Wednesday, April 28, 2004

Sorry for the many delays in posting. The following is a condensation of several posts that could not be sent earlier.

--April 16--
Mindgames Prep.
This weekend is Mensa Mind Games, and Theo, Janet the vet, Howard the bodybuilder, and I are all in the kitchen all weekend keeping 200 Mensans fed and happy, we hope. A lot depends on how well cooked spaghetti freezes. The dry weight of all the spaghetti we have made so far is 40 pounds. And then there's rice - 12 boxes of it, that Janet is cranking through today. At least A) I don't have to pay for anything since I'm helping and B) I won't be stuck reviewing games (most of which suck) for 18 hours a day all weekend.

--April 19--
October Sky in April
I got a call Monday morning from Laurel. Apparently Homer Hickam (yep, the October Sky dude) is speaking at Northwestern in Evanston this Wednesday at 7 PM. I have no details beyond that, but she is going to look into it and call me with more. Theo can't go.

MindGames in Review
Too little sleep and too much work this past weekend. Fed 200 people and had food available 24 hours. We did hobbit meals, breakfast, early lunch, late lunch, snack, early dinner, late dinner, dessert, snacks till dawn, breakfast, where's my shower?, etc. Theo's blisters have blisters, literally. She took the day off Monday. I did manage to play a few new games. They were Trime, Hexchess, Who? What? Where?, Whaddaya Know?, Campaign Secrets, and Cogno. A couple of the games I played with Amy. She’s one of the very, very few people our age who has been in Chicago Mensa a long time. She had long, thick, natural red hair to her waist. Until this weekend, when it was bobbed - it took some getting used to. Fortunately, she has the face to pull it off. It’s odd to spend so many years with someone and then play games with them for almost the first time so closely together. You learn a lot about people that way. As for the games themselves, they were not as sucky as I remembered. There were 60 games, and I only heard complaints about maybe five or ten of them. At least 20 were excellent. All but one or two were professionally produced.

I also met some really cool people and a lot of old friends. They are far too numerous and I suck at names, so I’ll leave this at that.

Both times Chicago has hosted, we've done great food. I didn't realize what an anomaly that was until everyone told us how they starved them at other MindGames conventions. The spaghetti, by some miracle, turned out really well.

The only issue is we never went home this weekend. I went from work to O'Hare and stayed last night as well, then directly to work this morning. I dread what my rugs look like, or will look like once the "Oh Daddy, I'm so glad you're safe and home! Now never leave again, ya bastard." cat fits start. We apparently were on Channel 9 news Saturday night. I'll see the tape Sunday if not before. (Update – actually, it’s April 28 and I still haven’t seen it).

At Allstate, it seems every day I get a month-long assignment, or one that could take that long. This morning was no exception. The odds on being extended went up slightly, but only slightly. Any fast-moving prospects I'm forwarding to Nicole until she's working. I'll have to keep all the ones that I think I can start at the beginning of June.

--April 22--

Bank Shot
As mentioned, I got a call from Steve, my old boss at the bank. They want me back at the bank as a contractor until at least September, probably longer.

--April 23--
We’ve started the ball rolling on this job shift. I’ve let my supervisor know here, and my consulting firm. I’ve also given them notice that this may take a while (the bank doesn’t move quickly no matter who is pushing).

--April 26--

Corporate America
A friend used the term Corporate America disparagingly in e-mail recently. Here is part of the response I didn’t send, mainly because the letter was too long and this was a rabbit hole that had nothing to do with the emotion and thought I was trying to convey. There are times when the mind is philosophical but the mouth must just shut up and deal with friendship as friendship.

There are big companies (Motorola, SBC, etc.) who ban the re-hiring of old employees. They are the ones who suffer for it in the long run. They are stagnant because no one comes back with new ideas. "Corporate America" is nuts, but I think it's no worse than any other stagnant institution. Corporate Italy can't make a VCR to save its life. Government America has this bad habit of blowing up space shuttles.

That said, Corporate America's flaws are frequent and well documented. I suspect that a hundred years from now, they will look back on the Internet and see its biggest benefit as being the central clearinghouse for institutional criticism.

--April 28 (today)--

Adventures in Drug Testing
I sent the letter below to my account manager at the consulting firm today. She called yesterday to let me know I should start with the drug screening and other paperwork. She said the project was nearly ready to go.

Oh dear, dear Lord, was that an adventure.

The road was closed to the office in Wheeling. The bypass takes you about ten miles in a circle. I got there and waited at least a half hour. I did my part, then the guy didn't have the special lids that allow the desktop analyzer to check the sample. He also didn't have the paperwork to send in the sample. So he sent me to the Elk Grove office. I went through a drive-through en route to restock the sample, so to speak, realizing later this was like loading water ballast in the Titanic. After some adventure on the phone finding the office (the guy didn't give me directions when I asked, other than "It's a half hour away." and pointing at a card with the address and phone number on it), I found it, waited another 20 minutes, dropped the cup, got another cup, left the sample, and found out that all the guy had to do at the Wheeling office was find the form online and print it.

I got home at 9:45, changed three litter boxes, emptied six waste baskets, packed two city garbage bags, went to bed, woke up early to take Theodora to the airport, dealt with several DSL outages while trying to get her itinerary, and finally took her to O'Hare and got back to Allstate.

Now I can rest.

Lessons of the day -
1) Dundee doesn't go through for now at the railroad tracks.
2) Russians have a very charming accent when open a statement with, "You're going to kill me, but..."

Her response was :

OH MY GOSH! I feel so bad!!! The good news is you tested NEGATIVE! We already have your results…thank you!

I joked with her that it would cost her a nice lunch. She was in the habit of dining me anyway in our past business relationship, so that was no big deal.

Hitting a Fog Bank
I returned a call today from the person in charge of the consulting system, who asked “would I be interested in the position?” I said yes, I’d already done the drug screening for the position, and she became slightly incensed and called my account manager and chewed her out. If this person costs me this job, I will happily publish her number in a future blog.

By the way, Nicole starts Monday on a multi-year contract. She seems happy about it so far. At least she’s taken care of.

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