Me vs. Sleep

Sometimes I stay up way too late. I can’t help it. There’s no good reason. Nothing good on TV. No one to talk to. No work to do. And, in all truth, I’m actually pretty tired. I just hate giving in. I’m a competitive guy and I don’t like losing.

For example, once in a while I’ll be awake at some late hour (say, 1:00am). It’s already later than I normally go to sleep. But instead of just going to sleep, I’ll log into my email and refresh the page every few minutes, just to see if anyone emailed me. But it’s not that I’m expecting anyone to. I didn’t just send an email that needs replying. I literally just refresh my email in spite of sleep.

After not getting any emails for about 45 minutes, I’ll start to look for the next sleep-evading activity. More often than not, it’s TV.

If you’ve ever been awake and in front of a television after 12:00am then you know that ninety percent of the shows (or “programs” if you’re over 60) are infomercials. To most of you, that’s bad. But if you’ve just been refreshing your email for an hour, it’s actually quite refreshing.

There’s something utopian about infomercials. Infomercial people are much sprightlier than real-life people. Everything always works just how it’s supposed to work. Grown men can have ponytails and no one thinks they need to be punched in the face for it. And everything is always on sale.

But even infomercials begin to bore me after about an hour (usually it’s around 2:45am), which is around the same time my eyes start to burn from eighteen hours of air-contact. It’s a sign that I should go to sleep. But so was sunset. And so was the TV show Cheaters. But I obviously have trouble taking hints. All my eyes need aree a little knuckle-rub and they’ll be good to go for at least another half-hour.

By this time I’m yawning every thirty-nine seconds. They’re deep and slow. They feel good, relieving. I desperately think for something else to do — anything but sleep. The strange thing is, I’m so tired. But I’ve fought so hard to stay up and I’m not going to give up now.

I continue to fight it for another fifteen minutes. But sleep is a tough foe for even the feistiest fellow. My eyelids start to sag; the lashes almost touch. My head tips forward. Just before my chin reaches my sternum, I jerk it back and widen my eyes. It happens a few more times and next thing I know, it’s sunrise.

I get up from the couch, turn off the TV, mutter to myself, “we’ll call it a draw” and wobble up the stairs to my room so I can get a few hours of sleep in my warm, cozy bed. Soon consciousness will try to wake me up. But it won’t be easy. After all, I hate losing.

Wind, wind, go away!

I have a secret I want to share: I hate the wind. Always have. Always will.

If you know me, you know I’m a friendly guy. I’m easygoing and pretty careless about most things (maybe about too many things, at least according to my wife). So my pure hatred may come as a shock to you. But it’s true. I really hate the wind with all my being.

I hate the wind so bad I want to rip out it’s high-pressure and shove it down it’s low-pressure and seal it all up in a glass jar so it could never rustleanother leaf again. Then I would blow on the jar and scream, “Hey, Wind, how does it feel? Not too pleasant, is it? Ya jerk!” Boy, would that be sweet revenge.

I bet you want to know why I hate the wind so much? It’s a fair question. Let me address it:

The wind makes everything worse. It turns beautiful morning snowfall into hazardous blizzard. It makes fun afternoon Frisbee toss-arounds into degrading games of fetch. It makes slight winter chill bite with a bitter pinch (“It’s 25 degrees outside today with a wind-chill of 3 below”). It ushers clouds to shroud the sun. It waters eyes. It runs noses. Topples trees. Scatters shrubs. It does everything it can to make being outdoors unpleasant.

But do you know the worst part? It does it all while whistling. As if we’re not supposed care. As if a soft unrecognizable melody makes it all ok.

Imagine if you were outside setting up your lemonade stand and some guy came by and kicked over your stand and threw your sign (the one you spent two hours drawing with an assorted combination of markers) across the street into a puddle. You would be pretty pissed at the guy. Now imagine he did the same thing but he was whistling (perhaps “Amazing Grace”). There would be a special place in hell for an A-hole like that.

That guy is the wind.

Now, I’m not hate-monger or anything like that. But let’s get real. It’s time we stand up to such thuggish actions. I propose we build a dome around the country to keep the wind out. We’ll put up big signs like “No wind allowed!” and “Hell no, we wont blow!” In fact, we should put up giant fans on the outside of the dome that blow the opposite direction, just to keep the wind away.

I’m starting to think this idea could really go somewhere. Perhaps there is some money available for it in the “Economic stimulus package.” I’ll think I’ll write the president…

How to speak like a 14 month old

After hours of searching the Rosetta Stone catalog for a course on how to speak 14-month-old, I realized the odds of finding such a product were slim. And since I’m not good with languages (15 years of Hebrew class and I can barely speak a word of it), I knew I had a lot of work ahead of me.

So I came up with a scientific research strategy: write down all the syllables I heard Caley say, and then write down all the objects in the room that contained that sound.

After a few calculations I narrowed it down that, on average, each syllable could mean any one of fifteen things. For example, the syllable “Ba” could mean any of the following:

Break dance
Broken glass
Bank statement

I began to map the possibilities together. I ended up with the following graph:


I was getting somewhere. But I needed a way to narrow down the options. So I started observing physical cues Caley gave when she made her sounds. She pointed, smiled, drooled, snotted, patted her belly, cried, flopped, and clapped. She also farted once.

I mapped out the new data over the original data and got the following graph:


After studying this graph for a few hours, I began to understand what Caley was trying to tell me, and, after a while, I became fluent in her language. We started to communicate in ways I never thought possible.

Here are bunch of  things she says and what they mean:

“Shh shh ba” (while clapping)
Translation: “Tell mommy I need a diaper change.”

“Ba eeh shh ya” (While pointing at the ceiling)
Translation: “Tell mommy I want a bath.”

“Che see ka bay ap” (smiling)
Translation “Tell mommy to get you a beer.”

It’s really pretty amazing what a little research and observation can help you understand. It’s like we have a whole new relationship. I never thought she was so aware of what’s going on. For example, she’s already reminded me twice this month to pay off our bank statement. I told her to tell her mommy. She handles that stuff.

Poppa’s got a brand-new bag. And it’s called The Shully Mully…

Welcome to the blog formerly know as The Variety Blog of Freshness. I decided to revive my very first blog, partly for sentimentality and partly to force myself to start writing more often.

A lot has changed since I started The Variety Blog of Freshness. I missed out on many good opportunities to post. And hopefully, over time, I will be able to write about those events in detail. But here’s a quick list of things that have changed since my last post (written 1/22/07):

– I got a job as a project manager at a company called Arc Worldwide.
– My wife and I had a daughter. Her name is Michaela Belle. We call her Caley.
– My brother had a daughter. Her name is Chana Shira. We call her Chanshi.
– I switched from being a project manager to being a copywriter, and loved it.
– I bought and sold a few guitars. My current guitar is an Eastman El-rey 3 (the one on bottom).
– Lots of my friends got married.
– I had my 3rd ankle surgery in 3.5 years.
– I quit my job at Arc WW to start my own interactive advertising agency: Tribe9 Interactive. It’s going great and it was one of the best moves of my life.
– My dad’s cat died. He just got a dog (Golden Retriever).
– My heart was broken by Jason Meznik (The Bachelor) when he dumped Melissa for Mollie in front of millions of people. What a D-bag move.
– My wife sold a Panasonic 3DO with 48 games on eBay for $208.50 and nothing has ever made her so happy.

That’s pretty much every single thing that’s happened in my life since my last post. So now that we’re all caught up, subscribe to my feed on the right and stay tuned.

Oh, and read through some of my old posts to get a feel for what life with The Shully Mully is all about.

Well-done wedding shtick

I’m not sure how many people are in the “I had the fortune of witnessing wedding shtick go awry” club. But I am now a proud member. Let me tell you of my inauguration.

My brother got married last Thursday. (Mazal Tov!). Now, I’m gonna to cut to the chase. I’m sure your not that interested in all the dancing and food and what-have-you, so I won’t bore you with it. I’ll start right after the first dance when all the sweaty people were making their way to their seats. The wedding was a tad behind schedule. I saw people looking ahead to their seats with ravenous eyes in an attempt to confirm that their salad was ready to be devoured. But as people settled in, a loud voice filled the room, ushered in by screeching microphone feedback. It was the father of the bride. He had the mike and he was not ready to eat his salad.

He asked for a brief moment from everyone so he could give a few words to the bride and groom who sat before him. He began with a blessing to his darling daughter and newly acquired son. But he had a master plan. He began to incorporate imagery of fire into his blessing. “A husband and wife are like a flame.” “Love burns like fire.” And then the metaphors ended and the madness began.

Since the hungry crowed could only conjure up fiery images of BBQ’s, and not love, the father of the bride thought a little visual aid might assist. He picked up two thin metal rods from the floor, each with a golf ball sized cotton swab at the end. He pulled something from his pocket and within seconds the balls flamed with fiery…fire. As in real fire, not metaphoric fire.

He held one of the rods high in the air and opened his mouth wide. I could see his uvula. He slowly moved the flame towards his face. I worried about his beard (and his uvula). But he didn’t seem scared. He just kept lowing the flame until it was in his mouth. He then sealed his lips around it, extinguishing the flame. A loud applause broke out, like little firecrackers snapping on the Fourth of July. But he wasn’t done.

He picked up a plastic glass of clear liquid from the floor next to him and took a sip, perhaps water to extinguish the burning sensation in his mouth. But he did not swallow. He then raised up the other flaming rod into the air and ferociously spat at it. A huge ball of fire burst into the air. You could hear it’s low rumble. You could feel the heat on your face. The audience let out a gasp. Then applause. He smiled. And took another sip of the clear liquid. Repeat. Another gasp. A little less applause. The room started to smell of gasoline. A thin cloud of dark smoke spread through the room, hugging the ceiling. Another sip. Another flame. A stronger smell. More smoke. Less applause.

Then the room started flashing. I only remembered one photographer at the wedding so I was very impressed with his master picture taking skills. He must have had a fast thumb. Oh, wait. That’s the fire alarm. It’s flashing to notify us that something dangerous is happening. Perhaps there is a fire. What a smart device. It even had a horn, but the horn was far less impressive than the light show.

By now the father of the bride realized it was time to stop blowing giant flaming bubbles into the air. This is about the time my cousin Keith came over to notify me that we were experiencing a blog-entry in the making. He’s a Physics professor. That means he’s smart. So he was right – a blog entry it was.

After a few minutes of open doors and a freezing breeze, the smoke cleared, the flashing stopped, the horn silenced, and calm was restored. And I was left to eat my salad and wonder what breathing fire has to do with love.

Forget about the boogie man

Something happens in my closet: every time I open the closet doors there are more hangers than there were the day before. By now, hangers in my closet outnumber clothing 3-1. But these hangers are no ordinary mysteriously multiplying metal materiel. They sneakily snag themselves together just to make my wardrobe planning more difficult. I try and pull one out, but they cling together like lovers being torn apart. Others fall to the floor, possibly trying to create a distraction. But I’m heartless. I keep tugging. I mangle and untangle and the once triangular shape looks like a beaten “S.” But they get the last laugh. Because upon my next closet opening they have yet again multiplied.

I am trying to get to the bottom of this trickery. Do I have a magical closet? Do hangers have a lust for reproduction? Maybe someone is playing a cruel joke. But who? The questions are more than the answers and I don’t know who to call. (Hanger Busters?)

I feel helpless. I sleep right across from my closet and, naturally, I can only wonder about what magic manifests itself in there. I can’t help but think back to the movie Star Wars, Attack of the Clones. I remember the thousands and thousands of little white drones lining up to, well, attack. (Great name, Lucas.) Then I think of thousands of hangers in my closet, training for battle with special combat techniques—ready to swing off the bar and rip out my eyeballs as I lay helpless in bed.

You may think I’m joking, but what if I’m right? I mean, it’s so perfect. Who would expect it? What if your hangers were planning the same thing? What about your neighbors’ hangers? It’s pretty scary if you think about it. That’s why I like to think of flowers instead.

Flowers are nice…

A Different Type of Dreaming

This is an account of a dream I had last week:

I’m sitting behind my desk in my office, leaning back in a leather chair, my headset arched over my head. I pick up the yellow pages, close my eyes, open it to a random page and smack my finger down somewhere on the left margin. I open my eyes and dial the number that my index finger touches:

Ring. Ring

“Hello, this is Michael McDougan, president and sole decision maker at Enterprise Investment, how may I help you?” The man answers.

I clear my throat and say, “Hello sir, my name is Ross Gordon, I’m calling with—”

“Yes! I’ll take 100”

I take out my notebook and grab a Dr. Grip pen and open the notebook only to find Michael McDougan’s contact info neatly written in blue ink.

Just as I begin to celebrate with a Cuban cigar, my office starts looking blurry. Suddenly darkness. But a familiar darkness.

I roll over and look at my alarm clock. It’s 3am. The bright green light irritates my still dilated pupils. As I gain awareness of my whereabouts, I realize that I’ve been had by my subconscious yet again. I feel so foolish. I should have caught on when I saw the Dr. Grip pen. My office budget strictly limits us to Bic PenMates.

But as I lay in bed with the remnants of excitement still keeping me from sleep, I begin to think about my dreams. The previous week I dreamed that I got promoted, tonight night I dreamed of the cold-call from heaven. The more I think, the more I realize that most of my dreams contain very similar elements: my office, my boss, my computer, my phone, my clients, and the fish tank in our office. For some reason dreams with fairies and lottery jackpots and attractive women and me dunking from the free-throw line and one-legged, yodeling midgets with purple hats serving cocktails have all started to dwindle. Now everything is work related.

After a week of self-performed psychotherapy, I am doing slightly better. I try and reminisc about my pre-work dreams for 15 minutes before bed. Now my dream-version boss sometimes wears a purple hat and serves me a cocktail. But not much else has changed. And I’m not sure it ever will. But maybe that’s what being a working adult is all about. Maybe fun dreams with skydiving and world-saving belong to kids. Or maybe I’m just becoming a square at a faster rate than average. But at least my nightmares are still exciting. I dread the night when I show up to a budget meeting in tighty-whities.

How to be the best salesman ever

The other night I met with a salesman, or as he called himself, “a performance based employee,” to discuss financial planning options (life insurance, retirement planning, saving for a home, etc…). Now, like most people, I have aversion to salesmen. I do not like being swindled, or cajoled, or made to feel guilty—all of these common salesmen tactics. But this performance based employee was better than average. I did note some of his tricks although he did a fine job of building rapport. But the real reason I probably opened up to him was that he did not have the signs of a typical salesman.

Being a salesman is more than just fast-talk, and smooth lines. It’s a look. A culture. And unfortunately I think that is why so many people hate salesman; they have their guard up from the moment they meet. So to all the salesmen out there, here are a few rules that may help you become a better salesman:

Limit the amount of hair gel you use
As a general salesman rule, use only a half-teaspoon of hair gel for every estimated 60,000 hairs on your head. Too many salesmen go overboard with the gel. If you can snap your hair in half, you know it’s too much.

Avoid the “slick-back”
Unless your Italian, or related to the mafia in some other way, never slick your hair back. The last feeling I want when someone is trying to sell me something is that I’ll have a new pair of cement boots and be relocated to the bottom of a river. If your hair naturally slicks back, try giving it a slight angle.

Scale down your wheels
When a salesman comes to meet me and he drives up in a Porsche, I can’t help but get the feeling that he needs my sale for that month’s car payment. It also shows that there are a lot of suckers out there and I don’t want to be one of them. The same applies for expensive suits and jewelry.

Lay off the pinks and purples
Many salesmen think it’s a requirement to be a metrosexual. This isn’t necessarily true. Try laying off some of the flamboyant colors and stick to traditional colors like dark greens, brown, and black (always a classic). Also, your glasses frames should not be any thicker than a #2 pencil.

Don’t wink at me. Ever.
I hate it when salespeople wink. If you want a date, just ask, otherwise let me know what you have to offer.

I only want one card
Don’t give me a stack of 10 business cards because their’s no chance I’ll give them to any of my friends. Especially if you have not met my previous recommendations.

Stop trying to make personal connections
Who cares if we’re from the same state? Or graduated with the same degree? Or we both got drunk and threw up at our sister’s wedding? The more you make me seem like you, the more I’ll want to shoot myself. Just sell me your product and get the hell out.

Kill the metaphors.
In no way is a broken copy machine like a racehorse with a brain tumor. Please stop trying to confuse us with illogical metaphors.

I hope you use these recommendations to make you a better performance based employee. Some will take practice, and hard work, but if you have the drive then you should be able to do it. Because a predictable salesman is like a swimming pool with too much chlorine.

Reevaluating The Weight Watchers Formula

This day and age there is much talk about being healthy. Thanks to diet companies like Weight Watchers, people no longer consume food; they consume points. And so being healthy has become a simple equation: the less points, the healthier the meal. This system may seem wonderful at first glance, but we have to wonder what long term effects this revolutionary point system will have on society.

For centuries points have been a way of keeping score. Keeping score has been a way of selecting a winner. Winning has been a way of deciding who is better. This age-old formula lead to the creation of the “The More Points, The Better” theorem. Commonly written: PN=NB (Points x Number = Number x Better). This system has been the common denominator among all competitions for thousands of years.

Essentially, the Weight Watchers system creates a new formula that can be read PN=NW (Points x Number = Number x Worse), or “The More Points The Worse.” It does not take a mathematician to see the threat that the Weight Watchers point system poses to the age-old competition formula. The Weight Watchers formula is tampering with people’s understanding of better and worse. Adults may be able to handle such confusing messages, but what about the children?

Just imagine what would happen if kids got mixed up between the two point systems. Lets say Timmy is on a diet and he’s logging his food intake for the week. He brings his chart in at the end of the week and he’s so happy. He thinks he’s a winner. He thought he got a bonus for eating a cheeseburger every day. He has enough points to live off the interest of his points for the rest of his life!

In reality, Timmy consumed enough saturated fat to increase is body fat percentage by 234%, and repaint the walls of his arteries from dark red to a cream-white cholesterol. All thanks to the misleading Weight Watchers formula.

The other tragic scenario would be that the Weight Watchers formula conditions children to think that it’s not about how many points you score in a game, but whether or not you had fun. They would learn that they don’t need points to feel good about themselves, or even worse, they don’t’ want them. And that would be a social travesty.

These extremely scientific examples prove that children need a clear-cut, consistent way to understand point-evaluating systems. We must create systems where points are good. Such as the compliment system. This is a system I have come up with in which every time you get a compliment, you get a point.  The formula is CN=PN (you get the idea). This will help teach our children that the more you are complimented, the better you are. Thus we stick to the traditional point formula, “The More Points The Better” and society can can continue to exist in harmony.

Three Wonderings of a Fish Feeding, Resume’ Reading, Account Managing Copywriter.

I work for a small—no, very small business and I’d like to share a few of the mysteries that I have often wondered about in the very small business world:

1. Why is there extra space after my job title on my business card?
See, in the world of small business your business card has room for extra, invisible job titles. For instance, your business card may say “John Doe, Sales”. But then you notice the extra space after the word “sales”. You see nothing. But the funny thing is that your boss has magical glasses and he can see the invisible ink after “sales.” It reads: John Doe, Sales, Errand Runner, Secretary, Trash Taker-Outer, Fish Tank Cleaner, Fill in the blank______. You’ll check a thousand times and you’ll never see any of them. But your boss knows best. After all, he paid for the cards.

2. What’s up with the fish tank?
Another mystery in the world of very small business is the fascination bosses have with fish tanks. Our office has a fish tank the size of a treasure chest filled with sickening cichlids. My boss is the only one who treasures it. I suppose that’s because he does not have to clean the tank. Or feed the fish. Or fill the water on a daily basis. Come to think of it they don’t spend any quality time together. He’s a deadbeat pet owner.

The real kicker is that he can’t even afford it. At the end of every month we go over our expenses, trying to cut costs and increase profit. We look down the list of costs and circle what we can omit next month. His pen slides down the paper slowly, starting at the top. “Paper supplies?” He rhetorically asks. “Need it.” That’s an easy one. We go through some of the more obvious expenses and they all get a “Need it.” As he goes down the list, me eyes skip ahead to the fish tank, waiting for that sloppy circle of his. After all, this month was tough and we have to cut what’s not important.

He gets to the tank. “Need it.” (even adds a little extra emphasis). “Ummm” I chime in. “Are you sure we need that? Our costs were a little high this month and we need to cut something.” And he answers me, “ I know, but we can’t get rid of the tank. Clients love it. I’ll find something else to cut.” I can’t help but think to myself that we have not had a client here in months.

A week later I notice that the water guy has stopped refilling the water machine. Man, does that make me…thirsty.

3. What century is our equipment from?
One of the worst parts of small business is that owners are cheap (unless a fish tank is involved). If you look around my office you may notice that the computer monitors look like large UPS boxes. I often wonder if 100 years from now a historian were to visit my office, would he even recognize these prehistoric projection units? The last thing you see in a very small business is a very thin, flat panel LCD monitor.

The copy machine is no work of modern science either. I half expect to open it and find a crack snorting midget scribbling to keep up with the scanning light above his head. Or maybe a mouse on a running wheel, hooked up with wires, chasing after a dangling piece of cheese just out of reach. And don’t get me started on the fax.

But so goes the life of a small business employee. And while it’s not always the most glamorous place to work, you do get a lot of experience that you might not otherwise get. Like where else would I learn how to fix a level 3 paper jam? Exactly. And that’s why I can’t complain.