Sunday, October 31, 2010

A Pint Of Discussion

It’s funny how rumors start.

Last week I got to take a ride in an ambulance.

A lower intestinal infection had rendered me pasty white and my blood pressure very low. My emergency room nurse and lovely wife Darlene unfastened the cuff around my arm and called the ambulance.

Two pretty girls in EMS uniforms showed up minutes later.

I had spent the night playing darts in the local Legion, and playing pool afterwards.

When I came home, my lovely wife and I had a quick meal of what I like to call kill me dead food – a bowl of macaroni and cheese and a beef and cheese burrito.

The next thing I knew I was laying on our bed and the two pretty EMS girls were explaining my options.

You can lay here and die, I guess – if that’s what you really want to do … or you can let us take you for a ride into the hospital”, explained the very professional blonde.

So I got up and walked out to the ambulance.

I climbed up and into the big square bus and laid down on the gurney.

I really was very weak, and still very pasty in complexion, and the pillow on the gurney looked very inviting.

At the hospital, the pretty EMS attendants lowered me out of the back of the ambulance in the gurney and wheeled me into the emergency room. We passed by the waiting room and into the back corridors where we found there were no beds available.

Somebody out there knew you”, the brunette EMS attendant said to me. “They were asking me if you were okay”.

Who was it?” I asked, turning to look to see.

Some dude”, said the blonde as she was working on lifting the back of my gurney to a sitting position.

Some dude?

What did you say?” I asked.

Nothing, patient confidentiality you know”, she smiled. “I ignored him”.

Am I okay?

We’ll find out shortly”.

Eight hours later, an elderly doctor came in to explain the results of my CT scan. I have a chronic condition that if controlled would be fine – but first this infection had to be dealt with.

And then we went home.

I had pills to take, and my doctor had told me not to eat any food until the infection cleared. I would know when the severe abdominal pain stopped.

But the rumors that sprang up about me were … well, alarming.

Some said I had a heart attack.

Others said I had a stroke.

And yet others claimed my lovely wife’s attempts to poison me had finally succeeded.

All I had was a flare up of an intestinal condition. Worrisome to me for sure … but many people suffer from much worse than what I did.

I did, over the summer, take pride in how much exercise I was getting. Darlene and I would walk for a couple of miles at a very quick pace.

That lasted for about a month.

Then summer was over.

And the golf clubs put away.

And the pool closed due to onslaught of falling leaves.

And life in the fall for our small family gets very busy.

I am still active though. Playing darts and playing pool in a league at the Legion.

I tend to lean towards “sports” to which you can consume beer while competing at the highest level. If you can’t have a beer while you’re doing it … it likely isn’t worth doing.

But getting old just plain stinks.

And I am now only a year or so away from turning fifty. My body no longer looks out for itself despite my vices.

Now my body depends on me to know better. And I have been letting myself down.

And so I found myself in an ambulance at two o’clock in the morning with two pretty EMS attendants playing loud dance music.

I don’t really have a taste for loud dance music.

I probably didn’t need the ambulance. I could have simply drove into the hospital and sat in the waiting room. I probably should have, in retrospect. It sounds like I would have had a friend there to talk to, and to explain to that I wasn’t having a heart attack.

I still don’t know who that was in that waiting room that recognized me.

But this explaining to everyone of my intestinal infection has been – well … tiresome.

At first I was flattered that people thought enough of me to care about my condition. You know … to show concern for my well being.

That’s nice of them. And I do sincerely appreciate it.

But then it dawned on me, it was likely more a case of having another discussion point for the Legion table full of patrons and members who were looking for something to talk about.

I had been reduced to a mere discussion point.

A topic that would keep people entertained around a table for yet another pint of beer.

I did not have a heart attack.

I did not have a stroke.

And my lovely wife has certainly not succeeded in poisoning me ... yet.

But thanks for thinking of me.

Saturday, October 02, 2010

Al Is Always Right

In an average sized town lived an average man named Al.

Al worked for an average sized company doing average work as a web designer.

All the changes made to the average sized company’s web site was done by Al.

If someone in sales wanted prices changed – they sent the information to Al and Al did it.

If someone in product development wanted a new product posted, they sent the information to Al and Al got it done.

Al also took care of the little page that was only shown inside the company. This page would show job postings in the company, new policies for employees to follow, news from the president and such.

Al worked with the other programmers in the company in a tiny room in the basement of the building of the company. They wrote programs that allowed the company to process sales, manage inventory and managed the company’s payroll and accounting systems.

When programmers put something new in, they were praised for how great the systems worked.

When something in their systems went wrong, the programmers were praised for fixing the problems so work could continue.

But Al’s websites were very simple – with static text he simply added to the page and pictures he simply placed where he was told by the marketing department. Nothing was posted on the website unless the marketing department approved it.

The programmers didn’t respect the work that Al did.

When the website looked great, the Marketing department took all the credit. But when something didn’t look right, Al got blamed.

The marketers didn’t really respect Al’s opinion.

Al had no real friends in the company. He simply showed up each morning, did what he was told, and went home at night to his tiny little apartment and his fat cat Larry, who never really paid any attention to Al – except to demand food for his bowl and that his litter be cleaned.

Nobody said hi to Al in the morning when he came to work.

Nobody said goodnight to Al when he left in the evening.

Al was very lonely. And Al had pretty much accepted the state of his life to be his lot. It was just the way it was

At lunchtime, Al would simply eat a baloney sandwich he packed in lunch bag and drank a bottle of generic soda. He would sit at his desk while eating his sandwich and read his favorite web site that talked about web design – all the tools that were out there to automate sites to do amazing things like stream video and handle sales online.

Every once in a while Al would see something that he thought the company would be interested in to make the average sized company’s web site more useful. And Al would approach the Manager of Marketing to tell her about his idea, but Al was always told no.

One spring day, the little company was busy developing a brand new product that they were all very excited about. The girls in marketing were very busy setting up the copy for advertising the new product, and in the course of this exercise, they decided a change to their logo was needed to convey how modern the average sized company was so that their logo could better represent this exciting new product.

They sent Al the new logo artwork to post on the little web page shown only inside the company. Al did so, and the whole company would then look at the logo, and send their opinions back to the Marketing department.

Al didn’t really like the new logo very much. It was loud. It was gaudy. But the President of the company really liked the logo. He would mention the new logo to those he bumped into in the hallway or in the lunch room or in the parking lot, saying “our new logo, looks great, don’t you think?

Nobody wanted to tell the boss they didn’t like the new logo, so everyone pretty much agreed. The opinions sent back to marketing all said the new logo looked great – ensuring they attached their name to the opinion, in case the President were to see their comments.

One day in the hallway, Al overheard the President asking the Manager of Human Resources “our new logo, looks great, don’t you think?”.

Oh, I just love it. It will make us look so … cutting edge!”, said the Human Resources Manager – smiling at the President.

It’s too gaudy”, said Al as he passed by.

But the President took no notice although he heard Al’s comment.

When Al returned to his desk, he opened up the logo image in his image editor. The back ground of the logo was a very dark blue. Al set the color of his text tool to be one slight hue of blue lighter, and typed into the image

This image is too gaudy”.

He looked at the image on his monitor to make sure he couldn’t see the text he wrote.

Later that afternoon, he received a new version of the logo from one of the girls in the Marketing department.

I thought everyone loved the logo?” Al said to the young stuck up girl from marketing.

The girl explained that the president came down to the marketing department and said

This image is to gaudy”.

Al smiled and looked the new logo. It was subtler and much better. Even Al liked this image. So while the girl from Marketing sat beside him, he replaced the gaudy image with the new one.

Al went home that night, thinking about what had transpired. Did the President change his mind because of his comment in the hallway? Or did he change of his mind because of Al’s hidden text in the logo?

The next day, Al passed the President in the hallway on his way to his desk.

I really like the new logo”, said Al.

Ughhh .. g’morning”, said the President.

Al sat down at his desk and looked at that new logo. He opened it up in the image editor and wrote in the same blue background setting his text to the same color of blue he used before, and he typed

Al is a great guy!

Around eleven o’clock, Al made his way through the hallway to the washroom. Along the way, one of the managers in Research and Design smiled at Al in an enthusiastic voice,

Hey Al! How’s it going?

Al looked at the fellow, his name he couldn’t even remember, and said “uh… good”.

On his way back to his desk he passed one of the ladies in Accounting, who looked at Al, and she smiled.

Nobody ever before even acknowledged Al existed before.

At lunch time, one of the programmers stopped by Al’s desk and asked

What’re you doing for lunch Al?

Al looked up at the smiling programmer – not knowing what to say – and replied

I have to work through lunch today, thanks”, and he turned back to looking at his monitor.

Later that day, Al was taking some copy text back to the Marketing department. When he walked into the room, all the girls turned to see Al standing there and greeted him with

Hi Al!

Al’s face went red and he looked down at the ground and smiled.

On his way out of the building he passed the President in the hallway. Al looked at the President who said to Al

Hi Al! Are you heading home? I’ll walk out with you …

And as they headed to the averaged sized parking lot, the President told Al that he was interested to hear what could be done to make the averaged sized company’s web site do more to help launch the exciting new product.

… you think about it tonight Al, and come see me at ten o’clock tomorrow morning, ok?

Sure”, replied Al, and he smiled at the President.

You fish, Al?

No, sir

Too bad”, said the President. “Too bad indeed”.

Al met with the president the next morning at ten o’clock. He drew a picture on the whiteboard of what Al’s vision of the web site could be – showing areas where video of the exciting new product in use could be shown, and where the people could request more information about the exciting new product and how people could purchase the exciting new product online.

And the President was impressed.

I never really realized what a great guy you are Al”, said the President as they ended their meeting.

And over the course of the next few weeks – Al was put in charge of putting his ideas into place. He worked with the marketing department to design the videos that would demonstrate how the exciting new product worked.

The Marketing department could put nothing on the website without Al’s approval.

And the girls in Marketing respected Al and his opinion.

And over the course of the next few months – Al led the development project to create means to allow people to purchase the exciting new products from the web site.

And the programmers respected Al for the work he was doing.

That was ten years ago.

The averaged sized company is now a large corporation.

And the exciting new product was a huge success.

And most of those sales of the exciting new product are made from Al’s huge website.

Al always had great ideas. But nobody ever took the time to listen.

As time went on, you see, Al actually did become a great guy.

In fact, Al even took up fishing. And golf.

Al is now the Vice President of Corporate Media relations.

And Al married one of those stuck up girls in the Marketing department. And they live a very happy and socially active life in a nice neighborhood.

And the large corporation’s logo now has the words hidden in a slightly lighter shade of blue on the slightly darker blue background

Al is always right

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