Friday, September 18, 2009

Just One Day

A significant event is looming for my family.  Our third child will arrive sometime in the next seven days. As per our usual M.O the house is torn apart and covered in demolition/construction debris, the cameras have been downloaded and flickr has been getting a workout. As I sit here I am wistful,thinking of the past, waves of nostalgia and sadness are alternatively engulfing my being.

When I was a kid there were two people who were very important in my life. I love them dearly even though they have been gone for over a decade. My grandparents meant the world to me. My parents were very young when I was born. Looking back I think my grandparents were so involved because they were still raising my mom and her husband (my dad, duh) as much as they were lending a hand an helping raise me. There are all of these movies about going back in time and re-living high school, about getting a second chance. My fantasy would be one day with my grandparents. One day to let my kids meet them, one day to let them beam with pride over their great-grandchildren.

That's a screen play to pitch. Just One More Day.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Then

I rolled over and hit snooze. Ten minutes later Bob and Tom came back to life on my alarm clock. The wife was at work and I had a conference call in a couple of hours. As I laid there contemplating getting out of bed I started paying attention to the words on the radio. "We're not sure what happened", "these pictures are unreal" "this is surely a tragedy". This was not the inane banter or female genitalia parody songs I usually get from KSHE between 7 and 8 am.

I fell out of bed and stumbled into the living room. My recollection is that I turned on CNN and was watching Geraldo Rivera talking. I watched the second plane hit. I sat there stunned, dumbfounded even. A few minutes later Geraldo or whomever it was that Geraldo has usurped in my memory started freaking out and screaming. A news, police or traffic helicopter was flying in the vicinity of the now burning towers. I thought the guy was a fucknut. A little while later there were photos of the Pentagon on fire, then reports of another plane crashed in a field.

My boss called somewhere between 9:30 and 10:00. He wanted to go over strategy for our call with a client. It was a sales call, we were trying to sell them another project. I suggested that we cancel the call. He called bullshit and said he didn't see a reason to cancel. A while later I am watching people leap hundreds of feet to their death, the towers fall, the Pentagon burning  while my boss is trying to get people to get on a call so we can sell them a project. We never had the call and we never sold the project.

Its no wonder that 18 months later the company was busto.

A lot has changed for me and my family over the last 8 years.  I've had three different jobs, gone from zero to (almost) three kids. In 2001 I had never been to Vegas and now I have been something like 10 times. We moved and had two cars stolen. My wife has had three out four grandparents die. Her father survived a severe industrial accident.

We have had five family members serve in the middle east and thankfully all have come home safe. There has been a lot of hand wringing as two career military and three bright faced kids informed the family that they were being deployed. A lot of panic hearing the phone ring in the middle of the night. A lot of tears, lost nights of sleep and more tears.

All of that seems trivial when you reflect on some other facts. On September 11, 2001 2,993 people died as a result of four hijacked airplanes. As a result of the 4 hijackings the U.S. invaded both Iraq and Afghanistan. Since March of 2003, 7,762 military, contractors and journalists have died in Iraq and Afghanistan.  The toll on the civilian lives in Iraq and Afghanistan is estimated by some to be well over 1 million.

I am neither a peacenik nor a war hawk. I will not belittle the memories of all the dead by espousing a political or social agenda. I just want you to contemplate all of the deaths today.



Tuesday, September 01, 2009

I was a pleb on that death star

This article on the Consumerist brought back some memories. Consumerist - Academic Publisher Pays Professors For Shill Amazon Reviews - College.

One of the comments on the original article seems to be more in line with my recollection of working for the Empire company:
News: Elsevier Won't Pay for Praise - Inside Higher Ed
Elsevier's PR spin is stopping well short of the truth. This campaign email is part of a bigger marketing campaign orchestrated by the entire marketing team for every publication. At minimum, there's a marketing manager who manages the list, a marketing director that s/he reports to, plus a marketing assistant who makes the coffee and sends out these emails based upon the decisions the other two make. These marketing assistants have absolutely no say-so in budgetary matters; they are junior employees learning the ropes and doing what they're told. So there's no way this marketing assistant just up and ran a $25/review campaign without sign-off from above. Despite what Elsevier is saying here, this trail leads all the way up to the Marketing Director, who certainly was happy to NOT take responsiblity on this and instead push it off on a "rogue employee." Folks, this is like the head basketball coach who lets the $25k/year assistant take the fall. It's a shame Elsevier not only won't own up to this, they continue to propogate lies ...
I was fairly high up in the org and couldn't have shipped $25 to anyone without my manager's approval and possibly not without her manager's approval. Of course I wasn't in marketing, so maybe they have more latitude? Also, "Jeff" is either a current or former editor or an author for Elsevier.  The lingo/description of the organization is too spot on.

In terms of full disclosure I now work for a company that competes with Elsevier, but I work in a division that doesn't compete with Elsevier, got that?