Richard Tocci

Richard Tocci
Just when you thought it was safe, I show up...

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The contents of this blog are my own comments and opinions and do not reflect those of my family, friends, colleagues, clients, employers, or anyone else I may know. Additionally, their comments and opinions are not a reflection of me or this blog. Any links contained in posts are maintained by third parties and are not under the control of this blog, and as such, this blog is not responsible for their content. All links are provided "as is" with no explicit or implicit warranty of any kind.

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Friday, February 29, 2008

The 3 Year Old Parrot

The moral of this post is:

Watch what you say when your kids are around.

A few weeks ago, I was driving Alex home from the store. There's an exit called the Rock Prairie Road exit, which is getting ready to be closed to make way for a new traffic pattern and a new exit system.

The reason for the change plays right into what happened to me that day. This exit used to be a state and county funded game of Chicken, Bumper Cars, and NASCAR all rolled into one package.

A map of the exit is here.

The exit was designed in a day when the area of not that built up. In a matter of 2 years, this area exploded with growth, and continues to grow. Moderate income housing is all over the place, so a lot of after-work traffic was generated nearly overnight.

The exit was redesigned and is currently in the final stages of that development. In fact, this exit will be closed and traffic diverted to 3 newer, and more logical, exits. But the exit, when I drove into it, of course had not yet been closed.

I rounded the turn, over the bridge, and eased over to the right side. I say "eased" but at 70 miles per hour, it's more like piloting. But I have to get over to the right, and do it at 70, because if I don't, then I will get squeezed, and then I have to drive like Mario Andretti to make my exit. Since I usually call my wife Mario Andretti when she drives, I try not to be the one calling the kettle black.

I'm in my final approach. I'm in the right lane, and get over the bridge and through the curve. I watch incoming traffic from the right, which is essentially an onramp from the last exit, Deacon Drive. This onramp is my offramp, and so begins The Dance.

The Dance is the act of maneuvering your vehicle from the right lane into the merging lane. This merging lane is the offramp for me, and the onramp for those other drivers. The problem is that some people don't use it as either. They use it as a through lane. They have NO intention of getting onto the highway. They are making their way to Rock Prairie Road from Texas Avenue, and instead of using Frontage Road, they use the highway. This is because using Frontage Road will actually slow you down once you get to Rock Prairie Road, because now you have to merge traffic with the offramp drivers, like me.

Recap -- offramp and onramp at the same time. Frontage Road a big cluster fuck for merging into offramp traffic. The ramp is used as a through lane.

You do NOT want to be here at 5PM.

So here I am, driving in from Bryan, wanting to use the ramp as an offramp. And so, I Dance.

I move onto the offramp. I slow down to 60 to prevent rear ending the guy in front of me. He speeds up.

A Suburban comes rushing up my left side, moves in, hits the brakes, and merges in front of me. He had maybe 100 feet before he would have missed the exit entirely. He could have made it easier on himself by slowing DOWN, and coming in behind me, but he had a "Me First" mentality that, frankly, most drivers in College Station seem to have. This is born from the many young drivers in this area, I believe.

So I'm ticked. Alex, in his car seat, will hear me cuss, so I hold my tongue...sort of...

"Yeah, cut in front of me...you ass!"

The last time I took Alex to the doctor, the boy would not shut up. He asked the same question about 15 times in a row until he was answered. The catch, of course, is that he waits all of .02354765 seconds before he repeats the question.

His doctor laughed and said "He's a 3 Year Old Parrot". Apparently, this is a common affliction.

Back in the car, Alex hears my retort, and replies:

"Yeah....ASS!"

It took all of my will power to hold off from laughing.

I almost wanted to give him a saltine cracker.

I had to tell him not to use that word, and I had to keep him from seeing me smile, but it reminded me that everything I say, from this point forward, can, and will, be repeated.

Which means, when I see a good looking woman walk down the street, I should not use the term "Hottie McFineass"...

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

The Howling Winds

Weather in my part of Texas this time of year is very odd. While the majority of the country is essentially still in the depths of winter, central Texas is looking to break free and start summer.

That's right...I said summer. Not spring. Summer.

You see, it's spring right now in this part of Texas. One could go out to their yards and find clover starting to grow, and you need to treat your lawns now with lawn food so it will grow thick my April. Some people even start to plant vegetables outside -- it's likely they started the seedlings a month ago, indoors.

Earlier today, it topped out at 80 degrees. Tomorrow it will barely make it to 55 degrees.

The wind howls right now, deep and ominous. The wind chimes are out of tune. The sky is blanketed in clouds -- the absence of stars makes me feel lonely, and at the same time like something is watching me...

Or, maybe I'm just tired...

Saturday, February 16, 2008

The Trials of Parenthood

I had a very interesting evening. As you are aware, I am separated from my wife, working on a divorce. It's an amicable decision and dissolution of the marriage.

As such, I get the kids at my home every other weekend. This weekend is my weekend.

This week has been especially difficult, because both kids are sick. Not so sick that they need constant attention, but from time to time, I am reminded of what can happen when the slightest thing goes wrong.

Hayden, my 1-year-old, was attempting to eat dinner. By attempting, I mean I was feeding him, and he was not necessarily eating what I gave him. As I found out later, he was probably still full from his previous meal 3 hours previous, and really did not want to eat.

I fed Hayden an 8 ounce bottle of whole milk, and 3 hours later figured he was still hungry. I started to feed him applesauce, which he was eating fine for a few minutes.

Then, for some reason, he gagged. He started puking up the applesauce, and then what was left of the milk in his stomach.

I pulled him out of his bouncy chair, and he continued to puke. It mostly got on my shirt. But the initial puke, the applesauce, made it right into my hand.

Alexander, my 3 year old, was observing the situation. He saw the regurgitated applesauce and started to heave. He ran out of the room, but didn't make it. A couple piles of fresh toddler puke laid in the hallway en route to the bathroom.

The site of Hayden and Alex both puking made me heave.

We had a case of Chain Reaction Puking, a condition brought on swiftly and suddenly by one person puking with witnesses continuing the chain. I don't think we set a record -- not that I'd like to KNOW the record -- but it was nuts nonetheless.

I called my wife, and she ran over some clean clothes for Hayden. He had puked on everything else Thursday night and Friday.

After the puking subsided, I cleaned up the spills and the towels, and sent the dirty clothes home with my wife. Now both kids are resting in bed comfortably.

I'm the eldest of five children. I don't recall Chain Reaction Puking occurring in my house then, but it would have been a disaster...

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Rupert Wants in on the Action!

The latest in the Yahoo! soap opera:

Yahoo! reportedly in Talks with News Corp

News Corp, Yahoo In Talks to Combine Web Assets

So this would tie in Yahoo! to MySpace, Photobucket, Fox News, Harper Collins Publishing, and IGN, just to name a few (to see what else they own, click here).

One big happy family...

I think I may have to start my own search engine with advertising. Maybe someone will buy my company one day.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Will Microsoft be Rejected?

Looks like Microsoft will be the teenager in the back of the dance hall...

Report: Yahoo plans to reject Microsoft's $44.6B buyout bid

What next? I think they will offer more money. They have it, and they'll spend it.

Friday, February 8, 2008

"We're not saying we WILL reject the bid..."

From Yahoo!:

Yahoo Investor Met with Microsoft on Offer

I love this type of article, and it's an insight into how some business works.

Allow me to indulge in fantasy. Here's what I think happened:

Steve Balmer's sitting at his desk in Redmond. The intercom\phone bleeps almost noiselessly. Balmer presses a button.

"Yes?"

A cool but pleasant female voice waifs into the room.

"Mr. Balmer, Bob Jones from Capital Research and Management has arrived for his appointment."

"Yes, thank you. Send him in." Balmer presses the button again, and says the word "Open" to no one in particular. The double doors to his office slowly creek open, into his office, automatically.

Bob Jones strolls in, dressed in a crisp navy blue suit, light blue tie, and a white shirt.

Jones (extends his hand): "You suck at golf."

Balmer (grasps Jones' hand and shakes it vigorously): "Yeah, well, you suck at Poker. Bite me. Sit down." (motions to the black leather, overstuffed couch on the opposite side of the room.)

(Jones sits, nearly engulfed in the black leather. He crosses his leg over the other, and gets right to the point.)

J: "So this Yahoo! thing..."

B: "Yeah, I told you we would do it. Remember? You lost an extra $1000 at poker that night. Now if I had just taken your bet on the Patriots..."

J: "Oh, yeah, hind sight 20-20, yah yah yah, listen, let me ask you a question..."

(pause -- Balmer looks him over, up and down. His mind reading isn't what it used to be, but his Spider Sense is definitely tingling...or was that lunch?...)

J: "Let's say...hypothetically, of course...let's say that the Yahoo board of directors sits down, has a few beers, lattes, or bottled waters, and discusses this bid of yours. And let's say, hypothetically, they decide 'You know...I think we're worth more than $44.6 billion.'..."

(another pause -- Spider Sense replaced by blaring alarm klaxoning in his head. The last time this happened, he started getting I Love You emails from some bitch named Melissa...)

B: "So, what are you saying? You saying you'll REJECT the offer?"

J (standing up...this took a little time...the couch seemed to want him to stay...): "Oh, no...please. We're not saying we WILL reject the bid...but let's say it happens. I mean, it COULD happen. Just because Yahoo started up in a garage doesn't mean we're not out to grow the business, make money, retire to an island in the Pacific, or in the middle of Lake Michigan... But just for argument sake...how much higher would you be willing to go to takeover Yahoo?"

(pause -- Balmer is speechless. Jones makes a mental note of the date, time, and weather...this is history...)

J (taking advantage of the silence, knowing it won't last long...and he DOES have an ace up the sleeve): "Steve, we own 11 percent of Yahoo. We own 6 percent of Microsoft. We're going to make money regardless. We think...well, we think you can do a LITTLE better, after some of the crap you've pulled on us. I mean, come on, what the hell was Microsoft Bob, a sick joke?"

B: "Look, I told you before...someone let the wrong code out to publishing. I mean, that was CONCEPT, not even CLOSE to being ready, but we had to do SOMEthing ..."

J: "...oh, and let's not EVEN get into Vista. Did you feed the developers too much alcohol again?" (Reference for this joke is here)

B (starting to sweat): "Bob, please, I can explain...they WANTED security, and so we gave it to them..."

J (waving his hand): "Whatever, whatever, it was a disaster, and we want some reassurance you're not pulling that crap on us again. C'mon...give me a figure..."

B: "Well, I really don't know...I say we sit down and discuss it over a game of Halo 3. What do you say?"

J (raising an eyebrow): "That's a good idea. But I'd rather stand..."

(4 hours later. Both men have their jackets off, ties undone; empty bowls of cheese dip, tortilla chips, and spent water bottles and soda cans litter the table and floor; Balmer's tie is wrapped around his head, Jones' tie is an armband on his right arm)

B (chucking the controller on the floor): "That was WRONG, man...WRONG...you're not supposed to hide THERE!..."

J: "It doesn't matter WHERE I hide, jackass...it's if you survive the shot...and you didn't...so pony up...that's best of 11. What are you offering me?"

...and the rest...well, we'll just have to wait and see...

Friday, February 1, 2008

Microsoft Bids for Yahoo!

Microsoft offers $44.6B for Yahoo!

Let the antitrust speculation begin:

US, EU Unlikely to stop the deal

I think I saw this coming, some time back, when MSN Messenger and Yahoo! allowed each others users to use each others messengers without repercussion, or signing up for new accounts. Also, a year or more ago, this subject cropped up and then died just as suddenly. The former Yahoo! CEO, Terry Semel, resigned Thuesday, and soon after, the deal was tendered to Yahoo!'s new executives. It's clear the CEO nixed the deal, and the shareholders gave him hell for it. He resigns under the strain, and there's Steve Balmer, waiting for the clock to tick down...

Balmer is apparently not going to back away from this deal, either. He expects it to go through one way or another. Ahh, the sweet smell of a rabid dog! :) But he's always been that way, and now that Bill is retiring from corporate life, I don't see him slowing down at all.

While this merger will certainly create a #2 behemoth in the Internet advertising space, it will most certainly create job losses. Of question to me is which brand will remain - MSN or Yahoo?

It hard for me to see either one go away, really, but I think they will rebrand it with Microsoft in the title.

How does MSN Yahoo! sound? Not as snazzy as FedEx-Kinkos...

Young'un is a Pappa!

I wanted to congratulate my coworker and colleague, Steve Bartlow, and his wife, on the birth of their daughter this morning. I raise my cup of coffee to you. I hope you got some sleep over the past few weeks, because you won't be getting any for about the next 6 weeks at least!

I also hope he followed my advice when in the delivery room:

1. Smile.
2. Hold her hand.
3. Only speak when spoken to, and keep the answers short.

I've worked for AMS Services, a division of Vertafore Inc, for just over 11 years. I've been here a while -- not as long as others but still a good amount of time. Steve is a mere 22 years old. My son in college is going to be 20 this summer, so I always make light of the fact that my coworker is nearly as young as my oldest son. So he became "Young'un", and I became either "Old Man" or "Pops".

Now, I can call him Pops.