Saturday, January 27, 2007

Sweet Serena

I had the privilege of watching Serena Williams turn in one of the most impressive/lopsided victories in a women's tennis history yesterday. She annihilated Maria Sharapova, who will be the number one player in the world when the new official rankings come out on Monday. Serena will rise from 81 to 14 in the world.

She had to defeat six seeded players to claim the championship, starting with her first round destruction of hard hitting Italian Mara Santangelo, the only one of Serena's match that I wasn't able to see (due to its showing at 3:30 A.M.). I saw her fight well in her second roung match up against Ann Kremer of Luxembourg, who pushed her at times with her tenacious play. At this point I wasn't convinced that Serena was in championship form. Kremer made Serena run. You could see Williams tire after long points. Serena was carrying a lot more weight than she did in her prime. She was also fighting a cold.

I figured she had a pretty good chance against the 5th seed Petrova in round three, due to their head to head record. Nadia looked like she was going to send Williams home early, but Serena showed her resilience and grit when coming back from the brink of defeat to dust aside the talented Russian in three sets.

At that point I figured Serena was back, but I like most tennis analyst didn't give her any chance against the talented Serb Jelena Jankovic, the hottest tennis player in 2007 (winning her first title of the year and coming very close to toppling Clijsters in Sydney). She'd also beaten Serena the last two times they matched up, and had rudely denied Venus Williams an attempt at a Wimbledon repeat.

Nobody told Serena that she was supposed to lose. She played one of the most intelligent matches I've seen her play to date. She moved Jankovic from side to side with great angles and swept her aside much easier than anyone expected. You saw some scary looks of determination from Serena.

Next up came the talented Israeli teen Shahar Peer in the quarterfinals. Peer outhit Serena for most of the match. Peer was within a couple of points of dismissing (the then 7-time slam champ) when Serena once again showed her resilience to once again claim a third set victory. A few big serves and deft ground strokes booked Williams a semifinal match up with Czech Nicole Vaidisova.

Vaidisova is one of the most talented prospects in tennis (at 17 years of age). She reached the semis at the French Open last year defeating both Venus Williams and Amelie Mauresmo en route. After a tight first set that saw Serena stave off set points, Serena eked out a tiebreaker and then went on to a big lead in the second, before Nicole began to reel her in. Williams got her act together just in time and served out the match to book her ticket to her third Australian Open Final (Lindsey Davenport(2005), Venus Williams(2003).

My friend Oneal called me after the first set was over against Sharapova. We were in awe of how well Serena was playing. She dispatched Maria like she was playing against a junior player. After 1 hour and three minutes and a 61 62 route Williams hung up her third Aussie Open title--eighth overall. What was scary is Serena has rarely played so cleanly (28 winners and 11 unforced errors). She never let Sharapova into the match, which is difficult to do if you've ever seen Sharapova display her fighting spirit.

I'm hoping that this victory motivates Serena to get back into shape. It certainly sent a strong message to the rest of the field that when she is on her game she can't be beat. I hope it also motivates Venus as well. I can't say that I'd like to see a few Williams versus Williams sloppy slam finals, but I would love to see them take on and conquer this new wave of tennis talent.

So much for the demise of American women's tennis. Welcome back Venus and Serena, you've been missed.

Friday, January 26, 2007

One Man's Failure Is Another's Success

Today I learned a lot about myself. The nerves/anxiety that I spoke about in the previous post have been defeated or managed. Let's just say I had a test today and I didn't pass it. Normally it would be the source of so much disappointment, but it wasn't today.

I knew that I gave it my best effort and today it wasn't good enough...hopefully tomorrow it will be. I feel good knowing that my nerves weren't responsible for sabotaging me.

I experienced a similar problem on the way to completing my Microsoft certifications. There was a test that I failed by a few points on a Thursday. I knew that I let my nerves destroy my chance at passing. I didn't study any further, retook the test on Saturday and improved my score by almost 300 points. The final of seven tests gave me problems as well. I saw from the score reports that I was doing extremely well in all areas except one. It took two times, but I did pass, and this time with almost a perfect score.

So today's failure actually showed me how far I've come. I know that I'm ready to succeed and know that I don't have to fear anxiety making me it's bitch, I feel a step closer to my goal, not further away.

It's kind of amazing to me that this obstacle didn't shatter my confidence. That tells me how far I've come.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Personal Demons

Over the course of my life I have seen myself become much more nervous when tackling certain tasks than I ever was when I was younger. Perhaps when I was younger I never thought about not doing well. I had such lofty expectations for everything that I did.

However, life has a way of teaching you to be mindful of being overconfident. I remember my first major bout with that was in junior high school. I was on the debate team, the affirmative rebuttalist. Our school took part in the Lincoln Douglas debates. I was in the eighth grade at that point. I loved to debate and thought nothing of getting on a stage and stating my very well defined opinion on whether community service should be mandatory for high school students. Obviously I was on the affirmative team, which I didn't have a choice on. Our teacher placed us according to the strengths of our arguments.

So my best friend Kevin was on the opposing team. Our two teams sparred in front of our classmates to prepare us for the debates. I had the last moment in the sunshine. I had the opportunity to take notes while everyone else was speaking, especially the opposing team's rebuttalist. I mantained my composure and picked their argument apart and then read off of my cards.

Round 1 was amazing. If there was an MVP I would have received it. I received a lot of praise. For the first time in the history of the debates two teams, both from I.S. 320, went on to the second round.

At that point I became very cocky. I felt we had the strongest team. Our coach said that we should be a shoe in to make the borough championships. Unfortunately, I missed the layup. I was well prepared, but I had the first anxiety attack in my life. I saw one minute when there was really three left. So instead of being poised after finishing attacking the opposing teams' arguments I sped through what I had to say and when I finished I saw one minute left. I'd never experienced anything like that. I was a good sport though. My friend Kevin's team went on to the borough championships. I gave them encouragement. The hardest part of the ordeal was when everyone said we were the strongest team in the round. I had costed us the game.

I have had a few anxiety attacks since then, not too frequent. I have learned to conquer those demons for the most part, but there are certain things that make them more likely to flare up. Perhaps taking a test that I know that I should do well on but others telling me to be careful, or speaking in a room full of strangers before I'm sufficiently relaxed. It's a strange sensation when you know you have the tools to succeed, but your mind and it's insecurities have the power to take you down.

All I can do is tell myself to relax, and if I fail at something hopefully I'll do better the next time (but never forget that the object is to get the goal in the basket the first time around--and if you miss grab the rebound to put it back up).

Monday, January 22, 2007

Welcome to the New NFL

I'm an avid sports fan, sometimes borderline obsessive. Football has always been at the top of the heap closely followed by track and field, tennis, and a whole bunch that my fingers would get cramped typing out.

The NFL has had a major campaign to get black coaches involved in the interviewing process as a result of criticism from prominent members of the black community. The result has been the hiring and consideration of many qualified black candidates that weren't receiving those opportunities in the past. You had qualified assistant coaches that never got their chances to shine, contrary to the normal career track.

This year's Super Bowl will represent the first time that two teams coached by minority head coaches will square off. In fact it is the first time that black coaches have ever led a team to the Super Bowl.

This represents a milestone in sports in general. It shows that if you give qualified people the chance they can excel, therefore race should not be used as a barrier to entry. The efforts of the NFL weren't quite an affirmative action situation either. The league requires teams to interview at least one minority coaching candidate per opening. Most of the successful black coaches paid their dues as assistants before they were given the chance. You also had commentators (like Dan Marino and Boomer Esiason) that made the fact that certain coaches weren't being interviewed an issue that was worthy of attention.

Coaches like Art Shell and Dennis Green had moderate success (with the Raiders and Vikings). They were the pioneers. A decade later you see Lovie Smith and Tony Dungy leading their teams to football's promised land. Marvin Lewis has turned around a perennial struggling franchise in the Cincinnati Bengals. Kansas City is coached by former Jets head coach Herman Edwards. The Minnesota Vikings just hired a black coach as well.

This is a measurement of how far this country has come in regards to race relations. When I first started watching football there was the old saying that you could have an all black team except you'd need a white quarterback and a white kicker/punter. Take a look at the legion of black quarterbacks that have changed the image of what a quarterback should be. They might not fit traditional views of what a quarterback should be (Drew Brees doesn't either), but you can still ride them to success.

I'm so proud, if you can't tell. I will be routing for the Bears, however, because I hate the Indianapolis Colts with the fire of a thousand suns. Their coach, however, is cool in my book. He turned around a losing team in Tampa Bay, got them close to the pinnacle and was fired for not getting them to the Super Bowl. He experienced similar frustrations with the aforementioned hated Colts, but should have given himself some serious job security. Whether you like them or not you must give him credit for making that team one of the strongest teams in football (during the regular season--with the exception of this year).

I'll leave you with an excerpt from the definition of coach:
one who instructs or trains a performer or a team of performers; specifically : one who instructs players in the fundamentals of a competitive sport and directs team strategy

It's a leadership position, and we all know that America is more preoccupied with leaders than it is with those that receive directions (sorry followers didn't seem right in this context). Individuals that strategize and take the heat for their decisions and/or reap the rewards of the success from their planning are definitely worthy of applause/ridicule. It takes a lot to put yourself in those types of positions, because of the scrutiny that will follow you. If you're the first to do it or amongst the first--you have even more pressure, because if you fail the naysayers will say I told you so: women shouldn't referee male sports (NBA), blacks shouldn't play tennis/golf, a woman should not enter male sports (Michele Wie). The list goes on and on. Some battles aren't so much about race or gender, but about acceptance. Tear the barriers down, break those glass ceilings, and enjoy your moment in the sunshine!

If this post has tickled your fancy, here's an interesting article that speaks about the gap between minority coaches at the NCAA level compared to the NFL.

NFL leads colleges in promoting minority coaches

Sunday, January 21, 2007

The Epidemic of Teenage Drinking

I'm currently watching Do as I Say, on ABC. Today's Episode is titled: "On the Rocks: The Epidemic of Teenage Drinking." I am actually horrified watching this program. I was one of those "good" kids, which meant that I didn't start drinking alcohol until I was 21. I remember seeing kids in my junior high school drinking beer and wine coolers before school started. They would go to the stores nearest to the school and steal them. Then they'd go to the park to drink.

My mother doesn't drink much. My father didn't either, god knows he had his other vices, but drinking wasn't one of them. My grandmother was probably the only adult that I was aware of that drank on a regular basis. She passed away almost ten years ago from an unexpected bout with cancer. It was short and I am happy that she didn't suffer from it. She was about 55 when she was gone. I digress. I only brought up my grandmother to show that she and my grandfather, when he snuck a drink or two, were the only two adults that I really ever saw have a drink.

Many of the neighborhood kids did drink. They'd go to parties and come home wasted. That was during the early nineties. Snoop Dog's "Gin and Juice" was out and it was the poison of choice amongst many of my peers. I couldn't understand what the enjoyment was of coming home and throwing up--and truth be told I was afraid of my mother's actions if I ever came home high from alcohol/narcotics. I was one of those kids that was obsessed with my future. Therefore, alcohol and drugs weren't on my agenda.

Similarly, I didn't really start drinking until I was about to turn 22. By that time I had a full time job and a college degree. I was a social drinker and have always maintained control over my behavior when I do drink.

Well I guess that's why I was horrified when watching the special. The commentators mentioned that teenagers drink to get drunk. They aren't drinking to get buzzed and they really can't regulate their level of intoxication effectively. They tend to become impulsive: violent, lascivious, etc.

Now don't think I'm being hard on teenagers. I know that adults display the same type of behavior as these teenagers. However, the show displayed the brains of teenagers that drink and those that don't. You could see the damage that the binge drinking did compared to those who didn't. The long term damages were irreparable.

Then I started thinking about teenage drinking and driving. I don't know the whole shabazz upset me. There is so much promise. To tell you the truth I don't like the message that you have to drink to have a great time, or drink to get drunk. I don't think that's a good message, for teenagers or adults. I can attest to this drinking water at parties at times and having just as much fun as I did when I did drink.

I just feel for the parents that were dealing with the children who were drinking. You saw children with straight As have severe drops in their grades. Some started acting out.

One set of parents sponsored a party where children could drink, kind of a don't ask don't tell type deal. Well they didn't regulate the party. You can guess that things went out of hand quickly. One altercation involved a drunk teen throwing gasoline on a rivals car and then setting it on fire. A girl in the car was severely burned.

I don't have an answer to fix this problem. I'm not a parent and haven't dealt with it. I saw that the show advised parents not to have alcohol in easily accessible locations, to talk to your children about the behavior that is accepted in your household, and to talk about the long term effects of drinking.

Anyway if you want to check out more of what the special had to offer take a look at the website below:

Connect With Kids

Monday, January 15, 2007

I Have a Dream

Today was one of my bi-monthly visits to the laundromat. I know it's kind of sad that I'm using Martin Luther King Jr.'s celebratory holiday as a laundry day, but I really had no choice.

Well as typical in my neighborhood people get extremely testy whenever the laundromat is crowded. That's when survival of the fittest kicks in. You have to be predatory about machines, dryers, carts, and even folding space. You have to make temporary alliances too, lest you spend most of your day grumbling while the big cats snatch any of the aformentioned valuables from your grasp. It can look like a hyena taking a big cats prey from them at times. Today was one of those days. And for some reason it seemed that women were pitted against men time and time again. And one place where a man stands little chance against an angry woman is the laundromat. You can see the woman rise up in almost a bear like state, looking imposing and roaring all the time, leaving the men to call them bitches or whatever else leaves their lips, while the woman gets the last of her family's wash into a machine.

I texted Al amidst all of the chaos today. She responded that Martin wouldn't be happy. I certainly agreed.

So I have a few things I dream about today:

  1. I have a dream that people will be courteous to one another in the laundromat.

  2. I have a dream that newbies will not rush to take machines when they know they have least rights in the queque.
  3. I have a dream that people will not call the nice Asian caretakers in the laundromat deragotary names.
  4. I have a dream that dryers will be turned up high enough so that you don't have to spend a dollar per machine, wasting 40 minutes--when you used to take 20, to get your clothes dry.
  5. I have a dream that I never get into one of the aforementioned altercations. I have very little patience with stupidity and therefore tend to suck my teeth and move on, hating to cause a scene.

Reflections on Dr. King

Martin Luther King Jr. was an amazing ambassador of using nonviolence (peaceful resistance) in order to gain rights that benefited not only himself, but others. This post is in no way a mockery of what Dr. King stood for.

I leave you with a lasting memory. I remember participating in a celebration of Dr. King on the night of the first Martin Luther King Jr. holiday. I was a part of two performances that night, as a fourth grader. I was the letter D and the letter K and reeled off the bits of wisdom prepared by my teacher, Ms. Steele. The second performace paired me with another class. I was not Dr. King, but I was on the set and spoke some of the words from the speech. Those words are still ingrained in who I am today.

I spoke with the power and conviction as if the living embodiment of his dream, as though he spoke through me, despite my miniature stature. I spoke louder that day than perhaps at any point in my life. I was a part of something special. It was the first celebration and I had been chosen to take part and wanted to make sure that I didn't waste the opportunity.

Today I salute you Dr. King as well as anyone that has ever fought for civil rights. I applaud anyone that fought with actions, words, dollars, and thoughts. God bless you and enjoy the rest of your day.

I have a dream that one day people will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.

Friday, January 12, 2007

Why I blog!

There was a time, only a few months ago, that I would've laughed at anyone that said I should have my own blog. Actually I did. At first I was confused about what to post about. I only gave the link to a few people.

Well I think participating in NABLOMO (National Blog Month) I think my appetite to post has become ravenous. I'm no longer obligated to post every day, but I feel almost an obligation to the people that read my posts on a regular basis to put up something worthwhile.

My blog is as eclectic as I am as a person. There are so many layers to who I am as a person. So there are so many things that I try to post. I feel a little more secure in my posting ability so I have made my blog public recently.

I encourage those of you who are just "meeting" me to take a look at some of my previous posts. I'm sure you'll find something that appeals to your sensability.

This is in essence a thank you to everyone who has ever read/commented on my previous posts. It is also my extension for those of you who don't know excalibur or doesn't know him well to see what lies beneath my smile.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Political Conversation Beware

Well first I should tell you that one of my coworkers showed me a clip from the Daily Show about the screw ups by Yahoo and CNN mixing up Obama with Osama. Kind of a big difference between the two names.

A lot of my friends have been talking about the potential Democratic candidates for the 2008 Presidential election. I'm in New York so of course I'm an avid supporter of Hillary Rodham Clinton, ducks knowing that name alone brings strong reactions positive or negative from Democrats, Republican, and Independents alike. She's been a strong Senator for New York as has Chuck Schumer, who I wish would run and I think would do a great job if he was elected, but has no intentions of running for higher office.

I'm not going to make this post a testament to Clinton. That's not my intention. My intention however is to talk about the man in the spotlight since his electrifying speech during the 2004 Democratic National Convention, Barack Obama.

I've heard such great things about him, but I decided to find out a little more information on this would-be presidential hopeful. So like any redblooded American I went to the Internet and took a stop on his website:

Barack Obama U.S. Senator for Illinois

I paid particularly close attention to his stand on issues including the War in Iraq, Homeland Security, Crime, the Environment, etc.

On the Issues

I must admit I really liked what I saw. I'm definitely going to follow him closer as we approach the next presidential election. Anyway the next phase of my research took me to the people, via the Wikipedia entry on Obama.

Barack Obama

This gave me much more background information on Obama than I've actually seen anywhere else or have heard about him, surprising considering you would think his site would trump Wikipedia's entry.

What the Wiki entry did was humanize Obama. I have often told my friends when you interview for a job you should be able to be honest and your prospective employer should be likewise. That way you know that you'll be a good fit for that position. Instead there are truths, and half-truths, and flat out lies, which wastes both parties time. Well what is running for the President or any major office but one great big interview with all the fixings?

I would rather for a candidate to say look I used narcotics when I was younger, experimented, than for some journalist to dig it up. We all know that people are built up and torn down in a New York minute.

Or in Obama's own words:

In Dreams from My Father, Obama writes about smoking marijuana and trying cocaine during his teenage years. Inviting journalists to contrast his earlier admission with Bill Clinton's remarks during the 1992 presidential campaign that he "didn't inhale" while smoking marijuana, Obama recently stated: "I inhaled—that was the point." Obama added: "It was reflective of the struggles and confusion of a teenage boy; teenage boys are frequently confused."

And before I get any eye rolls or anyone hissing at me I will state for the record
that I am anti-drugs. I've seen people devastated by narcotics use, especially families, during the crack epidimic of the 1980s. I'm applauding his honesty not his use of narcotics.

I'll close with a sequence of other meaningful slices from the mind of Obama:

No, people don't expect government to solve all their problems. But they sense, deep in their bones, that with just a slight change in priorities, we can make sure that every child in America has a decent shot at life, and that the doors of opportunity remain open to all. They know we can do better. And they want that choice.


When we send our young men and women into harm's way, we have a solemn obligation not to fudge the numbers or shade the truth about why they're going, to care for their families while they're gone, to tend to the soldiers upon their return, and to never, ever go to war without enough troops to win the war, secure the peace, and earn the respect of the world.

I feel like I'm going to church now. Amen Brother Obama.

The pundits like to slice-and-dice our country into Red States and Blue States; Red States for Republicans, Blue States for Democrats. But I've got news for them too. We worship an awesome God in the Blue States, and we don't like federal agents poking around in our libraries in the Red States. We coach Little League in the Blue States and yes, we got some gay friends in the Red States. There are patriots who opposed the war in Iraq and patriots who supported the war in Iraq. We are one people, all of us pledging allegiance to the stars and stripes, all of us defending the United States of America.

Now I'm dancing in the aisles.

This is what I want the most for the country, someone to bridge the great divide. Any candidate that can not only promise, but deliver will have my vote.

This is Excalibur and I approve this message.

Oh I have one last comment. I read this from his website as well and it really sums up how I feel about the War in Iraq as well-taken from Obama's website:

Since 2002, and now, as a U.S. Senator, Senator Obama has continued to critique the Administration's mishandling of this war, and believes that while our troops have done an outstanding job in Iraq, there can be no military solution to what is inherently a political conflict between Iraq's warring factions. The only hope to end this burgeoning civil war is for Shiites, Sunnis, and Kurds to come together and resolve their differences...

Monday, January 08, 2007

I Love New York

"New York is inside the MothaF*cking House." Those who have seen the Flavor of Love have heard the villain New York/Tiffany use it as she picked fights and manipulated her way to the final two twice. She didn't receive those attrocious pair of customized gold teeth either time. She has decided that her fifteen minutes of fame aren't up.

Every so often I find a guilty pleasure reality television show to sink my teeth into. I remember watching the Flavor of Love, which I confess was some of the worst television ever, but some of the funniest nevertheless.

I know I'm amongst the legion of fans to have watched the show. I watched both seasons and even got my girlfriend into watching the second season, because it's so funny.

One of the biggest moments in reality television history, which I'll deem the spit seen round the world:

I'm sure many fans watched this over and over again on YouTube. I watched it on Best Week Ever and cracked up each time.

Then I watched Tiffany, New York, show her butt during the reunion when she tried to take a pound of flesh out of Pumkin's ass.

Notice Flav's bodyguard in the middle of the two combatants.

I watched Miss New York have her heart broken by Flavor Flav twice. I actually felt really bad for her. I swore that I wouldn't watch her show, even when my girlfriend said I would just to see how funny it was going to be--and she was right, as usual.

I'll be watching Sister "Hellfire" Patterson and her sometimes drag queen looking daughter try to help Tiffany find real love amongst a group of pimps, thugs, effiminates, husslers, and actors. I'm already waiting to see how many clips make best week ever, because there were quite a few comical moments including: a man crying about his dog princess that died three weeks ago and knows it is fate because New York is a princess, a rotund man with a wandering eye that women have pitied and told that he has amazing eyes, Mrs. Patterson interrogating the boys because a few of them had "a touch of gay," New York's personal assistant and pretty in pink assistant Chamo, and a screaming thug with a gap that Tiffany has taken a liking to but has already brought out the wrath of her scary looking mother.

I'm not promising the best television ever, but I promise that if you have a pulse and can laugh at the expense of others making fools of themselves I Love New York might just be right for you too.

Friday, January 05, 2007

Why Do Men Spend So Much Time at Their Jobs?

I just read an interesting article on Yahoo (that came from Men's Health)--a magazine that I have subscribed to in the past.

It was a very interesting and I think accurate article about why men can have faults in their relationships that they do not exhibit in business.

I'm actually going to paste the article below instead of including a link to the post. Please let me know what you think.

Why Do Men Spend So Much Time at Their Jobs?
By David Zinczenko

The question comes up over and over again in relationships. She says to him: If you gave me the same amount of attention as you give your boss, we'd be topside on the Love Boat rather than ballast in the Titanic.

Kinda true, right? At work, men can't communicate enough with e-mails, memos, brainstorming meetings that last all morning, and drinks that intrude on the dinner hour. But in a relationship, we hardly mutter an "uh, huh" when women ask if the dress looks okay. At work, men come up with creative solutions to problems. In a relationship, we hold our ground in the never-ending arguments about the budget/remote/toilet seat. At work, we're never satisfied with an average performance. In a relationship, we sometimes are. And then we fall asleep.

So, of course, it's a natural question for a woman to ask: Why is it that men obsess about work so much and spend so much time there-even without seemingly direct rewards or benefits for doing so? Part of the reason is that we value job performance and career advancement almost as much we value SportsCenter (almost). In fact, 35 percent of men in my Men, Love & Sex survey say that a 50-percent raise would be the one-time life boost that would make them feel the best-beating out both losing 20 pounds (29 percent) and working less to spend more time with the family (11 percent). Ouch.

The quick and obvious explanation is that men can take their relationships for granted after they've been in it for a while. In fact, that very sense of security is what we treasure most about a long-term relationship, in part because we can't afford to view our jobs the same way. These are some of the main reasons why men seem to have such great relationships-with their boss and coworkers.

They're Always Out to Prove They Are THE Guy

Early on in a relationship, a guy is competing for a woman's attention against all kinds of potential suitors. So he's at his best-witty, romantic, generous, unselfish. Once he knows he's the guy in the relationship, the pressure to perform decreases. At work, that drive is the same: He's competing against lots of other people for jobs, for raises, for respect-and a man's competitive nature drives him to want to be the best out of all the others. The difference in a job setting is that the pressure to perform never decreases, and he's always competing to be the guy. Even when he's the big boss, he's competing against other big bosses for his company's share of the pie (that is, the whole damn thing).

Not Working Equals Weakness

Of course, women have a lot of unfair stereotypes that they're fighting against day after day. But one of the stereotypes that men are saddled with is that their career success is a measure of their personal worth. The sociologist Warren Farrell has written that just as women are at times looked at as "sex objects," men are at risk of being considered "success objects"--to others, to themselves. Not working, or working in the same job, or never mustering the drive to move up makes us feel like going-nowhere dolts. Some of a man's drive to succeed comes from the desire to make more and more money, but some of that drive also comes from the desire to earn more and more respect.

They're Always Playing to an Audience

The difference between work and home life is like the difference between a filled-to-capacity stadium and an empty practice field. Men tend to feel the performance-anxiety pressure to succeed, to not make mistakes, and to excel when a whole company's watching. Right or wrong (OK, undoubtedly wrong), the natural tendency is to not give as much effort as we should when the only third-party eyes that are watching are the dog's.

Think I've nailed it on the head? Or is there something else that's driving men to spend those long hours at the office? I want to know what you think.

Yahoo has some pretty interesting comments posted on this article. You can find them at Link to Article and Commentary

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Time to Take a Deep Breath

Have you ever had one of those days when the world seems to fall down on your shoulders? I had that experience today.

Legally I can not disclose any facets of the impending changes at my place of business. However, I can just say it will lead to a lot more work for me. Perhaps I will get a chance to hire some support staff, which is a bonus.

My day started off with a meeting with some of our Sales staff, review of last year's goals and where the reps ended up--in respect to their yearly targets. I had the opportunity to discuss some technical items and then that was pretty much all I needed to contribute to the discussion.

I had a meeting with my boss this morning where I learned some interesting news of some changes that could be approaching soon. You see I had come into this year with objectives, things that I could do to help our business run smoother. The news certainly will brush my goals to the side for awhile. I have a trip to Costa Rica that I hope to be taking in June. There are more facets of my job that I can't discuss, but let's just say I suffered from informational overload today which sent me into a state of panic. I confess to being somewhat of a control freak. I had my year planned out and was ready to tackle some challenges. I didn't expect this one, but I should've seen it coming, like a good right hook.

I swore I was having an anxiety attack. I'm planning on starting graduate school in the fall. I needed order in my life, not surprises, LOL.

I called my girlfriend amidst this anxiety attack and she calmed me down. She had been sending me these beautiful sites on things we could do in Costa Rica if we did a 7 or 8 day trip and I think I panicked, because I know I'm due for a big vacation and I didn't want to have my plans vetoed because of business.

Anyway a quick five minute walk and a conversation with her drained the anxiety. I'm back to my smiling and cheerful self. I might even add some trainings to my schedule this year, which means business traveling, if I'm not overwhelmed by the top-secret news.

Keep your fingers crossed for me. I've let the Himalayas slide off my chest and I can breathe clearer. That's until tomorrow when someone lays more news...wouldn't it be nice if you could just disappear in those situations?

I really look forward to the challenges the year brings despite all the whining. I think I just needed to purge it. Here's looking at you 2007 with a smile, and hopefully a lot of good things ahead for me.

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

The Craziest Party Ever

Al and I went to the Toshi New Year's Eve Party at Studio 7 near Canal Street. First of all she looked amazing in her little black dress and with her accompanying silver accessories. I think I looked stunning, which is not a surprise considering me being a LEO.

I bought VIP tickets for the two of us. I found out the day before, because of the exclusivity of the party, that it wasn't being held at the Puck building, but on a street in Chinatown that I'd never heard of.

We left pretty early so that we could dine in style, more on that later. We both looked stellar, as I mentioned before. So we are walking down Walker Street, because we got out the wrong exit (following the directions from and had to double-back. The start of the street looked super sketchy. First of all Chinatown stinks during the day, but has an even more noxious smell at night--rotten garbage perhaps. The streets are pretty dreary as well. We walked down the street making sure we didn't step in any leftovers or on any vagabonds (with our noses turned up).

When we got to the building I was a bit nervous. It didn't look like the place worthy of all of the hype of the Toshi parties. I immediately took off my tie, feeling overdressed.

The bouncer said the elevator wasn't working so we had a steep climb up 5 long flights towards the Penthouse (feel sorry for Al with her high heels on). There was no VIP separate coat check as had been advertised. They had only given me one VIP seat instead of two, though that didn't turn out to be a problem.

The three course dinner was buffet style. At this point I was getting pretty nervous. We had two really cool coeds at the table with us, they had started a business, and I guess were celebrating in style.

The drinks were amazing. We had pomegranate and vodka drinks. There were women in bodypaint and some nasty looking men that should have had a shirt on instead of showing their slightly bulging bodies and hanging chests, but one was really nice and poured us so much vodka in our drinks that I can forgive him for his audacity to go topless.

The toshiettes gave massages, twenty bucks for three minutes of pleasure, which I certainly didn't need with Al on my arm, even though she offered to pay for me to have one, which is why she is a real winner.

The food was good, and only initially available to the VIPs. The music was great. We danced the night away. Toshi showed up in a pink blazer with a beautiful Asian woman that looked about five inches taller than him.

We shared a bottle of champagne with the cool guys at our table (which was only 40 bucks surprisingly). We were already nice from about four drinks in about an hour.

I had a camera on me a lot of the night, me being a pretty attention grabbing dancer. I was groped about five times (not even sure by what sex as it kept happening so quickly--I'm sure they got the idea by Al pinching my ass several times during the night).

You had such a mixed crowd: people with tuxedos, people dressed like Justin Timberlake, beautiful party dresses, sneakers and hip-hop gear, blazers, pretty much every style that you can imagine (I did mention Toshi's pink blazer). It just added to the party's allure. You had so many different types of people mixing and having a kick ass time.

Despite the hefty price tag and a few b.s. promises of grandeur the party was well worth the money. There was a crowd of people who were friendly and wanted to party the night away.

We left at 3. I would absolutely do it again. I just hope I'm not on the Internet somewhere as my dress got more relaxed the more I danced and drank.

I almost forgot Al spotted some man that decided to show his very small penis to the people that were unfortunate enough to see it. She thought that it was fake because it was so small (testicles being larger than the actual penis). Why on earth would he want to show that off, unless he wanted to give someone a good laugh?

There are so many details that I'm leaving out as my brain is fried. Well we'll always have our VIP memorabilia and Al has her tiara souvenir from the party.

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

And I'm Telling You Jennifer Hudson is the Real Deal

I had the privilege of watching Jennifer Hudson perform on American Idol the season that Fantasia Barrino won. I remember all of the controversy when she was voted off. It might have been the best American Idol performance ever--definitely in a class of its own. I heard that voice and knew that she would be successful and the way she sung her way off the show told me that wouldn't be the last time that I'd hear from her.

I've been waiting for a chance to see Dreamgirls. I'd heard the buzz about Jennifer's performance prior to her Golden Globe nomination. There were whispers about her being the leading candidate for the Best Supporting Actress Oscar nomination. I generally hate musicals, but I had to see it.

Well lucky for me that Al and Neese also wanted to see it. So after throwing down in the kitchen, pats self on the back, and dispensing of a bottle of Gallo Burgundy (two thumbs up)--we made our way to an 11:10 P.M. showing, that's dedication.

We get there on Saturday night and the place is packed. We are in the front row and we are thinking what did we get ourselves into. But, as soon as Jennifer took the stage we knew the cricks in our necks would be well worth it.

She gained 30 pounds for this role. If this is her acting debut I'm waiting to see what the sequel will hold. Her acting stood out amongst all the marquee actors and actresses. Her voice blew us all away. I'd read a review that said the film sizzled with Jennifer in the spotlight and faded when she was off-stage. I certainly agree.

Beyonce's acting was a notch above what I'd seen from her in the past and her voice sounded better than I'd ever heard it when she sung her ballad Listen. That was just the potatoes. Jennifer delivered a pot roast with all the fixings. Her portrayal was believable. Her portrayal was breathtaking. Her voice unparalleled (even with the seasoned Knowles in the cast).

And if you haven't heard Jennifer Holiday's gut-wrenching vocals of Your Gonna Love Me, I'd suggest you do it just for comparisons sake. I've heard the original and likewise have heard countless amateur contestants at the Apollo give it a try. Some have done a decent job, none have compared to Hudson. Her rendition--because she made it her own--was gripping and received an ovation at the movie theater I was in (which I've heard isn't uncommon). I felt the emotion in her voice. She let the emotion build until it bubbled over. At that moment you had no idea that you were watching a movie. You felt Effie's heart break into a thousand pieces. I casted a nasty look at Jamie Foxx's character and at Dina. How could you do that to Effie I thought. "I said sing your pain out Effie. Go ahead Jennifer."

I can't wait for her album to come out. If you love R&B and good acting (despite a few hiccups) I'd recommend that you get your butt in gear and hear Jennifer announce her presence as the next big voice and hopefully star of our era.