Monday, November 30, 2009

A Word on Professionalism

Now, I don't want to sound like some sort of an elitist or jerk or anything with this post, so I'm going to be careful with the tone. But, I feel like something needs to be said about professionalism and behavior in general.

At this point in life, many of the readers of this blog are lawyers (remember when we passed the bar?), medical students and physicians, MBAs, teachers, engineers, PhD candidates, professionals, etc. What I'm getting at is that we are all adults (or, in some cases, do a great job of pretending to be an adult) and need to act like adults in certain situations.

I'm talking about hanging out at somebody's house or even when you're out with your friends (although I do have some thoughts on this too). I'm talking about social settings with other professionals.

Recently, I was at a post bar passing/swearing in ceremony celebration at a law firm here in Houston. They were serving beer and wine, along with other soft drinks. I think there is nothing wrong with having some wine or even a beer or two in such a setting. But to have so many drinks (or to show up drunk) and then end up slurring your words, shouting about strippers or shouting out 12 lettered profanities is going too far.

That is not a slight mis-step on the fine line of acceptable social drinking. This is both embarrassing and shameful. I'm not naming any names, but those of you who were at the Abraham, Watkins event know exactly what and who I'm talking about. And it's not like this was an isolated incident. It's actually worrisome for this pattern of behavior to continue unchecked. Perhaps a call to the Texas Lawyer's Assistance Program is in order. I'm not joking.

Second, when you're meeting your friends in a professional social setting, an elaborate high five interaction seems unnecessary. A simple hand shake is fine with me. Sometimes, more than a simple hand shake is appropriate. I would say seeing an old friends for the first time in a while or seeing a really close friend warrants more than a hand shake.

But every time you see a casual acquaintance does not warrant a four to seven part hand shake coupled with bringing it in for that whole one-armed hug thing. Call me old fashioned if you want, but it's just inappropriate. I'm not saying nobody can do it, but if you're an adult (or have a grown up job or degree) act like one. You're making the rest of us look bad.

And while we're on the topic of public greetings of friends and colleagues, let me just voice my displeasure with the quick-peck-on-the-cheek-hello-and-goodbye-greeting. I don't like it. I'm not European, and neither are most of you. A hug is certainly appropriate and acceptable. Again, maybe I'm old fashioned, but I don't think it's right.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Hypocrits: You Really Grind My Gears, Jerks

Hypocrisy. This is my number one pet peeve. It really grinds my gears. Man, it's probably bad for my blood pressure to even write this (warning sign of getting old--alert, alert)

Now, this is a sports spring board, but not a sports topic. So, for those of you who complain about sports, just wade through the sports to get to the point or just tune in later this week. Either way is fine with me. Thanks.

So, you know who is a huge (pronounced: YUUUGE) hypocrite? Pete Carroll, USC's head coach.

Yeah, he's won a lot of games (not against Texas and VY, but I digress) and scored a lot of points. He's pretty famous for running up the score on inferior and defeated teams. Not as bad as the Oklahoma Sooners and Big Game Bob Stoops (sarcasm) but bad. (As a quick aside, what do Oklahoma and Rice Krispies have in common? Well, Rice Krispies know what to do in a bowl.)

Anyway, USC routinely runs up the score on other teams. Earlier this season, Stanford finally defeated USC and ran up the score. Badly. They scored 55 points and even attempted to go for two to score more points late in the game. They afterward provided some thinly veiled excuses about going up by 4 scores, but we all knew they wanted to kick sand in USC's face.

And boy was Pete Carroll upset. He whined and cried about the score being run up on him and his team. Not so nice on the other side of a beat down, is it Pete?

So, last night, against UCLA, up two touchdowns in the final seconds with the game decided, what does ole Pete do? Calls for a play action pass deep down field for a touchdown? Yes, you're right. He was running up the score. Again. After whining about it being done to him.

I don't even that much of a problem with running up the score. Coach up your team, have 'em ready to play and you shouldn't get blown out of the water too man y times. But, it does happen from time to time. Get over it. Coach up the team for the next game. But, if you routinely run up the score on Arizona State and Washington State and Stanford, one of these days those weaker teams are going to come back and thrash you. And they're going to love doing it. So, if you act like a child and hoot and holler and jump around when you're up 40 points, you damn well better expect the same thing to happen to you.

But, after running up the score on people for years and then having your team get smoked by Stanford, don't go whining about it. Especially don't go whining about it when you know full well you will run up the score the next time you can, ie, UCLA.

You're a hypocritical whiner, Pete Carroll. You can't talk out of both sides of your mouth, man. It's baloney. And, believe me, I want to use harsher language but I'll continue to keep the blog family friendly. But that really grinds my gears.

Friday, November 20, 2009

12 Hours of Stupidity

Allow me to set the scene.

Yesterday was Will McMillan's birthday. No, that's not the stupid part. Don't try to make this a shot at William. Relax. So, we were at Cedar Creek on 19th street in the Heights. It was a nice night, so we were sitting outside next to the creek at the back of the establishment.
Sitting a few tables away from us, maybe 15 feet away, was a group of three guys and two woman. I hesitate to call them men (and certainly not gentlemen) based on their behavior, but I'll let you be the judge of that. For the record, they were about 30 years old, give or take.

So, this group of five was maybe 10 to 12 feet from the creek. For those of you who don't live in Houston or haven't been to Cedar Creek, there is a small creek running along the back of the outdoor area. It's maybe (maybe) 10 inches deep at most times, but there is a steep bank on either side. You have to cross a bridge if you park in the parking lot behind the bar. Nonetheless, there is water in the creek. It's not a dry creek (that's a joke for the Houstonians).

Anyway, two of the three guys (I think at this point I can [I certainly want to] call them morons, but, again, I'll let you decide for yourself) decide to throw something into the creek. They start laughing and carrying on, but nobody is really paying attention at this point. One of the guys goes into the creek to retrieve what had landed on the far bank of the creek. He throws it back to the others and they go for round two.

When round two of the throwing starts, we notice that the hurled object is lighting up. That peaks my interest, and, as I'm not shy, I approached these guys to see what the deuce they were throwing. I thought maybe it was a small flash light or something like that.
Turns out, they were throwing their cell phones. Their own cell phones. That were fully functioning. At the creek. That had water in it. Now, it should be noted that these guys were not drunk. They had a few bottles on their table, but they were not drunk. They didn't appear to be under any other influence, besides sheer stupidity. But I digress.

Turns out, the object of the game (certainly not the reason for it -- that still escapes me) was to throw your phone, underhanded, as close to the water as possible, without the phone going in the water. Of course, some throws went over the creek bed and skidded into the parking lot. And some didn't land on the bank of the creek but actually went into the creek.
One of the phones, when thrown back to the crowd of idiots (I think at this point we can all agree that these people were and probably will continue to be idiots) landed in the fire pit next to these people. All in all, it was a righteous display of stupidity.

But, that was not the only stupidity in the last 12 hours. Let me set the scene, once again. When it rains, I park in the county garage. It has tunnel access to the DA's office. I can go through security there also. So, around 750 this morning, there was a line of maybe 7 or 8 people and one metal detector and one security employee.

So, the guy in the front of the line who was dressed like a defense attorney and not a criminal was having some trouble understanding that the metal detector detects... metal. He didn't take off his watch. He didn't take the keys out of his pocket. He didn't take the change out of his pocket.
That's not that bad, really. Some metal detectors are more sensitive than others and some shoes or belts set off the detectors and some others don't. I've learned which belts set off the alarm and which don't. But anyway. This guy eventually had to get wanded and was then allowed to enter the building.

Let's get to the truly stupid part, now, shall we. The guy behind this first lawyer was also similarly dressed and looked like a semi-incompetent defense attorney(this was later proved when he asked which floor County Court 15 was on and seemed confused when somebody told him floor 11 and not 15). (Also, please note, I'm not bashing criminal defense attorneys. I will most likely be one at some point in my life, perhaps very soon).
After seeing all of the metal objects the first guy in line needed to take out of his pockets, this guy went through the metal detector and it started wailing. He forgot to take out his keys. His Black Berry. His change. His belt buckle was enormous and needed to be taken off. His boots needed to be taken off.
All of these objects remained on his person. Each time through the metal detector, one more would be removed. After seeing what had just happened, he still didn't quite seem to understand what was happening. After all of this, he remembered that he had an artificial knee and should just get wanded before walking into the building.
Now, I realize I can be a bit impatient at times. You can keep your snide remarks to yourself, thank you very much. But, it really isn't rocket science or long division here folks. Metal detectors detect metal. I thought that was self explanatory. But hey, some people could be unfamiliar with how certain metal detectors work. And maybe he was only in the tunnels because it was raining. That's not stupid, per se. It's maybe foolish, but not stupid. BUT, to see the guy in front of you having the same problem as you and not be able to figure it out, that, my friends (channeling my best Brent Musberger) is utterly and entirely stupid.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

You know what really grinds my gears? Mini Edition 2

Let's jump right in folks.

1. Two and a Half Men. The kid's not cute and funny. Now he's a jerk. And the whole show is about smutty jokes. Now, I realize I've made (more than) my share of off color jokes, but I've refrained on this blog. Believe me, it's been difficult. (See, I just did it again.) I think its possible to be funny without being crude. And this show is just crude. And no longer funny. It really grinds my gears.

2. Farmville. Now, I know Bagel and Laura play farmville. I'm not going to judge. But I just don't get it. And now that I've blocked Farmville on my facebook feed, it doesn't even annoy me anymore. So, I guess I'm just confused and not so much gear ground (I think that's the proper past tense but what do I know?)

3. So, there are these jokers on bike taxis that fly around downtown. I understand it's a good idea for concerts and sporting events. If you park far away and don't want to walk 10-12 blocks in the sweltering Houston heat, you don't have to. Some slap jockey will be happy to pedal you there for a few dollars.

However, when it's not oppressively hot (you could even call it cold when it drops below 70 in Houston), it's not that hard to walk 3 blocks to your office. You don't need to be pedaled there. When these jokers ask if you want a ride and you say no, they really shouldn't curse at people. Especially those of us who will complain about it and post it on the internet. I suppose by now you realize this happened to me, and I don't like being called a cheap anything, let alone what 45 year old tattoo bike jockey has to add to the conversation. It's just not a good business model, people.

4. Peter King looks like George Wendt. This isn't a complaint, but I felt it was appropriate to mention now. Also, in the hopes of this catching on, the Rocket's new player Chase Budinger should be called Vinny Chase Budinger, because nobody scores like Vinny Chase.

5. 24 hours of college basketball in mid November is just nuts. I understand ESPN wants to flex its muscles and show case the sport that gave the sports leader its start, but come on. I don't even care about college basketball till after football. And I'm sure I'm not the only one. Let's all take a deep breath and relax.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

You know who really grinds my gears: Mini version

You know what really grinds my gears? Well, lucky for you I've collected by various complains and conveniently listed them here. This is a mini version for reasons I will explain in entry number 1.

1. I'll keep this short, because many of you are in the same boat as me, have previously taken this cruise, or have already purchased your tickets. If you were able to keep up with that shallow and pedantic nonsense, you'll know (or at least have an inkling) that I'm talking about waiting for bar results. I think I studied enough. I hope I studied enough. I'm constantly knocking on wood and crossing my fingers. I'm not really all that superstitious, but I am with this. I'm even reluctant to type this, but I don't think there is anything else I can do. In addition, I'm a pretty calm person. I'm not really prone to panic. I'm not an anxious person. But I'm feeling anxious about this. I just want to know if I passed or not. I know some of you are more nervous or anxious than I am and are not sleeping well. Just think, it's not the end of the world. One way or another, it's not the end of the world. I think I'm convincing myself as much as anyone else with this. Let's move on to more trivial things.

2. The Black Jack Taco at Taco Bell. Come on, who thinks a black taco is a good idea. I wonder what ideas didn't make it out to market? How about the garbage-colored nachos? Maybe the cat litter burrito? Is this just me? Hello?

3. People who only respond to a text message or Google chat message with "lol." I now I covered something like this earlier in a rant about cell phone and communication etiquette (don't respond with just "k" and eliminate all unnecessary responses). But, "lol" is unnecessary. If I said something funny to you, chances are I did so on purpose. Now, I'm sure I'm not as funny as I think I am. I readily admit other people are funnier than I am. Jeremy, I'm talking about you, among numerous others. And I appreciate all sorts of humor, even if it's at my expense. But responding with just "lol" means to me "I don't have anything else to say but think I need to respond otherwise this could be awkward." Feel free to cut that out, at least with me. Now, if something is funny AND you have something else to add to the conversation, go ahead and say "lol" and whatever else you want to say. I'm all for it. In fact, I encourage it.

4. I'm confident many other people share this complaint, but I feel it needs to be said. When people truly know nothing, they often speak with the utmost confidence. It's like they're even trying to convince themselves that they're not talking through their hats. And you guys know me. It's hard for me to let people say dopey or worse things and not correct them. I'm confident that I know some stuff here and there and plenty of random knowledge, but to hear people say utterly stupid things and try to sell that bill of goods to other people is highly annoying. You could even say it grinds my gears. That's it for now.