February 01, 2007

Heading Out To The Pasture...

Gary Llama.JPGAnd so it ends. Two years to the day (and to the minute) from when it began.

For those who didn't get the memo about the conclusion of the Ex-Donkey Blog, I refer you here.

In the first post I ever wrote, I said, "I plan on keeping it simple. Only two topics: Politics and everything else that I like." The politics angle was interesting enough. I had a lot to say. And I think I've pretty much said most of what I care to on that particular topic. Two years ago, in the wake of the 2004 Presidential election, politics in this country was in an ugly state. I had hoped we had hit the high-water mark of the ugliness. But to my dismay it's gotten even more distasteful and toxic. And it couldn't be happening at a worse time in our nation's history. I've gotten weary of it. At this point I'd much rather focus on the "everything else I like" sort of stuff - while still having some occasional fun at the expense of the moonbat brigade.

So the Ex-Donkey is off to join the Llamas, where I can have that fun on a more flexible schedule. Because of other personal commitments I probably won't be posting as often as I did here, but there are plenty of other excellent "tasty bits" to mix it up with over there. Anyone still interested in reading what I have to contribute can follow me to the "pasture" (a/k/a Orgle Manor). Even if you're not, I still encourage you to visit.

As I have already mentioned, the comment function will be shut down soon (if it hasn't been already) as a firewall against comment spam. A warm thanks to all who frequented the place and helped keep it humming. I plan on keeping the site up for as long as the administrator at MuNu will let me.

One other housekeeping note: the current poll about the lefty blogs will stay active for the foreseeable future so feel free to vote as often as it will allow.

Adieu :-)

Posted by: Gary at 10:15 PM | Comments (6) | Add Comment
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January 31, 2007

Here's Irony For You

The month that I formally decide to retire this blog...

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...it gets the most hits/page views in its history.

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January 22, 2007

Why Meetings Suck

If you've ever spent more than an hour in a meeting, you know they're not fun. But after experiencing a particular painful one today, I decided to put my theory as to why they're so painful into graphic form.

Lower down in the post is what I call "Gary's Hierarchy of Meeting Participants". As you can see in "Figure A" below there are three basic types of meeting participants.

The first is the "Chief Stakeholder". This is the person responsible for the meeting in the first place. He or she called the meeting, assembled the contributors, booked the conference room, made copies of handouts, created a Powerpoint presentation and basically has no other responsibility than to make your life miserable. They have a specific motivation for setting the meeting. This is called an "Agenda". And it has very little to do with the primary reason that most everyone else is in attendance, which is that they have to be. The Chief Stakeholder is easily identifiable as the one with the laptop.

The second level of participants contains the "Contributors". These are the individuals called by the Chief Stakeholder to talk about a particular topic that is on the Agenda. They generally only speak to their topic and rarely participate in any other part of the meeting. The Contributors are also fairly easily indentifiable as the ones with folders or stacks of paper containing their material.

The third level is comprised of "Attendees". These are the folks who for one reason or another are determined by the Chief Stakeholder as individuals being affected by the Agenda who need to be made familiar with all of said subject matter. In reality, most of the Attendees have only a marginal interest in the Agenda and will quickly forget everything with which they have been made familiar at the meeting. Attendees can be identified as the ones who have bewildered looks on their faces and are usually holding pens and writing pads of various sizes. These pads are intended to convey a level of interest in the Agenda that does not really exist. The Chief Stakeholder usually understands this.

Now, as to why meetings suck.

While all meetings suck at some level for all of the participants, there is a certain phenomena that happens during meetings in which the total amount of suckitude has an inverse relationship to the level of total interest each category of participant has in the meeting itself as you go down the hierarchy.

Let me explain.

The Chief Stakeholder has an extemely high level of interest in the meeting. As a result, time passes at a faster rate than normal for him or her as they try to cram in too much of the Agenda into the meeting before the allotted time expires. They also have the most to gain from the meeting because it will - at best - result as a line item to hightlight on their internal resume or - at worst - will serve as a CYA exercise in which they can transfer the responsibility for the overall familiarity of the Agenda items to the Attendees (e.g. "I already went through all of that at the meeting").

The Contributors have a high level of interest but only for their own particular item on the Agenda. Very often each of these individuals can excuse themselves from the rest of the meeting however many will stay and completely tune out the rest of the Agenda, confident that once they are done with their portion they can recede into the background. For the amount of time that these individuals "contribute" time will pass rather quickly. The rest of the meeting will drag, however they know that if they have to they can escape the situation with a bathroom break from which they will never return. Contributers stand to gain some rise in esteem among their peers as going forward they may be seen as somewhat of an "expert" regarding the subject matter on which they spoke.

hierarchy.bmp
Figure "A"

Which brings us to the Attendees. For these people, the laws of time and space will alter in a way that seems to defy the minute hands on their watches. They can often be noticed struggling to keep their eyes open, constantly shifting in their seats and getting up to help themselves to water, coffee or other refreshments in a vain attempt to keep their legs from falling asleep. The less interest the individual Attendee has in the Agenda, the slower that time will pass. Attendees stand to gain very little from the meeting other than having their mornings, afternoons or even an entire day shot all to hell. They have the additional disadvantage of looking stupid later on when some item from the Agenda is brought up and they have no memory of that information because they weren't able to focus their attention during the meeting.

So there you have it. Now you know why being invited as an Attendee to a meeting means nothing short of the fact that you're screwed.

Posted by: Gary at 02:45 PM | Comments (2) | Add Comment
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January 17, 2007

Just When I Thought I Was Out...

...they pull me back in.

Last week, I announced the impending conclusion to the Ex-Donkey Blog. That hasn't changed, but at that time my future in the blogosphere was in limbo.

However, I'm pleased to announce that after intense negotiations (they generously asked, I gratefully accepted) that future is now clearer. Upon the formal moth-balling of this site in two weeks time, I will be signing on as an associate (if erratic) contributor to The Llama Butchers.

Steve and Robert have cleaned out one of the guest rooms at Orgle Manor for me with the only stipulation being that I have to clean my own bathroom. Actually, it's similar to an arrangement I made with my parents right after I graduated from college. I hope I'll be better about the bathroom thing this time around.

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This is a welcome opportunity for me to continue to post when the urge strikes me without having the duties of maintaining my own site. It should be a blast. If you haven't already, update those bookmarks and links today.

Posted by: Gary at 12:00 PM | Comments (6) | Add Comment
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January 10, 2007

The Long Goodbye

It always used to annoy me a little when a favorite blogger of mine would suddenly shut down operations and post some lame, last-minute “so long, and thanks for all the fishes” address to their readership – just out of the blue. It’s kind of like someone you know hopping a plane and leaving a note or email behind without saying a proper goodbye. I don’t begrudge their decision to stop blogging. I just consider it kind of rude to scram without even giving a heads-up. So in the spirit of not wanting to be rude (a first for me), I’m giving you all a few weeks notice.

Effective February 1, 2007, I will cease posting to the Ex-Donkey Blog. No, I’m not kidding.

Why, you might ask? Well, the reasons are many and I’ve had a lot of time to reflect on them. That’s why the title of this post is “The Long Goodbye.” I’ve written it and rewritten it and tweaked it and rewritten it again for some time now, trying to express myself as accurately as possible without being overly sentimental. Also, the goodbye isn’t final for another few weeks.

So, if you care to, sit back, grab your favorite adult beverage of choice…and read on… more...

Posted by: Gary at 08:00 AM | Comments (13) | Add Comment
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November 22, 2006

Stress Management For The Holidays

Last year, on the day before Thanksgiving, I posted some advice for those folks who have to face a holiday feast among the politically diverse. What follows is a reprint of that post (with a post-election update):

The Elephant In The Room
November 23, 2005

Or "Being Surrounded By Donkeys On Thanksgiving".

Many of us who are Conservatives and/or Republicans and live in "Blue States" will be going to visit relatives tomorrow. And many of us will come into contact with relatives who are Liberals and/or Democrats openly hostile to President Bush, the war or the GOP in general. more...

Posted by: Gary at 09:45 AM | Comments (5) | Add Comment
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September 21, 2006

Understanding The French (Or At Least Trying To)

French-bashing has usually been popular in the U.S. But since the run up to Iraq it seems like it's hit a fever pitch, particularly among those who strongly support the President. America (and the West) is in the fight of it's life against Islamofacist terrorism and the perception to many in this country is that the French government is doing its best to impede our efforts in this struggle.

How accurate this perception is can be debated ad infinitum. more...

Posted by: Gary at 02:00 PM | Comments (2) | Add Comment
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September 17, 2006

On The DVR Learning Curve

Well, I learned an important lesson with DVR today. A scheduled recording will NOT go beyond the scheduled time and if you want to allow for a show running over you have to adjust the recording time longer.

The Giants were down by 10 with 4:07 remaining in regulation when my three hours were up. Ordinarily it wouldn't have made much of a difference except that the Giants went on to WIN the game in overtime:

Manning tossed a 22-yard TD pass to Amani Toomer with 3:28 left in regulation to cut the deficit to 24-21.

After New York got the ball at its 20 with 56 seconds left and no timeouts remaining, Manning quickly drove the Giants to the Eagles 32. A personal foul penalty on defensive end Trent Cole moved the Giants 15 yards closer and set up Feely's tying kick.

Great. As spectacular a comeback as you could hope for and I missed it.

Crap. Lesson learned.

At least the Giants beat Philly. I hate Philly. And they just saved their season. On to Seattle!

Posted by: Gary at 09:41 PM | Comments (2) | Add Comment
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September 08, 2006

"So Where The Hell Were You, Anyway?"

Yeah, I know for the last month that question has been begging to be answered. I purposely said nothing specific about what I'd be doing on my break if for no other reason to make you wonder.

Well, it's really simple. As I've said, I've been doing this for over a year and a half straight. Those of you who keep a blog (and post frequently) understand that this is a long time in "blog years". So many sites die a slow death within the first six months while others ebb and flow with activity. I have more than a handful of blogs on my blogroll that stop posting for months without a word and then start up again out of nowhere, as if nothing happened.

I also understand that you're less likely to come back unless you can count on fresh material. I didn't want to get stagnant but I really...really...needed a break. So, considering I had planned a week-long vacation anyway and August is normally a slow news month I figured that if I was going to take a break then I'd make it count.

Click "Read More" to read entire post. more...

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September 05, 2006

Ex-Donkey Reloaded

Yeah, that's right. Gary's back.

No, I wasn't monkey-fishing, stalking Diane Lane or any of those other choices. I was engaged in a much more fulfilling activity. I was spending time with the four most important people in my life - my wife and three sons.

I'll go into a little more detail later, but man it looks like I missed some interesting shit while I was away.

I want to give a special "shout out" to the four guest bloggers who kept the fires burning without burning down the house (although my liquor cabinet is considerably bare since I left).

Thank you Pam M. and GroovyVic, my fellow MuNuvians from Blogmeister U.S.A. and FiddleDeeDee, respectively.

Thank you, Wordsmith from Sparks From the Anvil. You've opened my eyes to the treasure trove of often-odd video that is "YouTube". Now I just need to check and see how much bandwidth that stuff eats up. ;-)

Thank You, Skye. Her current site Midnight Blue is undergoing an overhaul over at Blogsnot. And she's currently crafting a new site that will be launching in the near future. In the meantime, I'm happy to announce that Skye will continue to guest blog here at Ex-Donkey blog while she puts the finishing touches on her new home.

Also, the comment spam problem seems to be under control so the comment function has been re-enabled.

Thank you all for your patience. Now a rested, rejuvenated Ex-Donkey returns to the helm.

Locked and loaded.

Posted by: Gary at 07:00 AM | Comments (3) | Add Comment
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August 10, 2006

The Ex-Donkey "Goes Dark"

Eighteen months ago, I started a little site on Blogger that became a daily distraction from the routine and the mundane. Almost one year ago, I moved the blog over to the world of MuNu and the site got a much-needed makeover.

Maintaining this blog has become a labor of love but in order to continue it with the same level of vigor and enthusiasm I need a much-deserved vacation. More than a vacation, I need a break. So I'm taking one. As they say on my favorite show, "24", I am "going dark" - severing all communication for several weeks.

To be clear (to those who like to speculate about such things) I am NOT entering a rehab program, checking myself into a mental health clinic, going under the knife for plastic surgery, being given a new identity through the witness relocation program or any such other odd venture. I'm just taking some time off to recharge my batteries and maybe do a few things that I've been meaning to do for some time.

Fortunately, however, I have five guest bloggers who have graciously agreed to jointly take the conn in my absence (and help keep the site from plummeting to the bowels of the TTLB Ecosystem). Enjoy their stuff.

Everyone have a great August, and I'll see you all again on the other side of Labor Day! Ciao!

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August 09, 2006

Joe And Me

I'd like to step back a bit with some personal reflections about Joe Lieberman. Joe and I go way back. No, we've never actually met. But my own political history is very much tied to his career as CT's Senator over the last 18 years. more...

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June 18, 2006

Happy Father's Day

Picture 019.jpg

Sunset at the lake.

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June 15, 2006

The Trials And Tribulations Of NetFlix

OK, so I've slammed NetFlix in the past because of their "throttling" shenanigans. But since I finished with the old seasons of "24", things started to get a little better. Sure, they still pulled their little tricks now and again but being as I mostly watch movies on the weekend (with the occasional one just for me during the week), it wasn't that big a deal.

I thought I had seen everything. But I hadn't. Check this out. I had "Chicken Little" (for my son and his cousin to watch on Saturday) and "Stewie Griffin: The Untold Story" shipping on Tuesday for delivery yesterday. I go to the mailbox yesterday when I get home from work and there's Stewie but no Chicken Little. Hmmm. Ok, so I'll get it Thursday, right? Friday, the latest.

Not only did I NOT get "Chicken Little" but when I logged on this morning, the main screen asked me to "rate my return" for that movie. They recorded it as being sent out and returned within two days - which is physically impossible under their system!!!! The fastest turnaround can only ever be four days (e.g., sent Tuesday, received by me Wednesday, returned Thursday and received by NetFlix on Friday).

Now not only do I have to blow one of my rentals on a movie that I never got, I have to throw "Chicken Little" back into my queue and hope and pray that the damn thing ships today and delivers tomorrow so I can take it with me where I'm going this weekend. Otherwise, the kid gets screwed.

This is by far the worst thing NetFlix has ever done. Ok, taking a week to send the final disc of "24", season three, was the worst. But this is almost a tie by virture of the fact that 1) clearly the movie didn't ship when they said it did which is a complete and total LIE and 2) it potentially screws up my weekend plans.

BASTARDS!!!!!!

UPDATE: 12:00pm
This is bizarre. I never did "rate" the Chicken Little DVD (why should I? I never got it). I did however put it back in my queue - at the top to replace the one they say was returned.

I checked back just now and Chicken Little WASN'T in my queue. I don't mean it wasn't at the TOP of my queue. I mean it was no longer IN the queue. WTF?

I put it back in. The status of my next shipment, fortunately or unfortunately, still said "we expect to ship your next selection today". Something wasn't right, however.

I went back. I "rated" the Chicken Little DVD. I went out of the website. Then I went back in. Chicken Little was now in my "at home" list labeled "shipping today" and also listed at the top of my queue. Very freaking weird. Was rating the DVD acting as a "trigger" to release my next movie from the queue?

So now I have taken the second Chicken Little out of my queue. It should ship today and arrive tomorrow. So help me, if I go back this afternoon and it says "shipping Friday" I'll lose my mind.

Posted by: Gary at 09:00 AM | Comments (2) | Add Comment
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June 06, 2006

Where's Gary?

Hiding from the Apocalypse! Don't you people have calendars?

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May 24, 2006

Moon River...

Will someone please explain to me exactly when the age threshold for a prostate exam was lowered to 35?

Needless to say I was quite taken by surprise at my physical this morning. And here I was thinking that the worst I'd have to endure was the ceremonial juggling of the cojones. Sheesh.

Posted by: Gary at 11:48 AM | Comments (7) | Add Comment
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May 18, 2006

Happy Birthday To Me

39 years young today. Yikes!

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I GOTTA HAVE MORE COWBELL!!!!!

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May 04, 2006

Expanding My Horizons

Picked up a copy of this book at lunch today:

wine.gif

Why, you ask?

Well, I've never been much of a wine drinker. I'm more of a beer guy with the occasional tequila or vodka cocktail. The reason I've never really been into wine is simply my lack of familiarity with good wine. And I'm not ashamed to admit that I'm more used to the mass-produced crappy variety that's so full of sulfites it makes my head feel like it's going to implode.

I did NOT buy this book because I want to be a wine expert or try to pass myself off as one. I DID buy it because life is all about learning and lately I've come to believe that one thing in life that it's useful to have is a basic understanding and appreciation of what a decent wine should taste like. I don't know. I think there are just certain things that are meant to be enjoyed. Maybe it has something to do with recently seeing the movie "Sideways" or maybe I'm just tired of being clueless in certain situations that call for ordering wines, serving wines and picking out a wine to bring to someone's house.

I think the potential benefit is at least worth such a minimal investment of time and money.

Posted by: Gary at 01:40 PM | No Comments | Add Comment
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May 02, 2006

Rollover

100,000 hits.jpg

A couple of minutes ago, this blog rolled over into the six digit column in hits. And talk about irony, hit number 100,000 originated from France. I don't point this out as some kind of victory dance. I understand all too well what the driver is behind this number. A huge portion of those hits have come from weirdos in Europe and the Middle East doing Google image searches for Diane Lane, Melissa Theuriau and Elisabeth Shue. And, hey, I'm not above engaging in the occasional google chumming.

The fact is that I don't really have any particular traffic or exposure expectations, although I'm continually surprised at how fast those numbers have risen since February 2005. But what's always been the most important measurement to me is whether or not I enjoy doing this. I don't expect to be the driving force behind exposing some major screw up by the MSM. I don't expect to offer some "must read" post that everyone forwards to their friends and family around the country. And, frankly, I don't really care all that much whether or not I change any minds of those who disagree with me.

This site is, has always been, and will always be just a repository for my random thoughts and musings about things political, cultural and (at times) personal. Some of you may have noticed that the posting frequency has dropped off a bit lately. There are many reasons for this but the overriding one is that lately I've come down with a mild case of "idontgiveacrap-itis".

Now usually at this point, a long-time blogger will say "so I'm going to take a break" or "this blog is on hiatus". It happens all too frequently. Some bloggers even hit the proverbial wall and drop out altogether. That's not where I'm going with this, however. I just wanted to point out that, as with any form of writing, the juice ebbs and flows. Right now I'm kind of ebbing but at any time I could start flowing again.

I'd like to take the opportunity to thank all of those folks who for some strange reason keep coming back to see what new nonsense I've posted. More importantly, I want to offer huge cyber hugs 'n kisses to those other bloggers who've steered traffic my way via links and trackbacks. It reminds me to try and be on my best behavior. :wink:

Posted by: Gary at 09:30 AM | Comments (5) | Add Comment
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April 22, 2006

Netflix Screwed Me

For as long as I've been a member of Netflix, I haven't had many complaints. In fact, no real complaints. I was a little miffed when they jumped over the next title on my queue once and sent me the one after that. Hey, I understand. Distribution can be complicated.

But recently they did the unthinkable. On Wednesday I received notification that Disc Six of the season of "24" that I am watching was being sent with an anticipated arrival of Thursday. Well, it's Saturday and no disc. I can't even report it as "missing" until Monday. We're talking the last four episodes of an intense story arc.

Luckily, I have a Blockbuster down the road and I can go pick up a copy there. Tonight is "date night" with the wife so I won't be watching them until tomorrow.

But anyone who is a fan of the show understands how pissed off I am. Grrrrr.

UPDATE 4/24/06 9:15am:
Although, I'm still a little annoyed with both NetFlix and the USPS there is a silver lining: Blockbuster includes the bonus material disc with its Disc 6. So I got that going for me...which is nice.

And once again, "24" throws in more curveballs at the last minute than an MLB closer. I've heard a couple of people say the Second Season was their favorite. I can see why. Awesome. Queue up Season Three!

Posted by: Gary at 06:00 PM | No Comments | Add Comment
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