Tuesday, December 19, 2006

I'm Still Here...

Wow… It’s been a long time. From my last day of work up until today so much has happened it’s hard to find a good place to start.

My first couple of days of unemployment were spent on “ride along” with my wife as she carried on with her normal weekly routine. After three days of that one thing is perfectly clear to me now: I’ve got to get back to work soon because Mrs. Alva’s schedule is far too grueling for me. My wife gets more done in the couple of hours after dropping Katie off at school and picking her up in the early afternoon than most people do in a week’s time. On Wednesday, my third day of shadowing her, I fell onto the couch and began griping that my feet hurt. God forbid she‘s got things to do after school. I’m grateful for never having dissed any stay at home mom about their workload. I can now fully appreciate the efforts of Mrs. Alva and all the others in her profession after my experience. Booyacasha, much respect…

During the latter part of that first week, Mrs. Alva was suffering from some pains in her upper abdominal area which finally got severe enough for her to make the trip to the GP for some remedy. The GP quickly sent her to a specialist and BAM! By Friday she was diagnosed with a gall bladder ailment for which surgical removal was the only option. Turns out that the unsuccessful IVF cycle we attempted this past fall included a pile of hormone based meds which took it’s toll on this small organ which sits between the liver and stomach (a one two punch: no baby AND lose a gall bladder in the process of trying, nice). To make matters worse, the surgeon wanted to do it right away which meant having to postpone our greatly anticipated trip back to NJ/NY to see her family and many of our friends this week. She was more bummed about this than having to go under the knife. While I was bummed about having to rework our travel plans, I was enormously relieved to hear it wasn’t anything worse. I simply could not live without her.

So, Friday in she went and by 10:30 AM I was called into the surgeon’s consult room and told by the guy who operated on her that everything went very well and she’d be back to her old self in short order. I asked, “Well, when can that be because there is NO way I can carry her load and the stuff I’ve got to get done. What does she need, a day or two? Couldn’t you have at least thrown in a breast enhancement while you were in there? C’mon man, help a brother out!” Actually Mrs. Alva is recovering quite rapidly and I think I’ve done an adequate job of keeping our abode running smoothly in the interim if I do say so myself.

Mrs. Alva felt good enough to attend Katie’s Christmas pageant with me at her school Monday. If ever there was a reason to have kids this is it. All these painfully cute kids dressed up in nativity costumes singing carols off key. I was blubbering like a baby. I asked one of the little dudes dressed in traditional Arab garb if he wouldn’t mind making an appeal to his friends back in the ME to perhaps give us a break on the price of crude during the holidays. He looked up at me and then kicked me in the shin. Merry Christmas to you too pal.

Since our travel plans were put off until after Christmas, I let the folks at Our Lady of Mercy know that I would be attending the alumni performance of their Taize chant choir and asked if they’d be interested in having me record it for them. You may recall that we made a record with them two years ago and they sold quite few copies. They were ecstatic about the idea since this would be the largest gathering of current members and alumni ever assembled. They are indescribably good. I briefed Jackson on the project and forewarned him that he and Chrispy may have some mastering work coming their way. Apparently Jackson briefed Chrispy on the technical aspects of my plan and I took a conference call from the two of them the next night during which Chrispy guilted me into pulling all my good gear out of my studio’s rack, including my HD-24 and doing this recording justice vs. replicating my last effort with an old 16 bit ADAT blackface recorder. Of course he was right, besides what could I say? I don’t have the time to do all that? I got nothing but time. I’ve got it all packed up to make the trip down to the South side of town tomorrow afternoon. If anybody wants to hear some earth moving choral music and get into the Christmas spirit, make it down to Old Lady of Mercy at 7:00 PM. It will be a night to remember.

So here I am. Me and my crew battling back to full strength as we head into the meat of the Christmas holiday to try to make it as fun as we had originally planned. We were successful in changing our flights to put us in the NY metro area over New Years holiday and Mrs. Alva and I will be joining Jackson, his brother, and a cast of locals along with their most lovely ladies for a NYC New Years eve celebration. If we can pull that off I think that’ll make up a great deal for all the recent setbacks.

Unemployment, failed IVF attempt, and gall bladder surgery. A tough second half of the year for the Alva’s to be sure, but were still alive and kickin’ with our spirits high. There are many far worse off than us and we are truly grateful for everything we have. I’ll keep the posts coming throughout the holidays and you guys check in and let me know what’s going too.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

KG, JB and Me...

Me, the wife, Crazy Neighbor Lady, and Mr. and Mrs. Bob the Builder went and caught the illustrious Tenacious D at the Gwinnett Civic Center the other night. First off, the opening comedian was awesome! I didn’t get his name, but he came out in a tux and Chuck Taylors and rattled off 30 minutes of perfectly awful jokes: “Why is it okay to take a piss on Courtney Love? Cause she’s never apologized for the Arab/Israeli conflict…” Fuckin’ brilliant.

TBS has been running ‘School of Rock’ in heavy rotation and I’ve watched it a couple of times. One thing you get from watching it, High Fidelity, and seeing a D show is that these guys are HUGE ENORMOUS fans of rock and roll. Every note they sing, every chord they play, every pose they strike they’ve ganked from some record or show they’ve seen/listened to since being brought into this world. I would imagine that at some point in their early lives they knew their body types weren’t amongst those which make for super stardom (something I can relate to) especially in the genre of music they love so much, but that certainly didn’t seem to discourage them. They simply love playing rock & roll and discovered like many of have that whatever is really good anyway has everything to do with how it sounds. And let’s make this one thing perfectly clear from the jumpstreet: These two fuckers can play, especially KG!!!

Last night the D were in rare form. This was the last show of the tour and they pulled out all the stops. While not quite a sell out, it was pretty damn close. From the minute the lights went down, to the closing crash of the encore EVERYBODY in the house was on their feet. Most in the crowd sang every lyric. I chose not to partake in my normal pre-show listening routine since I wanted the comedy to be fresh and assure myself a good laugh.

As the show opens, the curtain parts to Kyle Gass and Jack Black sleeping under a blanket on a typical shitty bachelor pad couch in their most accurately depicted apartment, at least what we'd all imagine it would be. The set was complete with keg in the corner, microwave oven and a Ronnie James Dio ‘Holy Diver’ poster on the wall. The two slacker dressed companions jammed a number of tunes on their always present acoustic guitars to the delight of us all.

At one point in the middle of the show, Kyle threatens to go electric which somehow dispatches them on a journey to hell where they meet the anti-Christ, (“Wow, I didn’t know Christ played a mean guitar! I’m not Christ, I’m the anti-Christ…”) who introduces them to Charlie Chaplin who’s serving an eternity in hell for being gay and also happens to play a mean bass guitar. For the rest of the show, The D jam with this most awesome band in front of this amazing ‘Hell’ stage set complete with eight foot tall drum riser and colossal four bass drum kit.

It was truly an amazing show. If you get the opportunity in the future, go check them out. It’s definitely worth the price of admission.

P.S. I just heard Spinal Tap’s ‘Gimme Some Money’ over a TV ad for American Express…

Mission Accomplished!

Yes, as I stand here on the deck of the USS Tony Alva residence, I can say with certainty that I have vanquished the enemy. It was truly a hard fought conflict. It took guts and strength of character to carry on at some points during battle, but the Alva family spirit carried us through and the leaves are now a big pile of future mulch.

Before the war was declared...

In heat of a firefight being given orders by my commanding officer...

After cessation of combat activities...

Stand Together?

My first post from my home base…

My recent employment status provided me an opportunity to view the entire press conference on the release of the Iraq Study Group’s recommendations yesterday. I plan on buying the text and reading it on my flight to NYC next week, but I was extremely impressed by the whole thing and am hopeful that the recommendations will be adopted as the basis for our country’s going forward strategy. I am satisfied that this group did a better job than anybody else could have. It is now time to act on it, and given the grave situation in Iraq currently, we need to act swiftly.

What made the most sense to me (and I can’t recall who said it) was the point one of the committee members made in reference solidifying our nations support around whatever our going forward strategy will be. I couldn’t agree more. I’m not conceding that there are instances where the president must go it alone against popular support (history has proven that there are times when making an unpopular decision was the right thing to do), but in this instance this would be a poor path to choose. It will be how the president moves forward following the publication of this document that will define his historical legacy, despite what the hard left thinks. First and foremost and at this juncture I think the country needs to agree and support the policy going forward.

I also liked that the Iraqi government is being told that they MUST begin to make healing concessions or face our retraction of U.S investment. There is no doubt in my mind that the Shia dominated government is exacting legislative revenge on their former Sunni oppressors.

I like the idea that our troop commitment is no longer open ended. Given that the fact that the biggest underestimation the administration and supporters (including me) made pre-invasion was the level of hatred that exists/existed between Sunni, Shia, etc…, we cannot be facilitators of ethnic cleansing on behalf of the Shiites, or provide cover for Sunni reprisals. This will be the hardest thing to watch unfold if the Iraqi government can’t find a way to begin healing the country, but if we get to this point after having followed the Iraq Study Group’s recommendations, we can say that we gave the Iraqi’s the best opportunity we could to rebuild their nation at least from this moment on.

The diplomatic channels to Syria and Iran are the most worrisome part of the recommendation, but I will certainly concede that these folks know a crap load more about diplomatic dialog, strategy, etc.. and in the interest of bi-partisanship, I will pledge my support and trust that it’s the right thing to do.

I really feel that the go forward policy for Iraq is in the hands of the Democrats and the American people. I’ve said it and other pundits have said it, accountability for undertaking this war has cost the GOP a great deal and provided victory for Democrats this past election, but now it’s time to do something. I’ve heard talk in the blogosphere of Democrat plans to thwart enacting the study group’s policy in fear that in might work and provide the GOP some sort of success stump for the next election. I REALLY hope this is not what legislator’s are thinking. The idea of playing this game with our troops in harms way is most vile and disgusting. Nope, the time is now to act as one nation, bipartisan, and pragmatic to do the right thing and show the world what our country is made of. It’s time for the hard work to begin. Let’s dispense with the Rove like bullshit and get to work. If you want to be better than this administration, than prove it. Carrying out political revenge such as this is no different than Sadr sending militia out to randomly kill Sunni civilians, it does nothing to futher the progress of peace.

Then again, the president might completely ignore the study group’s recommendations and verify every awful thought his worst detractors have ever had about him. I sincerely hope this is not his choice.

Friday, December 01, 2006

In case you thought I forgot...


Changing Seasons...

Well, it's Friday. First thing Monday the IT guys will show up to decommission my buildings' network and telephone system. Postings have been light due to me and the other last man standing here doing some last minute purging ahead of the liquidator’s arrival next week, not to mention some looting of remaining office supplies and such (I have enough paper to print 40,000 resumes). Since the closing of all four regional centers was my project, and if to have the knife twisted in deeper, I’ve got to show up next week and let the various crews in to do their work disassembling cubicles, pallet racking, light restoration, furniture liquidation, etc… That’s okay though, I can more than handle it. I know my boss gave me this project to allow me the most amount of time to stick around on the payroll and find other work. For that, I’m grateful. I’ve long since reconciled myself with the 13 years I’ve put in at this company and am extremely proud of all that I accomplished. This was clearly a watershed opportunity for me here.

The other last man standing commented to me the other day, “Funny, you and I were the first employees in this organization and we’re the last to leave”. I hired Glen Manry to work as my warehouse manager 13 years ago last month. He took over a 10,000 sq. ft. location downtown without heat and from there the two of us began influencing and charting the network distribution and deployment scheme that would eventually become the standard operating model for the entire company. While Glen was reassigned to others throughout the years, we always had a hand in each others work, and he was the first person I brought on board when I was given this center to start up and run. He has been my most trusted Jacob Marley for my entire tenure. Without his dedication and insight I would never have reached the heights I did, and that included my company’s President’s Award back in 2000. He will be moving on to work in the transportation industry and is starting his own business as well which I will be telling you more about in the near future.

As I mentioned earlier, I’ve got a busy month that will keep my spirits up through the holidays and prepare me to find my new job. I REALLY look forward to being involved again. Anybody who has gone through something like this knows that as the days drag on, the farther out of the loop you get until you’re invisible. I have definitely achieved ghost status at this point. It’s madding.

I'm working on my tag post Tom Watson has requested and like so many things It’s becoming more elaborate as I write it, but I’m determined to get it up on the blog in the next couple of days.

First I must cut out of work early, rent a back pack leaf blower, and declare war on the leaves in my yard much like Bobby has over at Derailed. Like Bobby, I have chosen to go with the "scorched yard policy".

If anybody hears of anything interesting out there whether it be here in Atlanta, Washington D.C., or the NYC metro area please let me know. I’ll have a resume to you inbox in a flash.

I’ll do my best to keep the posts coming in the next week as I get acclimated to my home base of operations.