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Deficit of Attention is a blog about nothing which is a fancy way of saying it's about everything; politics, corporate life, religion, personal rants, you name it, I blog it.

Little Brother

Tuesday, August 23, 2005
In Which GN Attempts to Marshall the Forces of The Universe to Benefit a Family Member:

My "little" brother graduated from law school a little over a year ago. (Baylor University) Since then he's passed both the Illinois and Texas Bar exams. One thing has been missing though - a job.

Although he's very bright he isn't exactly a people person. He's painfully shy and isn't someone that people gravitate toward.

He has a job interview today at 2pm CST. If you're the praying type, I'd appreciate you keeping him in mind.

The Barter Economy

Tuesday, August 16, 2005
In Which GN Describes Adventures in Car Buying:

As I drove up I could see him sitting there in the shade of the building. He was sitting in a lawn chair wearing black sunglasses. When young and/or vigorous people wear sunglasses they look cool, but when older folks wear them they just look like blind people. This guy looked like he had some miles on him and without any preventative maintenance. He looked like a white ray charles.

His handshake wasn't exactly firm and it was kind of clammy. I wanted to wipe my hand on my pants but I didn't. I didn't want to be rude.

He was really laid back as he showed us around the used car lot. I hate buying cars. I hate all the little games that go along with it. I hate the playacting, the mock outrage at the price offered, the whole "I'll have to run this by the manager" routine. So far, he had tried none of that and I appreciated it.

A few weeks earlier I had met a much younger salesperson at this dealership and he was a little annoying. He asked all kinds of personal questions and overused my first name. "So, Grouchy, why are you getting a new car? etc." I hate that.

I picked out a car I liked and we went for a test drive. He rode along and white knuckled it. Somehow, miraculously it would seem, I have a good driving record. But I also have a reputation for driving a little fast. When I was 16 and in drivers ed the instructor showed me the proper way to accelerate, like there was an egg between your foot and the pedal and you didn't want to break it. I think that was the first and last time I accelerated that way. So he did his best to not look nervous while I put the car through its paces.

Later, I came back with my wife and we drove another car. He sat in the back wheezing. After that first car, he decided to stay back at the dealership while we test drove. We drove a few more and I was on the horns of a dilemma. Either get a car with good gas mileage that costs a few thousand more or get a car with not so good gas mileage that I really like.

For the first fifteen years of my driving career I had several economy cars. My favorite was a 1977 Honda Accord. I would go out in the country and literally double the posted speed limit while going around curves. I went through a few tie rods with that car and I'm surprised my dad never gave me a hard time for that. It eventually rusted out pretty bad and one arctic cold January night I put it in a ditch pretty hard, spinning around a few times and barrelling in backwards. That was the end of my favorite car.

I haven't had to drive a small economy car now for quite a while. I've been spoiled and now when I drive one I feel a little bit like a schmuck.

It came down to a choice between a 2003 Honda Civic, a 2005 Pontiac Sunbird, or a 2003 Grand Am GT. I made an offer on the GT. It's red and has a sunroof. It's also cheaper than the honda.

When negotiating a deal you have to be willing to walk away. If you aren't then you shouldn't be negotiating. I'm willing to walk away, but I would really love to wrap this up and buy the car. I made a low offer and the salesman played his part of acting shocked. He made a counteroffer and now it's my turn to act like I'm not really all that interested in buying the car. I won't go any more than 12k on it so we'll see how this plays out. Let the games begin.

By the way, if you're looking for a great guide to buying a car check out Froggy's post, Buying The Frogmobile.

Job Woes

Sunday, August 14, 2005
In Which GN Summarizes A Summer Full of Job Woe:

If you've visited this blog before you've probably read all about my job woes. Well, I'm happy to report that I have none at the moment.

A week or two ago, I was offered a job someplace else. Before I could fully make the decision to leave, my boss, aka The Dark Lord wanted to meet with me. Instead of addressing the concerns I had, he proceeded to lie to me about some things. The meeting ended amicably but my mind was made up, I was out of there.

A week ago Friday I dropped in to see my boss and give him my resignation. He had unexpectantly taken the day off to go fishing. I'm sure one of his minions called to tell him, but I didn't hear back from him until the next Tuesday when he wanted to meet. By that time he had processed my affront to his pride and had gone into Face Saving Mode. Face Saving Mode is when an employer (or employee) knows the die has already been cast and the best thing to do is to be really nice so nothing comes back on you later.

The Dark Lord and I discussed a transition plan so no one would be left up in the air by my impending departure. He was gracious and had good reason to be. At that point it would be nearly impossible to fire me without some serious legal implications and then if I was an unprinicipled person I could wreak havoc on several aspects of the company's operations. Ironically, only a day before I resigned he publicly praised me and the work I had been doing in front of literally half the company. For him, it was flattery designed to influence me to overlook his crappy treatment of me in the not too distant past. For me, it was a way to go out on a good note within the company and it made it that much harder for him to seek any public retribution.

Monday I'll be in the final week of working for The Dark Lord and his servants. I'm tired of working for a hollow man and I'm thrilled to be finally moving on.

I'm sure there will be plenty of challenges in the new job. I'm used to challenges and I'm used to overcoming them. Contrary to what you might think by reading my posts this summer, I'm not thin skinned. In the past, at this job and the few others I've held in my life, I'm used to being successful and not used to being the scapegoat. If I would've had the desire or energy I'm sure I could've stayed and ultimately been able to experience some triumph.

But I didn't have the desire or energy. I have long since failed to believe in my boss as the leader I'd hoped he would be and I have no desire to become a hollow man myself. It's possible that I could end up working for yet another hollow man. In that case I'll do the best I can and trust God for the results.

I start my new job in two weeks.

Grouchy Male

I used to think men and women were more or less the same. Then I had daughters. The longer I live in this house with three women, my wife and our two teenage daughters, the more I am convinced that women are an alien species. They are an attractive alien species but aliens nonetheless.

With all these women around me there's always constant jabbering. Every issue requires a seemingly endless amount of gabbing. I've never done so before and I hope I never will but sometimes I want to shout, "STFU!" at the top of my voice. Not everything requires dialog.

Then there's the "injuries". When I was growing up, my dad would say "shake it off". He'd look at it for a second to make sure there weren't any broken bones, then everyone would go about their business. With girls, anytime one of them gets the slightest bit injured you'd think it was a major medical issue.

When my brother and I disagreed about something a fist fight ensued. Being the oldest that meant that I usually beat the crap out of my brother. If I overdid it he would go crying to my parents and I would be in trouble. Otherwise, we got up dusted each other off and resumed our activity.

With the girls, it's constant bickering. It's impossible to break it up and it can go on for hours. No amount of threatening seems to work. Someone always has to sneak in just one last word or dirty look.

Perhaps I'm a little grouchy today. Nah, it couldn't be me.

The Drought of 2005

Friday, August 05, 2005
In Which GN Starts To Feel Like A Real Person Again Instead of A Miserable Sniveling Failure:

There was a drought here in Mayberry this Summer. Last year was almost a perfect season for corn or soybeans, the main crop. The thermometer broke 90 degrees only once, but this year it's gone that direction on many occasions. It's been what I like to call a California Summer. A lot of hot weather, not much humidity and almost no rain. Midwestern Summers aren't supposed to be this way.

There's been a drought in my personal life too, but thankfully it appears to be over. What a long dry Summer it's been. I learned a few things though.

I got a nice refresher course on the importance of faith - I mean real faith - believing when you don't have much hope, when your mind bends logic in the wrong direction, and when you can't think beyond your own pitiful circumstance. Not that I have any extra faith. It turns out that I have just enough to make it through. I've been through much worse times than this and fortunately God only thought I'd need a short refresher course.

I learned the importance of communicating with my wife. Typically, I'm a little on the secretive side. It's not that I intend to withhold things just that it doesn't even occur to me to talk about them. I decided right at the beginning that I was going to have to talk about things with her and I did. She was very supportive. I'm even a little ashamed to say it but since this is an anonymous blog (ha!) I believe I even got some extra special sexual favors as a result of being pathetic. Hey, after being married for this long I'll take anything I can get.

I learned the importance of friends, both near and far. There have been many people praying for me and I know that's made all the difference. Thank-You! Again - sharing actual needs doesn't come naturally to me, but it made a world of difference to realize there was someone out there interceding on my behalf.

I resolved a logical dilemma in regard to God and the nature of how he works. If you go back several posts you'll see me theorizing about a God that isn't involved in the daily lives of those he loves. I've decided that I think he is though, just not in the way I would like. God is not my short order cook. It's called Providence and there's a mystery to it that I'm too tired to get into right here. What really convinced me was reading some Psalms - more on that another time.

Thank you God for getting me through the drought. Please bless my work and help it to bring glory to you. Thank you for your loving kindness and mercy.

Normally, this would be the point where I'd sing the Doxology, you know, Praise God from whom all blessings flow...". But since this is merely a blog I won't worry about it.

Thank God the drought is over.

In The Red Zone

Wednesday, August 03, 2005
A year or so ago I read a book called, In The Red Zone. Usually when I read a piece of non-fiction and enjoy it I like to look up the author on the web. In this case, I found a blog written by the author, also called, In The Red Zone.

Now I find out that this author, Steven Vincent, was killed in Iraq.

The Iraq War has taken many good men including the journalist Michael Kelly who wrote, Things Worth Fighting For.

Lately, I've been following the blog of Michael Yon who wrote yet another book in my library, Danger Close.

Although I've known none of these guys there's still this weird feeling of loss. Reading their blogs and their books gave me the illusion that I knew them. They'll be missed. And let's hope that Michael Yon keeps himself safe. I'm looking forward to his next book.

The Siren Sound

In Which GN Procrastinates Doing Any Real Work by Philosophizing About His Narcissistic Little World:

The Dark Lord Himself just called and wants to "touch base" with me. It could only mean one thing...he sensed a disturbance in the force.

He's going to be extremely charming and minimize all the crap that's happened over the past 6-9 months, most of it his doing. He's going to offer, if nothing tangible, then at least the hope of some greater tangible reward in the future.

I'll most likely end up being way too honest with him. I'll probably tell him that I'm getting ready to push the button that sends him into the metaphorical dunk tank in my mind. Nothing will change, but he'll want it to appear as if everything's hunky dory.

But will I have any guts? Will I have the guts to lay out for him just exactly why it is that I'm dissatisfied? He isn't used to hearing the honest truth from his minions. I'm known as someone who tells him the truth -- but only when I choose to do so. Yes, I've been guilty on many occasions of just saying nothing. And I'm not so sure I should be forthcoming here. There is such a thing as a survival instinct and it has saved my career on several occasions. Do I want to give a potential adversary foreknowledge of my actions? I don't know.

Although I try to be the kind of Christian that I should, I have to admit that I didn't get to be in my current position by being naive or stupid. I've out maneuvered people on several occasions. My all-time favorite tactic is the fait accompli - I like to have things done before the other person even finds out about it and once they do it's just easier for them to accept the situation. I'm not much of a bluffer and I'm not that great at being a suck-up but I can be fairly sneaky. I like to think of the fait accompli as a type of flanking maneuver. On several occasions my wife and I have had discussions about when manipulation of other people becomes morally wrong vs simply a part of a continuum that includes motivating others and leading them. The bottom line - I guess I'll play it by ear. I've witnessed the treachery that the Dark Lord can produce and I need to remember that his number one priority - far above anyone else is Numero Uno - himself.

It turns out that one of the guys who knows a lot about my duties quit yesterday leaving only me at the leadership level and a relatively low level Slacker-type employee walking around with some pretty valuable knowledge. Not that I'm indispenable. No one is that important. But navigating through my knowledge base without me would definitely take more money in the form of consultants or vendors.

In a few weeks he will have had time to hire a new person or two and a few weeks after that the new hires will have the bare necessities needed to plug the gaps. At that point, my value declines dramatically.

So if you happen upon this blog sometime before 3:30 cst and you're the praying type, keep me in mind. It should be interesting.


Tuesday, August 02, 2005
If you've been reading this blog for any amount of time you know that I'm looking for another job. My current boss, whom I frequently refer to as The Dark Lord, has been increasingly difficult. I've been employed by him for a long time (10+ years) and in fact hold a senior leadership position. During the course of time I've seen the focus and priorities change in a negative way. I'm happy to say that I haven't changed with it and that's a part of why I feel like I'm on the outside looking in even though I'm part of "the family".

I'm happy to report that today I received a job offer. It's in a slightly different career field but it's something I've always wanted to do and something that I'll be good at doing. Unfortunately, they didn't offer as much money as I'd like. The difference between what I'm making now and what they're offering is about $10,000.

As a result, I'm grappling with some decisions. To wit: Is this a lowball offer that I should seek to negotiate up? Or as the FNG is this just the price of switching careers and starting at a different spot in the company? Or...should I continue looking?

There really isn't any consideration to just staying put. I can live on what the potential new job is offering so I can leave either way but I don't want to live on dramatically less pay than necessary. I'm ready to leave the Dark Lord and His Kingdom once and for all. I'm glad to get an offer...but why does life have to be so complicated?

Even with all of the complications, it's nice to know that for once my boss is expendable and it's not just me. I'll be firing him soon and moving on to greener (hopefully) pastures.

Whats on My Shuffle?

Monday, August 01, 2005
In Which GN tries not to think about when he might get a job offer (maybe today?),

I received an Apple Shuffle for Christmas. It isn't as famous as the iPod but it's essentially the same thing only in a much smaller package and without a screen. Mine will hold a little over 100 songs - more than enough for me.

Over the weekend, I was browsing the Apple iTunes store (DRM is un-american and I hate it but I'm a music junkie.) and I came across the "playlists" of various celebrities. It's interesting to read although I suspect the songs listed aren't really on the celebrity's playlists. Instead, they are songs the celebrity wants people to think are on their playlist.

Since I've been trying really hard not to think about the fact that I might get a nice job offer today or tomorrow, I thought I would share what's on my Shuffle at the moment. (Yes, this is really what's on my shuffle.)

What's on my shuffle?

  • Beverly Hills, Weezer - These guys are geeks, but they're geeks who rock.

  • Let's Roll, Neil Young - IMHO the best 9/11 inspired song of them all. From the lyrics for the song,
    No one has the answer but one thing is true
    You got to turn on evil when it's coming after you
    You gotta face it down and when it tries to hide
    We gotta go in after it and never be denied.

  • Some other Neil Young stuff, mostly from the CD, Harvest Moon.

  • Various Jars of Clay songs including,
    Blind, Like A Child,
    I'm Alright and Faith Enough.

  • Molly Hatchet, Flirtin' With Disaster - Reminds me of high school and it's a great rock and roll song.

  • Jack Johnson, Waiting, Hoping, Wishing - I never heard of this guy before I saw his video but I've downloaded a couple of his songs and I'm thinking of buying the whole cd. The video for this song is one of the coolest I've seen in a long time and it's here

  • Various Styx songs including,
    Blue Collar Man, Renegade, Mr Roboto, Don't Let It End, and Too Much Time on My Hands

  • Various U2 songs including, 4th of July, Homecoming, Where the Streets Have No Name, Mysterious Ways, and Numb

  • Various Tom Petty songs including,
    American Girl, Running Down A Dream, Free Fallin', All The Wrong Reasons, Don't Come Around Here, and Honeybee

  • Various Switchfoot songs including, Company Car, There's Gotta Be Something More, More Than Just Okay, and a single released off their upcoming album due to be released in September. The single is called Stars and I like it.
I'm not sure if the song selection reveals anything about me. I guess you could gather that I'm a middle-aged guy from most of the selections and that I also have a fairly wide variety of music tastes. (no rap though) I'll leave any other speculation up to the bored readers of this blog.