Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Getting Personal

Name, age, town of residence

Virgil, 40, Urbana


Profession: Explain in one sentence what it is you do.

I make printing work, along with server administration; and I buy beer, bartend, and drink beer.


What time do you typically get up? What do you do the first hour of the morning?

My alarm is set for 7:02, I love multiples of 9. I drink a Diet Mountain Dew, smoke a cigarette and get ready for work.

What did you have for lunch today? Where? With whom?

I skipped lunch (so far) today, yesterday I had bbq chicken quarter (white meat), with mashed potatoes (no gravy), and southwest corn, in the Carle cafeteria, by myself.

Best high school memory.

Getting arrested for illegal consumption of alcohol by a minor. It created the best story to tell, and (to me) bad decisions make the best stories.

Tell me about your favorite pair of shoes.

I have a red suede pair of casket creepers. They have 1 inch soles, and in the middle of the sole, there’s a casket that covers a compartment, where you could put… um… things… mine has a dollar bill in it.

What does a perfect Sunday afternoon include?

I bartend on Sunday afternoon, so, it wouldn’t be too busy, several of my friends, people drinking beer, and me having time to talk to them about beer. Also, the Packers would win a game, and my fantasy football team would score lots of points.

Was there one book you read as a child that you still cherish? Own? Read?

I don’t remember reading much as a child. As a teen, I read a lot of Clive Barker, I still own all those books. More recently I’ve read the Lucifer Principle by Howard Bloom, and Global Brain (also by Bloom), those are good non-fiction works. I also read the Bible, but don’t believe it. Good Omens by Neil Gaiman, and Terry Pratchett is one of my favorite fiction works.

Where on earth are you dying to go? Why?

If I could go anywhere, right now… it’d be Three Floyds Brewery on November 12, for their 15th anniversary party. There will be some great beers and brewers there.

Tell me about your favorite pet.

Peggy, my mutt dog. The ex-wife picked her up at a shelter. She always ran way, but we always got her back. She seemed to genuinely love me, and I loved her back.

Have you discovered as you matured that you are becoming like one of your parents? Which one and how?

I notice that I’m developing traits of my father. I tend to compartmentalize, and can get angry/frustrated when things don’t go exactly the way I think they should go.

What would you order for your last meal?

A pound of beef tenderloin (rare), risotto with wild mushrooms, asparagus, a balsamic reduction on the beef, a cheese sauce on the asparagus, for desert, crème brulee. To drink, Westvletereen 12 with the asparagus, St. Bernardus dubbel with the meat, Two Brothers Domaine du Page with the rice, and Three Floyds Dark Lord with the desert.

What can you NOT live without?

Music, beer, diet mountain dew.

Who do you have on your iPod?

All the music I own, mostly industrial (Ministry, KMFDM, NIN, PIG), however there’s some other stuff (Cure, Depeche Mode, Chemlab).

What’s the happiest memory of your life?

Probably the first time I saw Ministry. I went down to Louisville, and picked up my brother, and we went to Jillians (they had one there too) and I saw them for the first time. It had been something I wanted to do for many years (dozen? Twenty?) and finally got to do it. I made a gesture to my brother symbolizing “I can die happy now” then the show ended. We drove back to his place, listening to the radio at what we thought was a normal volume, later fell asleep with ears ringing.  When we got into the truck the next morning, the radio was at its highest volume and it scared us, it was so loud when it came on.

Otherwise, I don’t have any kids, and I’m not planning on getting remarried. I have a bottle of beer (yes, Three Floyds) that we picked up at this past years Dark Lord Day. The purchase price was $50. Later that day, other bottles of it were on Ebay for $500 (it is very limited, only done once, in numbered bottles), and me and the girlfriend were wondering when we could drink a $500 (value) bottle of beer? We aren’t going to have kids, and we aren’t going to get married, so when is the appropriate time to drink that… we still haven’t figured it out.

If you could host a dinner party with any three living people in the world, whom would you invite?

If I’m hosting a dinner party, then all my friends are invited; the other 3 people in the world who I would invite would be: Mikkel (a Danish brewer), Al Jourgenson (the man behind Ministry), and Niel Degrasse Tyson (from NOVA, he’s soooo cool and smart).

What’s the best advice you’ve ever been given?

On Duckman (an old cartoon) Duckman once told the kids,  “Remember kids, when you get to prison attach yourself to the biggest, toughest, meanest looking goon you can find. You don't wanna wind up as just anyone's bitch.“

More seriously…

Not sure if it was advice, but the instructor at airborne school once told me to “go! Go! Go!” and so I jumped out of a plane. Go, you might as well do something. When told to jump, don’t waste time asking how high, just do what you are told.

What’s your best piece of advice?

Accept happiness.

What was your first job, and how much did you make an hour?

Newspaper delivery, I think I operated at a loss. Otherwise, lifeguard, minimum wage, whatever that was in ’88.

What was a pivotal decision in your career, and how did you arrive at that decision?

In ’99 I was in the Army, and the army decided to send me to Korea for a year. I was in this rare window, that I would have to re-enlist in order to go, or I could get out of the army. It would have been a year separation from my wife (at the time) and I knew that a year separation, had hurt stronger marriages than I had; so I chose to get out (later the wife was sent to Iraq for a year, and that pretty much ended that marriage, so I was right). I then got a job doing server administration, and the rest is history.

Do you have a bad habit? What is it?

Some would consider smoking to be a bad habit. Some would consider drinking to be a bad habit. Some would consider that I’m an atheist to be a bad habit. Some would consider that I don’t look like I conform (Mohawk, facial hair, tattoos) to be a bad habit. I don’t think I have a bad habit, I just do things that others don’t like.

How do you handle a stressful situation?

I fix the problem. Then it isn’t a problem anymore.


Friday, September 9, 2011

don't be bullied

So, yesterday I had to attend Horizontal Violence (incivility) training, it’s mandatory for the place I work. Basically, there’s about a 10% turnover in new staff each year, and one of the main reasons was something like a hostile work environment. The people either didn’t fit in, or felt they were bullied.

Bullying is the new big thing (Just did a google news search and there are 8,840 stories in the past hour). It’s now why kids kill themselves. It’s why people quit jobs. It’s why people go home unhappy. It’s why they then take their work life out on their families.

Is it because people are too sensitive? In the corporate world, we aren’t talking about physical violence, that will get you fired, we are talking about (basically) hurting someone’s feelings. I don’t like the way you rolled your eyes at me. I don’t like you talking behind my back. I don’t like you giving me the silent treatment. I don’t like you blaming me. I don’t like you backstabbing me. I don’t like… Jeebus. Grow a spine.

In modern society, it seems the goal is to do one thing, fit in. Look around next time you go out, how many people drive the same car, wear the same jacket, have the same haircut, wear the same perfume. People do almost everything they can to be the most … um… GENERIC. It’s not cheap to be generic, some of the things they have are really expensive, but EVERYONE has it. (North Face Jackets for example) People fight as hard as they can to NOT be unique. They think they are “different” and “special”, but deep down, they just want to blend in.

When I went to basic training, I received some of the worst advice ever from my cousin; he said something like “don’t let the drill sergeants know who you are”. I think when he graduated from Basic Training, the drills were like, wait, who are you? This is most people. Their goal is not to be noticed. They want to be wall flowers. You’d think that’d be easy to do in camouflage. But, it’s the people that try to blend in and not be noticed who are the ones who are yelled at, dropped for pushups, and singled out. Why? Because, the army needs people who can be yelled at, and can do their job; and not start crying and worry about their feelings and not accomplish their mission. If you can do your job correctly under pressure, then you can do it. There is pressure in war.

So why is bullying a problem for people who want to blend in? It means that someone has determined that you are special. You have gotten me to choose you (out of EVERYONE else) to pick on. You are no longer a faceless drone, you are now… UNIQUE! It’s the last thing you want. You just want to go about your day, do your job, maybe have someone say “good job” or “thank you” but most likely you would prefer no recognition at all. If someone is yelling at you, talking about you, rolling their eyes at you, well… you have become special. You are no longer faceless person #2, you are SOMEONE. You are suddenly unique. You don’t know what to do with yourself.

Modern society almost demands that you be a drone. Children’s games are outlawed because someone might get hurt. Score isn’t kept at kids sporting events because “everyone is a winner”; well everyone is also a loser. Everyone is the same, and that’s the way society wants it. Getting hurt is an easy way to learn. Losing, and not liking losing, is a reason to get better. Why get better if it doesn’t matter what you do, since there is no score? Kids are all treated the same. Which is bullshit. Everyone needs to be treated differently. I am different than you, you are different than her, she is different than him. If they are all treated the same, how will we know who does what good?

That’s the first factor about bullying (probably the most overlooked one) that people don’t want to stand out in a crowd. People look at the different people … differently. They actually notice them. I was the guy with the Mohawk in the class… I was the one with a different opinion. Why? I don’t mind being noticed.

The other factor in modern bullying goes to people’s inability to accept happiness. Happiness is all around, you just have to accept it. Trust me, there are great things out there. If you look for something, you will find it. If you are unhappy, look for a reason to be happy. I’m not saying ignore your problems and they will go away, I’m saying, there’s no reason to be permanently unhappy. If you have massive problems with money or a job, or … whatever, that’s different. If you are on the internet reading this, you have a computer (or access to one) or a smart phone… how many people in the world don’t have those things.

Heck, if you are here, you probably like beer. Hurray beer! Don’t drink to drown your problems, drink because beer is great! How can you be unhappy if there’s a beer in front of you? Why would you be unhappy if there’s a beer? Find a thing you like, and be happy about that.

Don’t hate Monday. Love your weekend. It’s only 5 days till the next one. I see some people ruining their weekend because they hate Monday. Screw that, I’m going to enjoy the time I have when I have it, instead of waiting for something bad.

If little things piss you off, you need to relax and not worry about it. If your day is ruined because someone cut you off in traffic, then you really need to learn to enjoy what you have. If you are cut off in traffic, you are going somewhere (hurray, you have a place to go), you have a vehicle (hurray, you have a car), you have money to put gas in the car (hurray, you have some gas), you have many many things. Why would you let something like… someone not using a turn signal… even put you in a bad mood for a split second?

Anyone who makes you lose your cool, isn’t worth losing your cool over. If you think someone is worth losing your cool over, they shouldn’t make you lose your cool. Don’t let someone else affect your mood. A person who cuts you off on the road, isn’t worth your time to flip them off. You won’t feel better about doing it. They won’t care, even if it does. Just be happy.

If you dwell on the things that make you unhappy, you won’t be able to experience all the joy that comes from the things that can make you happy.

If you dread mowing the lawn, be thankful you have a yard. If you have to paint the house, congrats, you have a house. If your kid is crying, then someone has found you to be an acceptable mate and has procreated with you, that’s probably something to write about.

So, in order to not be bullied, you have to accept happiness, and not care that you are no longer a faceless drone.

Good luck