I mind…

I believe there is a popular saying in many management books that says something like “there’s no limit to what you can accomplish as long as you don’t mind who gets the credit.”

I mind. It may be shallow, but goddamn it anyway, I mind who gets the credit. I’m tired of people who start things they can’t or won’t finish. I’m tired of people who get credit because “maybe they need it more than you do.” I’m tired. And I mind.

That is all.

Running a tab…

Our class reunion this past weekend took place in the firehall in my hometown. Conveniently enough, there is a bar attached with a little pass-through window for ordering drinks. At the beginning of the evening, during the scheduled “social hour,” drinks were easy enough to get and a domestic bottle of beer cost the whopping sum of $1.25. As the night went on, I noticed the price of the same bottle of domestic beer fluctuated between that same $1.25 and $2.00. The deciding factor, apparently, was the barmaid sticking her hand in the tip jar and deciding if it was sufficiently full. WTF? How is that any way to run a business, yo?

On a related note, at just past 11:00 that evening, I discovered I had run clean through the small bankroll I was carrying around in my wallet. To be fair, I should mention that I very rarely carry more than five or ten dollars in my wallet. Cash is just not something I really need in my every day life… The gas pump takes my debit card. Starbucks takes my debit card. Metro takes my credit card. Even the damn taxies take credit. I actually can’t remember the last time I needed real American greenbacks to make a transaction at any place of business.

Knowing that I was crippling depleted of cold, hard cash, I walked in a more or less straight line up to the little order/pass through window with my trusty debit card in hand and asked to open a tab for the remainder of the evening. The very same barmaid who determined the price of bottled beer by coping a feel in the tip jar looked me over carefully for several seconds, said no, turned on her heel, and walked away, leaving me sans beverage and with, I’m sure, a stunned look on my face. If it wasn’t for the kind generosity of a friend, I would have remained sans beverage for the balance of the evening. I’m reasonably sure that I didn’t constitute a flight risk at that point, as any attempt at absconding on my tab would have likely resulted in my falling flat on my face. Besides the point that the barmaid would have been holding my freaking ATM card. Exactly how bloody far am I going to get without that lovely little piece of magnetized plastic anyway?

I know, I know. I could have gone to an ATM and retrieved the requisite cash to pay said barmaid for my tasty beverages, but for those of you who know the no-stoplight-town of which I speak, you will recognize that the nearest ATM at 11:00 is at least five miles in either direction. Driving 5 miles on twisty country roads was, quite simply, out of the question by that point.

A Difference in Perspective…

One of the things that I note on nearly all of my trips to Western Maryland is the overall difference in price of “going out” there versus going out in the DC/Baltimore area.

Here’s a handy comparison for both (all prices are per person):

1. Dinner – WMD: $15; WDC: $75
2. Dance – WMD: Included in price of dinner; WDC: $15-20 cover
3. Beer – WMD: $1.25/domestic bottle; WDC: $3.50/domestic bottle
4. Liquor shot – WMD: $2.00; WDC: $5.00
5. Distance from bed – WMD: No more than 5 miles; WDC: 30-35 miles (including a drunken Metro ride or add $20 for parking)

So, in computing the totals, we find that an evening in WMD breaks down to the following costs: $15 for dinner and dance, $20 for beer and tips, $5 for shots, and $1 for gas. Grand total: $41.00. For WDC, the breakdown is as follows: $75 for dinner, $15 cover, $45 for beer and tips, $10 for shots, and $10 for gas and metro fare and parking fee. Grand total: $155.

As you can see, they both have their selling points.

Reunion (Part 2)…

Bottom line up front: I’m still hung over from last night. Chalk that up to a reminder that I don’t drink like that… anymore.

Outside of a mild headache and a case of cottonmouth that several liters of water has failed to quench, I am pleased to report that last night was simply smashing. I suppose it was everything a reunion is supposed to be… catching up with old friends, meeting significant others, telling stories (and a few tall tales), and general merry-making.

The beginning was awkward, as they always seem to be… No one seems to know quite what to say after “what do you do” or “how are the kids/parents?” A few rounds later, we’re laughing and joking like the old friends we are. Last night was the first time I saw one of my old golfing buddies since the night we graduated and it was amazing to see how we picked up the old comedy routine without skipping a beat. We could have been two kids back to school after summer vacation rather than the two approaching-30 professionals that we are.

I’ve always known where I was going, but I realize now that it’s good to be reminded from time to time, where you’re from.

P.S. In case any one is wondering, there is no need to ware a coat and tie to dinner at the Midland Fire Hall… although it is a quick way to make sure you’ll take it to the drycleaner the next day.

P.P.S. There are a goodly number of stories I could write based on this one theme, but for the time being, they are still a little fresh in the memory for public consumption. Perhaps more to follow.


I’m heading back to the hills of Western Maryland tomorrow to attend the Class of 96 Reunion over the weekend. To say I have mixed emotions about the experience would be an understatement. Everyone I have talked to has said that the ten-year is still too soon to garner the “reunion” atmosphere… people haven’t changed all that much, everyone is just starting to make their mark, and put down roots. A huge part of me is looking forward to the event. I have great memories of the people and places from “back in the day.” Another part of me is more hesitant, concerned that the scars of childhood are not well enough healed to expose to the open air.

Nevertheless, I’ll be there with proverbial bells on Saturday night. I took my own little trip down memory lane a few weekends ago and dug the old yearbooks and “memory book” out of storage. I laughed myself silly, thought of people I haven’t seen since the night we graduated, and sat amazed at how young we looked… Well, not so much me… damn hairline never could stay in place, anyway. 😉

P.S. Does anyone know what the hell you’re supposed to wear to an event at the Midland Fire Hall? I can’t bring myself to do jeans and I’d feel like a tool wearing a suit. I guess I was never a fashion plate back then, so maybe some of ya’ll will recognize me this weekend.

This use to be easy…

Writing use to be easy. I remember pouring out entire research papers in a weekend sitting. I wrote my senior thesis as an undergraduate in about three weeks. For God’s sake, I use to write short opinion pieces on politics and government for shits and grins.

My mind has apparently turned to mush in the interim. I managed to write about a third of what I had planned on getting done tonight and now my eyes are going all blurry while I’m tapping away on my laptop. I know I’ll get back in fighting trim in time and with practice, but patience has never been one of my virtues and it’s one I have no real interest in acquiring.

Bloody hell. Back to the mill.

Personal Best…

I am back in the beautiful Shenandoah Valley this week… and for every week until the end of time, apparently. It was my first real chance to get the new car out on the highway early in the morning for some reasonably unobstructed driving. All I can say is that it was worth every penny. I punched it up to 95 before every getting off the on-ramp. Good times.

And I shaved 15 minutes off my personal best time from the EC to Winchester… That may have something to do with having the horsepower to never really be stuck behind anything.

I wish there were something even marginally interesting to comment on this evening, but it’s pretty much work-hotel-dinner-hotel-sleep-work ad infinitum. I had tried to keep up with postings even when there wasn’t much to rant about, but I hope you’ll forgive me if I don’t bore you with details when I’ve really got nothing to say.

The Avoider-in-Chief…

I am profoundly disappointed in President Bush for his failure to defend the Marines accused of shooting Iraqi civilians. He has the perfect opportunity during his Baghdad visit to remind the press that our Marines, soldiers, and airmen are entitled to the same standard of innocence as any of the media darlings accused of committing any number of crimes. He should have stood up for them. As president, he has ordered these men into harm’s way and the least he could have done was come to their defense in the light of Senator Murtha and others rhetoric-filled rush to judgment.

Shame on you, Mr. President.

Coming home to roost…

Any time you make assumptions, you run the risk of having them not play out as you expected. It’s something akin to writing a check based on the hope of having future income. If, for some reason, your income flow stops, those checks are going to bounce and when that happens often enough, your creditors are going to come looking. If you’re exceptionally lucky, your creditors aren’t men like Sammy Gravano or John Gotti and you’ll still go home at night with your kneecaps and phalanges attached.

Over the last few months, we’ve been trying to sell a bill of goods. More particularly, our leaders at pay-grades above reality have been writing checks on our account and the bills are about to come due. We’re told to prepare to defend a pie-in-the-sky promise that was made for us by higher authorities. It might not be a show-stopper, but it is going to make the rest of this week a royal pain in the ass.