Thursday, April 30, 2015

Well. Here we go again.

I've had this running joke that isn't funny or anything.  It's a joke though.  A real joke.  As in "What a joke."

I won't go through the whole boring history, but I will summarize.

The joke is the headline of a blog post that reads "I'm back."   Then the first line of the body usually says something like "But this time ... It's personal hygiene."

In the eighties, there was an awful Tom Cruise movie.

I should be more specific.  In 1986, there was an awful Tom Cruise movie.

Damn.  Still ambiguous.  In 1986, there was an awful Tom Cruise movie about a young hothead pool hustler getting tutored by a character from a great Paul Newman movie from the 1960's.

The other 1986 Tom Cruise movie was called "Hot Shots!"  or something.

But that's not important right now.  What is important is that Paul Newman's character has been in forced retirement since the 1960's, but decides to train this incredibly talented young man.

Yeah - the same general plot can be seen in "Happy Gilmore" which is an infinitely superior film.  So the main takeaway is this:  Don't see "The Color of Money."  See "Happy Gilmore."

Where was I?  Oh yeah, I remember.  At or near the end of the movie, Paul Newman kind of  chalks his cue, smirky smiles, and says "I'm back!" as he strikes a rack of balls really really hard.  I don't really know, but I wouldn't be surprised if the frame freezes just after the break begins and the credits roll.  There's probably some shitty 80's sounding song from a band you've never heard of going on about "You can pick it up after you give it up,"  or some horrible thing like that.  I can hear a tune in my head right now that is a pretty good representation of the ending song of just about every 80's movie.  I can say for certain the song sucks and I'll never watch "The Color of Money" again.  At least not with the sound on.

All of the times in the past when I've said "I'm back" - I was coming back from a voluntary layoff.  Each time, I was sure I'd never quit again.  But I have.  Many times.  Hence the "What a joke" joke

This time, I've been plagued with a sequence of injuries, mostly involving my back.  But Paul Newman didn't say "My Back!"

So for the last several months, I've been forced to do fewer, shorter, easier rides.  I've never quit altogether.  I've maintained a level of fitness that - though relatively low - It's not like completely starting over.

I've got a pretty busy week these days, but have figured out a reasonable way to get the WNWs in.  I went last night and it was actually surprisingly easy.  Once I got dropped.

I had already told a couple of guys it was inevitable that I'd get dropped and to please, please not wait for me.  I was just out for a ride.

I've probably talked about this before, so I'll try to keep it short here.  It's amazing to me that when you're out of shape, you can't get as tired as you can when you're fit.

You don't have the fitness to go hard enough for long enough to get truly wiped out.  I went as hard as I could for as long as I could to keep up.  But when I was done, I was done.  I pedalled home at a nice 20-23 (tail breeze) and enjoyed the beautiful spring evening.

I will go to WNW next week. Maybe I will hang on longer.  Maybe I'll get dropped sooner.  The great thing is I don't really care.

I first did Wednesday night rides um, like 15 years ago or so after a fairly successful RAGBRAI campaign.  I went to either the High Gear Store in LaVista or Bike Masters in West Omaha.

Either way, I would get mercilessly dropped.  Then I would get mad.  Really mad.  I would think things like "What a bunch of assholes.  If I wanted to do this, I could just ride alone."

Then I'd be depressed for about 3 days and try to prepare for the following week.  And over and over again.

I now see how ridiculous it is to get mad (at other people) about being dropped on a ride like that.  But in the past, including the last couple of years, it's always bugged me at least a little bit.

Not anymore.  It was a good ride.  I can't wait until I'm good enough to tear myself inside out again trying to hang with those jerks (assholes).

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Oh boy

So last night I knew I would be extremely tight on time for posting some crap tonight.  I did the smart thing and sat down to write the blog on Wednesday night rather than the traditional Thursday night.

Well, after about 90 minutes of alternating between web/facebook surfing and staring at a blank page, I decided to call it quits and watch a couple of gruesome episodes of Daredevil.

[Maybe] I'm just getting old, but I enjoy the series.  I could go with a lot less graphic violence though.

Anyway, yeah I drew a complete blank last night and still don't have anything.  The difference is that tonight, I also don't have any time.

Rather than just ramble on about nothing, I will leave you with this small unsatisfying note and a promise.

Maybe I will write something this weekend.  I promise that maybe I will.  Maybe I will just wait until next week.  But in the meantime, I will mention a couple of things about the Television shows that I watch regularly.

I watch Vikings.  I like this one quite a bit.

Justified is done now.  It was perhaps one of the most satisfying series finales I've ever seen.  Breaking Bad was probably a better ending - but Justified was a much better show overall.

Dexter was a great show that went 2 seasons too long and its ending was just the worst.

I think that's ALL i WATCH RIGHT NOW!  Sorry for yelling.  I accidentally nabbed the CAPS LOCK.

So Daredevil and Vikings.  I also watch "Orange is the new Black," and "Game of Thrones" but they're not on right now.  Well, Game of Thrones might be, but don't have HBO.  I just watch it when the VHS tapes of it come out.

So there you have it.  I promise to maybe write something someday.

Also, Munson got his dumb ass hit by a car.   Get well soon, buddy.  We must go riding again.  Good Job!

Thursday, April 16, 2015

I Got Nothing

To say "I've got nothing" just doesn't sound right.  I mean, it sounds right as far as English goes, but if you're saying "I give up,"  It feels more colloquially appropriate to say "I got nothing."

The first thing you might think when you see that title is "Oh crap, It's another one of these where he got nothing."  (See what I did there?)

But no.  I have something.  Its just that I have no good answer to what possible circumstances led to the fragment of conversation I heard Tuesday morning. I've been stewing over it for a couple of days and I still have no idea what situation could have logically led to the words I heard.

I will start with the conversation.

Underneath the Mutual, there's this network of tunnels. One of these tunnels goes on for about 2 city blocks and leads to The Dome.  

Tuesday morning, I was walking toward The Dome via this tunnel.  Walking toward me were a man and a woman dressed in custodial attire.  They were talking.

"So, she's charging full price for beer that's a year old," said the woman.

Since it was Tuesday morning, my knee jerk thought was "Mmm, beer."

"Yeah, I know.  And she has no problem with it," said the dude.

"Well I guess."

"Actually, she's getting paid twice for it."

And that was all I heard.

I got a little dizzy walking on to the dome.  I was trying to think of what was the most likely scenario where these words would make sense.  I was reminded of Lewis Black.  He once talked about this phenomena of overhearing something that you cannot reconcile without proper context.

Something to do with a horse and college.

Actually, I just listened to this.  It is much funnier than anything I could come up with, but what he talks about here is what I've been going through. I've been trying to figure out the meaning.  It's been stuck in my head since I heard it.

Admittedly, the horse/college thing makes even less sense than the full price/paid twice beer thing - but here's what I figure happened Tuesday morning before I came along ...

By the way, I'm making all the names and stuff up (except where I'm not).


Scoot, A Custodian

Tabitha, A Custodian

Skudlarek's, A package liquor store

Lady Skudlarek, Sole proprietress of Skudlarek's, a liquor store

"Rough night Scoot?"

"You know it."

"Hey - you wanna help me get some dome cleaning supplies and stuff?  It's Tuesday."

"Ah shit Tabby, I got a real bangaroo.  I don't know if I can ..."

"C'mon buddy.  The exercise'll do you good."

"But it's clear down at the other end of the tunnel.  Plus it's like 6:30.  All those corporate S.O.B.s will be skipping their dumb lunchbox carrying asses  toward us.  We'll be like Salmon in a sea of assholes."

"You crack me up Scoot.  C'mon."

"Fine.  I gotta tell you about Bitch Skudlarek anyway."

"Uh Oh, what'd she do now."

"Ok, so I went in to grab a case of Natty, right?  Anyways, I'm standing in line to pay and she's giving some kids crap about how they ain't old enough for the discount price.  You know Lady S.  Always shaking down the minors.  I've seen it a million times."


"So, I'm standing there bored.  I'm waiting for these kids to get a clue.  Pay Lady Skudlarek enough, and she'll sell hooch to a baby.  Shit.  She oughta put a sign up.  A mission statement of sorts.  Anyways - while I'm waiting, I start reading the case of beer I'm holding like it's a box of cereal on Saturday morning.  That when I notice it's got a "Born On" date.

"On Natty Light?!?"

"That's what I thought.  But yeah.  Well not a "Born On" date, per se.  It says, and I quote, Best if enjoyed by March 1, 2014.

"Now I always buy my beer from there, so maybe it's always this old expired stuff and I never noticed.  But I figure since Lady Skudlarek makes most of her profit from underage alkies, she can cut me a deal on this old-ass beer."

"It's the least she could do for a loyal customer like you, Scoot."


"So what happened?"

"So I finally get up there and set the case down.  She says, 'Hey Scoot,'  that'll be $8.74"

"'Funny,'  I say, 'Seein's how this brew passed away a year ago.'  Then I pointed out the expire date. She said, 'So what Scooter, you want the beer or doncha?'"

"I think you could give me a break on the price.  I mean I know that once it's expired, the brewery pays you back for it."

Cube Note:  I think there might be some truth to this if it were bread.  I don't think it works with beer, though.  Even if it did, I bet the distributor would take the product back.  But what do I know?  Now, back to Scoot and Tabitha ...

"Hey, check out this douche with his lunchbox," Tabitha said, pointing me out.

"Yeah," said scooter out of the side of his mouth, "Is that banana in your outer lunchbox pocket or are you just happy to see me?"

"Hardy har har," both said.

"Anyway ..." said Scoot.

"So, she's charging full price for beer that's a year old," said Tabitha.

"Yeah, I know.  And she has no problem with it," said Scoot.

"Well I guess," submitted Tabitha

"Actually, she's getting paid twice for it," Scoot said.

"Well, here's the dome cleaning supply closet.  Give me the key."

"I thought you had the key ..."

and sceeeeeeene!


Thursday, April 09, 2015


As of yesterday, I realized my new routine is set.  Tomorrow ends three weeks of going to work at the new place but the finishing touches of the routine were just added after the Tuesday lunch incident.

The routine involves all of the things you do every work day that are not actually work, but are because of work.

By Wednesday of the first week, I had worked out the best route to and from the office.

On Thursday of the second week, I figured out the optimal place to park.  Oh it's a good one, too.

But there was still the lunch problem.  I have a lunch routine.

For lunch, I usually have a sandwich (on Rotella's bread) with either chicken, turkey or ham and swiss cheese, spicy mustard and horseradish sauce.  I have an apple.  I have a bowl of cherries and a bag of Sun chips.  Sometimes, I have a banana.

I do not eat at my desk. I like to read whatever book I'm reading (currently "The Strangled Queen") while I eat my lunch, so a nice table some place I won't be disturbed is ideal.

At the old place, I always went into a break room that was farthest from my work area.  The one right next to my desk had too many people I knew coming in and talking to me.  I didn't want to talk to them.  I was on lunch break.  As far as I was concerned, talking to them was just like working.

So I went to the break room far away.

Sometimes people I knew would go into that break room and say, "Why are you clear down here?"

I'd say, "I was hoping to read for a few minutes without running into your dumb ass."

Now there's nobody at the new place that I dislike yet, but I'll be ready when there is, because I have my routine worked out.

For 2 weeks and 2 days, I had been unhappy with the lunch situation.  I would go down to the big dome area.  Almost all of the tables down there are designed for about 10 people.  Finding a small table is next to impossible and sitting alone at a huge empty table feels awkward, but that's mostly what I've been doing.

On Tuesday, I was sitting alone at a huge table reading a book called "The Strangled Queen" when a woman (girl) sat down on the other side.  No problem, I thought.  I don't mind.

I had just opened up my lunch box and taken a bite from my ham and swiss on Rotella's with horseradish and spicy mustard, when the woman said at a near shout, "Ok, you want to do this right now?!?  Because, I can be a bitch if that's how you want to play it."

Umm.  What?  I looked up mid-chew without moving my head. Oh - she was on the phone.

Ok, I can ignore this.  With the slightest, almost imperceptible twitch of my head, I returned to my reading in a fascinating display of expert passive/agressiveness.  I may have sighed a little, but I don't want to boast.

"So, then I told 'em, You know that Dr gave me them medications that make me go pee all the time."

Oh shit. I thought there's no way she doesn't know how annoying she is.  I briefly considered if there was even anybody on the other end of the line.

Basically, she was complaining about some supervisor giving her crap for never being at her desk and how she doesn't need that shit and disrespect and yada yada yada.  Ahh kids.  They want respect.  That's cute.  Old people sold out years ago.  We just want pay.

I knew I had to move.  This conversation was not going to end. I had an idea for a book. "The Strangled Lazy Employee."

But I had a stupid problem.  I was actually concerned about what it would look like when I packed up and moved to another table.  I envisioned something like, "Hold on, baby.  Hey!  Where the hell are you going?  Is my talking "bothering" you.  Sit your ass back down."

Even though that scenario seemed a very real possibility, I steeled myself and gently, quietly, put my sandwich back in its bag.  I put the sandwich, container of cherries, the apple and the unopened bag of Sun Chips back in my lunch box and slinked away from the table in shame.

But Cube, I hear you ask, what about the banana?

Valid question.  First of all, there is not always a banana.  Even though it's a routine, I do mix it up from time to time.  But secondly if I put the banana inside with all the other stuff, it makes the bread taste like banana.

My lunch box has outer pockets on 2 sides (the front and back).  Mr "Make your bread taste funny" gets relegated to one of those since he can't play nice.

So when I was packing up to move away from Princess Pees-Alot, the banana was still in the lunch box pocket dealy.

After lunch each day, I take the undergound passageway across Farnam street to get me a nice delicious double shot of espresso from the Starbuck's.   I say, "Double Shot of espresso, please"

And they always cheerfully reply "Dope, yo!"

Even though I'm not into the kids' lingo, I'm happy that they are comfortable enough to address me as "Yo" and obviously approve of my excellent coffee choice as being "Dope."

Behind the Starbuck's is a Chik-Fil-A Express and a small quiet area with lots of empty small tables.


So starting yesterday, I sit there for lunch. When I'm finished reading, I walk up to the Starbuck's counter and order the espresso.

True story - Today, when I walked up to the counter and before I said anything, the kid greeted me with a hearty "Dope, Yo!"

"Hodor!" I replied.

I'm finally home.

Thursday, April 02, 2015

I need to get me 29 of them big huge foam hands with its big huge index finger extended.

Due to certain ideas of propriety and caution, I haven't talked nearly as much about my recent job change as I would have liked.  Certainly, I've mentioned it much more than most people would care for, but I've wanted to really cut loose with some good old fashioned vitriol.

But I'm a professional.

After I put in my notice at the other place, I spent my last 2 weeks working there as hard as I ever had.  I finished as much as I could, and I left on as good of terms as possible with the boneheads I reported to.

The day I received an offer from the new company was a Friday.  I immediately sent a gracious notice to all who needed to know.  My closest work colleague, the administrative assistant, my boss and his boss.

On Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday, even though I had been in several meetings, nobody (except my colleague) had said anything to me at all about it.

Eventually, word got around and people started asking me where I was going.

One guy said, "Wow.  Really?  That place is worse than here.  I guess you like people with their heads up their asses."

I'm not kidding.  He really said that.  Not "Good luck." or "congratulations."

My boss never said anything at all to me about it.  He still hasn't.  He just sort of ignored me until I wasn't there anymore.

I am telling you, this is a bizarre place.

Eventually, my boss's boss got around to acknowledging I was leaving.  It was about Thursday of that first week.  He asked me where I was going.  When I told him he gave me a strange look.  A look that was trying to tell me I was making a mistake, but only confirmed I needed to get the hell out of that horrible place.

"You seem surprised,"  I prodded.

"I am.  I've just heard so many horror stories.  I've gotten lots of calls from people who worked there and wanted to come here."


I've been at the new place for 2 weeks tomorrow and I couldn't be happier.  It is going well and I'm finally back in a professional place.  We have a plan and stuff.  I'm a part of that.

That was the main problem with where I was.  They had their heads so far up ...  Never mind.

When I started this job search about 6 months ago, I was mainly focused on 2 places.  Both of them are in the list somebody sent me today.  It is Forbes list of the top 500 Employers in the country.

The old company wasn't on the list.  To be fair, this was only companies with 2500 or more employees. I don't know how many people work for the place I left, but I can't imagine 2500 people are stupid enough to work there.  Except when I am riding my bike around and encounter aggressive motorists.  Then I can imagine plenty of people stupid enough to work there.

Anyway, the list.  I filtered the results to see which companies based in Omaha made the cut.