Friday, December 11, 2009

Karma in the rear-end

Monday evening, on my way home from work, a girl in her mid 20s from the University of Oklahoma smashed the back of my Mazda, causing $7.5K in damages. It now seems safe to assume that all my ramblings and rants about traffic have come back to bite me where it hurts: in the rear-end.

I had just dropped off my dry cleaning at a place that’s within a 20-second walk from my apartment before the accident occurred. I was stationary in a one-lane road waiting for on-coming traffic to pass so I could turn left. My blinker was on, I had done everything right – except think to use my psychic ability, look in my rear-view and hit my non-existent NOS button to get out of a 2005 Chevy Tahoe’s way. Rear-window shattered, I was shoved forward (luckily not into on-coming traffic) and that was all she wrote.

Luckily for me the girl had great insurance. It took me a shorter amount of time to sort everything out with the wreck – estimates, liability, damage repairs, rental pick-up, etc. – than it does for me to get my oil changed. Odd concept.

Nonetheless, this accident still made me think of how stupid drivers are. The girl obviously wasn’t paying any attention (one lane road + rear-collision + $7.5K damage = obviously), she was most likely texting – looking down at her phone – and not the road. And because she had to send another Sooner a text message that couldn’t wait until she was home, or God-forbid at a red light, I now have to drive around in a Toyota “the Red Rocket” Camry that reeks of Marlboro Reds, marijuana and stale cab driver. It’s amazing how loose/non-existent the prerequisites are in order to be able to operate machinery that weighs 4,500lbs and can go up to 100m.p.h.

Higher toll rates

Article in today’s Dallas Morning News indicates that the “NTTA may consider higher rush-hour toll rates.” Here are some quick details…

- Toll rates jumped 23 percent Sept. 1 and are 14.5 cents per mile
- They will automatically increase 5.6 percent every two years
- Rates could jump as much as 17 percent during rush hour after January 2012

Evidently the “prospect of higher rates during rush hour could lower NTTA's interest costs” which would make it easier for “… NTTA to build the 28-mile Southwest Parkway in Tarrant County.”

Are you kidding me? There’s a prospect of charging commuters even more money than we already pay to help build something that the majority of us won’t even use? I think what’s even more cruel is this idea that we’re going to be charged more money while sitting in traffic. If it was more money to be able to drive 90 with hardly any congestion, perhaps I’d understand this increase in the rate. Ridiculous.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Tiger Woods' affair: who cares!

Naturally, all headlines of any major news outlet are posting stories related to Tiger Woods’ recent admission to having an affair. I’ve received text messages about this, I’ve seen tweets, it’s become a Twitter “trending topic”, it’s all over Facebook, I heard about it on the radio on my way to work, saw a segment on CBS Evening News – the list goes on…

Why is there such a big fuss about this? Why are so many people mad, much less even care? Is it because Tiger Woods is held to a higher standard due to his fame and fortune? Is it because we rejoice in people such as Tiger making mistakes, consequently suffering?

It seems as if it takes a certain person to truly care about something like this. It takes a certain person to buy the tabloids and watch the programs that make money on issues such as these. Sadly enough, there’s an immense portion of the population that care more about Tiger Woods’ sex life than do about public policy, religion or current events.

Who cares – let it go.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

The 2009 Dallas Turkey Trot

On Thanksgiving Day I ran the 2009 Dallas Turkey Trot. Despite living here for almost 23 years and spending well over half of my Turkey Days in Dallas, it was my first time to ever partake in the event. I was one of 37,000 participants in the 42nd annual race that supports the YMCA. Registrants could opt in to run/walk a 5K or an 8 mile. I used the event as another day-in-training for the White Rock Marathon, running the 8 mile at a relatively quick pace. As I was running, I had some thoughts…

I burned more calories and wasted more time dodging in and out of people the first couple of miles than I did hauling the remaining six.

It’s very motivating to run in Downtown Dallas, in between giant skyscrapers, across major highways and through Deep Ellum.

As some of the more seasoned runners passed me, I felt my competitive side creep out. I would speed up, eye down the passer-by, and mumble under my breath: “Oh no you don’t!” I probably need to chill out on that.

It was neat to see all of the supporters that lined the streets, especially the over-obese man sitting in a lawn chair, drinking a [9:30a] beer, smoking a cigarette – having absolutely zero desire to participate in anything even remotely close to ‘exercise.’

I found myself smiling about the entire experience. Yes, I know, it’s just a Turkey Trot, but it felt like more. 37,000 people of all nations, ages and races, coming together in a community – but not just any community: my city, my life, Dallas – all brought together through the bond of wellness, of well-being. Every person I passed (which was a lot due to my blazing speed and incredible athletic ability) I wanted to pat on the back and say: “Good for you!”

Looking forward to next year.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

The Fender Girls

Yesterday morning I was on my way to work and I ran into congestion on a street that shouldn’t have been half as busy as it was, despite morning rush hour. I was bumper to bumper the entire way until finally I came upon the incident that was slowing everything down. Two women had apparently gotten in a fender bender, and to say “fender bender” is quite honestly an overstatement. These women were in the middle lane of a three-lane street, SUVs stationary, exchanging information while citizens on their way to work attempted to maneuver around them. Are you kidding me? It absolutely boggles my mind that these people didn’t have the common courtesy, sense or anything even remotely close to rational thought to think to themselves: “Gee, maybe we should move off the side of the road and into one of the 50 parking lots that lined this street!” I don’t get it. Forget the idea of human error in the lady who bumped (lightly tapped, blew a kiss) into the other, but what on earth were they thinking on having a pow-wow in the middle of the street in the middle of morning rush hour traffic in the middle of a very busy metropolitan area? Idiots.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Number crunching v. Analyzing

I think there’s a major difference between number-crunching and analyzing. Number-crunching involves monotonous, methodical, mundane, mindless routine with no substance to drive it. Number-crunchers can easily have a conversation or rock Pandora while performing their tasks. To me, analyzing numbers or a particular dataset is completely different. You have to truly understand all sorts of angles and dimensions to what you’re doing. On the front end, objectives need to be clear in order to truly define the direction you wish to take in examining a situation. One has to know exactly how to execute this in order to best deliver those objectives. On the back end, interpreting the results as more of a story instead of sheer characters on a page is critical in helping drive strategy moving forward. Data-driven decisions are becoming a necessity in cut throat organizations that want to track every penny out, and every penny in. Number-crunching is one thing, but legitimate analytics is something entirely different.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

E-mail Signatures

I recently received an e-mail from a friend of mine who just landed a job in the real estate industry. I got to the end of the e-mail and noticed a chunk of verbiage that resembled the format of a haiku poem. It was a signature, and it dominated ten lines of the e-mail letter.

Thanks to this unnecessary amount of information provided at the end of an informal, short e-mail note, I am now entirely capable of reaching my friend on his cell, on his direct line, through a fax, through an e-mail, through a website, through paper mail, in person at the address or through the means of a carrier pigeon. I mean, really? The direct office line and e-mail I can understand, but the rest is complete garbage. However it still makes me wonder as to why the e-mail is in the signature to begin with: don’t you have to get the e-mail from that address to see it anyway? Fax? Organizations that aren’t paperless or on the verge of becoming paperless need to get with the program. It’s almost 2010.

Anyone external to the organization doesn’t need all of that information provided in the signature. I’d be willing to bet that e-mail is preferred and utilized ten times more than any other medium. And for internal folks, all of his coworkers would most likely have access to his cell phone, underwear brand, fax line, etc. via some company intranet or directory. Are the signatures there as a means of professionalism? Are they there to look cool? Signatures can be important; I get that – but ten lines important?

I love you, friend… these are all just thoughts.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Interesting experience

Last night I was on my way home and ran into very slow-moving traffic. It was 10:00p on a Thursday night, so there shouldn’t have been any congestion. A group of about 50 people riding “crotch-rocket” motorcycles were toying with drivers on the road. They would group together, forming a line across the highway, and then slow down to a 30 mile-per-hour crawl, causing a ripple effect down a major interstate. I was at the very front, so I got to see these folks on their motorcycles, most likely snickering underneath their helmets. Many were doing wheelies, others talking amongst themselves.

I’m not sure what my opinion is on this. One side of me thinks “idiots” while another side thinks “geniuses.”

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Guilt as an alarm clock

Guilt can be an effective alarm clock.

“Falling back” from daylight savings time has forced me to get up to run in the mornings, instead of after work, because now the sun beams on full-power at 6:30a and is essentially shut off at 5:30p. So unless I want to run with a headlamp and a flashing vest, I'll have to do it in the a.m. Less than twelve hours of sunlight… depressing.

I had decided that this morning was to be my first trial at pre-work running, as I gear up for a marathon in December. My alarm clock went off at 6:15a and I immediately shut it off; I didn’t even give the ‘snooze’ button the benefit of the doubt, I simply thought another hour and a half of sleep trumps any deal I had made with myself the night prior. I shut my eyes to go back to sleep until the guilt pulled me out of bed, out the door and onto the road with my running shoes. Knowing that I a) had made a deal with myself the night before and b) have a training deadline for an up-and-coming 26.2 mile haul was enough weight in the guilt section of my brain to get me up.

Going out on a weeknight and deciding to sleep in and be late for work or class hardly ever happens, even if you don’t set an alarm, the guilt of missing either of the two sets its’ own alarm clock. Staying over at a special someone’s house when it wasn’t in your best interest will not only wake you up and get you out of bed quickly, it will most likely happen way before the average person gets his or her day going. Being on vacation in Europe is hardly a vacation, you don’t ever sleep in! And it’s not because you’ll truly miss out on anything but because you’ll feel guilty for sleeping too long while you’re in Europe (God forbid).

Just a thought.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Traffic: My thoughts #2

I received a couple of notes this morning from people who empathize with me on traffic. It would be safe to argue that the overwhelming majority of people do not like traffic, but it wouldn’t be safe to say, however, that the overwhelming majority of people despise traffic like I do. Not to mention, my opinion on traffic is credible, if I do say so myself: I’ve grown up in a congested metropolitan area my whole life; I eat, breathe and sleep traffic. I am traffic.

Sorry. Ok. This is a good one: rubberneckers.

I don’t understand you people. What do you mean ‘you people?’ I mean you folks who turn gridlock into single file lines of drivers waiting their turn to see absolutely nothing. Actually, I take that back. While bumper to bumper I definitely wait anxiously to see a police officer issuing a citation to a motorist. The way those cops tear that paper, along with their brilliant penmanship, is something I undoubtedly look forward to seeing and inevitably hit the break and gaze while passing by. Seriously, though, what is it? Is it those trippy traffic flare sticks, or the pretty flashing lights coming off of the ambulance or cop car?

I understand humans are naturally drawn to look at destruction. I watched for days as bulldozers tore down a building on my college campus while on my way to class (and was consequently tardy more than once). But I didn’t have hundreds of people behind me. And let’s also face the fact that 9 times out of 10, rubberneckers are looking at something not 1/100th as cool as a bulldozer crushing cement. No, they’re looking at nothing, and in the process, making traffic that much worse. Rubberneckers take the rubbernecking too far when they’re stalling traffic due to a situation that’s not even on their side of the highway. That’s just absolute idiocy.

All this rubbernecking would be understandable if accidents were actually break dancers on I-35E. Or instead of the officer writing a ticket, it’s Cirque du Solei dudes doing crazy flips through burning hoops. But until then…

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Traffic: My thoughts #1

Anytime there’s a traffic jam due to an accident do people think like I do? Doubt it. Here’s what I think:

I’m sitting here in traffic because some moron made an error. There was a lapse in human judgment, performance, whatever and ultimately a human being made a mistake.

Allow me to digress. Listen, I understand that ‘accidents happen.’ The other night it was pouring down rain. I backed out of my driveway as I do every day but this time I experienced a lapse in concentration and forgot that we put our recycling bins by the alley on this day. Due to the pouring down rain and it being dark outside (this depressing time of year when the earth sits on its axis all messed up) I bumped – literally, bumped – our big, blue plastic bin and knocked it over. It broke my rear tail light. So again, I understand that there are such things in life called accidents, and that they undoubtedly occur.

But when you’re driving 65 miles per hour maybe people ought to not text on their cell phone, maybe not even talk on it. Perhaps you should turn the subs down just a smidge. Because inevitably, if everyone actually drove the way you’re supposed to drive: signal, check your blind spots, be defensive, use the mirrors, etc. these accidents should not happen. And in turn, sitting in hours worth of traffic, which equates to cumulated weeks in a person’s life, should…not…happen.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Obama's Nobel Peace Prize...

Democrat or Republican, it truly doesn't matter. You simply can't dispute the fact that the decision to award President Barack Obama the Nobel Peace Prize was a not an award based on any merit or actual accomplishment. The committee has undoubtedly caused irreparable harm to the credibility of this honor, especially considering:

KABUL – Roadside bombs — the biggest killer of U.S. soldiers — claimed eight more American lives Tuesday, driving the U.S. death toll to a record level for the third time in four months as President Barack Obama nears a decision on a new strategy for the troubled war.

A prayer in my cubicle...

Below is a prayer I have up in my cube at work. Hope you enjoy...

We love your kingdom, O God, with its promise of justice, its feeling of compassion, its dimensions of joy and hope, its sense of eternity. In our times of darkest despair, it encourages us. In our moments of deepest exhaustion with life it bids us stand and go forward. Therefore we pray for those this morning who have come here tired and discouraged for any reason, that they may remember that your kingdom is both now and forever, and that the seeds of belief and trust may be reawakened in their lives, to bring them once more to a harvest of love and excitement in living. Help us to voice to you our most intimate thoughts, and, having done so, to find healing and support for our entire existence. Amen.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Vending machines are mean.

This is why I hate vending machines:

Ultimately one of two things happens when you get something from a vending machine: either you get your item, or you don't. If you don't get your item, the machine takes your money and is essentially stealing from you. If you do get your item, the machine drops it on a hard surface for you to bend down and pick up. It's like paying for an item, but only before handing the item nicely to you, the cashier abruptly Donovan McNabb’s it: one giant spike to the ground, shattering your food into pieces. “Here you go, vending machine, take my money in exchange for that food item, and oh, if you wouldn’t mind, could you please give me my Nature Valley granola bar crushed into hundreds of crumbs?”

Let’s face it, any time you go to a vending machine, chances are that you’re pretty starving. Vending machines are placed in their respective locations as a convenient snack-dispensing apparatus for the nutrient-depleted folks who weren’t disciplined enough to plan ahead and bring their own [often better and cheaper] snack. So after the starving person locates a vending machine, their ‘oasis in the desert,’ the vending machine – being the mean, cruel thing that it is – precedes to torture you by not accepting your $1 bill. You spend five minutes feverishly attempting to de-wrinkle your dollar until finally the machine takes it, and then breaks your candy bar right in front of your hungry face.

Sometimes you get lucky though, and get an 'extra' surprise item that falls out accidentally... and I'm sure if the machine could talk, he'd tell you that you got lucky, because vending machines are mean.