Sunday, May 17, 2015

Exactly how black is your soul?

A Facebook friend of a friend greeted the news that the surviving Boston Marathon bomber had gotten the death penalty with: "C Ya" and "Big Like."

His friends said things like, "Why don't we just let a single bullet do the job?"

I'm disgusted.

The Marathon bombing broke my heart and I hated what it did to one of my favorite most cities. (Here's a TT I dedicated to Boston in the aftermath back in 2013.) I resent that, as a country, we gave hospitality, not to mention complete legal rights, to the kid who admitted the murderous act.

That said, you cannot get me to cheer the impending murder of another human being. Especially a murder done in my name. (Since it was a Federal case, it's "The People of the United States vs. ....".) Not the Boston Bomber. Not Osama bin Laden. No one.

Perhaps these acts are justice. Maybe they must be done. I can accept that unhappy reality.

But I refuse to rejoice in it.

Instead, I'll celebrate Martin Richard, the extraordinary little boy who died that day. His mother and his sister both sustained serious, life altering injuries that day, too. Yet Martin has become a symbol of the best in us. I'm going to make a contribution in Martin's memory to Wiggle Your Toes, a group devoted to helping amputees "regain their independence."

This one's for you, Martin

Riding the rails

I love Amtrak. It's on time (more often than not), it's much cheaper than driving, and I enjoy the slice of life I see when I ride the rails.

I took the train from Chicago to my client's downstate offices on Thursday, just days after the transportation company suffered its worst accident in years. I was touched by how unusually chatty the morning conductor was. It's as though he was trying to assuage any passenger fears.

On the ride back that evening, I found myself next to a young man of 19 or 20. He alternated between working on a paper (looked like it was for school) and binge watching Friends on Netflix. Considering his age, I was surprised by how enthralled he was. Then I remembered at Easter my niece, age 22, told me she had just ploughed through the entire series on Netflix, as well. I know I remain massively fond of the gang from Central Perk, and am glad another generation is embracing them, too.

When he caught me looking at his screen, he graciously offered me a earbug. I told him "no, thanks," that I was enjoying guessing which episode he was watching without the benefit of sound. I did pretty well, too. The New Year's Eve when "Fun Bobby" cried ... Joey's VD poster ... episodes I thought I'd forgotten until I saw them again. (BTW, the friendly young man has also been binge watching How I Met Your Mother and Two and a Half Men. He looooooves Charlie Sheen.) I enjoyed chatting with him, and he's someone I never would have met had it not been for Amtrak.

Oh, yes I did!

I knocked it out of the park on Thursday. Really. I presented six concepts in (gulp) 60 minutes. I held the room. I got unexpectedly glowing comments from the client.

•  Madame Big -- the one I'd been frightened of because she tore into me at our first meeting -- actually said she wished I could work directly for her.

•  Henrietta Henchwoman -- the one who has treated me more like an obstacle than an asset in our recent email exchanges -- told me she'd learned more from me in an hour than she had on the job in six months.

Even better, both my immediate boss and the head of account services were in the room as I shone.

What makes me so happy about this is that I really didn't have time to prepare. I've often wondered if my work is good, or I'm just good at selling it. Thursday wasn't about spin -- I didn't have the opportunity beforehand to concoct any and I didn't have the time in the presentation to spew it. All I could do in 60 minutes is present the work and, in the process, demonstrate how well I know the product and the market.

And I did. Very well.

When I rolled into the office on Friday, my boss greeted me by saying he wished he'd rolled out the red carpet. And he's not always my biggest fan.

I feel good about work for the first time in ages.

Sunday Stealing

Random Meme

1. If you were to attend a costume party tonight, what or whom would you go as? Minnie Mouse, because I still have the costume somewhere.

2. What are your choice of toppings on a hamburger? Ketchup, lettuce, mayo. Or barbecue sauce! Yes, that would be good, too.

3. You are chosen to have lunch with the President. The condition is you only get to ask one question. What do you ask? Oh, Kwizgiver, how many profane and silly RWNJ answers do you think you'll get to this question?

4. It’s your first day of vacation, what are you doing? Where am I? If it's Christmastime in Key West, I'm in the hotel pool until my Conch friends come to pick me up. If it's my Las Vegas birthday trip, I'm having a late brunch and discussing which show and which casino to hit first. If I'm having a staycation, I'm being lazy and recharging.

5. What is your concession stand must-have at the movies? It changes. Lately it's Twizzlers.

6. Which do you dislike most: pop-up ads or spam email? Spam email.

7. What do you think Captain Hook’s name was before he had a hook for a hand? That was his name. He refers to his mother as "Mama Hook." (My source material comes from the Disney Channel.)

8. Rock, paper, or scissors? Scissors

9. Let's say a brick fell on your foot, and your kid is standing right next to you, what is your 'cleaned up’ swear word? Good goobies!

10. Which is worse, being in a place that is too loud, or too quiet? Too loud

11. What is one quality that you really appreciate in a person? These days, being informed but not ridiculously partisan. The way you would answer #3 says a lot about you. Especially if you're a Republican. Nothing turns me off a person faster than knowing they would be disrespectful to a President, any President. It shows such an ignorance of our history and lack of regard for the electorate.

12. At the good old general store, what particular kind of candy would you expect to be in the big jar at the counter? Jaw breakers.

13. What is the most distinguishing landmark in your city? Soon it will the Obama Library. (Tee hee to you haters.) Right now, I'll go with Buckingham Fountain. It's gorgeous and my heart swells a little every time I see it. But I'm only choosing the Fountain because my beloved Wrigley Field is still under construction.

14. Everyone hears discussions that they consider boring. What topic can put you to sleep quicker than any other? That Obama is a socialist/fascist/Muslim/Kenyan. Yawn. (This is a theme today.)

15. How many times did it take you to pass your drivers test? I passed the first time. Of course, I was 30.

16. If you had to have the same topping on your vanilla ice cream for the rest of your life, what topping would you choose? Chocolate sauce.

17. What food item would need to be removed from the market altogether in order for you to live a healthier, longer life? Caffeine. I consume way too much of it.

18. You are offered an envelope that you know contains $50. You are then told that you may either keep it or exchange it for another envelope that may contain $500 or may be empty. Do you keep the first envelope, or do you take your chances with the second? I'll take my chance and go for the $500. Now if it started at $500 with an option for $5000, I'd quit while ahead.

19. If you had to choose, which would you give up: cable TV, or DSL/cable internet? This question causes me agita because I don't want to give up either. But I suppose (gulp) cable because I can watch shows and the news online.

20. What is your highest level of education? I started but didn't finish college.

21. How much is a gallon of gas in your city? What was the highest it’s been? I don't drive, so I'm only dimly aware of these things. But I just walked by BP this afternoon and saw it was $2.99. I remember everyone squawking when it $4.00+ a couple years ago.

22. What kind of lunch box did you have as a kid? It included Barbie, Francie and Skipper.

23. What would you rather have, a nanny, a housekeeper, a cook, or a chauffeur? Chauffeur

24. Would you rather be trapped in an elevator, or stuck in traffic? You didn't mislead us. This is a very random meme, indeed! If I must choose, I'll go with stuck in traffic.