Tuesday, June 29, 2010

A Tight Ship, Indeed

Longer posts are on their way, believe me, I have a couple on my to-do list. But really quickly, I got the following email today from our HR organization.

Now remember, I've been working here for almost a full year, and have lived in the same place the entire time. However, I had a different address when I was an intern, and getting my HR-related documents (most notably, a health insurance card) to the right place has been problematic.

Subject: Address Change Notificaton


Memo: Address Change Request
RE: Change of address request


This memo is to inform you that your change of address request was updated in our system.

The following address is now in our records:

Effective Date: 10/07/2009 10:38:05 am
XXX East 12th Street
New York, NY 10003

If this address is incorrect please contact your local Human Capital Representative


Human Resources

I think there should be some kind of absurdity filter for these emails that says, 'Wait, it's June and we're just processing this request from October?'

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

A weird feeling

It's been a strange couple of weeks for me at the good old consulting firm.

One recent Friday, the week before our series of final meetins with our current client's project, I got a strange call. I was being rolled off the project, effective the following Monday.

It seemed a little odd to me. Not only because we still had the final presentations to do, but also because it didn't seem like it was very much notice. There was no chance I'd be picked up by another project, and thus, I would have my first ever time on 'the beach'

In consulting speak, 'the beach' is something of a fairy tale magical land, where you aren't officially working on a project. There's no crazy travel plans to make, no hotels, and no working until 4am (usually).

Of course, like any fairy tale magical land, it's also quite toxic if exposed for too long. And by toxic, I mean you get booted off if you are on 'the beach' for too long (which makes sense because you aren't earning the company any money).

So I wasn't going to be traveling, and I would be back in New York. By mid-afternoon on Monday, I was assigned to help out on my first proposal, a manufacturing-focused effort to a consumer products company.

I actually found it really interesting. I got to research a completely new industry, uncover industry trends, develop broad strategic hypotheses...all while sleeping in my own bed (I also snuck in a movie one night).

Of course, it couldn't last forever (and if I want to afford to eat, it shouldn't), and by this past Monday I was staffed up again. For the next two weeks I'm learning a lot about the steel industry, which will conveniently take me right up to the 4th of July, and my first long vacation since I started.

It's already started to feel weird to not have to be working all the time. I wonder if I'll go crazy when I'm on vacation and completely unplugged.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

The Coming Sports Diaspora

Ugh. It has not been the best of days today.

I'm sitting at the airport, waiting for a flight that's been delayed for two hours, this after working until 3am last night.

Oh, and by the way, the Flyers lost in the Stanley Cup finals in a game that I had to listen to with one earphone while simultaneously working on a presentation.

At least I missed what turned out to be a big disappointment.

The Stanley Cup finals were notable, not just because it gave the Flyers their first chance to win the cup in over 30 years (which they blew because they're goalie is very below average, but that's an aside), but because it pitted the Flyers, from my native Philadelphia, against Chicago, my soon-to-be full time residence and the home of my fiancee.

It definitely made for an interesting dynamic, one that I'd just as soon avoid in future championship games (unless the Philadelphia team is going to win).

But it raises an interesting question. Let's fast forward some medium to large number of years, and let's assume we have at least one kid and live in the Chicagoland area.

What team does our kid root for??? And this doesn't apply just to hockey. Football. Baseball. College sports. Who will be their favorite player growing up? What's the first jersey they'll wear? And who are they going to side with when Australia plays Pakistan in cricket???

OK, so cricket will be a non-issue. But the sports rooting interest is a very real issue.

Of course, for our generation, this wasn't that much of a decision. Thanks to more primitive technology, it was much harder for someone like my dad (a Massachusetts native) to follow his Boston teams upon moving to Philadelphia. It became even harder to indoctrinate his kids into similar likings. As such, not only did my dad become a Philadelphia fan, but one of his kids (hint: me) grew up into an all-time great Patriots hater.

But now, the tables have turned. Now you can get just about any sports game in the comfort of your own home. Expanded national sports coverage, premium sports packages, streaming sports radio on the internet, and internet versions of local-area papers make it extremely easy to follow your teams wherever you live.

So following your own team after you move becomes pretty darn easy. Which means brainwashing your kids into liking your teams should be pretty darn easy too (note: this may be the first time I ever make a ridiculous assumption about what I'll be able to force my kids to do. I'm sure it won't be the last)

Now there's a risk involved, and it's the risk of raising a kid who becomes a social pariah for liking the wrong team at school. To that point, I'd simply shrug my shoulders and say, 'If my kid is anything like me he'll be overweight, so they'll have bigger things to worry about anyway'

Of course there's one other issue. That whole thing about my fiancee being a Chicago sports fan. Apparently her opinion counts too, or so I read in the 'Unfortunately, your fiancee will start being right all the time' pamphlet they hand out when you buy engagement rings.

But she's a reasonable person (or at least doing a great job of faking it so far). So let's go down the list and figure out what teams will win out.

Hockey: Flyers vs. Blackhawks

Now, this one is still a little raw since it's been less than 24 hours since the Flyers' goalie threw a big pile of garbage on his reputation.

However, this one is non-negotiable. I've been going to Flyers games since I was born. I've got jerseys, I've t-shirts, I've caught pucks at games.

Even after watching the finals, I'm still not sure my fiancee knows what Icing is.

Winner - Flyers

College Basketball: Illinois Illini vs. Penn State Nittany Lions

Another slam dunk, pardoning the basketball reference. College basketball is a big deal to the Illinois crowd, they have chants and everything. They also wear orange, which appeals to me as a Flyers fan.

Penn State does technically have a basketball team. I may have played for it while I went there, I'm still not sure.

Winner - Illinois

Professional Football: Bears vs. Eagles

Another major rooting interest for me. Over the past few years the Eagles standing in my mental hierarchy of sports teams has improved, mostly due to the fact that football is by far the easiest sport to follow consistently. It's one game a week, rather than hockey's 3 or baseball's 7. So much easier to watch every game.

And given that it's a naturally violent sport that's confusing for novices, I'm hoping my fiancee doesn't care at all. She likes to do other things on Sunday besides watch sports on TV, which also gives me control of what football we display in the house.

And if you thought I wasn't going to raise my little kid to yell out E-A-G-L-E-S EAGLES! and hurl batteries at opposing players, you were kidding yourself.

Winner - Eagles

At this point, it's becoming clear to me that when I care even a little about the sport, I'm going to push my team. And when I don't care about the sport at all, I'll let my kid root for anyone.

So with that, let's quickly ensure some Chicago balance huh?

Professional Soccer: Fire vs. Union

There's a Philadelphia soccer team? And it's called the Union??? No thank you.

Winner - Fire

Professional Basketball: 76ers vs. Bulls

This might be close if the 76ers still had Dr. J. But apparently that was like 25 years ago.

The Sixers have been terrible most of my life, and I also don't really like professional basketball as a sport.

The Bulls might get LeBron James. So hell, even I might start rooting for them anyway

Winner - Bulls

I wish I could stack this deck a little more, but I don't know if either city has a WNBA team, and I think Arena football may be defunct? World Team Tennis???

Meh. It's about even right? Moving on.

College Football: Illinois Illini vs. Penn State Nittany Lions

Another college matchup, but this time the roles are reversed as my alma mater believes in football. I'm not sure Illinois cares, although they do win points for having a native american mascot. I like mascots that can potentially be offensive.

Penn State is also one of the winningest football teams in all of college. They have Joe Paterno, and they've got tons of cute kids merchandise. You can dress your kid up as a lion, you definitely can't dress him up as an Indian (well, you could, but I think it's weirder)

Winner - Penn State

Baseball: Phillies vs. Cubs White Sox

The last big enchilada actually gets pretty easy. It would be one thing if my fiancee was a Cubs fan (and by Cubs fan, I don't mean one of those fake Chicago Cubs fans that defines 'fan' as hanging out and getting drunk in Wrigleyville). National league opponents would make for a potential rooting conflict. But given that she's an American league girl and I'm a National league guy, there should be room to co-exist.

Our kid should be able to root for both teams with little risk of disaster. But just in case a White Sox - Phillies world series is in the cards. I'm going to indoctrinate for the Phils anyway