I started this blog because I left Boston to live and work in London for a while, and I wanted to stay in touch with family and friends. I'm back now, but still have plenty of opinions on world news, politics, the media and the absolute craziness that comes from dealing with people. Bring it.

18 May 2006

Work Definitions

Every company has its own shorthand for things. Some of it is official, and some of it is unofficially used by groups of people within the company to make all the craziness of the workplace a little less daunting/scary/annoying/upsetting/ insane. Below, I share some that my colleagues and I use to lighten up the day.

Skin Suit
Definition: a creepy dude that makes all the women around him uncomfortable, bringing to mind the crazy criminal in the movie Silence of the Lambs who kidnaps women to skin them and wear their epidermis as a suit.
A group of colleagues and I call this one particular dude at work "Skin Suit" because he is universally acknowledged to creep all the women in our company out. He always stares at us, says vaguely inappropriate things, but not innapropriate enough to actually do anything about it, and just generally makes us feel uncomfortable. In my experience, every woman I know at work cringes when he walks by. We use this name to kind of make ourselves laugh and to make him a little less creepy.

The Penske File
Definition: A notebook or file folder you carry around to make it look like you are on the way to a meeting, when really you are going to your friend's office to hang out.
Named after a Seinfeld episode in which George Costanza takes a job and doesn't know what he is supposed to be doing, so he just keeps talking about this file, the Penske File is useless. But it makes everything you do look really important, just by carrying it around. One of my colleagues has a red file folder to serve as his Penske File -- it really stands out and it looks really important, standing out from the usual manila ones everyone else carries around.

The Phox
Definition: The hottest guy at work. (in the interest of full disclosure, not everyone agrees with my, I mean THE, assessment that he is the hottest, yet the name is universal.)

No explanation needed, really. Just wanted to note that when used in written form, for example in IM, it is spelled with a PH, not an F. In some cases, even, colleagues (ok, I) have been known to say that this guy "puts the PH in Phox."

Member of C's Club
Definition: An anti-semite

Named after a colleague (who's first name begins with the letter "C") who once accused me of belonging to a mythical "Jew Club" that gets all sorts of privileges, my colleagues and I call anyone who makes any anti-Semitic remarks, which btw, happens more than you would think, "A member of C's Club." I'll use it in a sentence -- "so-and-so was complaining that so many people were out of the office over Passover. I think he/she is a member of C's club."

Feel free to share any "unofficial lingo" from your job in the comments section.

16 May 2006

News Round-up

A quick survey of news items that caught my eye today. Some funny, some serious, some interesting, some just silly:

Bill Clinton on Canada's healthcare system:

The answer to Canada's health-care woes does not lie in the "insane" system in place south of the border, former U.S. president Bill Clinton said last night.

Can I mention how much I wish he could run for President again?

This article, misleadingly entitled: "Bird flu -- the battle could be over," which goes on to say that it isn't:

He warns that the killer virus, which emerged in South-East Asia in 2003, could still mutate into a more virulent strain which could become a human pandemic.

3) My pure, unadulterated dismay that Paris Hilton continues to be any kind of celebtiry; and my glee upon reading this article, which describes how she made an ass of herself at E3 -- the big gaming industry event:

On May 11, hotel heiress and socialite Paris Hilton not only showed up late to endorse her upcoming cell phone game, but she also called it by the wrong name. "Sorry I'm late. I'm really excited to have my new videogame, Diamond Quest," she announced proudly to the gawking crowds. Problem is, the name of the Gameloft game -- which appeared in large letters behind the celebrity -- is "Paris Hilton's Jewel Jam." Ouch! Night-vision goggles are not required to play this handheld puzzle diversion. Ahem.

4) How all the US phone companies -- Verizon is the latest -- are starting to deny that they turned phone records over to the NSA. If no one supplied them then where did they get them?

5) Palestinian gunmen
storm mobile phone company, protesting that their cellphone service was cut off. The article goes on to talk about other shooting incidents today. And Abbas has extra security because there are indications that Hamas or Islamic Jihad might take him out. This ain't good for the Palestinians and it ain't good for Israel.

Blackbeard's cannon on display! I just think real-life contact with pirate relics is cool.

7) "
Israeli dates (the food, not the maddening pendulum of excitement followed by disappointment when you learn that he is unnaturally attached to his dog, mother, college buddies, etc., which is endured by singles in their 30s) at the forefront of shift in market trends." An article on Israeli dominance in date production -- and the global conference on dates (again, the food, not the phenomenon) held in Israel this week and attended by date farmers from Egypt, Morocco and Abu Dhabi, among other place. Wacky!

8) Getty Museum returning some antiquities to Greece:
After four hours of talks here with the Greek culture minister, the director of the J. Paul Getty Museum in Los Angeles said Tuesday that he would press for the return of some of the Getty's most prized ancient artifacts to Greece.

I have always wondered how countries like Greece, Egypt, Italy, etc. feel about national treasures residing elsewhere. Wonder if this will open the door to other countries asking for their stuff back. And I don't know how I feel about that.

Will I ever learn?

So when my company sent me to London for three+ months, I introduced my parents to Skype so we could talk often without breaking the bank. Immediately upon arriving in London, I realized that I should have given them a bit more direction on Skype etiquette.

I use Skype quite a bit to talk to colleagues all over the world, so I was often on conference calls on Skype, or talking to people about work stuff. But my parents assumed that if I was online, and they could see me, I could talk. So they would call all the time. And I would send them a text chat to tell them that I couldnt talk right then. But they would just keep calling and calling, not thinking to look at the blinking little box that appeared on their screen with a message from me. I finally got them to start sending me an IM first, asking if I could talk and after that, everything was fine.

Now, you would think I would remember this, but NO. They have been enjoying using Skype so much to call family and friends in Israel and Argentina, that when I saw this news today, about the ability to make calls to landline and mobile phones within the US and Canada for free with Skype, I thought I would let them know so they could call my aunts in New York and New Jersey, etc.

I should have known that they would take this as license to call ME. My work phone. My cell phone. My home phone. Why? Because they can. Now I know why my brother refuses to download Skype. Eh, at least I made them happy and we have a new Skype development to talk about.

15 May 2006


Maybe this isn’t worthy of comment, but I’m gonna comment anyway. I’m going to talk about two articles – one that appeared in The Arab News, and one that appeared on Ynet – both reporting on the same thing. Namely, comments made by Palestinian President Abbas on Naqba (which means catastrophe), the day Palestinians mourn the founding of the State of Israel.

Here are the headlines:

Abbas Decries Israeli Excuses
Abbas Calls for Peace Talks

Guess which one is which. Here’s a hint – Arab News is not an Israeli newspaper.

Now, let me just note for a minute what Naqba Day commemorates. Not the Six Day War in 1967 when Israel captured the West Bank and Gaza, but the establishment of the State of Israel in 1948. That is their catastrophe. But more on that in a moment.

What stuck me initially is the amazingly different tone of these two articles. While one is fiery and angry, the other is strangely naïve given the circumstances.

Here’s a taste from the Arab News article:

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas yesterday called on Israel to resume negotiations and warned against Tel Aviv taking unilateral action. In a speech marking Nakba, the Day of Catastrophe for Palestinians when Israel was founded 58 years ago…

“Let’s make this year the year of peace, let’s sit at the negotiations table away from the policy of diktats and unilateralism. Stop making excuses there’s no Palestinian partner, the partner is there,” Abbas, now on a visit to Russia, said in a pre-recorded address…

In his speech, Abbas warned Israel that unilaterally setting “final borders” with a Palestinian state, as Olmert has pledged to do by 2010 if peace talks cannot be resumed, risked provoking a deeper spiral of violence.

Now, I don’t know about you, but this doesn’t sound like “decrying excuses” to me. But it does sound weak, stupid and like a crock of shit. Perhaps I am picky, but it seems to me that calling for peace with a country in a speech written specifically to mark a day of mourning for the founding of said country is -- how shall I put this? -- RIDICULOUS.

If you’re really after peace, how about starting with getting rid of this “day of mourning”? And yet, many global news sources covered this “call for peace” seriously. Can you imagine the reaction if Olmert called for a return to negotiations during a “Palestinians Don’t Exist” Parade? (note to those not in the know – we don’t actually have such parades. But apparently, that would be acceptable… Oh wait, no it wouldn’t. Israel has to play by different rules.)

Now, read some selections from the almost-laughable Ynet coverage of the same speech:

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas on Monday called for Israel to return to the negotiating table in a speech marking the anniversary of what the Palestinians consider to be the “Catastrophe,” or the Naqba, of Israel’s creation. Unlike in past years, Palestinians have not planned massive demonstrations on the day marking the anniversary of the event, and Abbas used the occasion to appeal to the Israelis with a message of peace that discouraged unilateral steps…

(MY NOTE: apparently, the lack of mass demonstrations is considered progress. This is what Israel has to cling to. They have small parades and speeches broadcast on Palestinian TV, and demonstrations like this one found on AbbaGav's site... see "second misconstruance" -- rather than massive demonstrations. Good times!)

…”I tell our neighbors, the Israelis, that we want to make a just and lasting peace with you, and we want a better future for our children and yours. So come to make this year a year of peace,” He said in a recorded speech set to be broadcast later Monday on Palestinian television and radio…

…In his speech, Abbas signaled to Hamas that it must change its ways and pursue a path of diplomacy. “The PLO, which led our people in its most difficult times, would not have survived until now, or received international recognition, had it not been forthcoming in formulating courageous political initiatives,” He said.

Um… Hello Ynet editors?! Do you consider Naqba events nothing more than a handy journalistic tool to let the reader know what day of the year it is? I mean, really. How can this call for peace be covered seriously? Believe me, I am tired of this, too. I want something positive to happen. But sadly, I don’t think this is it.

Back on the Wagon

OK, so it's been an inordinately long time since I posted. And I probably don't have any readers anymore. But I'm ready to get out there and start writing again and hope someone stumbles on my thoughts and tells two friends. And they tell two friends. And so on... and so on. (OK, I can picture the shampoo bottle from this ad from like the 70s, but can't think of the brand name. It was green... shout out to anyone who remembers.)

Since I posted last, I've been to Lisbon, Portugal and Helsinki, Finland. Both amazingly cool places that I need to see again. I've also been to Las Vegas, which I've seen a million times. I won my usual $100. Which is what I usually win, since I don't have the stomach for gambling. Once I'm up $100, I feel like its time to walk away and be glad for what I've got. Sad, no?

Anyway, this is just my post declaring my return, so I'll wrap it up. And start writing interesting stuff from now on.