Things that give me a headache

Shopping makes me hyperventilate.

i despise it.  Yet sometimes, it is necessary.  After putting off purchasing furniture for my dining room and bedroom for about three years*, i was overdue.

Acquiring the services of Irish, one of my gentleman friends, with the perfect attributes, i was ready.  Namely? Manly trucks and trailers PLUS a metrosexual propensity to like furniture shopping.  “It’s just Ikea”, he said.  “How hard can it be?”  But i planned my purchases for a month.  Measuring this and that, determining whether we’d need to bring his trailer for the bundles of flat-pack boxes or if the big truck would be sufficient.

Hyperventilation started as soon as we entered the store.  “Why are these people smiling?  Do they ENJOY this?”  He calmed me down by getting me an ice cream cone, patting me gently on the head, and shepherding me to the escalator.  i really started tweaking by the time we were in the dining room display area…

Letting Irish do most of the design adjustments**, i mostly took notes on item numbers and locations for pick up in the self-service warehouse.  Interspersed with moments of hyperventilation, we finally made it to the pick up area.  Where naturally, they only had three of the dining chairs out that i wanted to purchase. 

Sending him off to get the table, i asked the clerk if there were any more available.  Striking out, we met up at the check out, with two full flatbed carts of furniture and a shopping cart full of miscellaneous stuff.  “Check to make sure all of the numbers match”, he said, as he pulled two carts into a checkout line.


After we unloaded the cartons into my place, he headed out to run errands.  To repay him for services rendered, i was planning to fix dinner, and he’d be returning at eight.  Which left me about four hours to put together a dining room table and chairs upon which to serve the food.

Starting with the table, i pulled it from the carton – to find it was the wrong item.  Round.  Not the square i intended to buy.

“Son of a flat-packed bitch!”  Yep.  Should have checked those numbers as he’d suggested.  So i improvised, and we managed dinner at the bar in the kitchen.  i’ll have to make a return trip this weekend.  As much as i hate shopping, i hate returning even more. 

Over the course of the week, i’ve managed to get my bedroom stuff assembled, while cutting and hacking my limbs in a thousand different ways.   Wrenched my back, too.  But it looks better.  And the dresser doesn’t lean to the left. 

Almost three years after i moved here?  It’s almost done.  Well, at least the upstairs…  Won’t be tackling the downstairs until i stop hyperventilating.

pic found here.  best to enlarge it, unless you’ve got really good eyes. 

* Leftover bits and pieces from my old house worked just fine.  There’s nothing wrong with using old living room end tables for a night stand or two.  And that dresser that we bought from WalMart?  It worked fine, once you got used to the fact that it listed about 30 degrees to port…

** The table that i’d chosen for use as the coffee bar in my bedroom?  Uuuuuugly.  So he found something that worked better, and i simply said “Whatever”. 

Phun with Phyzikz…

Even i have limits.  i can tolerate a rather remarkable amount of pain – particularly in regards to enduring meetings, workshops and technical conferences.  i have developed tools and techniques for staying awake

Physiologically?  They call me “The Camel”, as i am generally able to drink my weight in coffee in a half-day meeting and never require a mercy break*.   That – and my ability to sleep on airplanes – is one of my most important business skills….

Friday was Day Four of a Hardcore Tech Workshop.  The first three days of the meeting were at our on-site conference facility – allowing me the option of sneaking home for lunch and avoiding getting my leg humped by aggressive and/or needy academics looking for research funds.  They often have no table manners, and will corner me during lunch, sharing the merits of their particular microcosm of the research universe whilst spitting chunks of squishy pasta salad in my lap. 

The final “invitation only” geekfest was held at a downtown hotel… less convenient for an escape.  With about 200 people at the events earlier in the week, it was easy to disappear and escape notice.  The final day consisted of a smaller subset of researchers, maybe twenty folks total.  This presented a much greater challenge – especially since i was one of only two “senior leader” types in the room…

So it had to tough it out.  This little topical workshop was focused on a piece of my technological pie.  Since i’m the techno-strategist du jour for my new group, i felt obligated to feign as much interest as possible. 

i pulled out all of my standard tools.  Fantasize about someone in the room?  Umm… right….  Mostly physicists.  Next trick, please?  Discreetly surf the news on my blackberry?  Nope.  Seats were crammed too closely together in a small room.  The speaker would see me doing it… just too rude. 

Oh, for the love of Maxwell, these fuckers simply would not shut up!  We were destined to run late.  On a fucking FRIDAY afternoon.  But i was hangin’ tough.  Going through my “to do” list for the weekend in my head.  Playing games with the words being spewed**….

At 1:30 pm, i began to squirm… the dreaded “Post-Lunch/Pre-Cookie Break” chasm of death.  Nowhere to stand and pace in the back of the small meeting room.  i was trapped.  When the final speaker of the session launched into an impassioned discussion of non-hermitian hamiltonians, i cracked.

Looking at my blackberry, with my trademarked “Oh, There’s A Highly Urgent Management Matter I Must Attend To” furrowed brow, i stood, grabbed my coat and briskly walked out of the room, off to the parking garage and squealed my tires outta there. 

Sometimes they simply can’t pay me enough…


Phuck all y'all!

* In fact, i have used this particular skill to accelerate the decision process.  After filling the urn in the group conference room with coffee, gathering my management team around the table, and hashing out the advantages/disadvantages of a particular course of action, i can wrap a meeting up fairly quickly with the statement:  “No one is leaving this room until we come to a decision!”  They’ll squirm, cross their little legs, and sometimes even pace a bit, but eventually, we’re done and there’s a mad dash to the cans…  Yeah.  Evil, but highly effective.

** One particularly enthusiastic speaker, who was Greek, managed to hold my attention inadvertently.  Every time he said “PT Phase” it sounded like “Pretty Face”, and therefore made his presentation much more entertaining…