Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Tomato or Tomato?

I'm in a bit of a tough spot with my manager. It has nothing to do with work; I appear to be fine in that regard. But she seems to have a slight speech impediment, and I don't know what to do about it.

My manager is a nice woman from New York, although she has no significant accent. She's probably about my age, give or take three years. We get along fine, and although she sometimes talks too much, overstating simple things, it's certainly not a problem.

The problem comes in her pronunciation. The first word that jarred my ears was "onus." Except she pronounced it "onerous." I even looked it up to make sure it wasn't a word I didn't know. Nope. Not a word. Okay, now that's weird. I'm positive I looked it up before and found nothing, but in the last few pages of "The Razor's Edge," there it was. I looked it up again, and it IS a word. I'm sure she meant onus anyway, by the context. She said it several times in one conversation. I can't really correct her, right? I guessed I could've played dumb, and asked what the word meant. I'm never too proud to play dumb. Heck, I'm often not even playing. But I don't think that really would've helped in this situation.

The next word popped during one of our weekly lunches together: "facade," which she pronounces fuh-kaid. At first I wasn't even sure what she was saying. It was like doing an aural crossword. "The building had a really interesting ______ that hid the structure inside." Hmm. I'll give her some credit, though, as I certainly understand how someone might never have heard this word out loud.

The same is true for the next one: Riesling. This is a type of wine, made from the Riesling grape. For those of you reading at home, it should be pronounced reese-ling, not rice-ling as my manager does. Again, though, this is totally forgivable. It is the compounding of all three that gets me on edge.

The problem really comes from within me. Now, whenever we talk at length about something, my ears are constantly on alert for some other weird pronunciation. Not only that, but I'm tempted to deliberately pepper my speech with the proper forms of these same words, just to see her reaction. One of these days, it's most likely going to bite me on the arse.

April 4th Update: Okay, I have few more that I didn't think were worthy of their own posts, but I wanted to record them anyway.
euphorism instead of euphemism
grandiose pronounced gran-doice
And the worst: varocious instead of voracious.
The reason this one is the worst isn't because of the word, but what she said afterwards. She said, "I used to be a varocious reader. Is that the right word?" then continued talking without pause for an answer. I was stunned! I was so busy mentally note-taking on the word that I wasn't even able to respond to the opening. These last two made me decide that maybe she has some form of oral dyslexia.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Gogol Bordello!

Wow, what energy! I had been looking forward to seeing these guys for about a year, ever since I first heard one of their songs. As the date approached, I sort of lost that enthusiasm-- not for lack of interest, more just because I had other things on my mind. But last night their show threw me back into fandom. I mean, look at this picture: How could you not expect a good show from people like this?

Led by a Ukrainian now living in New York (you can read more about them here), the band calls their style "Gypsy Punk," and that is definitely fitting. There were about seven people on stage playing instruments ranging from violin to electric guitar to banging on a metal pail.

I accidentally got split up from my buddies (had to get another beer), but that turned out to be a good thing. Once I didn't have to worry about hanging out with my friends, it freed me up to move closer to the stage. I weaved and dodged and squirmed and finally hit a stopping point at the third "row," about 5 feet from the stage.

It was great! The massive throngs of people were crushing me behind, and the people in front were in turn crushed against the stage. There wasn't exactly moshing going on, but there was a lot of jumping and dancing. Had I known beforehand that I would be in this mob, I wouldn't have worn my sandals. Pretty early on, I had my big toe crush, breaking the nail. It was quire painful, but easily ignored for a good show. There were also several people who tried to body surf the crowd, with mixed results. Since I was trying to watch the show, I was often blind-sided by a stray leg or foot. In addition, the combination of sweat coming from me and water coming from everywhere, I ended up being soaked to the bone by the end of it. Not even noticeable while in the club, but quite chilly in the open air outside.

And one thing struck me as funniest of all-- The whole time I'm getting shoved and crushed, stepped on and kicked in the head, soaking wet and laughing with joy, the one thought that goes through my mind is not "I'm too old for this" or "I should be more careful." No, the one thought that kept occurring to me was, "Hmm, maybe I should get Lasik so I don't have to worry about my glasses at times like these." Really a wonderful show.

Sunday, March 9, 2008

Why there is Road Rage

So, I have to run a few errands this evening. First, I grab my bottles and head for the recycling center. There's a place not far from me that has a drive-through. You still have to get out and dump your stuff, but otherwise it's pretty convenient. There are two lanes: one for parking and dumping your stuff, the other for driving through. Sometimes, all the parking spots are taken, so I park at the curb and walk the 20 feet to the actual bins. What I didn't realize was that I was suppose to just park in the drive-through lane and block traffic for anyone who wants to leave. That's what the guy in the silver BMW Behemoth or whatever they're called did. He waved to me as I'm waiting to get out. What am I supposed to do? Wave back? Does the wave make it okay? Exactly what is he signaling, anyway? "Hi! Yes, I know I'm a jerk. Howyadoin?"

From the recycling place, it's a quick jaunt over to the grocery store. This one is always crowded for some reason, and the weekends are even worse. The rows in the parking lot are two-way, but the spaces are angled so that one side is outbound, one side is inbound. Unless, of course, you're driving an SUVwagon. Then you're allowed to whip around right in front of me, make a five-point turn, and take the space on my side of the aisle.

Once in the store, I make the mistake of not getting a basket. This is a mistake for a couple of reasons. One, it's a clear signal to everyone that I'm trying to get in, get out as quickly as possible. That's like sending up a flare. Second, it doesn't allow me to block the progress of others or smash their cart out of my way. For example, as I'm heading to the beer aisle, a man stops his cart directly in front of the aisle. Not inconveniently, we're talking completely blocking entrance. Then he just stands and looks around as if he forgot where he is. I barely manage to squeeze by and try to shake it off.

Next, I head to the dairy section for some milk. Here, some other mannerly couple has parked their cart directly in front of the one case I need to get into. And again, this isn't about it being merely in the way, oh no. It's parked so close that it's not even possible to open the door were I able to reach it. Needless to say, they're deciding on something in a completely different case.

After these hurdles have been passed, I head to the auto-check out lane. Silly me, I actually came at it from the front. A woman cuts across from behind and to the side, and cuts directly in front of me! It was unbelievable. Fortunately, she wasn't paying attention and didn't realize that the other check out counter was open as well. Haha! I easily side-stepped her blocking move and made it to the one closer to the door. Victory is mine!

I make it to the car, and take a deep breath before heading out. "Just stay off the freeway," I think to myself. Nah, I give up. The other errands can wait. That's just too many jerks in too short a time; I can't risk it. I made it safely home.

Sunday, March 2, 2008

Mediocre Poker

Well, last night was the monthly poker tournament, so let's see how I did on my goals. In the last tournament, out of 20 players, I was the second out (but only by a few minutes-- I should have been first out). Last night, out of 18 players, I was 6th out. So I definitely hit my primary goal of improving my standings.

I played tighter and more conservatively, which is good, but honestly, it wasn't much because of my own self-restraint. My cards were pretty awful all night. I believe I had only four hands where at least one of my hole cards wasn't lower than 6. My final hand, when I was the short stack by a very wide margin, gave me my first pocket pair: 10s. I went all-in pre-flop. Flop was 3, 4, 5, followed by 6, then Q. The guy who beat me stayed in with 4, 5! What the heck is that?

Overall, I'm pretty pleased with my play. It isn't where I want it to be, but it was a definite improvement. I think my two biggest flaws were waiting too late in the evening to get aggressive, and not being aggressive enough when I finally did. Being the short stack, I was hesitant to bet big; so my $300 raises didn't pack any threat when others were raising $600 - $1,000.

So, did the poker book I read help? Yes and no. The strategies offered by the book were mostly irrelevant, and it did a very poor job of explaining pot odds. However, it did make me rethink the game and look at my play differently, as well as pay more attention to the right things when watching others. I'll be keeping my eyes open for other (cheap) poker books, but I'm not in a big hurry.

Next month, I'll need to finish as well or better. I'll still give myself another month before I expect to be at the final table. As far as finishing in the money, I'm putting no time pressure on that goal.

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