Inadvertently Stumbling On Some Intrigue At Work

So, I have this female coworker.

I hardly ever see or talk to her at work, but we went running a couple times, probably well over a year ago now. She is decent friends with my favorite bff (also a female coworker), although she never hangs out with our inner circle. She's a quiet type.

So I am at the Irish Pub with a couple inner circle work buddies tonight and we get to talking about having a work outing at the Union Terrace in Madison WI next Thursday, the day after July 4, with the inner circle, to drink beer and listen to music. Well, my one buddy has what he calls a "fleeting" interest in this quiet coworker. Fleeting because she is engaged and totally not available. In any case, he said we should invite her along.

Well, back when I went running with this chick, she gave me her number so we could coordinate and I still had it in my phone. I wasn't going to give it to my buddy without permission, but I felt comfortable texting her an invite, since she is friends with my work bff and knows who I am. Presumably my work bff talks a good game about me when I am not around, as I do for her.

So later on, I shoot off a text inviting her to this social, being quite clear that it's a group outing with coworkers, mind you.

"Hi [Her Name]. It's Joe from work. Some of us coworkers are thinking about a social at Union Terrace next Thursday and we wanted to invite you if you are interested."

Pretty benign stuff right? Granted, I am about the last person she'd expect to hear from.

Well, a couple minutes later I get this bizarre reply about how she has a serious boyfriend and she is not comfortable talking to other men.

So I was like, what is going on here?

Are we talking about the same Joe from work, me, the one who almost never talks to her?

Then I got to thinking. There are other Joes at work. Her boss is even named Joe.


If she no longer has my number in her phone, which is a strong likelihood, perhaps she thought it was another Joe from work who maybe has been hitting on her at the office. If it was her own boss, that would be tragic. I like that guy.

Anyway, not only do I potentially stumble on some kind of work drama, but I also take the heat for finding out about it when it wasn't even my idea to invite her.

I don't need that kind of knowledge. Works sucks bad enough with the upper management drama.

If my theory is right, I hope that whatever Joe is harassing this poor woman at work gives it a rest. I have to keep up appearances on my namesake, dig?

Or maybe she just really isn't comfortable talking with the 50% of the population that isn't her boyfriend. I don't know. Intriguing though, don't you think?

Other ideas?

Douche Fest of Epic Proportions

Every level of douche is on display at work today. There does not seem to be any escape. When I got here this morning, one of my coworkers bitched to me for a full 15 minutes about what is bothering him, as if I could somehow solve his problems. I can't. So leave me be.

Corporate management from California is on site today. Really greasy car salesman types.

I am going to lunch at HuHot Mongolian grill for a while to escape this douche fest. See ya.

Still Skeptical About Global Warming?

I don't understand why people have such a hard time believing in global warming, though I do understand that this is why no one makes lifestyle changes to do something about it.

Don't listen to the media. Don't listen to corporate America. Don't even listen to the scientists.

Just look around you.

The media, corporate America, and even some scientists lie.

Reality does not lie.

You want to know what global warming apocalypse looks like? Check out the wildfires in the American Southwest. States are literally catching on fire due to record heat.

The earth is cooking. While it is not true to say that the Earth has never been hotter, it is true that when it was hotter humans were not around (and could not have survived), sea levels were higher (there was an inland sea in the middle of what is now the United States), and volcanoes and meteor hits were commonplace. Essentially, HELL.

Do you want HELL on Earth? If so, keep doing what you are doing.

I don't give a crap if you believe in global warming or not. Neither does Nature. She just does her thing.

See ya.

Colorado Wildfire Apocalypse

Do you know what global warming looks like? Do you think it won't affect you?

Think again. The world is heating up and literally catching on fire.

In Colorado, global warming looks like the evacuation of 32,000 people from Colorado Springs because an entire mountain is in flames (Pike's Peak National Forest).

My sister lives in Manitou Springs, outside Colorado Springs, one of the first places evacuated. Although her house may not burn down, she said the smoke and ash blowing through the area is unbearable and a health hazard.

This is what an apocalypse looks like. You don't notice it until it is too late and unavoidable.

How will apocalypse look when it hits your location? Because it will eventually. Do you have an evacuation plan? Are your important documents like passports and medical records easily accessible? Do you have ample non-perishable food and water? Gas? Guns?

Be prepared. It is far too late to reverse global warming. All we can do now is protect ourselves from its brutal consequences. God will not save us. We had all the scientific evidence and clues we needed as a society. We ignored it. Now...we pay.

My sister is paying. You will too. Might be a flood. Might be a tornado. Might be an earthquake. Might be a fire. Might be a hurricane. Your turn will come.

A Bike Commuting Public Service Goal

I am setting a goal. There is no deadline for this goal, but the sooner I achieve it, the sooner the world will be a slightly better place.

The goal is to get two people who currently drive to work every day to bike commute some of the time, even if it is only a day or two every week.

Not just any two people mind you, but two people who are also willing to set the goal of trying to get two people to bike commute and persuade two friends, and so on and so on.

I know some people who bike commute who would probably be willing to convince a couple more people to bike commute. But it can't end there. It has to be a social movement that grows.

One thing I need to know from people who do not currently bike commute is, what are the obstacles that prevent you from doing so?

Please comment below.

Predatory Police in Madison WI

Admittedly, I did make an illegal left turn, if the officer who pulled me over is to be believed (and that is not necessarily a given).

Let me give you some backstory.

Because I live in Cambridge, WI, I sometimes drive part way to work, then bike commute the rest of the way. One place I like to park is on my buddy Mike's street, because it is a good neighborhood and he often bikes with me to Middleton.

I don't like driving, but I do follow the laws.

The only thing I like less than driving is predatory cops, like the Madison traffic cops who sit in their cruisers at the intersection of Welch and Oakridge Avenues near Olbrech Gardens in Madison.

The road I normally take to Mike's, Atwood Avenue, is completely closed off for construction.

The detours are poorly marked and there are no cops directing traffic (because the douchebags are sitting idle in their cars waiting to pounce on confused drivers).

So I made a left turn from Monona onto Oakridge, to take a back way to Mike’s for biking, thus avoiding the construction and most of my commuter driving. I totally did not see any NO LEFT TURN signs when I did this.

Well, according to the cop there are "two huge signs" that say no left turn there. OK, I will give him the benefit of the doubt, because if it was a lie, it can easily be verified. I am going to return there to check it out and take some pictures though. If there are no such signs, I will fight the ticket I got in court. But assuming there are 2 signs there, it is a totally unjust and unethical cop trap, to make money for the city (Monona drive has 2 lanes and there is no hazard posed in turning left where I did).

They sit one block up on Oakridge, out of view and then nail people who accidentally make the turn. Totally corrupt practice. What these cops should be doing is their job - patrolling the neighborhood looking for more serious traffic concerns and maybe even some crimes.

They could make everyone's life easier by helping people navigate the construction instead of making money off confused motorists. The construction zone is already full of flashing lights and signs that make it hard to navigate and follow all the signs.

The way they behave now breeds resentment in the community that sullies the reputation of all police, not just these ones. They are upholding the letter of the law to the detriment of the spirit of the law. If they are going to park their cars on a street and do nothing, perhaps they could park them at the intersection in question and manually direct traffic to help people around the construction.

Now wouldn't that be useful, helpful, and breed good feelings in the community?

I wrote to the Police Chief, Mayor, and City Council about this but that will probably result in nothing at all. So, I am going to expose this practice publicly and hopefully raise a stink. I am starting with lambasting the east side Madison cops via blog posts.

Please share the link! Especially if you live in Madison WI.

One thing that bugged me a lot was the cop’s rationale for pulling me over. He claimed they were preying on drivers there because of residents’ complaints that the construction was making people drive through their neighborhood.

Where else are people going to drive? The direct road is closed off, you morons!

Then he went on to say if I had turned left 2 blocks farther up on Monona (Luddington Ave), it would have been perfectly legal and I would have ended up at the exact same place where I was now being served a traffic ticket.

So how does that help the neighborhood with excess traffic?

He was basically saying I could still drive through that smug uppity neighborhood, as long as I turned left on a different street. Totally bogus.

Sounds to me like the Olbrech neighborhood gets private security on the taxpayer dime and they just harass people to make money.

I believe in karma, so I am sure that justice will be done somewhere in the cosmos to make up for the asinine behavior of the Madison cops. But if not, I will simply continue to report on injustice in the world and hope somebody listens.

You can't change the world, only your small part of it. Do the right thing.

Urban Bike Commuting

When I bike commute to work, I see a fair number of other people bike commuting.

But I also see a lot of people driving who should be bike commuting.

Why would anyone not bike commute if they have the option?

Setting aside the fact that not driving a car puts less greenhouse gases into the already baking atmosphere of the planet, there are immediate benefits to the individual as well.

Obviously, exercise is healthy. Most people complain that they never have enough time to exercise.

But you never hear people complain that they don't have enough time to commute to work!

Why not combine the two? You can get a workout in while doing something you have to do anyway (commute to work).

Then there is the stress relief of avoiding traffic, especially if you live and work in a bike friendly town (like Madison WI, where I work). I love the smug satisfaction of sailing past a line of angry commuters stuck in traffic.

I wonder if those drivers ever see me and conclude that they should really change their lifestyle and start bike commuting more. I hope so. But chances are they just hate me and repeat the soul crushing commute by car the next day. It's very sad.

Some people say the definition of insanity is repeating the same behavior and expecting a different result. I think that's bullshit. But it doesn't change the fact that rush hour commuters repeat the same behavior at exactly the same time every day and suffer exactly the same result.

I guess there is a case to be made that biking is less safe, because you are less visible to cars.

Reason that one through. How often do you hear about cyclists dying on the road vs. car fatalities? Numbers don't lie. Of course, there are fewer bikers than drivers, so one could argue that if there were more cyclists on the roads, there would be more bike fatalities per capita.

I think this is wrong. Again, use reason. Theoretically, when someone decides to bike commute, they are leaving a car at home. That car is then not on the road posing a mortality risk to anyone. So as the number of cyclists goes up, the number of cars goes down.

In addition, with less cars on the road, there is less traffic, which means fewer accidents in general, and perhaps more importantly less anger and road rage from people dealing with bad traffic (and smug bikers).

When I bike commute, I arrive at work energized from the mild to moderate workout. I try to bike commute 3 days per week at a minimum. Because I have to commute to work anyway, I am killing two birds with one stone, getting my workout in without even having to think about making time for it.

I'll close by saying bicycles use no gas. That saves money, plain and simple. Even factoring in the driving needed for bike maintenance (taking your bike to the shop to be fixed, say...), a bicycle gets thousands of miles per gallon.

So you don't even need to make an ecological world saving case for bike commuting. It makes common sense for individuals to bike commute. The benefits are profound and immediate. Better health, less stress, cost savings on gas and car maintenance.

No one is saying you have to do it all the time. It is not a black and white thing. Maybe you don't want to bike commute in rainy weather. OK, then only bike on nice days.

If you can do it even 25% of the time, you are getting benefits. 50% of the time is probably optimal.

See ya.

Cognitive Dissonance

I have a theory about why people like reality shows.
Let's just clear something up first. There is nothing real about reality shows. Nothing. Not a single one of them portrays reality as it happens, it is all edited and the producers use trickery and deceit to create artificial drama. This is well documented and if you don't believe it then just go pound salt.
But that is neither here nor there as far as this blog post.
My theory is that people don't really like reality shows. They just think they do.
The reason is a common psychological phenomenon called "cognitive dissonance."
The simplest definition of this is the uncomfortable feeling a person gets when a behavior they hold and belief they have do not match up. For example, a person might believe doing drugs is bad, but then they do them and feel guilty because their beliefs and behaviors are out of line. Another example is tail gaters, those evil sons of bitches who annoy the crap out of everyone on the road. A tail gater usually hates being tail gated, but then they go on to do it to others anyway.
That latter example is the best example of my theory.
Here is how it works. A person sits down to watch a reality show, fully believing that it may dramatically and creatively portray real life drama and be entertaining and/or informative.
However, when the show sucks and fails to deliver, the mind does not know what to do. The person has already engaged in the behavior of watching the program. The natural emotion to feel is shame that they wasted valuable time and not repeat the behavior of watching the show again.
But nobody wants to feel shame or admit that they made a mistake in watching the show. So instead, they watch the show again the next time it is on, finding whatever small shred of decency there might be in the program to rationalize wasting a bunch more time on a totally pointless activity.
Basically, cognitive dissonance tries to match behavior and beliefs. It is harder to change behavior than to change beliefs. That sounds counterintuitive, but think it through. After watching a reality show, your mind should tell you that it is a pile of crap and that you should have turned it off right away and never watch it ever again. Instead, your mind sees you watching the show and doesn't understand why, so it changes its perception of the show and tells you that maybe the show has some redeeming value and you should keep watching and worse yet, watch it again. This alleviates the cognitive dissonance, but the behavior (watching) did not change. The belief (quality of the show) changed.
Why? I don't know. But that's my theory and the field of cognitive psychology backs it up.
I have cognitive dissonance sometimes. I sometimes tell myself that I do not drink too much beer, because I like beer. But in reality, I probably do drink too much beer. I have changed my beliefs to match my beer drinking behavior, telling myself I do not behave in a way that is dissonant with the belief that my beer drinking is fine and dandy.
But I am going to fight cognitive dissonance today and break the cycle. I did this once before and now is a good time to do it again. I am going to change my beer drinking behavior and accept the reality that I do probably drink more beer than I should.
It is hard to admit that a belief (no beer problem) is wrong. It takes a lot of will power to admit that and be honest with myself about my reality. It is my behavior that needs to change, not my belief.
So I am quitting drinking beer (and thus all alcoholic beverages since I don't really drink anything else but beer when I drink). I am quitting 100% because I BELIEVE that I do not have sufficient will power to limit myself to one or two drinks now and then. I tend to gradually allow cognitive dissonance to pull me farther and farther into the realm of excessive beer drinking. It's insidious and my beliefs passively change to match the reality of the behavior. But it is the behavior that needs to change. Cognitive dissonance is sort of like "bad conscience," rationalizing bad behavior with changing beliefs.
Quitting drinking beer is not hard. I did it for 6 years or so and only started drinking beer again this past year, due to having access to some amazing microbrews in Madison WI. Already I can feel cognitive dissonance working on my mind, telling me things like, "Joe, are you sure you want to totally give up ALL beer and deprive yourself of some excellent microbrews."
Yes. To make a point, I will do that. And if you do not like it you can go pound sand up your ass.
I can live without beer. In fact, I can probably live better without it. I also need to re-direct my mental energies toward other priorities, most notably jazz piano.
When I quit drinking the first time, I found that I had a great deal of mental energy to put toward other things, particularly music, and I was madly productive. We will see what happens this time, but someday I want people to associate the phrase "jazz piano" with me.
Cognitive dissonance just tried to knock me off the horse by telling me an addiction to jazz piano might be just as bad. I told cognitive dissonance to F off.
See ya.

New People

I need to meet new people, particularly ones who have their proverbial shit together. I don't know if there is actually a proverb about having your shit together but there probably is one in the Bible or some shit.

Right now a lot of the people I know do not have their shit together. Many of them even have legitimate excuses for why their shit is not together, but that does nothing to change the fact that their shit is not, in fact, together.

For example, I am supposed to have band practice tonight and my band isn't here yet. Yesterday, I was supposed to meet a friend for a bike ride, but I didn't see hide nor hair of her and she never even let me know why the hell her shit was not together.

So, if you have your shit together, please get to know me. I have my shit together and I'd like to finally meet some people who do too. See ya.

Ride the Rock Bike Ride Review

High marks for the well supported Ride the Rock charity bike ride in Fort Atkinson, WI today.

On the down side, they ran out of maps for riders on the 40 and 60 mile routes (I did the 60). However, the turns were well marked with spray painted symbols on the roads. Conversely, said symbols were spray painted red in many cases, making them very hard to see for a color blind biker like me.

Those are minor issues, and not entirely the fault of the organizers (the map fail was mostly their fault, but they had no way of knowing that color blind people could not se their road marks). I met and rode with a guy named Dave, and in exchange for me using his red/green cones to direct me along the correct route, I provided some leg power for him to draft off. It was mutually beneficial. The weather was hot and sunny, but awesome. Perhaps, if the ride had been during crappy weather, I may not have felt so great about it. But I don't think so, because my compliments are grounded in reason.

The rest stops were spaced at decent intervals and fairly well stocked with fruit, peanut butter cookies, and bagels, as well as Gatorade.

The ride raises money for literacy awareness. Basically, it funds literacy programs for people with disabilities or for whom English is a second language (yes, I asked).

The ride was totally supported by volunteers and donations. Thus, most if not all of my $40 registration fee was going to the charity, according to the organizers. They may have been lying, but I doubt it. Unfortunately, no one had thought to donate veggie burgers to the ride event, so I was relegated to eating potato chips and oranges after the ride ended.

The day was fairly hot and sunny. I wore sunscreen. There was a nice breeze, which was a headwind going out, but a tailwind coming back, which is the perfect scenario for wind. I definitely got a megadose of vitamin D.

The ride itself did not have a beer garden post ride, but there was a community baseball game going on at the park, and they were selling $1 cans of PBR beer for all of age comers, bike ride or no. Dave and I partook of a couple of these. There was also some kind of carnival going on in the park at the same time. Associated with this was a burrito vendor willing to make me a big fat ol' veggie* bean burrito (*Note to vegetarians, refried beans almost always contain lard, or animal fat. Most people do not know this, but it is so. If you do not believe me, go to the grocery store and examine the available forms of refried beans. Report back.).

There were ample clean porto-potties at the park.

The route was mostly rolling hills but nothing too dificult. Again, the prevailing winds favored the bicyclists this time around, but there were few big hills and plenty of resting opportunities.
This was my longest bike ride of the 2012 season. I am getting ready for RAGBRAI in late July, and I need as much saddle time as I can get. Most days of RAGBRAI are about 75 miles, so it is good to know I can do 60 miles with not a lot of difficulty, in full solstice sun and heat. The question is, can I do 7 days of this back to back. Needless to say, I need to get a lot more riding in.

Cambridge Bike Shop Fail

I am not happy with the service offered by the bike shop in Cambridge WI. I took my parents' bikes in there to get tuned up and now, almost 2 weeks later they are still not done.

If they had told me it would take over 2 weeks to get them done, at least they would get points for honesty. But they have been giving me deadlines they can't meet and repeatedly stringing me along.

They could salvage their reputation by doing something outstanding, but I have no idea what that would be.

I could certainly forgive their failure to produce if they offered to rebate me half the cost of the bike tune ups or something along these lines. But they would still have a phenomenally Herculean task before them to pull their reputation out of the gutter, in my mind.

The bike shop has a cafe in front. That seems to do alright. I think they should can the bike operation and focus on what they are good at.

As for me, I am picking the bikes up on Saturday, done or not. I will pay them what I owe and never return.

I went in there last night about 7 pm, and even though the bike shop is open until 8 pm, there was no staff there. Really? My bike repairs are far over due and they are out? They should be working furiously, overtime if needs be, to get my order filled and meet my needs.


Public Morality and Common Sense

Video post today.



Corporate Devils

Here's the backstory.

My company in Madison WI was bought out by a company in California.

Going into fiscal year 2013, the CA management directed ALL employees in both California and Wisconsin to take mandatory Paid Time Off (PTO).

At first this sounds fair, right. That hits everyone equally. But then you do some research, as everyone should and you find this nugget:

Almost all states follow the above federal provisions, but employers should check state laws regarding PTO use. In particular, California does not allow PTO use for mandatory absences. That state recognizes PTO banks as earned wages, and employees cannot be required to use PTO for mandatory absences because, in the eyes of the state, this would deprive the employee of PTO hours without compensation. However, the other provisions still apply in California.”

Diabolically, the CA management targets the Wisconsin factory they bought out while exempting California employees via a legal loophole.

One might think they were trying to minimize the liability for unpaid PTO prior to a mass layoff, if one was into conspiracy theories.

But no company would be that diabolical, surely!


The Earth is Catching on Fire

I suppose if I don't at least mention it, people will blame me for not warning them.

Global warming is setting the earth on fire.

What do you think it means when year after year, entire states go up in flames with record wildfires and droughts.

The desert southwest is the first to experience this - Colorado, Arizona, New Mexico, and parts of California and Texas. But it will spread.

I really do not care if you believe me, humanity. But when it does happen, please do not say I didn't warn you.

Open your eyes!

The Koch Brothers Have Spoken

Let me be the first to say that I accept the results of Wisconsin's recall election.

But do not for one second think that this means I do not still think Scott Walker is a total douche nugget.

Instead, what it means is that I (and hopefully you, even if you are a conservative for some reason) will be upping my game of telling THE MAN to go pound sand up his ass.

Whatever happens, do not believe the hype. Walker outspent Barrett 4 to 1 and over 75% of Walker's cash was from out of state (Koch money) vs. 25% out of state money for Barrett. So even though WI has voted, corporate America decided the fate of Wisconsin.

We can hope for 2 things. 1. Walker will be charged in the Justice Dept's "John Doe" investigation, with subsequent impeachment. 2. Now that Republicans are in the WI congressional minority, Walker will have to learn to compromise. He can't so easily railroad things through anymore.

Democrats Suck

Democrats are good people.

But they are lazy people.

They don't go out and vote when they KNOW they should.

Polls are showing Scott Walker ahead of Tom Barrett by only a few votes only among people who plan to vote in Wisconsin's recall election on Tuesday.

When voting intention is set aside, Barrett wins by a landslide.

But he might not win if lazy Democrats stay home on elections day and don't vote.

Republicans are dingbats. But they are loyal dingbats, and they get out and vote for their "team."

Getting Democrats to vote is like herding cats.

Therefore, Democrats suck. But only at voting. They are generally cool people.

This WI recall election tomorrow is a skirmish in the larger class war called THE PEOPLE vs. CORPORATE AMERICA.

Remember Corporate America? They are the ones who nuked the economy and made your life suck. They are the ones butfunneling cash to immoral right wingers like Scott Walker. They are the ones the Supreme Court calls "people," even though they are by definition soulless and immoral, compelled to make money at any cost.

But you know what Corporations can't do? THEY CAN'T VOTE!

But you can, lazy democrat. So get your fat butt out of the house tomorrow and vote.

Don't let Scott Walker escape his fate because you were sitting on your arse, too lazy to go to the polls. It matters.

Why is Class Warfare a Bad Thing? Let's Call It Self-Defense.

Do you ever notice how right wingers cry "class warfare" whenever progressives talk about fair taxation and campaign finance reform?

It seems to be presumed that class warfare is somehow a bad thing, even though the rich have been waging it on the middle class and poor for years. But whenever anyone points this out, you get the accusation that you are stirring up class warfare. Why?

Class warfare has been going on since the beginning of hierarchical societies. It's why we have classes, so that the resources can be horded by the upper classes and distributed to the lower classes as they see fit.

Well, class warfare or not, Wisconsin's recall election on Tuesday June 5 is clearly a contest between corporate power and people power. Corporate wealthy America has been butt funneling money to the State's Republicans, who are far outspending the Democrats.

The thing that infuriates Corporate America the most is that they can't vote, but YOU CAN.

It's as if they have spent huge amounts of money on all the fancy weapons, but they don't have any ammunition. The people of Wisconsin each have a small handgun loaded with just one bullet, their vote, and they cannot miss their target as long as they pull the trigger, no matter how much the right wing spends on campaign funding for Republicans.

On Tuesday, let's show the right that votes are more potent than money. VOTE!