Saturday, December 31, 2005

Buzzlife Presents: A Nation Not-so New Years

Don't ask me why, but one of my favorite club nights is Buzz at Nation in DC. Nation runs three regular club nights: Alchemy on Thursday (Goth/Industrial), Buzz/Cubix on Friday (Raver/Breeder crowd), and Velvet on Saturday (Gay, gay, Liberace gay). Since New Years Eve falls on Saturday this year, Buzz decided to do their own faux NYE party last night to wrap the year up.

Even when it's faux, New Years at Nation is an equinox where the walls between the worlds of Alchemy, Cubix, and Velvet melt away for an evening. Busty goth girls in thigh-high boots and spiked belts are dancing beside GW Candy couples and shirtless Marys from Dupont who are confused when the night ends why DJ Blaine Soliel isn't spinning Sunday Mass over at Five.

There was definately no shortage of people looking to get their pre-NYE drink and dance on. DJ Rap was spinning in the main room, but I think Drum and Bass really had a bigger crowd that I've ever seen in there the entire night. The DJ (some Asian dude) was clearly spinning The Scratch Perverts from Fabric Live 22. For a moment, it was almost like being in London (then again, not so much).

For most of this year (since the deck opened in the Spring), I've been running into these three girls from Winchester every time I've been there. In line, on the deck, in the main room, whether the place is packed or empty. George the Football has met them many times, Jason may have met them, I know Michael Wright has met them. In any event, it was looking like I might not run into them last night when I happened upon a fight in the D&B room. After five bouncers tackled Steve the drink-stealing Douche Bag and threw him out, I looked at the people in front of me and it was the Girls from Winchester. For joy!

One guy kept trying to nail his girlfriend in the main room, definately not a closer.

Some Velvet dude who was glowing like a feind kept getting harrassed by two rednecks from Old Town Manassas who were rolling out of their minds.

There was something up on one of the boxes that resembled a girl dancing, but it was more like a tranny convulsing to show off her hormone-grown boobs -- thrashing against the beat.

We may not have had a leap second, but we had an evening of drinking and text messaging, of uncomfortable small talk and overdosing, of gyrating white boys and sweaty asian girls. Yes folks, this is truely what dreams are made of.

Friday, December 30, 2005

A Minor Oversight

The bodyshop that my car has been living in since November 26th just woke me up to tell me it's in being painted but they need the key to my roof rack so they can paint up there as well.

That can't be good.

Thursday, December 29, 2005

The Lamest Blogger has Arrived

For the past two days, I've pretty much just been destroying my house while listening to Opie & Anthony on XM. How lame am I?

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

New House Blog

I started a new blog specifically to track the progress on my house renovations. Feel free to check it out.

The Idle Mind is the Devil's Playground

I have a lot swimming around in my head right now, and while none of it is terribly life-altering I need to clear my head. While intense cardio is a good way for me to work off stress, the only way to sooth my racing mind is to for a walk (sans iPod) until my ENTJ grey matter has put every unresolved item into the correct bucket. I went over to Starbucks to get a cup of coffee and drove myself over to Mason (which is all but deserted this week) for a stroll around campus.

The weather was perfect (50 degrees and clear) and since there wasn't anyway around I thought I'd snap a few camera phone pics. Here's a nice one of Virginia Statesman George Mason himself, who recently turned 280 years old (if he hadn't died 213 years ago). Mason was the delegate from Virginia who refused to sign the Constitution because it lacked the Bills of Rights.

Even through I drive by this giant piece of art, I've never really taken notice. It's called "America" and was created in 1972. It's almost like a giant, bent, skeleton key. There should be a law that artists should have to interpret their own crazy work and record it on an audio plaque wherever the art is displayed so we don't have to guess what the hell they were thinking.

As for what's on my mind, it's a bit like that huge Thanksgiving dinner that you ate that just won't digest and come out, but it's getting there.

I will not let Pat be right!

When I first learned from Pat -- a woman in my office -- that we had the week between Christmas and New Years off, I was thrilled. I went on and on about all the things I was going to accomplish, to which Pat replied "pfft! Everybody says that." I was bound and determined to prove Pat wrong, except I've been up for 4 1/2 hours and I'm just now sitting at the kitchen table in my underwear blogging instead of still being in bed and blogging. It's still early enough for me to ski, and I did pick my freshly tuned/waxed/sharpened stix up yesterday from Ski Chalet, but at the same time I could go get some Starbucks and putter around the house.

But it's already Wednesday. Fuck fuck fuck!

Monday, December 26, 2005

The apple feel immeasurably close to the tree

You people think I'm odd?

Over Thanksgiving I went down to South Carolina to visit my parents who had just moved to Myrtle Beach. It was nice on Thanksgiving day to walk on the beach in 70 degree weather, but on that walk my father found a rock/shell/reminant that looked (so he thought) like a finger. He picked it up and over the next few days we got "look what I found on my Wendy's chilli" and he'd pull it out.

This apparently continued for several weeks until he decided to paint a finger nail on it:

He tells us that he plans to buy flesh-colored paint next for the rest of it. At the various Christmas parties we went to he pulled it out at inopportune times, but not before people asked him, "John where's your finger?"

That's my dad.

United Express thanks Samantha for making me laugh

On the flight home from Myrtle Beach I had the good fortune of flying under the watchful eye of Samantha, who is far funnier than the FlyI guy from Independance Air:

"Now for those of you who have not been in a moving vehicle -- plane, train, bus, or car -- since 1967 I will demonstrate how your seat belt operates."

"Federal regulations prohibit smoking on this or any other aircraft. Disabling, destroying, or in any way tampering with a lavatory smoke detector is a federal offense. Passengers who wish to smoke should step out onto the wing to do so. While you're there, please enjoy our in-flight presentation of 'Gone With The Wind'."

"Once again ladies and gentleman, on behalf of United Express I want to thank you for flying with us today. We know in this current economic climate you have your choice of financially distressed airlines, and we thank you for choosing ours.


Sunday, December 25, 2005

Management Theory: The Topiary of Corporate Culture

Leadership and management are two very different enterprises -- managers simply facilitate a process while leaders (ideally) build other leaders. An Accounts Payable manager makes sure that the bills get paid (within the constraints placed on them), but managers aren't typically expected to innovate. Leaders on the other hand can operate at any level of the corporate ladder -- line worker, middle manager, director, vice president -- and in addition to the role expected of them by the organization can also work to groom others at their level or below to also lead. The military erroneously speaks of this concept as "training your replacement", which is a bit like comparing fine art to an epileptic fit. To build other good leaders, you must first yourself be a good leader. Some people have a natural tendancy toward leadership, but often natural leaders don't possess the knack to build other leaders themselves, and must instead find other leaders within their organization or bring them in from the outside. "Natural leaders" are in that respect like mules, unable themselves to breed more leaders. This is way many large organizations create mentoring and leadership programs to identify this potential in lower level employees and work to bring them organically through the ranks.

It is important first to have an understanding or yourself and the people below you before you can guage their impact on your corporate culture.

The title of this entry has the work "topiary" in it because I feel that corporate cultures are a very organic thing. They are composed of living people and tangible resources that make a business tick, so they themselves are personified through their composite pieces. Companies almost always grow like a weed -- positions are added where they are needed, resources moved from a less successful project to a more successful one much like a tree or a bush grows toward the light or a more plentiful source of water. The longer one waits to realize that their shrub needs to be pruned, the more difficult is it to shape it like a seal balancing a ball on its nose. Upon further examination into the history of a company, one can plainly see where company A spread outward across the ground, while company B grew straight up and down without any side brush, while others may grow both up and out, but never in nature do we find a perfect hedge row if a gardner has not come by with his trimmer.

Morale plays a key role in the pruning of corporate culture, whether you make cars or software. If your line workers or middle managers are unsatisfied, that reflects in their behavior and ultimately in their work -- rot spreads outward from the core. I have debated the idea of good morale to MBAs and Human Resources types who have degrees from Wharton and the Smith School of Business, and often they are so engrossed in the idea of cash being king, they forget that their employees would find them ways to hang on to more cash if they weren't pissed off all the time. If there is no loyalty to your employer, if there is no incentive to save them money, even the most stringent spending controls will ultimately give way to a loophole (more so at FELD than any other place I have ever worked).

I have championed the debate for good morale at all levels of management in the past, because I have seen how people with high morale will work for their employer, and as a leader I know how important feedback is to the leadership process. I always felt that instead of bitching how bad things were at happy hour, it was better to bring this information to the people who could do something about. While I was never chastised or in any way disciplined for telling someone their actions were making people miserable, I never saw an instance where the feedback was used to correct the problem. Modern business people don't understand what place unions have in our society anymore, yet Starbucks is the only company I'm aware of that has a model relationship between management and labor.

Some executives (I have most often seen this in marketing) have a different approach to corporate culture, one I compare to replacing your entire lawn with sod. Someone whose masters degree is from University X will come in at an executive level and systematically begin to replace people under them with others who also graduated from University X. Typically they attribute this to common beliefs and values they leaned in their program, and this often leads to a heirarchy with both less conflict and little innovation. I have seen something similar done before in the royal families of Europe, it's called inbreeding (for which you can thank then for colorblindness and hemophelia). This approach is totally artificial -- if a corporate culture grows organically (and it does), more often than not a cultural transplant leads to rejection. If I can summarize by totally beating this analogy into submission, to end up with a culture that is in every way pleasing, one must constantly monitor and care for it to achive those results.

War on Christmas: The Detante of Jesus' Afterbirth

The trip down here to Myrtle Beach was an interesting one, no surprise to anyone who's traveled during the holidays. I had to park in the Holiday Overflow lot at Dulles, which is cheaper (cheers my inner Jew) but further from the terminal and more inconvenient. I was able to self-checkin and get through security without any trouble, but I had to laugh when I got to my "terminal".

The flight I took was a United Flight operated by Mesa, one of their regional carriers (which I thought they stopped using after they went bankrupt and started Ted). We left out of terminal G, which I had never been to before, so I followed the signs and got on my bus, and we drove and drove and drove until I realized we were in the part of the airport where UPS and FedEx and all the courier services fly from. In the middle of the runway, away from everything else lies the lost Dulles Terminal of G, and there I waited for my flight. They let me hand them my suitcase on the tarmack though, and the flight was uneventful so no complaints, but quite surreal.

Despite being an enemy combatant to the forces of Christmas (namely: Hallmark, US retailers, and the makers of Rolos), the soliders of Chrismahanukwanzakah have agreed to detante today to allow others to worship as they so choose. Many people spent today inside a chuch praying to the baby Jesus, while my parents and I (all lapsed Catholics) wandered up and down the pier in Myrtle Beach:

I can tell that you're jealous.

The neighbors across the street are friend's of my parents, so last night we went over there for an oh-so-denominational Santa-fest. The "kids" -- all late 20s to mid 30s -- apparently did not get the memo when they went to the bar at noon that they were drinking a marathon and not a 5k. Suffice to say they were all soused. One guy and I had the same conversation 15 minutes apart.

The highlight of the evening though was the after-dinner show, in which the daughter of our hosts decided she wanted to go bowling (because dear readers, Christmas-eve without bowling is like Thanksgiving without pizza) and insisted she stopped drinking six hours before (the shots I saw her take and the bottle of Austi Spumante she was lugging around must have been non-alcoholic). First she fought with her parents who told her no, then she argued against going out with her boyfriend who wanted to leave, it was a very bipolar Christmas indeed.

So very nice to be the one watching the scene instead of the one making the scene.

Saturday, December 24, 2005

War on Christmas: Twas the blog entry before Chrismahanukwanzakah

I spent yesterday and today trying to wrap up my shopping. I was able to get my sister's gift in the mail this morning and get my holiday cards in the mail. I still need to pack for South Carolina.

Netflix sent me Donnie Darko yesterday, a very very odd movie that hit me just a little to close to home (as those who have see it go "wtf??"). Yeah. I certainly never hallucinated bunny rabbits, but that is a strange little movie. The first season of Entourage arrived in today's mail, I'll be watching that on the plane.

Alright I need to pack, decide which Powerbook is coming with me, and get to the bar at Dulles.

More after the jump.

Friday, December 23, 2005

Howie Day Arrested, Jew Andrew snide

Jew Andrew was cunty enough to forward me the CNN article that Howie Day was arrested for in-flight rowdyness and inability to self-harmonize in court:
Date: Fri, 23 Dec 2005 15:06:58 -0800 (PST)
Subject: - Howie Day arrested for in-flight rowdiness - Dec 23, 2005
self harmonize this

Howie's first big break was opening for Tori Amos during her tour to promote Scarlet's Walk. What attracted me to him was not so much the content of his music (it's often very "teen boy trying to laid"), but the fact that he would play every part of music -- lead guitar, rhythm guitar, bass guitar, drums, and sing the melody, counter-melody, and harmony -- all on stage with just his guitar and a loop pedal. It was really something to watch, and when I finally made Andrew sit down and check it out, he made fun of me for liking someone who self-harmonized. Unfortunately, Howie took on a stand-in band once he got big, so basically he's a John Meyer clone.

Tori Amos has been self-harmonizing forever...not every band can be as chic-punk-dyke as Sleater-Kinney biatch.

War on Christmas: Chrismahanukwanzakah

If you have not already done so, please call the Virgin Mobile
chrismahanukwanzakah hotline:


A Jew, a Hindu Santa, a Gay Elf, and the Kwanzaman are standing by to

Also, Corportate Casual has a haunting image to remind us to fight the War on Christmas with our last ounce of strength.

Happy Hour becomes Happy Evening (sans Happy Ending)

Lisa (right) was nice enough to plan a pre-holiday happy hour for all the former and current FELD crew, so the first stop of the evening was Ringmasters. The highlight of the evening was when Christine (pictured left), who used to work for me, first grilled me about my sexuality ("Are you gay? Are you bi? You've never slept with a man?") then in the car on the way to Carpool in Herndon asks me if I was ever attracted to her.

Lisa and Christine left Michael and I at Carpool with Robert and Ankur, then we headed back to FELD where Garrett was still working. We picked him up at 11:00pm and headed over to Mr. Smith's for an evening of brew and skankary. Around 2:00am we packed it in and Michael went home so Garrett and I ran for the border and mistakenly had a Taco Bell night cap.

So once again, a nice 6:00pm happy hour turns into an all night happy evening (sans happy ending).

Thursday, December 22, 2005

I can't program under these conditions

Funny, I thought I quit working at the circus to take this job...?

theAlphaJohn: Charlie (another manager) just stopped by
theAlphaJohn: i heard you just got pinned
Kirsten (boss #1): too funny
theAlphaJohn: did you have to yield the WWE/GMU Intercollegete Trophy to Charlie for 2005?
Kirsten (boss #1): WWF - world wrestling federation....
theAlphaJohn: it's WWE now
theAlphaJohn: the World Wildlife Foundation beat Vince McMahon in court
Kirsten (boss #1): i put up a good fight...
Kirsten (boss #1): picture this...
Kirsten (boss #1): charlie on top of me, my on the floor on my back, and Tom (boss #2) down on his knees and face of the floor counting..
theAlphaJohn: and i missed it?
theAlphaJohn: shit

The Silence is { ambientNoise.getStatus() }

I'm a little quiet here today, trying to get my Luminis User Management system up and running before the break. That, and I have a conference call with someone from Wenner Media -- the company that publishs Rolling Stone -- at 3:00pm to talk about their migration from Ross to Lawson, something I happen to know a little something about.


Andrew has finally put up his own blog, so I don't have to tell people how funny he is or hope they read Andrew quotes at the bottom of my outgoing emails. How can you possibly not adore a gay jew from NJ who works at a car dealership and rolls hard in a Benz?

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Last night of swimming

We're on break for the holiday, but I had one or two laughs at little Nick's expense last night:

Annie had a good one telling Nick that he better live it up, because he's only got another four years until he hits his physical peak and then it's all downhill.

Management Theory: R-E-S-P-E-C-T

One of the most overlooked facets of successful management (upline, downline, peer) can be found in Aretha Franklin lyrics, silly though it may seem. People vastly overlook how important respect is to running an organization successfully.

This holds true whether you're talking about an assembly line worker in a factory or an accounting at an audit firm, and respect is a building block of many other essentials (like trust and loyalty). If your boss tells you to do something they have never done, and you know it's not possible and they have no way to relate, you have now been placed in the unwinnable situation of trying to explain to your boss "no, this can't be done and here's why". Basically, you're trying to ride a unicycle during winter in the wrong direction on a one way street.

A lack of respect encourages contempt, just like moisture is often a precursor to mold. If you don't respect your boss, any situation in which they demand something unreasonable of you is an opportunty for you to think "pfft...this idiot has no idea what they're doing". Rot spreads outward from the core.

Repect is like trust, it's not something you earn quickly or simply, but rather something that is built slowly. My experience is that empathy is one of the best ways to foster respect. For a manager, your employees need to know you can operate at their level through their own experience: you came up through the ranks, you worked side-by-side with them, or you filled in for them while they were out (not them coming in and having to redo your work, and not giving them a lecture because you had to fill in for them while they were out). You respect you boss because you feel they know what they're doing and they treat you like an adult. You respect your employees because you feel they know what they're doing and you can treat them like an adult. Period.

Contempt can actually erode respect for many managers who feel their subbordinates are below them, that they left that crap work behind many years ago. I have seen many good managers who were not great managers because they felt "when I was in that poistion I was the best ...". This is completely false, and you need to face that fact. You did not get promoted to Senior Accountant because you were the best Staff Accountant ever, you got promoted because your manager felt that you could handle more responsbility, which is almost always contrary to being the best at what you were. The best manager in any area has the ability to step into any of the roles below them and keep things running smoothly, to understand low level concepts though they may not have ever implemented them, but they still may not (and ideally SHOULD NOT) be the best person to fill that role. A good Chief Financial Officer, unless (s)he is 200 years old did not have time to be (a) the best Director of Corporate Accounting (b) best Fixed Asset Person (c) best AP Manager (d) best Payroll Manager (e) best Inventory Manager (f) best Tax Accountant (g) best Internal Auditor (h) best external Audit liason (i) [...]. That person is truely one in a million.

Repect is one of the most fundamental building blocks of a well-run organization at all levels. Without respect, "personnel" turn immediately into "human resources".

Management Theory: an Eleventeen Part Series

Anyone who knows me is aware that I hold an opinion or two. The last few months have found me discussing theories and practice around management many times in many different situations (over lunch, in a sticky situation, job interviews, with old coworkers) so I thought I would expound on them here. Mostly just because I can.

I'm going to break them up into individual posts so that you can collect them all and trade them like Pokemon cards, only not quite so homosexual.

Before I extoll the virtures of my management experience, I must first go write a status report for my boss(es).

Don't blame me, I have a Y chromosome

George pointed me in the direction of a spectacular post on JWZ's blog:

Some friends of mine, a lesbian couple, recently had a baby. I asked myself, what's an appropriate gift for that situation? And I answered, "self, go find an old-fashioned turkey baster and have it bronzed."

This got the best possible response: "that looks just like the one we used!"

Why didn't I think of this first?

By popular demand: comments are now on


From the back of my office building...

The only thing that puddle of antifreeze can be good for is killing a small woodland creature.

The Internet(s), home to bigger freaks than me

While groping through Wonkette this morning after a coaching session with one of my bosses (me coaching them, as it were) I noticed in one of her posts a reference to Princess Sparkle Pony, something that makes my stint running the Little Pink Mafia look like a church bake sale.

I guess I don't need to order a side of "strange" with my lunch today.

"Retard" you say? You said "retard".

Tu eres un gringo estupido, y un grande juede bastardo, senor

One of the women who works at the Jazzman's I get my morning coffee from is obviously of Hispanic descent, but what truely surprises me is the number of dumb crackers who try and speak Spanish to her on a daily basis.

It would be one thing if her English was bad and they were trying to meet her in the middle, but honestly her English is very very good.

Today for example, some dude is talking about how they don't have music on because they're closing for the semester today, and he's like "Donde esta la musica?" But then even better, the Colombian Supreme coffee is out, so he decides to tell her "El Supremo de Colombia" is out with the nastiest Winchester, VA Spanish accent I've ever heard.


If I were living in South America working a coffee stand, and some Hispanic dude came up to me and was like "you must are be good nice douche tray", there's no fucking way I'd be all "HAHAHAHAHA tu eres un persona muy intelegente y divertido y muy muy guapo senor". I'd gesture for the dude to come closer, then I'd rape him with the steam arm on the expresso machine until he realized he should just shut his face and put his 11 Sweet and Lows in his coffee and just walk away.

Just walk away fuck face.

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Sappy Softcore

I finally had to turn the Happy Hardcore off. I felt like I'd spent a week subsisting on nothing but Jager Bombs. iTunes was only too happy to accomodate me with a Michael Tolcher tune of the "lay your prom date" genre. I mean, whatever.

It occurs to me that I've had 2.5 liters (or litres, depending on which side of the pond you call home) of water today and I haven't been to the bathroom. As I suspected: dehydrated.

I went over to NVCC at lunch to get a class schedule for Spring so I can get myself registered. I've been working on this for literally hours now, and while this sort of thing typically comes easy to me, right now:

(a.) Robot Dog
(b.) Build-a-bear workshop
(c.) so much
(d.) not so much


Answer: (d.) not so much

I did a little thing this morning on as an overview of LUM, my new Luminis User Management system. I sprung wood when I figured out how to write "SOLUTION FRAMEWORK" in there and make it sound legit.

Now if I can just look busy until I have to leave for my appointment with Kim to renew the lease on my hair.

Some schlubs have all the fun

jen (aka tank): i just sent out my evite
jen (aka tank): I hate NYE
jen (aka tank): it is so annoying
jen (aka tank): people are too high maintenance
theAlphaJohn: lol
theAlphaJohn: if i come to your party, can we make out?
jen (aka tank): sure
theAlphaJohn: that's hot
jen (aka tank): I may even let you see my birth control again
theAlphaJohn: stop or i'll get wood
jen (aka tank): you are a freak
theAlphaJohn: every minute of the day my dear

Happy Hardcore -- amusing, confusing

Mary, a girl that I work with, gave me a Scooter CD to check out after we discussed my musical tastes. I've heard of Happy Hardcore before, but had never actually heard any:

MARIA (I Like It Loud)

alright everybody
tie your shoes !
the third chapter has just begun

from the h to the p
on da mike you will see
the peoples' champ
that's me

skibadee skibadanger
i am the rearranger
hit them with a raw for sure
now bun your draw

skibadee skibadanger
í am the rearranger
hit them with a raw for sure
now bun your draw
never-never endeavour the good weather
or wether we be there only for your pleasure

maria believe me i like it loud
maria believe me i like it loud
maria believe me i like it loud
maria believe me i like it hot

right now posse
we're the special guest mixologists
i ritz bits for da hits with the lyrics
with a robotic, narcotic in the pocket
the fire rocket, blood socket, i crak whip

elastic to plastic, my platinum hit
you git,gudda gudda get up with it
me on the mic, be sophisticade
dj´s articulated, me on the mic


It's got a cool beat, but it's also kind of weird. Who sings about Ritz Bits?

Bill O'Reilly powerless to fight in the war on Christmas

A post from Wonkette shows us that we godless commie scum are winning the war on Christmas.

Goal for 2006: end daylight savings time
Goal for 2007: replace the Gregorian Calendar
Goal for 2008: successfully institute the metric system in the US

I took "replacing paper money with coins in the US" off my list because someone else figured out a way to make that work finally.

A FELD disfunctional family Christmas

Look who had to wear Rudolph blinkers on their nose to hide all the poo:

I miss that place like AIDS.

Sometimes good news comes in bad packages


Subject: Followup to our meeting yesterday
Date: Tue, 20 Dec 2005 09:22:45 -0500
From: Alison O'Brien
To: John Eisenschmidt
CC: Pam Allen, Jan Ward


After checking further with Assistant Dean Pam Allen, I wanted to get
back to you on our discussion on Monday. Based on your comments
regarding the one course needed at NVCC to complete your Associate of
Arts or Associate of Science (not sure which), it makes more sense for
you to request a delay in your acceptance to Mason, complete your degree
at NVCC and then reapply to Mason. You can return to NVCC to complete
your degree, even though you have applied to Mason; this is refreshing
since it makes sense to me pedagogically, and economically.

Before you request a delay, please make an appointment with an academic
advisor at NVCC to confirm how many courses you have left in your degree
program. Please also confirm that you will be awarded an Associate of
Arts or an Associate of Science degree, not the applied degree Associate
of Applied Science. The rules for transfer and general education
requirement satisfaction are quite different with these types of degrees.

Please note that if you do decide to complete your degree at NVCC, you
need to drop the courses that your are registered for at Mason for
spring 06 through Patriot Web. If your degree will be completed at NVCC
in the spring, you can reapply to Mason and begin your coursework during
the summer term, after a reevaluation of your transfer status. At that
point, I strongly recommend you meet with one of the academic advisors
in the School of Management. Jan Ward is our area expert on DMIS and
you can make an appointment with her by calling 703-993-1880.

Best regards,
Alison O'Brien

Monday, December 19, 2005

I forbid you from working over the holiday!

Every Monday morning, by the time I have my coffee in hand and have broken something expensive, the Mason E-Files have found their way into my email box. These announcements are sent to staff and faculty and cover a wide range of topics: campus news, payroll information, Aquatic Center locker availability, etc.

We happen to be closed the week between Christmas and New Years, so much so that E-Files had the following this morning:

Winter Holiday Lock Down

The university will be closed for the winter holiday from 6:00 pm on Thursday, December 22, 2005 through 6:00 am on Monday, January 2, 2006. Pursuant to this, all academic and administrative buildings (with a few exceptions) will be on lockdown throughout this period. The access control system will be programmed to secure these buildings, and they will be patrolled by our staff throughout the holiday break. Buildings not affected are: David King Hall, Science & Tech I and II, Robinson Hall A and B.

We recognize that many staff members and some students will need access to locked buildings during this time. We are happy to accommodate requests for access to facilitate essential functions. In order to streamline the process we recommend adherence to this protocol:

All faculty and staff needing access to a locked building must call the university police department. An officer will be dispatched to meet you at the building entrance. The staff member must be prepared to display George Mason University faculty or staff identification card, and the room key for interior offices. Police officers will not be authorized to grant access to interior offices or work spaces.

If only my previous employers had made working over a holiday so difficult. I might actually get some work on my house done.

Sunday, December 18, 2005

Feliz Chrisma-hana-kwanz-ica

I can't tell you how much I am enjoying The War on Christmas, so much so in fact that I decided to rank my three favorite wars in order or win-ability:

(1) The War on Christmas (winnable)
(2) The War on Drugs (un-winnable)
(3) The War on Terror (less-winnable than The War on Drugs)

More coverage of The War on Christmas [1] | [2] | [3] | [4] | [5]

Before anyone gets their knickers in a knot, it's not Jesax (the proto-Jesus) I'm lobbying against, it is in fact Hallmark. Anyone who has paid attention knows:

1. Jesus was not born on or anywhere near December 25th according to the New Testament narrative.

2. The apostles and the early church never celebrated December 25 nor any other day as the birthday of Jesus.

3. Though the events surrounding the birth of Jesus were prominent in the New Testament, they were never associated in Bible times with any annual celebration of his birth.

4. Rather, the only celebration kept in honor of Jesus was the celebration of his death. Further, that observance did not coincide with the pagan observance of Easter, (the name comes from Ishtar, or Astarte, the ancient goddess of spring", as is done today, but it was on the day of the Jewish Passover as is well documented in the Bible.

5. The pagan festivals known an Saturnalia and Brumalia, associated with December 25th, were being celebrated during the time of Jesus's life and for centuries before. It would have been considered outright pagan for Jesus or his disciples to celebrate December 25th.

6. Saturnalia was celebrated very much like Christmas is celebrated today, with the decoration of homes and trees and garlands, round orbs, crosses, mistletoe, yule logs, wreaths, etc. It was all done, however, in honor of Mithras, the sun god.

7. Ancient Rome derived its pagan religious activities from even earlier forms of paganism in Egypt and in Babylon, condemned widely in the Bible as the worship of Baal.

8. These pagan practices were incorporated into the church in the 4th century, by the Roman emperor Constantine to further his political agenda. The church that emerged from that period was a travesty and the church of today is nothing like that of the first century.

9. Christmas celebration was exclusively a Catholic practice until as late an the early 1800s. Legends concerning Santa Claus and others have been layered upon the earlier observance since 1830 to produce the quasi-secular holiday that has become popular in our time among the protestants and the secular.

So while any good C&E Christian can tell themself that you're celebrating the birth of their savior by putting presents under the tree, they're really just helping retailers make their Q4 targets and celebrating the expansion of Capitalism.

Bill O'Reilly is all worked up about the War on Christmas, but he has no right until he gets his facts straight. Maybe Chanukkah is more his speed, or Stickmas

And Jesax, while he doesn't get a cut of those profits, still thanks you Christmas spending. I'm almost certain that Reagan had something to do with this mess.

Friday, December 16, 2005

To be in high school again

It's been a long time since a locker room made me laugh like I did this morning.

I knew there was a swim meet going on today, but I didn't realize they were all high school kids. I finish my workout, go into the locker room, and hear the sound of a moist waffle falling onto a hot griddle in the showers. As I make my way toward the source of the noise I find some dude in there shaving his legs along with a half a dozen of his team mates.

Right on.

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Quick update

I've caught up the old posts, most of them camera phone related. There is new stuff from April through September so check the archives when you get a minute.

"Son, what's a foam rave?"

A very surreal lunch today with my dotted line bosses.

Kirsten decided to talk about the nefarious things she's done at gay clubs all over DC before she settled down, got married, and ordered her son from some online womb.

Tom isn't really much of a clubber, though he and I agreed that Kirsten tends to see the line and hop right over it like a little bunny in her tales.

But neither of them had even been to a foam party, so I explained it a bit to them:


Is it summer yet?

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

No I'm not a narcissist, I'm just full of myself

I was Googling for my own name in an attempt to find something, when I discovered that Mike Willis, a professional collegue of sorts, blogged about me this past April.

I ride a very interesting line with myself, because I'm very passionate, I have an opinion about everything, and I'm happy to share it with you without regard for the immediate reaction, but I have this sick fascination with how it might have been received as a sort of post mortem.

I dealt with this a lot in July during my Leadership training. Behavior modification is not at all easy, and it's even harder to take it upon yourself to make those minor changes.

I guess it's good that I care, but whether I ever do anything about it remains to be seen.

Buddy, you're just not that interesting

I went swimming after work today at the rec center (as opposed to when I swim after work at the pool on campus), did my workout, and rolled into the locker room for a shower when I was done. The showers there are individual walled showers that face into each other, and I grabbed the only open one that was on the end closest to the door I had just come through. I had just finished a really long kick workout, so all of this involves 1/2 of 1 second of caveman think (shower open...stand under...) and while I'm washing pool chemicals and child urine off myself, I become aware of some douche bag yammering at his buddies.

This is a pretty big pool, and they have a lot going on, but my guess by the ages of the guys, the time of night, and how many of them there are that this is a Masters swim team that just finished their workout. Whatever. I'm not really paying attention but this dude keeps fucking yammering -- he's the ony one talking, and then I zone into what he's talking about: his fucking SF-86 and how the people who filled it out did it on paper. ::gasp::

For those of you fortunate to have never worked anywhere near the Federal Government, Standard Form 86 is a piece of preliminary paperwork required for any National Security position. This, and fucking a Senator, are the two most bragged about let-downs in Washington, DC. For real.

Buddy, I know you think you're hot shit, that you're gonna get your Clearance, but guess what? The janitors at NSA have TS/SCI with codeword -- you're going to be cleared for TS with Secret access so you can join the growing numbers of oxygen thiefs riding the bench for some beltway bandit looking to cash in on this round of defense spending.

That's why I called him a douche bag earlier, but that isn't the purpose of this post. See, dude had another personality defect that I zeroed in on as I'm leaving the shower area. All these dudes are still showering and still talking, and as I'm walking past them to my locker I notice that chatterbox is the only one who has taken his bathing suit off, and is standing face out to these other guys while he's talking. Alright, I actually think it's weird when I work out in the morning and the swim team at Mason shower in their bathing suits, but I can go either way on that argument.

I need you to put on your thinking cap to picture the locker room: looking down it's square shaped, and on the left running vertically are the showers and the steam room, just to the right of the showers (still vertical) is the wet area and benches, then just to the right running horizontally are five rows of lockers. Mine is all the way in the back (bottom), so I go there and get changed, and I have to walk toward the front to get to the exit. So while I'm getting dressed I still here the yap machine going on like he's trying to get laid, telling some story about how his girl got called by an FBI agent blah blah blah, and I realize as I'm walking out that he's totally changing out in the wet area which is kind of odd. Why? So he can be near the dude who seemed the least bored in the shower area and finish bragging about how his life is being turned upside down.

Definately not a "gay" issue, but a definate boundry issues. It's like that farting dude that everyone knows that you just want to shake and be like "dude, get your ass fixed", someone needs to be like "even if I was into man junk, the last 20 minutes is more than a lifetime worth".

Skippity do-dah

My new work Powerbook and I need to go to therapy to resolve the conflict that we're having:

it thinks it should skip playing MP3s in iTunes, I think it should just play them like my personal Powerbook

This is a really odd problem to troubleshoot, especially given the feedback other people having the same problem have provided. The only difference between work and home happens to be the OS version -- home is still Panther 10.3.9 and work is Tiger 10.4.3 -- but other people running Panther are having the same issue.

It's not a processor speed issue, because CPUs slower than 1.67 are having the issue. Many people report AACs are ok and MP3s are skipping, and one person observed this issue with a DVD as well.

A real nut-scratcher of a problem.

Monday, December 12, 2005

A Crime-Fighting Source of Potassium

First, thanks to Trevin for being on the ball with "Odd News from Alpha John's Hometown". Given the current battle I'm having over my transfer credit from ACC, the timing could not be more appropriate.

Capital 9 News (our motto: "Not only do we blow, but we rake our teeth") broke the story about the mis-adventures of Banana Boy, a crime-fighting super fruit whose secret identity is none other than local ACC student Chris Phelps (motto: "Bay Road Polytech -- 7 years or bust!"). I'll let the crack news team give you the skinny:

Chris Phelps is a mild-mannered 20-year-old ACC student and cameraman at WNCE-TV 8 in Glens Falls. His alter ego is Banana Boy, a crime fighter and cast member of TV 8's sketch show "The Ravacon."


While shooting a fight scene in Hudson Falls on Thursday a Washington County Sheriff's Deputy noticed Banana Boy and two members of his bunch.

The deputy mistook the act for a real knife-point attack and immediately took action.

Make believe mugger Luke Van Scoy said, "All the sudden we just heard screaming and I looked over and there was the gun pointed at me. It was such a serious moment for me. So I immediately dropped the knife and kind of put my hands up and took off my wig and mask."

Now come on, are you fist-fucking me? A County Sheriff's Deputy thought a mugging that involved someone dressed as a food group demanded he pull his gun?

Phelps said, "Banana Boy in this situation would probably fly away if he thought he was going to be arrested. But Banana Boy wouldn't really be arrested."

But Phelps and his crew were arrested and charged with disorderly conduct. And in character or not, they'll be in Hudson Falls Village Court on December 15.

This dude is a total fucking space ranger. Then again, I've come a long way from my ACC days, fixated on the popcorn machine, the master plan, and the SUNY Vortex.

More (Ad)Senseless-ness

theAlphaJohn: i see your adsensing
Trevin: yeah
Trevin: i figured...what the heck
theAlphaJohn: is yours as successful as mine?
theAlphaJohn: yeah i mean why not?
Trevin: i just started today
Trevin: nod
theAlphaJohn: lemme check mine
Trevin: like I said...if it buys me a cup of coffee now and then...well, that's worth it
theAlphaJohn: six fucking cents
Trevin: lol
theAlphaJohn: i clicked yours so you can get a couple pennies
Trevin: I clicked yours the other day
theAlphaJohn: !!!
theAlphaJohn: we'll make each other rich!
Trevin: exactly!

In academic terms...

I'm fucked.

Utterly, totally, completely fucked.

My current employer (who also happens to be my institution of learning) sent me my transfer credit evaluation in the mail this weekend, and I have to say I'm not impressed. Mason decided that they wanted to reevaluate everything themselves, so even though NVCC evaluated all of my credit from ACC, they wanted to do it themselves. When NVCC evaluated my 56 credits from ACC, they awarded me 40 transfer credits, but Mason decided to only award me 27. Since I went to ACC early admit from high school, I can certainly understand not giving me college credit for courses I needed to graduate from high school (well, I don't like it, but I understand it), but you can't just discard an entire year of course work I did because I was also in high school -- you don't fucking know which courses I needed to graduate and what I took just to take. Also, there are all kinds of errors in the report, on one line it says "ENG101 [tab tab tab] French II". I sent admissions an email and told them I wanted an appointment to discuss this before orientation this Thursday, because (presumably) I should walk out of there with a schedule of classes.

I've been pouring over my transfer evaluation for more than an hour now, and I've run half a dozen "what-if" scenarios in Banner. I've filled out half a dozen "Request for Transfer Reevaluation" forms and shot those out through inter-office mail.

Ultimately, even if I fight them on what transfers where, I'm pretty sure I'm fucked.

Sunday, December 11, 2005

Another Saturday in New York

I've been lucky that for all but one trip up to NYC for DJ school to have a friend join me for the trip. This week Greta made a hole in her schedule so she could roll up there with me and check things out.

I found it odd when we arrived at the Holland Tunnel that it has changed its name to "H-Wreath-L-L-A-Tree-D T-Wreath-N-N-E-L (HOLLALD TONNEL)", which I think is New Jersey for "fuck all y'all".

I've always liked the Chase building right as your enterting the tunnel. What I'd really like is to see it transform into a killer robot and crush all the Mercedes ML350s trying to cut me off as we merge.

Our lesson this week was on beat matching, and guest instructor DJ Spectacular (also from the Mutherfuckin Allies) stopped in to help us out and show off his battle scratch skilz. We have these two records that we use for our labs, and during his show off set he scratched up one of the tracks we use from that all the time to practice.

Incidentally, the blond in the picture has a DJ Spectacular booty.

I tried to grab a few shots of the studio to give people an idea what it's like there, but I really can't do it justice with my camera phone. The art and the styling makes it a very cool environment to work and learn.

Next week is my last week of class, maybe I should make cupcakes or some shit.

Once class was over, Greta and I ran by the post office to mail Fluffy to her new home. Someone snatched her up with "buy it now" so she's off to California. I'm sure she'll be happy beeping at her new owners. I had a lovely exchange with the cranky postal worker but got her in the mail without a hitch.

We drove up to 51st and 3rd and parked the car so we could wander over to Rockafeller Center and see the tree. Hordes and hordes of people also thought that would be a good idea, but we wandered around until we got to Times Square, neither one of us really interested to elbow people out of the way to chill in the Virgin Megastore, so we had dinner and this great Italian place and made out way back to the car.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Google Adsense(less)

During the process of creating a new blog on Blogger, you're asked if you also want to slap a few Google ads up top and make some phat phat phatty cash so you can buy hos and crack and all kinds of fun stuff.

I pondered whether or not I wanted fortune to go with my order of fame and decided "shit yeah", so I created my Adsense account and was off and running.

Now my webpage gets a fair bit of traffic, so I thought I'd include that in my Adsense account to shorten the wait until retirement. I mean, who doesn't want to retire to a private island and have hot interns fanning you by the pool all day?

Speaking of which, through all the natural disaster our country endured this year, where the fuck was President Clinton shouting from the rooftops "We must tap our Nation's strategic intern reserve!"?

Anyway, he gets book deals and speaking engagements to pay the bills, back to my plight:

If you click on the picture to blow it up, you will see that sending me a 1099 will be a waste of Google's time.

The end of the Robot era?

I think I was born obsessed with Sony's Aibo.

Since I first read about AIBO on Slashdot, I knew I must own one. For two years I hounded my then employer until they bought me one, then I left and bought my own in March of 2004.

Like all of the coolest gagets, almost the same day it began collecting dust.

My staff taunted me because I named her Fluffy and she had a male voice, which couldn't be changed (without a hack) until the recent AIBO Mind 3 release.

I have a rule now about expensive hobbies -- I'm only allowed one at a time. No Serrato Scratch Live until Fluffy has parked her tranny robot shell on a different corner. So as of right now my Robot child is up for sale on eBay.

Happy bidding.

Tuesday, December 06, 2005


I'm done fucking around.

My personal Powerbook is almost identical hardware-wise to my work Powerbook, but software and file locations are all out of whack. I got 99% of my MP3s and my iTunes.xml file in sync, but today I'm not going home until both have all their files in the same place, in sync, my old .MyDocuments folder on my server at home is playing nicely, and my personal Powerbook is on 10.4

So basically I'll be sleeping here.

Monday, December 05, 2005

A Short Text Message

The protocol that Text Messages work over is called SMS, for "Short Message System". Now I get it...

theAlphaJohn (to Andrew): Omg midget in a touareg
Andrew (to theAlphaJohn): Poor thing 2feet tall and a check engine light

What I learned in (DJ) School...

Most of my friends know that I've been attending a six week (six Saturdays) class on DJing at Scratch DJ Academy in NYC. Our class of 25 has several instructors, the most famous being J-Smoke, the famous battle DJ from the Muthafuckin Allies.

One of the topics we discussed this week was the idea of a mixed tape, and how that's your calling card. Most DJ's don't make money off them, but if it's good it will get you gigs.

An example he gave was the Grey Album in which DJ DangerMouse mixed the Beatles White Album with Jay-Z's Black Album. Totally sick. More in wikipedia about it.

As for the rest of the lesson: having mastered baby scratch and dropping on the one, we spent most of the time working on timing as a precursor to beat matching (lining the beats up between two identical records playing at the same speed).

14:59 remaining...

Despite blogging privately since January 2001, I felt it was time to have a public venue to dispense my madness to the masses. Let see how it goes.

This is the official starting point, but I'm back posting some of the better/funnier posts from my private worklog.


Sunday, November 20, 2005

Sinners and saints...

Normally the Red Cross isn't open for blood donations on Sunday, but they called and had some special open house for regular donors, so I went and donated. On my way home, the Rev. Jane Halpburn decided to buck the trend and not stop when the rest of us did:

My buddy Andrew tells me that Jesus wanted her to hit me because I'm a sinner, but clearly her car took more of a beating than my poor WRX.

Now I have to convince her insurance company to total it.

Monday, November 07, 2005

Avalon NYC + DJ Irene == soiled underwear

George joined me for my first DJ School weekend in NYC, mostly because DJ Irene was spinning at Avalon NYC.

Before it became one of the hottest clubs in NYC (though it's about to get pushed down the list when Pacha opens up), Avalon was an a church. My camera phone didn't do so well in the low light, but you get the idea.

Irene is one of the coolest DJs I have ever seen. She gets so into the hard house she's spinning (when she's not checking the Spundae girls out) and she totally clicks with the audience. Most of the time we were up on the mezzanine, which looks right into the booth. She has a picture of me and a couple dudes being all stupid up there in her personal collection now.

Everyone thinks they are an editor

Especially me (to the tune of a free CNN Money Day Planner):

Subject: RE: Editorial Error
Date: Wed, 2 Nov 2005 12:22:47 -0500
From: "Wastler, Allen"
To: theAlphaJohn

Okay, okay, we'll send ya something ... we're out of T-shirts tho.

And in our defense, that last story is pulled from Reuters, so THEY made
the mistake first ... although we shoulda caught it.

Send me your address.

-----Original Message-----
From: []
Sent: Wednesday, November 02, 2005 9:55 AM
To: CNNMoney
Subject: Editorial Error

Name: theAlphaJohn

Once again, do you read what your posting before it goes up? The errors
are killing me:

"However, the commission said the rates sought for books and media
materials was too low to cover the cost of handling that mail and
recommended a 12.7 percent." [...] ???

I am not the spelling and grammar police, but when I catch something
it's probably really bad. I would think for the number of times I have
caught an error I'd get a thank you or a tee shirt or banned from the
website -- something.

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Jazzman's Patron

Today class, we're going to discuss an important inter-campus issue: Jazzman's Patron.

Jazzman's, first of all, is the name that the whores at Sodexho give to any of their coffee stands or coffee shops -- a sub-brand if you will. Like all Sodexho-run outfits on campus, they accept cash, credit and debit cards, and meal plan for payment.

Every morning, prit-near (to borrow a Paul Massey phrase) 10:00am, I wander over to SUB I to get myself a cup of coffee, and 3 out of 5 days I run into Jazzman's Patron (in the "ye ole days" sense, when patrons helped artists, like Jazz Men, survive). He's probably 18 or 19, 5'6 or so, about 140 pounds, chin length hair (from behind, I sometimes think he's a she), today he wore jeans that were torn at the ankle and birkenstocks (it's 50 degrees out, total sock weather). Anyway, JP is probably one of those awkward swim team lads who can eat 9,000 calories a day and not gain a pound, but that's no excuse for his standing order: a grande mocha, 2 chocolate chip cookies, and an apple turnover (which, until I saw him sit down today and dig into it, I thought he was buying for his study group). Thing is, I've seen him order this a few times, and every time it exceeds the meal plan by a dollar and change, and every time he's surprised. Last time he paid cash (I paid close attention to that transaction because, admittedly, I never went away to school and don't understand how a/the meal plan works), and today he used his debit card to cover the overage, which made Jazzman's foreign employee meltdown.

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

This has to be a joke

Nabisco doesn't even like Oreos this much.

Monday, October 24, 2005

Retard Day

what fun, what joy
i'm filled with glee
my favorite day
is finally upon me

the birds with sing
the crowds will cheer
that retard day
is finally here

when masses and hordes
of retards arrive
to the gmu campus
in the short bus they ride

with their dim little smile
and drool on their chin
they push on their carts
with that big, toothy grin

a few minutes ago
and this is no tale
i saw two of them fighting
and one's cart derail

they fought and they yelled
and played all their cards
hoping to come out
the alpha retard

though it makes me sad
to wait i will stay
and prepare myself for
another fun retard day

Saturday, October 22, 2005


George and his friends have created a new contest called Haikudos where one finds three pictures from the internet and write a haiku about it (one line in each cell). Very funny.

This is my first submission -- click on the picture to see it full-sized.

Friday, October 21, 2005

More Resignation Letter Consulting

Justin got a job offer from Booze-Allen, so he's leaving Feld. I offered my assistance as a professional resignation letter consultant:

Working here has been fun --
well, it was for a while
but this place is a shithole
and you're in denial

I'm sick of the process,
and chain of command
the whining about projects
your templates be damned

You said you'd end chaos
you only brought more
hired a Pirate named Patty
promoted Matt, who's a whore

But I'll not call you Steve
since everything's four
so have a nice life
cause I'm out the door.

Sunday, October 16, 2005

Wedding Crashers

Jennifer Dickie and Justin Senechal , two of the coolest people I've ever had the pleasure of meeting/working with/introducing to each other were married on October 15th, 2005.

Rebecca Hershberger, Jennifer's friend who we all got a chance to meet in San Diego at CUE 2005, was the maid of honor.

Michael Wright and I attended (or so we're told, most of it is pretty hazy), but we took the time to meet up with our old pal Lacey, also a FELD alumn.

Quote of the wedding (from Jennifer): "This hotel is so fucking nice, I'm going to have my next wedding reception there!"

Tuesday, October 11, 2005


Expulsion is the "other" student newspaper at George Mason, and it's something I look forward to every single week. Most issues are hits, some are misses, but this is the first time I've seen a cover photo.

I had to look at it for a couple weeks before I realized that the head on the killer robot is Alan Merten, the President of the college. I met him on my first day of work.

Oh well, he's got a good sense of humor.

Monday, October 10, 2005

Resignation Letter Consulting

Heather Whiting quit Feld, she asked for help with a resignation letter:

Dear Vicki,

Feld would be great
if you kept off that weight
but I've decided not to beg
for a job to replace Craig

So thanks for your time,
but let's not have a fit
Working here's been fun,
but I'm done -- I quit.

Friday, October 07, 2005

I've often wondered if working for me is like working for Dr. Seuss...

From: theAlphaJohn
Sent: Fri 10/7/2005 8:05 AM
Subject: Today, horray, is theAlphaJohn's Last Day...

I woke at dawn, like Christmas day
and on that day, which is today
which is my very last FELD day
I get to say, in that smug-AlphaJohn way
that all of today is about me, ok?

The cake, we have, that tastes so good
at 3:00pm in the VTC room
but prior to that, my last act of work
I have a call with Kwane, and my Pirate-boss-jerk

I am the focus, but you need not swoon
I'll crack more jokes -- I'll be a goon
But try your best to make some room
because we're going to lunch today at noon.

Thursday, October 06, 2005

Remember: "FELD" is a four-letter "F" word

I had a good run at FELD, I really did. In spite of everyone and everything I made huge personal and professional accomplishments.

For that, I thank only the man who hired me.

I've told this story a couple times, and I'm going to tell it again here. I'm going to be as true to my own memory as I can be. The only thing I will omit are names.

I need to go back to June of 2004 to give a little background. Our outgoing CFO of 8 years was replaced by our then VP of Finance (who become our new CFO). New CFO and my boss (Old CIO) never got along when they were peers, so shortly after New Years I was called up stairs and told that Old CIO had been walked out.

This sort of thing happens in companies -- public, private, government agencies -- management at any level wants to control what they can (their downline) so they often look for an opportunity to flex their muscles a bit in an area that they see as sub-standard for some reason. In our case, it was felt that we were too much of an expense across the board (or rather, for what the company was paying, they weren't getting what they expected). Now I've worked at a lot of places, and in my opinion this was all a perception issue because of how the accounting worked. This is a company that claims to be progressive, but the powers that be are clear: a dollar spent a moment too soon on anything other than show production is a dollar wasted (something I've been told many times by New VP of Finance, and a supposition proven many times in the past six months).

In March I had a chance to meet with a candidate for our New CIO (the "second choice" of the recruiter respresenting him). I had about 45 minutes to ask him about the gaps in his resume, answer some questions he had, shake his hand (a mistake when I later learned he doesn't wash his hands after using the urinal), and return to the grind. I knew this was all proforma, and when I returned from a business trip a couple weeks later he had already been there a week.

While on a business trip with New CIO in May, he opened up to me about some issues he had in dealing with my peers, and when I returned he took me out to lunch and asked me to help him plan our departmental reorg. I was a Director, reporting to a VP, with two stellar annual reviews under my belt, a department I had built from four semi-performers into seven superstars (mostly due to picking good people, I take almost no credit for their success), I was well liked in the organization and had a reputation for getting things done. We had about 35 people in all of IT, and while I had never done an entire reorg, I had done one for my group, I had done job descriptions and comp analysis, and more importantly I understood all the hurdles in our organization to get those things done and signed off.

I can't speak for New CIO, but I feel like I did probably 40-50% of the heavy-lifting for the IT Reorg (structure, compensation, etc). I reviewed and commented on the job descriptions he gave me, but most of those he borrowed from Infotech Advisor to stick to "industry standards", which I think is a fair move -- why reinvent the wheel? Honestly though, the only 100% original creation of his out of this was probably the Powerpoint presentation.

When we got the first draft of the org done, and there were now only two Directors instead of four, and seven managers instead of none, I asked him where he thought I would fit into this organization. He had made comments about his Directors not being Director material, so I asked "do you see me in the Applications Manager role?" and his response was "if you're interested in the Director position, I'd encourage you to apply for that instead."

Two things to think about: (1) in a reorg like this, you can't outright tell someone they have something even if you feel that's the case, and (2) he could have just been saying that, he told everyone to think big when applying. However, several more times during our work he made comments like "of my four Directors, three of them aren't Director material." He went out of his way to imply that I was in for that Director position.

We all had to reapply for our jobs when the reorg was announced, and since I was the only Director who (on paper) was qualified for both Director positions, I applied for both. All of this went down the week before Fourth of July, and we were told that we would know before the long weekend what the results were going to be. We had to update our resume and interview with him for our jobs, and when I went in he didn't even interview me -- he told me how everyone else's interviews had gone and when I asked if he had any questions he wrapped it up with "I don't think so, I think I'm comfortable with your capabilities and your work."

The Friday before Fourth of July, when we were all supposed to find out who got what, he decided to "work from home" but never told us in advance. I found out from his Admin Assistant while trying to track him down for a meeting we had scheduled.

On Monday morning, he came into my office sat down, and said "congratulations, you're the Applications Manager" to which I responded "well I didn't apply for that position." I told him I needed to think about it and he left, so I shot an email off to Human Resources:

From: theAlphaJohn
To: VP of Human Resources
Subject: IT Reorganization

VP of HR,
CIO met with me this morning to explain the outcome of the reorganization in IT, and I was notified that I did not get either open Director position and was presented with the Applications Manager as an alternative. In order for me to make an informed decision about my next step, I will need the following:

-A formal offer letter from Feld explaining the position I'm being offered and compensation
-A formal letter explaining my severance package:
-how long the transition period will be
-number of weeks paid
-benefit options
-if my Bonus will be paid out, and if so how much (all, a prorated amount, or none)
-any other stipulations that would be attached (if there is a boiler plate severance agreement I'd like to see it)

Once I have all this information, I will need a few days to review my options before I can accept or reject the position I'm being offered. I understand you're out of the office today and possibly tomorrow, but I'm available to discuss when you return if needed. Please let me know if you have any questions.


I asked HR, I CC'ed my boss so I wasn't doing anything behind his back, and I figured since I had been thrown a curve ball that what I was asking for wasn't unreasonable. The next day I received this response:

From: VP of Human Resources
To: theAlphaJohn
Subject: Reorganization Answers

Answers -
1. Your base pay will remain the same. Your MIP level will change to 10%.
2. Your severance based on your start date of 1/20/03 will be 6 weeks. You may choose lump sum payout or biweekly pays. Benefits will run through the last day of the month in which you receive your final severance check. STD/LTD and 401(k) are not icluded in severance.
3. Bonus eligibility is based on your position as of 12/31/05. If you choose severance, you will not receive MIP for 2004.
4. If you elect not to take the position a severance agreement will be presented to you.
5. Formal offer letters are not planned for the new positions.
6. New CIO will determine the effective date of the transition.

Vice President, Human Resources
Feld Entertainment, Inc.

Well that clears things up. Nothing in writing, either suck it up or get lost. I'm glad to see that HR is still an advocate for employees -- why would I ever want a union?

Shortly after getting this lovely message, New CIO shoots one to all of us:

From: New CIO
To: The Four Former Directors
CC: New CFO, VP of HR
Subject: New Positions


I have informed you all of your positions in my new organization. Formal offer letters are not planned for the new positions. I am about to announce these assignments to the rest of IT today. If I do not hear anything to the contrary by Tomorrow, July 7, I will consider these positions accepted. I am ready and anxious to move forward with my new operational plan. I hope you all are part of that team. If you elect not to take the position, a severance agreement will be presented to you. I will ask you to remain for a period to be determined, in order to effect an orderly transition. At the end of this period, you will be eligible for severance. If you choose to leave before the end of the transition period, you will be resigning without severance. If you choose severance, your severance will be two weeks pay, plus an additional two weeks pay for each full year of service based on your start date. You may choose lump sum payout or biweekly pays. Benefits will run through the last day of the month in which you receive your final severance check. STD/LTD and 401(k) are not included in severance. Bonus eligibility is based on your position as of 12/31/05. If you choose severance, you will not receive Bonus for 2005.

Ouch, talk about railroaded. Not really sure what to do and only having 24 hours to make a decision, I ended up stuck there. I was told by New CIO that I'd be involved in hiring my new Director and we'd move forward. The other three Directors, having much bigger severance packages to fall back on, all asked to leave and take their severance.

In a panic, New CFO asked two of the Directors to stay, and offered to grandfather their bonus and let them take their severance at any time in the future. The other Director and I got letters saying that our bonus was grandfathered, but nothing about severance.

A couple months of new structure went by, and while I was on a business trip candidates for the other Director (not mine) were being interviewed two of the Managers in that group. Three women came in and they interviewed all of them -- the one they didn't like became their boss, and the one they did like became my boss.


Let me get this straight: you advertise for and bring in candidates for a Director of IT Operations (servers, networks, phones, hardware) and you hire one of these candidates for Director of Business Solutions (Enterprise software and integration). How the fuck does that work? While I'm on a business trip I don't want to be on, two people who aren't in my group interviewed my new boss but I didn't, and I was promised when I got slighted that I'd be involved in that interview process.

Don't think of it as getting fucked out of a job you were promised, think of it as getting a Pirate Gym Teacher as your boss. The thing that amazes me is that not one of the four of us was qualified for either Director position (something that New CIO had decided before putting pen to paper). Forget about me for a moment, but VP of HR let New CIO demote an Iranian Man who had worked there 10 years and had a Masters in Computer Science and replace him with a white woman who had no degree, and he replaced an Algerian with a PHD in Economics and 18 years there with a white woman with a Bachelors degree. How EEOC compliant of them...

Fast-forward to this past October while everyone who said they were leaving was still "working out the transition", I went to our VP of HR a particular morning and asked him "if I wanted to leave, would I be eligible for my severance?" And he responded, "Yes, absolutely. Why are you even asking?" "Because the others have their severance in their letters and I don't." "It's not a problem, just tell New CIO and let me know when your last day is."

I walked upstairs into New CIOs office and told him that things weren't working and that I wanted to leave and take my severance. The conversation was calm, level, professional, and when I left his office the only point of contention was how long I'd be staying to work out a transition.

I took my group to lunch, and when I got back I had a voicemail:

this is an audio post - click to play

Hey John it's Kirk (VP of HR). Uh, I'm sorry I gave you bad information I spoke too soon before I actually read the letters that Neal (New CIO) gave to all four of you. Um you would not be eligible for severance if you were to leave. Any questions? Please feel give me a call. Thanks John, buh bye.

When back to VP of HR to ask what was up, and the excuses I got were:
(1) the reorg was three months ago (then why is the transition still going on -- why are the people who wanted out July 6th still here?)
(2) this is something we did special just for two of the Directors
(3) I was sent to training in July in anticipation of me staying (false: I was given this training as part of my compensation for 2005 in January when Old CIO was booted)
(4) sorry, you can't have your severance.

And how does a person handle a situation like that? Petulantly:

From: theAlphaJohn
Sent: Fri 9/23/2005 5:26 PM
To: New CIO, VP of HR
Cc: Gym Teacher Pirate
Subject: Resignation
Attachments: Resignation.pdf(185KB)

The original is with Gym Teacher Pirate. A pleasure as always gentleman.

In my experience, from what I saw, FELD Entertainment is a horrible company that treats its employees badly. We coined a few sayings while I was there:

"There are five ways to do things: the right way, the wrong way, the long way, the hard way, and the "Feld" way (which is a combination of the wrong way, the long way, and the hard way.)"

"Given the choice between 'good', 'fast', and 'cheap', Feld will always pick 'fast' and 'cheap'."

"Feld Entertainment will step over a dollar to pick up a dime."

FELD Related Links

Investigation into death of baby elephant Kenny
Forbes profiles K-Dawg
Animal trainer Gebel-Williams dies
The Greatest Vendetta on Earth
Roy of Siegfried and Roy critical after mauling
Peta calls on Siegfried and Roy to retire animals
Disney buys the Muppets
Circus performer falls to her death
Spanky the clown arrested on porn charges
President of PETA's will: "That my pointing finger be delivered to Kenneth Feld [the owner of Ringling Brothers] or to a circus museum, to stand as the "Greatest Accusation on Earth" on behalf of the countless animals who have been deprived of all that is natural and pleasant to them, abused and forced into involuntary servitude for the sake of cheap entertainment."
Skaters from Monsters Inc questions about Escort
DC City Paper: Karen Feld
USDA Report on Roy Horn's attack
Feld Lawyers fined for misconduct
PETA Demands necropsy of dead Siegfried and Roy elephant
Washington Post article on Pottker Lawsuit