Monday, February 26, 2007

Friendly Advice

Being a good citizen of the world, I thought I would share this little nugget with you: if you're planning a wedding, and your fiance goes to a bridal show, under no circumstances - and I mean NO CIRCUMSTANCES - let her fill out an information card for formalwear places.

As far as I'm concerned, she can fill out any other card she wants, but if the sound of your phone ringing at all hours with guys wanting to lease you the hippest formalwear and best deals around isn't your thing, beg her to hold off.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

It's a Dog's Life

Mike Daisey was a slacker. He was content to bounce from temp job to temp job, long enough to make a little money, then he'd quit, live off savings and "perform" in community theater productions until the next temp job.

Until Amazon came to town.

21 Dog Years is the story of Daisey's three years with Amazon; how he climbed from the perpetual night of customer service, where windows were so rare that "grown men and women cried, schemed and had knife fights with letter openers in the bathrooms, where unscrupulous managers would take bets on who would be killed and who would walk away triumphant with a seat that received a few feeble rays for a few hours a day." Daisey hung up on callers and randomly sent free books to Norwegians, to Business Development, where Amazon searched for companies worthy of partnering with - companies with vision, drive and style. Companies like, the poster child of failed dot-coms.

I enjoyed this book on many levels - Daisey's a witty writer, and he nails the rush of working in the dot-com world, a world where budgets were optional, profits were a far-off dream, and offices were "a trifecta of Batcave, Fortress of Solitude, and supervillain lair." I think that anyone who worked - even tangentially, like I did, in the dot-com world, can relate to this corporate mindset - where you were ACHIEVING THINGS, dammit, so who the hell cares about something silly like making payroll.

One of my favorite sayings is "It's not selling out - it's buying in!" I always tell friends that when they get the big promotion or new job, and lament about how they're not going to end up saving the world after all. Daisey buys in big-time - at first, but he begins to realize that for him, at least, tons of money and a 9-to-5 aren't the answer.

It's a fun book, and a great look back at one of the more -interesting- times in recent history.

Thursday, February 15, 2007


The old standards flowed from the duet as the lights from the skyline filtered in through the window. Outside, the bitter cold kept all but the hardiest (or craziest) souls indoors.

I sat across the table from Darcy, smiling. Looking at her. Enjoying our time together as we traveled up the river. Around us, couples sat at their own tables, enjoying quiet conversation, dinner or dancing, celebrating Valentine's Day with a dinner cruise up the Mississippi.


The boat shuddered lightly.


We glanced out the window to see an impressive chunk of ice spinning away from the side of the boat. I opened my mouth to speak.


More ice scraped the side of the boat. Looking out the window, I tried judging how far it was to swim to the nearest shore. They did warn us that the cruise may end up being dockside if ice on the river was too thick, but the captain seemed to think all was well, and who am I to argue with the captain. And we wanted to scope the boat out to see how appropriate it would be to hold our wedding there next year.

BOOM. More ice off the hull.

We continued talking, dancing, trying not to worry as a crewman carried an armload of life preservers across the dance floor to some hidden locker. I began to wonder if they'd renamed the Becky Thatcher to Titanic recently.

"Darcy, I love you. But if this boat goes down and we find a door or piece of flotsam for you to float on, I'm making you scoot over. I refuse to freeze to death when there's a perfectly good door nearby."

She laughed. And then I'm pretty sure she was judging how hard it would be to keep me in the water while she sat high and dry on the wreckage.

The riverboat turned around and eventually made its way back to the mooring, safe, sound and afloat. So while we spent the rest of the evening dockside, it was much easier to enjoy ourselves while not wondering if we'd have to swim for it.