Saturday, December 30, 2006

When one door closes, another one opens.

As expected, Friday was the last day on my document production project. It was a good project: when I signed on, it was expected to last 3 months. It actually lasted 30.

I don’t think anyone was especially sad to see this project end. Sure, it’s been a good, steady paycheck. But the past few months have been so boring and unchallenging that I’ve been afraid my head might implode.

The saddest part of the end of the project was the way BigLawFirm acted. They never directly told us that the project was over: the oblique reference two weeks ago was it. They didn’t tell some of the staffing agencies, either, who had to hear it from us. They didn’t even tell their own employees, such as the Staff Attorney who asked on Tuesday whether his last day working for the firm would also be on Friday – and they didn’t respond to him until Friday around noon. And none of the folks who worked on the project – senior partners, junior partners, associates – ever came by to thank us for all our work or to wish us good luck in future endeavors or anything. Oh well: further evidence that I would never want to work for BigLawFirm or spend any unpaid time with any of its employees.

And the open door? We all found new document production projects, with most of us going to the same project that starts on Tuesday.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Recent reading.

I’ve been listening to Microthrills by Wendy Spero. I happily recommend it. I’d like to write as entertainingly as she does, but she has a head start, as she does standup comedy. And I like the fact that the author was the one to read the book. That seems to make books more interesting to me, as you know that the tone and timing is exactly what was meant. Similarly, I liked the CD version of In a Sunburned Country, Bill Bryson's book about his trip to Australia, quite a bit more because he read it.

As a timely example of contrary, I’m now listening to Loop Group, by Larry McMurtry. The person reading it is mighty distracting: she sometimes mispronounces words or “reads” the wrong word, and often puts emphasis. In a clearly wrong place. When the reader causes you shake your head and go “Whaaa?”, I’m guessing that’s not what the author really had in mind.

I’ve also recently been reading Awake In the Dark, Roger Ebert’s latest collection of reviews and essays. As always, very entertaining, and well written.

Monday, December 18, 2006

Ho, ho, ho.

Looks like my contract attorney job will be over at the end of the year. I suppose I can’t really complain, having worked 30 months on a 3-month project.

And, of course, I don’t know for certain that the job will in fact be over. The bubble-headed associate who is sort of in charge – although on a project of this size, she really isn’t – came over today for the first time in three weeks, to have us change the procedure we’ve been following for the past two months. “You’re doing too much. There’s no way you can be finished by the end of the year if you do all that. So instead, do this other thing which will accomplish only 1% of what you’ve been doing but at least you can get through all of the material. That way, you can be finished by the end of the year.”

This was, naturally, the first that anyone in the room – including our handlers – had heard the phrase “the end of the year” spoken with respect to this project, and it wasn’t entirely clear that she realized she’d said it. And there’s an outside chance that she didn’t really mean to suggest that the project won’t continue into next year – but no one has come forth to officially make that clarification.

Oh, well. We all knew the project would end sometime, and the end of the year is as good a time as any. And my understanding is that there are plenty of other similar projects out there to jump onto.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Reindeer games.

My neighbors are crazy. Oh, sure: not the “I’m Napoleon” kind of crazy. Or chainsaw murderers, that I know of. But crazy just the same.

Those are their illuminated reindeer above. Nothing wrong with illuminated reindeer, of course. The building I work in is surrounded by 75 or 100 of them. So what’s odd about these particular reindeer? They’re in my neighbors’ back yard. Visible only from their neighbors’ back yards, including mine, although my guess is that the least-obstructed view is coming down my driveway, looking through the gap in the trees that line the back of their property.

Okay, I can hear you saying, “Oh, isn’t that cute. It’s the overflow from their flock of painted wicker reindeer with white Christmas tree lights that they have in their front yard.” Sadly, no. That’s what makes it so odd. They have no decorations at all in their front yard. No lights, no inflatable carolers, no giant sleighs, no fake packages. Nothing.

It’s not because garish holiday decorations in the front yards are prohibited by restrictive covenant. (I could only wish. A neighbor two houses down from me proudly exhibits a 7-foot-tall Santa that looks more like a nightmare version of a South Park Underpants Gnome.) And it’s not because the backyard is their Testing Grounds – they’ve been there for over a week, more than long enough to decide, “Yep, it works, let’s move ‘em to the front.”

Someone at the office came up with a semi-plausible explanation: it’s for the grand-kids. Perhaps the Extended Family is coming for Christmas, and the grandchildren are concerned that Santa won’t be able to find them. So the solution was to put the illuminated reindeer in the back yard and then contact Santa, so he’d know what to look for in order to deliver presents to the missing grandchildren.

Nah, I don’t buy it either.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Time to go bowling.

No, no; not that kind.

The New Orleans Bowl. Rice is playing in a post-season bowl game for the first time since 1961 (in the late Bluebonnet Bowl, conveniently played at the Rice Stadium). A very minor bowl in the pantheon of minor bowl games. Played two weeks before that other bowl game played in New Orleans, the Sugar Bowl. But at least it will be on ESPN2, so I’ll be able to watch it.

And that will be the fourth Rice football game that I’ve watched on TV this year, doubtless a record for their national exposure. They’ve been on national TV sufficiently rarely in the past few decades – perhaps once every five years, most notably with their upset of Texas in 1994 – that starting off this season getting to watch their games against Cougar High, UCLA and Texas was fairly amazing. Of course, this may not be the best of omens: Rice lost all three games. Oh, well. “The fourth time’s the charm.”

The last time I saw a Rice football game in person, they lost to Duke. That was in September, 2003. Since then, Duke has won only five games.

It seems to me that I heard about 10 or 15 years ago that Rice held the NCAA record for bowl game futility – they then were the Division I-A school that had been absent from bowl games for the longest time. I think we're happy to pass that record on to someone else.