator on a call that did the “hey Phil, thanks for joining” followed by a “by-the-way, do you prefer to be called Phillip or Phil”?  I laughed about how everyone else was calling me Phil, but that I preferred Phillip and he said “thanks Phil, I will try to keep that in mind”.  Seriously, it happened.

People who read this and who served in the Navy with me are probably shaking their heads and thinking that I’ve always been Phil.  Yes, when I was in the Navy I went by Phil, but my wife told me when we first started dating that she preferred Phillip, so I started going by Phillip.  Momma gets what momma wants.

Don’t get me wrong, I really don’t care what anyone calls me, but it’s a curious thing that all of the people from the most recent acquisition can't seem to hear me when I say Phillip; they're Phillip Deaf.  Like I said, I think it’s a company culture thing, just like the term meeting maker. 

Sunday, January 29, 2012

On Wilson Phillips Disease....

I coined a new term today, Wilson Phillips Disease, or WPD.  For those of you unfamiliar with who Wilson Phillips is, they were a 90's all girl band  that consisted of Carnie Wilson and Wendy Wilson (the daughters of Beach Boys founder Brian Wilson) and Chynna Phillips (daughter of John and Michelle Phillips of The Mamas & the Papas and half-sister of Mackenzie Phillip of One Day at a Time).

When Wilson Phillips burst onto the musical scene in 1990 their first two songs were Hold On and Release Me.  I always found the indecisiveness in those two song titles rather humorous and I remember joining the lyrics together and getting a few chuckles out of that years ago.  "Hold on for one more day, release me, can you release me?" I used to sing, and it never got old.  It kind of reminds me of how I will hug the kids or my wife and when they hang on for too long say "break", meaning okay, I'm done and it's time to break away there you clingy little thing you.

Anyway, about a month and a half ago I was roaming around the mall with my wife and we found ourselves in Bath and Body Works (we had been in Victoria's Secret just before that, so after this trip I had to run home and watch some NASCAR to bring my testosterone levels back up to an acceptable level, and I abhor NASCAR).  

For those of you who have never been in Bath and Body works, it's that place that charges way too much money for a little bottle of lotion, but makes you feel like you're getting a great deal by giving you three for free if you buy three.  What the three for free really does though is just make that stuff only slightly overly expensive.  Anyway, there was a body spray that she liked but for some reason we left without any; she just couldn't pull the trigger.

Since that trip I've probably heard about 15 times how good that stuff smelled, so I took her today to get her some, plus we needed to go to the mall anyway because daddy needed some new shoes.  It probably took me about an hour to pick out some shoes, but this post isn't about me, so I won't write about how I tried on about a hundred pairs of shoes until I found a pair that the doggies really liked.

Bath and Body Works had these little pieces of paper that you could spray and then smell to find what you liked and eventually my wife had enough paper in her hands to print a New York City phone book; she was having a terrible time deciding what she wanted.  She would spray one, walk over to the next one and spray it, then forget which paper was which and have to start the process all over again.  At one point she looked at me and said "isn't this fun"?  No, not much.  At another point she looked at the glazed, dull expression on my face and asked me if I was okay.  I guess I was, but we had exceeded my 15 minute attention span hours ago.

Anyway, after about 3 hours of sniffing we finally walked out of there with our 6 bottles of lotions and sprays.  We had been there for so long that at one point some of the employees thought that I worked there and kept asking me if I needed to clock out and take a break.  I think that they were concerned about paying me overtime.  I'm pretty sure that when I turn 65 I'll get a little bit of retirement money from Bath and Body Works.

The point of all this being that my wife, who I love dearly by-the-way, clearly suffers from WPD.  Or perhaps more appropriately, we suffer with her WPD.

And now my video tribute to Wilson Phillips.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

On airline travel....

I got to experience the joys of air travel again last week.  Okay, there's nothing joyful about air travel, but usually I observe a few things that make me chuckle anyway.

I'm not really afraid of flying or anything, but I got a little nervous on the first leg of my journey this time.  The real reason for the nervousness was that I usually just get on the plane and nothing of consequence catches my eye.  On this particular flight though we had a particularly chatty flight attendant.  She was talking to a group of older Red Hat ladies who had all graduated from high school together and were taking a girl's trip.  This was a lively group of lasses and the flight attendant commented on how she hoped they could stay out of trouble.

Then the flight attendant walked a couple of rows forward to coo at a baby and talk gibberish to it.  She chatted it up with the parents of the baby, talking about how cute it was and about their final destination.

On this flight I observed many individual scenes like the Red Hat Ladies and the baby.  As I sat there I thought to myself that this is exactly how plane crash movies always work; the passengers don't just walk on the plane and then plummet to their deaths, they all get to know a little about one another.  Think about the first episode of Lost; it showed a scene with Kate and the federal agent, a scene with Charlie and his drugs and several other smalls scenes.  What happened?  They crashed of course.  If you're going to be involved in a plane crash, you must first witness a number of seemingly inconsequential vignette's that set the scene and add to the shock and sorrow of your untimely death; the viewer has to know a little about you.

If the stewardess said it once she said it a dozen times; make sure that your seat belts are fastened.  She even demonstrated for everyone how those fancy, complex seat belts work.  I had to wonder though just how much the seat belt would improve my odds of survival in the event of a crash.  I've never read a single story of emergency responders finding people safely fastened into their seats in the middle of a cornfield after a crash, but I suppose it's possible.

Obviously the plane didn't crash, but throughout the flight I found myself continuously gauging my odds of survival should the worst happen.  When we were above 10,000 feet I gave myself no chance because I had unfastened my seatbelt.  When I was able to pick out cars on the ground I gave myself a 50/50 chance.  When I could see people on the sidewalks below me I figured my chances improved to 75% and when the wheels finally hit the ground I was confident that everything was going to be okay unless one of those baggage cart drivers didn't notice the huge plane behind him and zipped out in front of us, which is something that I could see myself doing if I were a baggage cart driver.  While we were over Lake Michigan I figured I could probably swim for it if a seagull flew into the jet intake, but knew that the water was going to be awfully cold.  I didn't particularly like the idea of hitting cold water at 800 miles an hour.

On the flight from Detroit back to Huntsville I sat next to an elderly lady and for the first time ever I was at the very back of the plane.  I made a comment to her about how far back we were and she looked at me and in perfect English said "I'm sorry, I don't understand English, I'm not from America."  Then I saw her reach into her purse and pull out a book of crossword puzzles.  How hilarious would it be, I thought to myself, if these were English crossword puzzles.  Alas, though, they weren't, but this did give me a great idea for how to deter those irritating yappers that I almost always end up sitting with and I now have a Russian crossword book on order from eBay.

I know that this all sounds a bit crazy, most of what I say does, but it's the kind of stuff that one thinks about if one is me.  Besides, we've all heard the saying that art imitates life, and with my luck that imitation is likely to happen while I'm strapped into 13D next to the lady doing the foreign crossword puzzles.

On another leg of the flight we had a bit of a militant stewardess who had the personality of a rock and really bad hair.  And I mean really bad hair, the kind of hair that, ironically, beauticians usually have. She actually came through and did a seat belt check and fussed at the elderly lady beside me for having her Kindle out.  A seat belt check, who does that?  Later she claimed that the pilot was still detecting electronics and said that we would not take off until everything was turned off, so the elderly lady beside me reached into her bag and turned off her iPad and smartphone too.  This lady had to be in her 70's and yet she had a smartphone, an iPad and Kindle.  You have to admire someone who embraces technology so completely.

The highlight of the trip though was when the foreign crossword puzzle lady stood up at the end of the flight and passed gas.  I don't think that it was intentional, but that really doesn't matter much; whether intentional or not and regardless of the country of origin of the farter or what language they speak it still stinks just as much.  At least I was home when she farted on me though.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

On Can Knockdown....

Someone who works for me, knowing the pain I was enduring after my bitter breakup with Angy Birds, suggested that I try Can Knockdown.  This game combines my two loves; throwing things and cursing.  The cursing is more of the under-the-breath kind and is my reaction to either missing a can or having one fly all the way to the top of the screen and then land flat on the board again, costing me a ball.

It's not quite as addictive as Angry Birds, but I'm finding myself spending too much time playing it, which in turn makes me more unpleasant to live with.  I guess it's time to relegate Can Knockdown to the bone yard with Angry Birds.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

On hair....

I'm turning into a Hobbit.  I told my wife that the other day and she laughed, but after explaining further she had to agree with me.  Over the last couple of years my ear and nose hair has begun to grow at an alarming rate and it's really starting to get out of control.  The stuff is like kudzu.

I have to take a little pair of scissors with me everywhere I go because if I don't clip them during the day it gets to the point where I can't hear or breath.  Don't believe me?  Last year we went to Gatlinburg for a week at Christmas and I forgot to bring my little scissors.  This picture was taken on the the last day of the trip.

Luckily we were snowed in, so I didn't have to go out in public looking like that.

If I was a woman the ear hair wouldn't be such a terrible thing, I could just do my hair like Princess Leia and no one would be the wiser.

She doesn't seem pleased with her ear hair either and I can't say that I blame her.  Getting older sucks.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

On Twilight, Breaking Wind....

I went to watch the latest Twilight movie with my wife today, I think it's called Twilight 24 or something like that.  When it was my turn at the ticket counter I said as quietly as possible "two for Twilight please."  The girl behind the counter turned to the guy beside her and winked, then looked back at me and said "I'm sorry I didn't hear you, can you speak a little louder please?"  So I repeated myself louder and all of the 12 year old girls in line behind me burst out laughing, then converged on me and beat me up, all the time screaming "outsider, outsider."

Okay, that first part didn't happen, but I did take my wife to see Twilight today and I have to say that it was the worst movie I have ever seen in my entire life, and I've seen a lot of bad movies.  It wasn't the fact that it was a chick flick that made is so horrible, though that's reason enough really, it's the fact that they took a 15 minute story and turned it into an agonizing 117 minutes.

Here's a plot synopsis:

Bella and Edward get married, which pisses Jacob off.  They then go on their honeymoon and Bella gets pregnant, which pisses Jacob off.  The baby is killing her and Jacob is pissed about it, so Bella has to drink blood (which she finds yummy), to keep the baby alive, which both grosses Jacob out and pisses him off.  Bella dies in child birth, which pisses Jacob off, so Edward vampirizes her, which pisses Jacob off again.  Then she comes back to life.

That whole coming back to life process was, I have to admit, cool because you could see her skin change color, her boobs grow, her cheeks filling in, and makeup suddenly appear on her face.  Who would have known that Mabelline and Doctor 90210 would play such a prominent roll in the vampirization process?

At the end of the movie Jacob (henceforth dubbed by me Jacob the Disturbed), who's pissed again, storms into the room where the baby is, looks at it, and has a moment.  Apparently in this moment he thinks that the baby's hot so he imprints her.  I thought that imprinting involved urine, but if it does then thankfully they didn't show Jacob peeing on that baby.  I guess we have child labor laws to thank for that.

That movie isn't just about vampires, it actually is a vampire; I left feeling like every shred of intelligence that I came into that theater with was sucked out through my carotid artery.  My wife had to help me walk to the car because I could barely muster enough intelligence to figure out how that walking stuff worked.  For the first fifteen minutes after the movie all I could say was "can I pet the rabbit George?"  It's ironic that Edward's family name is Cullen because, just like old Tom Cullen from The Stand, I babbled about how m-o-o-n spelled "crappy movie."  Maybe the use of the Cullen name was a bit of clever foreshadowing.

If you haven't seen the movie consider yourself blessed; it makes Joe Dirt look like Citizen Kane.