Christmas Poaching

[Disclaimer: The author is fully aware that for most people Christmas carries secular not religious significance]

Ours being a multicultural (in the good way) society, one can expect to run across folks who hold different beliefs or what not. There are Muslims and Jews who are given the opportunity to take time off work, sometimes even paid to do so, to observe their respective holy days.   After all, it’s all about the vinyl folks,


Fine and good, but it’s always been a curiosity that these same good people accept, without grumbling or complaining, the paid time off their company gives for Christmas.

How does that work? It’s probably the same rationale that grants smokers breaks so they can asphalt their lungs on company time…

The Maverick

Maverick (n.) – an independent individual who does not go along with a group or party

If one were to ask some of our most politically minded individuals (or Sarah Palin) to name the first person who comes to their mind after hearing this word, the tabulated answer would probably be this man:

Meanwhile, others who are not so politically wired might name either one of the 2 gentleman here:

Not into movies? Then you might drag Brett Favre into the conversation (I hope the recent allegations levied against him are not true).

As for me, a blogger just trying to get a hit (get your mind out of the gutter), I wouldn’t go with any of the aforementioned people.

Who do I think of when I hear “maverick”? Larry David (below).

I think of Mr. David only because my “maverick” bears a striking resemblance to the Seinfeld (this show is so good that it made me like NYC) co-creator.

My “maverick” (let’s call him “Larry”) rides my commuter bus in the morning. Everyday, “Larry” makes use of our converted charter bus’ ventral luggage compartment by cramming his 10-speed in there.

Inevitably, people stare at him through the whole process. Even people who see him do this day in and day out, I’m guilty as charged.

People from all walks of life stare at him, from the suburbanites cocooned inside the bus to the homeless dudes who gather at “Larry’s” Med Center stop (Fannin at McGregor).

So why’s “Larry” a maverick? Because despite the hushed whispers and incredulous looks from fellow passengers (he makes us all late to work) and homeless people (their “c’mon man!” glares betray the fact that they all think he’s crazy), “Larry” keeps keepin’ on by making his bike every bit the commuter that he is.

So here’s to you, Ler and your maverick spirit, Dallas Maverick owner Mark Cuban’s got nothing on you.

[this post is dedicated to a true bike commuter, my fellow blogger, Jason K]

Camille Paglia digs Sarah Palin?

Today during lunch I had a conversation with a dear co-worker from the glorious nation of Kazakhstan, unlike Borat (below), she is actually from there.

She is a very kind hearted, elegant woman who is always good for a chat. The topic of Sarah Palin arose and my co-worker expressed her dislike for Mrs. Palin. She went as far as to call her an “extremist”.

I pressed her to explain to me what she meant by that. When we got down to the nuts and bolts of it, my co-worker just doesn’t like her because of her updo and rimless glasses. Reminding me once again how much of a student council election vibe a Presidential election can possess.

I’m not going to sit here and say that this perspective is representative of supporters of the Democratic ticket because it probably isn’t. Based on the following column by Professor Camille Paglia (self-professed Democrat, atheist, libertarian) it most definitely isn’t:

Fresh blood for the vampire

Paglia’s writing is excellent and her insight into the phenomenon that is Sarah Palin is surprisingly free of much of the animosity and vitriol that has been hurled the Gov’s way.

She even makes this bold statement,

Conservative though she may be, I felt that Palin represented an explosion of a brand new style of muscular American feminism. At her startling debut on that day, she was combining male and female qualities in ways that I have never seen before. And she was somehow able to seem simultaneously reassuringly traditional and gung-ho futurist. In terms of redefining the persona for female authority and leadership, Palin has made the biggest step forward in feminism since Madonna

Then on feminism she says this,

Feminism, which should be about equal rights and equal opportunity, should not be a closed club requiring an ideological litmus test for membership

While I could sit here and list quote after quote from this one piece, I thought this one particularly introspective towards Paglia’s preferred political party,

The witch-trial hysteria of the past two incendiary weeks unfortunately reveals a disturbing trend in the Democratic Party, which has worsened over the past decade. Democrats are quick to attack the religiosity of Republicans, but Democratic ideology itself seems to have become a secular substitute religion. Since when did Democrats become so judgmental and intolerant? Conservatives are demonized, with the universe polarized into a Manichaean battle of us versus them, good versus evil. Democrats are clinging to pat group opinions as if they were inflexible moral absolutes. The party is in peril if it cannot observe and listen and adapt to changing social circumstances.

Yeah I was kind of wondering the same thing during lunch today…

Tatum Bell makes a Run for It

What a bizarre story that came out of Detroit. Former Oklahoma State stand out running back, Tatum Bell, (right, eluding Texas’ Michael Huff back in ’03) was cut by the Detroit Lions. He then decided to help himself to the luggage belonging to the man the Lions signed to replace him, Rudi Johnson.

See this story, “Lions RB Rudi Johnson says Tatum Bell took luggage”

Johnson had this to say in the piece,

“All this happened when he got released,” Johnson said. “He came in to get some stuff out of his locker and that’s when he scooped up the bags.”

One can’t fault Mr. Bell for being irate over losing his job. But C’mon man.

This whole story is strange but what’s stranger is that the other day during lunch we were discussing the experience of a former co-worker who had been let go by a previous employer.

Upon learning of his termination from the wonderful folks at HR, our co-worker was immediately escorted out of the facility by security types. Wasn’t even given a chance to gather his belongings.

Perhaps this policy might go a long way in preventing the Tatum Bells of the NFL from carrying out their alleged dastardly deeds…


From Tom Clancy’s Red Storm Rising,

If there was anything Alekseyev didn’t need now it was a zampolit!

Exactly a week ago, I had one of those days here at the lab. Of course, to me “one of those days” is everyday for a lot of people with high pressure jobs, yet because this is not the norm I’m quite unaccustomed to them.

Going in that morning I knew it was going to be a doozy, given the fact that I had a full day’s worth of work in the pipe, and that’s OK, that’s what I get paid for and honestly, I enjoy the investigative nature of my work.

What, of course, cannot be predicted are the situations that come up, or spring up that distract one from achieving one’s objectives.

For example, as I sat there elbow-deep in the work cited above, the bane of every busy research assistant’s existence needed a few moments of my time: the life science sales rep.

Immediately, my mind went to the sentiment of Clancy’s fictional Soviet general regarding the political officer (KGB) who had interrupted his work. The rep had become my zampolit, a good man with good intentions but choosing the wrong time to offer potentially helpful, though irrelevant to the task at hand, information.

What must go without saying is that even at the height of our diligence, the rules of charity cannot be thrown out the window. So I was polite to the rep’s entreaties (hard not to do since after all, he is a nice guy) yet my preoccupation with leaving work at a decent hour must have been evident on my face, thus he shortened his pitch.

As for a fellow research assistant who (on this fine day) needed help on how to use a new (for her) piece of equipment, being charitable was a bit more difficult.  Given the fact that while asking for instruction, she wanted to be the instructor.  Ironically enough this dear woman hails from the former Soviet Union, might she have received training to be a zampolit?  Perhaps she came from a line of zampolits?

Lifestyle Evangelism at the Workplace?

Pastor John Piper addresses this brand of evangelism as it pertains to the Christian’s workplace,

Thinking that our work will glorify God when people do not even know we are Christians is like admiring and effective ad on TV that never mentions the product. People may be impressed but won’t know what to buy.

This quotation came from his his excellent book “Don’t Waste Your Life”.

I’m not sure that I’ve seen such an apt analogy as it pertains to this popular form of evangelism.