Just call me a smart a-lack.

I thought I was SOOOOOOoooo smart. I have a gig to review tonight. Tomorrow’s a half day at work, so I thought I’d stay late in town (since work is closer to the venue), get all my work done tonight and sail through my half day with a morning full of special coffees.

You folks aren’t dummies, you read that past tense, right?

It. Turns. Out. I had a lot less work to do today than I thought. This means I did most of my tomorrow work during the workday and ended up with ample spare time. This ain’t me bragging, it’s thrown a spanner into my work week. There are some tasks I simply can’t do until tomorrow. I now have a gaping hole in my evening where I was meant to stick around and get ahead.

I once again thought I’d be smart and bring food from home. That means there’s an option to kick around at work, fuck around on the internet then get around to leaving for the gig in my own time. So smart, right?

I thought I’d get even smarter. The liquor stores will be busy over the weekend. Why not grab all my liquor today, skip the lines and sort it all out in advance? I’M SO MUCH OF A SMARTIE MY SWEET CHOCOLATE GOODNESS SHOULD BE ENCASED IN A CANDY SHELL (okay, but nightmare fuel -Ed).

But I ain’t smart. Tomorrow is a half day and I’d already spaced out my week to take advantage for that. I’m going to the gym after work to get something physical in before a weekend of indulgence. Non-negotiable. Accordingly, my bag is gonna be stuffed full of gym gear. I will have zero room to load in the unhealthy quantity of alcohol I purchased (remember that weekend of indulgence I mentioned?). Tomorrow’s a Friday. After tomorrow, I won’t have a chance to get them home before the weekend. Take them home tonight, then, seems to be the best option.

BUT I’M A SMARTIE WITH A GIG TONIGHT. They’re not gonna let me bring in several large bottles of alcohol. That’s basically the reason they have security personnel in the first place. Unless they’re criminally awful at their jobs, there’s a severe lack of bueno to this plan.

This means I need to cart myself off home pre-gig. I’ll stuff my bag full of booze. I guess I’ll toss my leftovers in there too and eat them when I walk in the front door (and not eat them on public transit like an asshole). Rest and relaxation will be on the menu and the last thing I’ll desire will be walking out the door once more to get to the gig. Geez, I sure did plan ahead for this, didn’t I?

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Game Theory-us Business.

So I wrote this yesterday and forgot to post it. Whoopsie.

I’m sure you’re all waiting at anticipation to hear. Did yesterday pan out? After my milquetoast and uninspiring Thursday, did Friday deliver the goods? Was my Secret Santa sufficiently Elephant and White? What if after all this preamble I skipped it all in lieu of discussing my least enjoyed Christmas tunes? I guess nothing of value would be lost…

…but White Elephant was a megatons of fun. The rules had been sent out in advance, but I was pretty sure most of my co-workers had never played. It’s a friendly and respectful work environment. I work with generally pretty kind folks. The question then was how I could get the game to move into cutthroat mode. As discussed previously, I’d tried to bring a gift that some people would hate and others would actually want. I bought three large Care Bear soft toys. Excessively sized for the purposes of the game. The package was bulky to carry and difficult to transport on my packed morning commute. Still, I imagined most people would bring something practical or edible. Mine would be a left field gift.

The first package opened was a nice throw blanket. It was soft and tasteful and the gal who opened it loved it. Perfect. A cheeseboard was unwrapped, then a bottle of red wine, some candy and a mug with hot chocolate. Our boss has one of the managers proxy play for him. He ended up with a Shakeweight, still in its packaging. His present was super interesting. It was a card that gave the card owner access to a game next week. They’d get a choice of three mystery gifts. One would be worth virtually nothing, another would be worth $15 and the last would be worth a lot. Intriguing.

People were fine with what they had, zero steals so far. My present got opened with classic comic timing. It’s opener tore a small hole and pulled one through. Everyone laughed. “Wait” she said, then plucked another one out. The laughs got louder. “Wait, what?” She reached in and grabbed the last one. Big laughs all around. She was stoked. Most people were, as I said they liked what they’d picked. It was my turn next and I immediately stole the throw blanket. It’s former owner was furious. She’d been so stoked. Good, good.

She couldn’t steal from anyone who’d stolen from her, so it was out of bounds to take back. In vengeance, she stole the cheeseboard. The cheeseboard owner tried to steal the bottle of wine he’d brought as a gift, announcing his intentions out loud. He didn’t realise you couldn’t take your own gift. He stole the mystery gift card instead. Someone opened a jar of Vegemite and a pack of Tim Tams. Awesome. I wanted them. Plus I knew nobody else would go near Vegemite. If anyone stole the throw (which I assumed someone would. There were a maximum of three steals per item) I’d gun for the Vegemite and it’d be a safe steal. Next round someone stole the throw, I stole the Vegemite and the Vegemite person stole the throw back. I’d earlier tried to conspire with the wine guy, but it fell through. In retaliation, he took my Vegemite and I took the flat-bottomed mug (which I quite wanted. Prevents spills) & hot chocolate combo. The popular gifts all shifted around a bunch, but nothing else super eventful happened as the game drew to a close. One person totally didn’t understand what we were doing and thought it was for a toy drive. She’d brought an unwrapped cop car toy or something. It was incredibly unpopular. Once the game was over, I traded my hot chocolate mix for the Vegemite, so I ended up with the Vegemite and a flat-bottomed mug. Many people were bitter. I was chuffed. The gal who’d opened my Care Bears was too. I can’t imagine a more successful outing.

Was that worth the wait? Well it was certainly better than another shitty Thursday.

Grin, care and bear it.

Today owes me. Tonight didn’t quite pan out. I had every intention of doing anything, but none of it came to fruition. Accordingly, I’m expecting today to double deliver. We have a White Elephant Secret Santa party at work then I’m off to a friend’s birthday drinks. Everything should be in order. So what went balls up last night?

Well we have this White Elephant thing today, right? I thought I’d be a smarty face and work ahead. I stayed late and got a bunch done so I’d have precious little to do pre-party today (that part panned out swimmingly, he says before the White Elephant has started). I left late and, as I’d planned, went to the gym. The nice thing about going to the gym late is that it’s easy to get in on squat racks, etc. The gym is barren and wonderful. The shitty thing is that it’s hard to gauge how much to eat before a workout. You don’t want to eat too much and feel bloated, but if you have nothing in your belly you’re already ruining your chances of performing in said workout. Not ideal, Neil. It’s tricky and usually means you’re famished by the time you’re finished. I was, but given the big weekend of food and drink I was resolute in waiting until I got home to eat. Alluring as pizza or Korean would be, I needed fibrous greens and clean protein.

The TTC did not abide by my desires. There was a delay on Line 1 due to fire, which meant I wasn’t going anywhere. At least I had last night’s writing to do, which helped some. Still, after seeing no progress 30 minutes in, I ditched the subway and opted to find a streetcar. Walking up to street level, I jumped into the first westbound streetcar I saw, but it turned out to be on short-turn. It was gonna take me all of five blocks north. So I needed to jump on another westbound streetcar which would lead to a northbound bus to take me home. Suffice to say it took me 90 minutes to get home instead of 40. I needed to eat.

I was content to eat and watch something, but I had to give the cat its meds. Then I had to upload last night’s writing. Then I had washing to do. Then I needed to wrap my present for the White Elephant. It was cumbersome. I’d bought three oversized Care Bear soft toys and paid no mind to how much paper they’d take to wrap. We had one mostly used roll of wrapping paper, it was 11pm and I had no options. Fuck. I’d thought I could’ve chucked them in a large black plastic rubbish bag, but we only had small white ones. Shit. What could I do?

I tried rolling off the remainder of our wrapping paper to see if they’d fit. It was close, but not quite there. They needed to be condensed. So I did what anyone with no concern for presentation would do; I grabbed a large-ish plastic bag and I smooshed them all together. I crammed as much as possible into that bag, then drew the string tight. I pushed it down again and drew it tighter. I needed to squish them to 2/3 their size. I smooshed, squished and squooshed as much as I could and tested the paper again. They just fit. It was a Hanukkah-esque miracle for Christmas. How’s that for acculturation?

That was it. That was my night. Is this what it’s like when you have kids? Think that was a boring entry? How do you think I felt living it? So I’m putting pressure on today to give me what I need. For your sake and mine, for the sake of tomorrow’s entry, let today bring something interesting with it.

Adventageous for some, mayhaps.

You know what’s always great? Discount candy! Especially here in North America, where capitalistic excess is the spirit of the season and holiday candy supply drastically outpaces demand. Because of this, the supermarket opposite work was selling advent calendars for 24 cents each. Naturally I did what any responsible adult would do and bought 15 of them for my adult co-workers. What could make their day better than being given Paw Patrol or Disney Princess calendars? They even came with colouring segments on the back! My grand gesture cost me less than I’d spend on a coffee and lifted the spirits of 14 others. It was a pretty choice exchange and one I’d happily make at any time. Every now and again, capitalism can be pretty damn fantastic.

Then again, net neutrality was repealed today in America, so maybe I shouldn’t speak too soon. I don’t know enough to make an informed, well researched post, but I know it’s not gonna lead to anything positive for consumers. The tl;dr is that in the U.S. depending on your habits, you’re soon likely going to have to pay more for the luxury of surfing the web as we do now. Internet service providers are going to be able to restrict speeds to certain websites, based on whatever package their customer has purchased. Do you primarily use the internet for social media? Cool, get the social media package. But what if you want to play games online too? Well you’ll have to get the gaming bundle as well. Streaming Netflix? That’ll be a different package too. Of course they’re going to sell it as a benefit. There’s a slim chance that for you, it may be. More likely though you’ll have to pay more to use the internet as you currently do. It’s bad news and is most likely the result of powerful lobbying groups slipping fat stacks of cash into the back pockets of the politicians involved in making this happen. Here in Canada we’re safe for the moment. Trudeau himself has come out as saying it’s a threat to personal freedoms. We’ve got no reason to be smug or complacent though. Never underestimate the desire of big business to place profits over people.

Oh also in big capitalistic moves, Disney bought a ton of Fox properties today for $52B. That’s a whole lot of schmeckles. In the short term, it’s gonna make a lot of comic fans very happy. Fox owns X-Men, which means that now Disney does too. This means they can stop clumsily pretending that mutants don’t exist in their Marvel priorities. Yay. So it’s all good, right? I’m a lot less optimistic. Fox didn’t only own the X-Men, it owned a ton of adult entertainment (not porn, but probably not far off either). Disney is famously litigious and tight about what kind of material makes it into Disney owned properties. In a perfect world, Disney lets FX and FXX keep running as they always have. They continue producing creative and risky television that pushes the boundaries in wonderful ways. This seems likely for the short term at least. I wonder though. Logan was one of my favourite films this year. It was an emotionally cathartic farewell to a longtime fan favourite character. It was heavy, violent and wholly inappropriate for kids. How would Disney feel about killing off a cash cow? Or the lack of marketable action figures from such a film? Will we ever see another “Logan” under Disney’s Marvel? What about the Netflix properties? The Defenders stable? Will Disney continue to fund adult targeted original content? There’s hope that maybe with the acquisition of Hulu that they could continue where Netflix left off. Or possibly Netflix negotiates some kind of deal where they can keep keeping on. Once again, not hugely hopeful.

Oh well, at least I can console myself with cheap candy.

If you look at this board game without the slightest trace of irony…

Woowee, I feel shattered. Last night was a big one (as things tend to be when you start drinking at 3pm). Today has been far more restrained. I’m chilling out, maxing and relaxing at home in a cosy bubble of lethargy. If I get anything accomplished before bed, I’ll have ascended my personal Mt Olympus. I had goals today and succeeded in basically none of them. However, I managed to complete missions I didn’t even know that I had. I guess we can chalk that down as a success.

One of my big goals today was to get some new pants. I’ve been going through pants like crazy over this past year. I don’t know what it is. I’ve been wearing them down/out enough and scrambling to replace them. Then yesterday at the work party I dropped a little too low while dancing and tore a small, unnoticeable hole in my mustard yellow jeans. Bummer. Well, more inside leg than bum, but regardless, I was non-stoked. I once had these perfect dark green pants. They lasted for years, but they developed a hole in the pocket that wasn’t close to the seam. Game over man, game over. So I’ve been trying to find some evocatively lush/verdant/flourishing trousers to replace them. I didn’t realise I was such a fucking stickler, but it hasn’t happened. Failure all around. They’ve been too expensive, too big or small. Some real Goldilocks shit. The day I find some that are just right is the day I’m devoured by bears. You heard it here first.

I will not be eaten by bears today. I went to a thrift shop and value village, but found nothing. I looked at a shirtload of pants, tried a couple on, but no dice. I did however, find an old cheesy smoking jacket adorned with blue roses. I had this sweet one that I grew to quickly love until I fucked up and put it in the wash. It got torn to shreds. This new one will do nicely. I spent quite some time in Value Village searching the racks for slacks but there was a lack. They’d be taxed anyway. I had time to kill so I looked for a good dress up suit. There was a slick purple number, but just to break my heart it was a large. Boo-urns. As I wandered I found two onesies to try on. A zebra and giraffe. The zebra was way too small and the giraffe was only mildly too small. For $5, I could live with that. Still no pants.

I looked at the kitchen supplies for a cheap frying pan in good nick. I found nothing but disappointment. When I turned the corner to see the framed pictures, I was hit by a bolt of inspiration. The work Secret Santa was coming up and there was a $15 limit. This place was perfect. My heart soared seeing a sublime picture of two cats. It was glorious, ghastly and colossal. It’s hard to see the scale from that image, but this thing was roughly the size of a coffee table. We’re playing the game version with gift stealing. Can you imagine how hard people would work to get rid of that? Brilliant. Unfortunately, there was a tear in the plastic seal covering it. I’d feel bad giving something damaged as a Secret Santa gift, no matter how amazing it was. I looked around for any other pictures even half as tragic, but came up with zilch.

I tried looking around for weird appliances, but came up similarly short. I found a Jeff Foxworthy You Might Be a Redneck If… board game, but figured my co-workers might be a bit young to get the irony. Not worth letting a joke fall flat. I looked at the soft toys, hoping to find something both ugly and outrageously sized. Then I noticed a Care Bear roughly the size of a toddler. It was $5. Better yet, I noticed another one. Then another. Perfect. I’m hoping they straddle the line between desirable and not. Will people fight over them? Or try to dump them on someone who really doesn’t want them? Both, I hope. We’ll find out on Friday.

Maybe I shouldn’t be so quick to dismiss my accomplishments after all. Today was a good day.

Have you ever met someone so pure they give you a contact high?

I was looking over somebody’s shoulder on the bus. He was writing a Facebook status that read “TGIF everybody 🙂 Do your best! I’m the best! ;)”. He stared at it without posting for at least four minutes as if a chef scanning his mind for the perfect spice. I think I may have just witnessed a real life carebear.

I had weird dreams last night (for a change?). All over the map. I’m pretty sure my brain made a new Rick and Morty episode. They went to an interstellar Air BnB and got trapped by one of Rick’s many old nemeses. It took control of their bodies and tortured them, then forced them to fight in some intergalactic boxing match. Eventually Rick managed to turn the tables on this foe and get the better of it, but it was hardly an inspired plot. It made a lot less sense than an actual episode and the jokes were far less clever.

We’ve got the work Christmas party today, which is better than not having a Christmas party, but pales compared to the pre-merger parties. Pre-merger we had these massive shindigs. The company once rented the Ripley’s Aquarium. It was magical. Drink stations everywhere, people walking around with cake pops. A vodka/oyster station was a little on the nose at an aquarium, but the whole event was amazing. The next year they rented a large industrial space and had a phenomenal 1920s speakeasy party (complete with password entry). Outstanding food, neat cocktails, phenomenal music. Fortune telling and fake gambling, a photo booth with props. Such a fantastic night.

Post-merger things have been different. Christmas parties are now done at work in the atrium. They’re during the workday, so everyone needs to rush to finish their work before the party starts. There’s no chance to get all dressed up, we can’t bring partners. I totally get that they’re doing what they can on a budget and that’s fine, it’s just a big step down to take without stumbling. The food is still excellent, it’s fun for the three hours it lasts. Then everyone ships off to an after party at some bar. Whelming.

I bet that carebear dude from earlier would love it though. I don’t know if he has a negative bone in his body.

Is this what a level up feels like?

This entry is going to be the epitome of vague-booking. I did something today that terrified me, but I pushed through anyway. There will be no specifics because there aren’t specifics yet. I don’t want to jinx a thing. However I’m nervous, excited, shaken and proud, which seems worth talking about.

It’s no secret that I’ve felt listless lately. Stagnant even. I’ve had no career movement in far too long and it’s caused me no end of anguish. My lack of direction has left me brick-walled and I’ve had nobody else to blame. Any progress would be impossible without putting in the work, which seems altogether too obvious when I put it in writing. In short, I needed to do something.

A few months back I was doing some voicing and a stranger point blank asked me what my dream job was. That’s a frank, bold question to lob at someone you’ve just met but for some reason without thinking I had an answer. It was thorough and direct, with more confidence and candour than it deserved, considering how hard my brain was scrambling after my mouth. I finished. She nodded and said “you should do that”. I stood there shocked and took in what I’d said. Where had it come from?

I thought about it for the next few days. I couldn’t stop thinking about it for the next month. Then I did something I rarely ever do: I asked for help.

I bypassed a few rungs on the corporate ladder and went to the highest ranked person I knew. I told him I had something I wanted to pitch, but felt way over my head and wanted some advice. He’d always been an honest, no nonsense person to deal with in the past. He never sugarcoated anything, but he knew what he was talking about. He said to look at his calendar and book an appointment. I booked something an hour later.

I laid out my idea in a vague sense. Told him where I saw it going, how it could be implemented. He tore holes in it, pointed out all the weak spots in my plan. He told me to come up with answers and schedule another meeting. I came back to him a week later with a more solid outline. He told me who I should pitch to and how to angle it towards them. Once again he poked holes, then told me to fix them and bring the answers in the form of a sales deck. I’d never made one, so he gave me concrete directions on how to structure it. Exactly how long it should be, which sections to focus on, how my content would fit. I came back a week later with my results. He critiqued it some more with mostly aesthetic advice and told me he’d let the party involved know that I had his blessing. He thought it was a great idea and I’d brought it up at an opportune time. I thanked him for all the help and went to set up a pitch meeting. I was told that they were too busy at present, but wanted to hear my ideas in 4-6 weeks.

I felt brushed off and rejected. Any momentum I had ground to a halt. 4-6 weeks passed. Months passed. Things at work got worse. I felt embarrassed that I had failed to deliver on the summation of my effort. That I’d wasted the time of someone important who’d put themselves out for me. Work continued to get worse and none of my job interviews paid off. It felt like I’d hit rock bottom. I felt ashamed. What a waste, letting this idea with so much potential flounder uselessly.

I realised that things couldn’t get worse, so what did I have to lose trying to do something about it? I got back in contact with the person I was originally gonna pitch to. They were busy, but booked a meeting a week later between me and two of their subordinates. I couldn’t tell if this was a meeting of obligation or genuine interest. It didn’t matter. I went back to my sales deck, tightened it up. I thought about how the landscape had changed and new ideas for implementation. As the meeting loomed I was shitting myself. I’d struggle to get to sleep, then wake up at 4am because I couldn’t stop thinking of ideas. I was nervous, excited and shaken, but I was ready.

Today I had the meeting. The AV equipment in the meeting room I’d booked didn’t work. They said it was fine, that we could find another room. We walked the floor looking for an unused meeting room with the right equipment. We found one that worked and I took a deep breath. I explained that I was nervous, that I’d never even used PowerPoint before, but I had conviction in my ideas. They smiled and I started.

I went through my presentation and spoke off the top of my head. Magically, everything flowed. I’d go into immense detail on one topic, then move tangentially into another without thinking. Then I’d realise that I’d pivoted to the next point on my slide without thinking. It kept happening. I expanded upon ideas in depth, threw out examples on the fly that were in themselves solid ideas. They were nodding, asking questions. Without effort, I had a good answer every single time. I was open, honest and realistic about scale. My concepts were relevant to the company and gave valid insight into how it could fit into and augment current strategies.

I got to the end of my prepared presentation and they kept asking questions. They started coming up with ideas on how it could work too. They got excited and started looking at the impending schedule to see how they could implement my ideas. We started talking timelines and practical steps. We kept talking. They said they’d run it up the ladder, get feedback and see where we could go from there. I felt anything but placated. I felt vindicated. I thanked them for their time and they thanked me for mine. We went our separate ways and I had a brisk walk to take a breather.

So what now? I wait, then follow up. I keep momentum without being pushy. I cross my fingers and hope that their enthusiasm was genuine. Then whatever comes, I follow through and deliver. It could be big. It’s definitely exciting (and a little scary).

It’s also leagues better than doing nothing.