Tuesday, April 29, 2014

tuesday april 29: scattershooting while ...

"When the night has come?
And the land is dark?
And the moon,
Is the only light we see?

No I won't be afraid!
No I won't be afraid!
Just as long,
As you stand by me!"

-- "Stand By Me", my favorite version by Otis Redding.


I promised a few weeks ago, I'd just write about how I was feeling, like the good ol' days back in 2008.  Today, is one of those days, I truly don't know how to describe.

So let's go scattershooting, while contemplating what a random Facebook update on my iPhone, as I headed out to brave the elements and hit the ATM machine, mean ...

* I have a post I'm working on, to hopefully go up mid-morning tomorrow (or early afternoon), regarding Adam Silver and the NBA suspending Clippers owner Donald Sterling for life, for his racist comments his girlfriend recorded (and TMZ broadcast to the world).  I'll just simply say this: when you, as an Association, tolerate virulent racism -- as the NBA did in Mr. Sterling's case -- for 33 years, and do nothing about it?

You forfeit the right to be praised, for finally dealing with the proverbial elephant in the room.

If anything, you should be pounded for why you didn't deal with it sooner.

See State, Penn.  Paterno, Joe.  As your evidence for this.

* So maybe if Mr. Sterling had insulted African-Americans under the age of consent, the mainstream media would get the outrage right?

* Had one of my best days at work in ages, and not just because I don't have to walk through the doors there again until Monday.

We've been finalizing the annual PwC audit this last week, and myself (and a few other co-workers) were available (and pretty much working) 24/7 all weekend, to get us in position to at least get a first sign-off before the deadline tomorrow.

I left work last night, convinced the "fire Stevo!" train was taking off from the station.  Yesterday was all about finding someone to blame for how out-of-control (and out-of-compliance) our unapplied cash reconciliation is.  Since it's assigned to me, Monday was designated the 2014 Memorial "Throw Stevo Under The Bus" Day.  Which, as I noted to my boss, is truly ironic, considering I'm the only person in our department, who takes an actual bus to work most days.

(Ooh, first side rant of the post!  The Metro route out to south JoCo?  Now has WiFi.  I sh*t you not, a freaking bus has WiFi.  I literally knock out an hour of work on the 30 minute ride in.  Which frees up an hour to post on this site.  (Pause).  What?  (Pause).  Yeah, I know, I too wonder if that's a blessing, or a curse (rimshot)!)

So, the blame fell on me.  Our 9am, our 11am, our noon (yup, no legit lunch yesterday, wohoo!), and our 2pm, it was one "well, why didn't this get cleared / why is this still in the rec / can you explain this" question after another.  By 3pm, my standard answer was set.  "The rec is in the shape it's in, because it takes me two weeks to do the month-to-date, another week to do the inception-to-date merge, and this is one of 33 reconciliations I am responsible for.  When do you propose I find time, to research a (insert small dollar amount here) variance that no credible auditing firm would even spend 2/1000ths of a second focused on?"

I left work (an hour late!) last night, and I was pissed.  So, I stopped off in Waldo, and went to my little slice of heaven in Midtown, that awesome bar known as Quinton's.

It's amazing, how one simple bacon potato soup bowl, half a toasted ham-and-swiss, and four vodka tonics of the 16oz variety, can turn a frown, upside down!  (Especially since I got out of there, at under $20 in damage, for that.  Seriously, Quinton's rules folks.  I get why so many people love Lew's (although after December 14, 2012, I want nothing more to do with that place), I get why so many people love the Well (I'll never pass on a Sunday brunch there.  Three words: Bloody.  Mary.  Bar.  That is all.), I even get why (insert bar here) earns your dollars.  But Quinton's is the best.

So, I finally get home a little before 8, and I call the 'rents, because if there is one person in this world I can just straight up vent to, it's my dad.  My dad, to put it mildly, has seen it all.  You don't supervise the loading dock at the main branch of the Post Office for twenty something years, without seeing it all.  (Up to and including, "The Voice of Reason", deciding to forego taking a mass mailing inside, and deciding to back a Geo Metro straight up to the loading dock ... you know what?  That's a story I'll save, for another day.  It's an all time classic though.)

Only I forget, my folks aren't home on Monday; they have some group of friends thingy they do on Monday nights through their church.  So, since I didn't want to leave the dreaded "whoa, Steve called but didn't leave a message, is everything ok?  Should we call him back?" dilemma in their hands, I just said I had a bad day, and if they got this before 10, give me a call back.

So they called back.  I have to be honest, from a totally jealous perspective.  I'd be lost without my dad.  If we'd lost him October 6 (or more realistically, October 9), I wouldn't have the slightest idea, how to function at times.  As much as Gregg is my "voice of reason", my dad really is my "voice of reason".

He started to respond, and ... well, it's something only a kid growing up in the mid 1980s would get.  But my dad chose to quote the late, great, Colonel Hannibal Smith, for his pep talk to me.

"Just remember kid -- it's always blackest, just before it goes pitch dark."

That's the stuff I don't ever want to lose -- my dad quoting The A-Team, to talk me off the ledge.  "It's always blackest, just before it goes pitch dark".  It always looks worse, than it actually is.

How sad, that so many kids growing up today in our country, will never have that kind of relationship, with their dad, that I do with mine.

* Today at work, was far better than I thought it'd be.  For starters, we got the non-admit number trimmed from over $17 million (hence my fear of "don't let the door hit you in the ass on the way out!" from the day before), to not even $400,000 (out of an $11,000,000 balance).  Whew!  Also, I convinced the head of the audit team that using "absolute values" to calculate the "true balance" of the account, is what it is: utter bullshit.  Case in point: we have two items, one a debit for $110,700, one a credit for $110,660, the variance of $40 being a bank charge.  It needs to be taken to write-off.  It's a $40 issue to anyone with a functioning brain.

To the head of our audit?  It's a $223,000 issue, because of "absolute value".  In the words of John Candy in "Planes, Trains, and Automobiles": "what a moron!"

* Also, our standing 4pm status update meeting, that every person involved in, dreads like the Second Coming?  Actually went well today.  I SameTime'd Mary, jokingly, nine minutes in, that "you haven't sent me the "guy lighting himself on fire" emoticon yet!"  (Sadly, said dude pouring gasoline on himself, then striking the match, came about six minutes later.)  Still, we got out on time!  That never happens in this meeting!  I always am scrambling to catch the last Metro ride home on Tuesday (5:30ish), or flip a coin -- walk a couple miles to catch the bus line again, or just pay the $15 to take the cab home.

* But today at lunch, had its drawbacks.  For starters, I chose to drop in the mail, a letter that pretty much ensures, the fight between myself and two people I view(ed) as family, ends ... one way or another.  It's up to them now.

Also, it was pouring down rain, and I had to hit an ATM.  I only had $2 in cash this morning, so I couldn't get the all-day pass.  (Those are $3, and I'm telling you, $3 to get from 500 feet from my front door, to within 1500 feet of my office front door, and back, while using the WiFi to work to and from, is a f*cking steal, it's a ridiculous bargain, given that even out my way, gas is almost $3.50 / gallon.)  I had hoped I had at least a buck in change in my desk drawer.  No dice.  So I had to get some cash, since the Metro doesn't take credit.

I had to brave the elements, to drop the letter (and the final parting gift it is included in) into the mail, and hit the ATM, in the half hour I had between conference calls, to finalize the audit.

I walked the couple blocks to Wal-Mart, hit the ATM, grabbed a few items I needed, checked out, and headed to the mail drop at the edge of the parking lot.  Odds are, when I mail this letter, "The Family" will sleep with the fishes for the rest of eternity, because ... well, let's just say, I am known at times for being brutally honest, about how I feel about people.  And this is one brutally honest letter, headed to the 66104 zip code.

About fifteen seconds away from the mailbox, my phone started vibrating.

The vibration, was a message from Facebook.

"Today is Kasey Haase's birthday.  Celebrate on her timeline ..."


Kasey passed away September 7, 2013.


Those of you who know me best?  Know I do not believe in coincidence.

* I held off on dropping the letter.  I'm giving it another day, to sleep on what I wrote.

But mostly, all afternoon, I kept coming back to the Facebook message on my iPhone.  And the one thing that today just weighed so heavily on me.  Which is this:

* Is life really this trivial?  Are friends really this meaningless, that we reduce them to Facebook reminders, eight months after they pass away, because nobody took their page down?

I logged in tonight and intentionally read Kasey's page.  Half the people posting, don't seem to have a clue, she died eight months ago come a week from tomorrow.  It's all current.  It's all "happy birthday, hope you enjoy it!"  "Happy birthday, live it up!"

I don't claim to be a great friend of Kasey's.  We were co-workers for a couple years at Transamerica.  She loved the NFL picks post (back when it was an email every Friday).  I'd always arrive on Friday to an email in my inbox along the lines of "so, picks come out when today?"

That's what I think friendship is about.  Is that you give something to someone that you don't think matters worth a f*ck, but that person, treasures it, loves it, craves it.

I'll freely admit, at times?  I don't know why I still update this site.  Sometimes, I get it completely.  But times like today, when I'm just posting random thoughts that probably flunk not just every spell check, but every interest check -- to say nothing of making me come across as an arrogant, conceited a-hole who thinks the world revolves around him, which is the exact opposite of who I strive to be?  I wonder if its worth it.

But if a single person gets the motivation to keep going, by reading a single letter of the alphabet I type and post?  Then it's worth it.

I'll close with this:

* In the final season of "NYPD Blue", Bobby Simone (played by Jimmy Smits), returns to help his old partner, Andy Sipowitz (played by Dennis Franz).  Sipowitz has reached rock bottom for the fourth time in the series (after the pilot episode, Junior's death, and Bobby's passing).

It's Bobby's declaration in this scene, that has always hit me.

"Andy?  If life was short?  I wouldn't be here.  Life is long."

Life is long.

Unless you choose, to not make it long.

Please, readers, choose ... to make it as long, as humanly possible.

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