Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Missing: $5,000 check

It was late at work last week when a co-worker stopped at my work cubicle. She had a check to be deposited and asked if I could hold it in my desk till the next day--then hand it over to my boss. He prepares the deposits for stray checks we occasionally get in the mail.

She explained that she didn't want to be responsible for holding the check herself since it was written for over $5,000. No fear. Big Dave is here. I took the check and opened my top desk drawer when I noticed the woman still standing there. Better wait, I thought to myself. I put the check aside.

The next morning I was plugging away at my desk, my supervisor sitting at the cubicle across from me, when something I heard jogged my memory. Whoa, that check! I sometimes forget at my age, you know. So I opened the drawer where I thought I had put it.

It wasn't there.

I tried to recall exactly what I had done after the woman had stopped at my desk. But I couldn't recall. Heck, if Attorney General Alberto Gonzales says under oath 71 times that he can't recall what he did as attorney general, surely I can be forgiven for a memory gap of my own.

One by one, I went through every drawer in my desk, even drawers I hadn't used in years. I scoured in-baskets, inspected my pile of recycled papers, looked in the trash, sorted through every last piece of paper sitting on my desk. Zero, nada, zilch.

My main job responsibility is making sure that various sites underneath our administrative umbrella reconcile their own cash collections to the penny. And they hear from me if they don't. So what does it look like for me to suddenly lose a $5,000 check? Not good. I'm beginning to panic. My hands are getting clammy. I feel a lump in my throat.

In a gesture of desperation, I decided to go to the file room to pull a couple files I had on my desk the previous afternoon. It's a long shot, but maybe I had absent-mindedly put the check inside with the file contents. Before leaving, I decided to tell the boss. Time to confess.

"So you're missing a check, huh," he said, flashing me a broad grin.

Wait a minute, stop the presses. I smell a rotten tomato here. Yes, it was time for true confessions. But it was my supervisor who had to 'fess up . . . to taking the check out of my desk before I had arrived at work, and forgetting to tell ME about it. The woman who had given me the check had e-mailed my boss telling him I had it.

"Did I have your blood pressure shooting up there?" he teased.

D'YA THINK??? I didn't even know he had permission to rummage through my desk, which is open since the lock has been broken a while. So I said, "I owe you one." He disagreed, saying he had owed ME, since I often berate his allegiance to Michigan State Spartan sports teams.

No soap! We work in Ann Arbor, home of the University of Michigan Wolverines. Belittling Spartan cheerleaders is not only the norm, it's expected behavior.

So if anyone knows of a good prank I can pull on the boss, let me know. Be daring. I'm close enough to retirement.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

A Day At Navy Pier

My wife and I accompanied our eldest son and his girlfriend to Chicago this past weekend. I have to remember that families may not always be in synch with these cross-generational road trips. A few long walks, a trip to the museum of science and industry, and Wendy and I were ready to go home on Sunday.

But my son's girlfriend still had some shopping to do along the
Magnificent Mile and adjacent areas downtown. Not we more mature
folks. Been there, done that. Here's a note of warning for you younger men
(yeah, like a lot of young guys visit my blog regularly) . . . with
young women, this shopping process can go on for hours.

So Wendy and I hung out at the Navy Pier, a conglomeration of
shops, rides and attractions along Lake Michigan. You can do a lot of
walking there too and many tourists and locals were under the warming
rays of the sun. Still was a bit chilly, though.

We walked all the way to the end of the pier where sits a
cavernous ballroom, rebuilt as it stood almost a century ago. I peered
through its windows and tried to imagine hundreds of dancers congregated under its vast domed ceiling while a big band played on stage. It must have
been awesome to behold.

The adjacent buildings feature trade shows of one type or another.
We thought a bicycle show with an admission price of $13 per person to
be too pricy. But there's also the Smithson museum of stained glass
windows. That was free. Now we're talking.

Strolling through the corridors and rooms full of stained glass
windows, many of them depicting scenes from the Bible, it reminded me
of attending St. Joseph's Catholic church in Bay City as a child. It was
also educational. I learned of the influence of the Mayer family of
Munich, Germany in the design of many of the stained glass windows
found in churches here in the United States.

Louis Tiffany made his name in stained glass, developing an
opalescent process for making stained glass windows that included
faceted jewels, as well as colored glass of various colors and textures. This
improved on the process of just painting colorless glass which had been
the tradition for centuries prior.

Turning a corner in the maze of exhibit halls, I came face to face
with a large window featuring beautiful young women angels. All very
much unclothed from the waist up. That was a shock. Never saw
anything like that before in any church I've been to.

"I hope you didn't stand there staring," my wife asked later with
a scolding tone. But how could I not? They were so life-like, so big,
so exposed.

Later, I came across a group of older women admiring another
display of stained glass artistry. "If anybody wants to get me a gift,
I'll like that one there on the left," one woman said pointing to a small
window in the display as they departed. A matronly woman whom I
presumed to be her mother with a wry smile said, "Okay, I'll write that down."

Hmmmmmmm, didn't see any price tags on anything in that museum.
But I wasn't looking either. If we ever go back to Navy Pier in
Chicago, I know which window I want to do a price check on.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

It's Alive . . . It's Alive

Yes, it's alive!

My new computer, that is. I bought a laptop a couple weeks ago to replace my aging cyber-dinosaur that sneered at my efforts to do anything productive with it. Now I just needed internet access, something I haven't had at home since last year.

Until yesterday, that meant I had to walk to the local library and forage for an open computer there. Sometimes that meant sitting next to some giggling junior high schoolers using the library as a kind of afterschool hang-out.

Or even worse, sitting in the "adults only" carrel next to some sleaze-meister accessing hard core pornography. That happened more than once. One time some bozo pervert abandoned his public desktop with some pornography still streaming across the screen. When I sat down, every time I tried to close one window, three more would pop up with still more x-rated videos.

Eventually I tamed the beast, but I was thankful that no youngster happened by in the meantime. All I would need to hear would be, "Mommy, what are those people doing on that man's computer?"

So last week, I called Verizon customer service. I was caller eighty six in queue. Every few seconds, they would update this, so eventually I was caller 79, then 61, then 54, and so on. By the time they got into single digits, I could feel my heartbeat. This was getting exciting.

When I finally got a live person on the phone, I signed up for DSL high speed service. A modem would be delivered by UPS and I should be connected in a little over a week. Sure enough, my modem arrived in the mail in a couple days. Then I got an e-mail at my workplace, telling me my DSL was up and running. Billing had commenced!

Except this e-mail was sent to me Friday night. How many people go to work on the weekends just for the fun of it? Or just to check their e-mail. Why didn't they call me on my home phone? Verizon IS our local service. They HAVE my number. So I didn't learn that my DSL was active and waiting until Monday.

After trying and failing to get on-line myself, I called Verizon tech support. Matt, a nice and very patient gentleman, stayed on the phone with me for well over an hour until my wireless connection was established (something about a problem with the new Windows Vista operating system).

So I'm here! Live! On-line! Now for the ultimate test. Let's put this first blog up.

########%^%^%system uplink lost@#$@#@@$@@!!!!!!@#$@#$firewall breech^^xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx^&*^*&********server integrity compromised^&^&^&^######################## SySTEM FAILURES^^^................

P-R-E-P-A-R-E____F-O-R____ I-N-T-E-R-N-E-T____ S-H-U-T-D-O-W-N!!!!!

Wednesday, April 04, 2007


Traditions both secular and sacred occur this time each year with our family. Though with our boys on their own, Wendy and I attend Palm Sunday mass by ourselves. Anyone familiar with Catholic church tradition knows that the mass on Palm Sunday is the longest in the church year.

One reason for this is that the passion of Christ is recited at length from the Bible with speakers taking the parts of various characters from the liturgy. The congregation stands through all of this, not that easy for those at the early mass, many of whom are elderly.

This past Sunday we had no sooner begun the recitation when the choir interrupted with a short hymn. This was new. I don't remember singing ever being part of this reading. It meant we would be standing a little longer. After a few more paragraphs were read, the choir interrupted again with singing.

"Pow!" came a noise behind us. An older gentleman had swung his missalette against the top of the pew in front of him. It could have been an accident, as he struggled to balance his swarthy frame. Or it could have been an editorial comment against tampering with tradition with the addition of hymns. All I know is that the sound of his booklet whacking the top of the wooden bench in front of him reverberated loudly throughout.

With our children grown, we're past some of our other family Easter traditions as well. The Easter egg hunt in our house had been an annual tradition for many years with our boys and their cousins. I've always felt neglectful as a dad that I never found a large public Easter egg hunt for our kids to participate in when they were growing up.

Remember those? I'm sure they're still around. I won a softball once by finding a lucky egg. That wasn't easy as you were often competing against dozens, sometimes hundreds of kids.

Once, I recall being among a huge gathering of kids at a local fairgrounds where an Easter Egg hunt was going to take place. The organizers were doing their best to hold back the throngs of youngsters who could see the brightly colored eggs in the distance.

Close to the appointed time for the hunt, one of the volunteer adults wanted to get the attention of a fellow volunteer. "Hea, JOE!!" he called out loudly to be heard over the voices of the exhuberant youngsters.

Joe?? The gathered kids knew he really meant "Go!!" Away they ran like a herd of charging elephants. Though the volunteers tried to stop the mad dash as it wasn't the appointed time, they probably would have had more luck stopping a herd of charging elephants.

That left Joe and his buddies to explain to a couple angry parents why their children were held back while others were given a head start. My guess is if this group sponsored another Easter egg hunt the following year, Joe stayed home.