Sunday, November 27, 2011

Vulture's amazing Thanksgiving adventure

Anyone who has read this blog for more than a minute knows that the Vulture loves him some 49ers. The 49ers have been my team since I was 12...not to put too fine a point on it, but that's a LOOOOOOOONG time ago.

The past few years have been cruel ones for 49ers fans. Okay, make that the past 8 years. But this year is different. This year the Niners are good. REALLY, REALLY good.

I was looking forward to watching the 49ers-Ravens game on Thanksgiving because (a) the Ravens are a dominant team, (b) good teams get better by facing other good teams, (c) there are TONS of Ravens fans in Frederick, what with it being equidistant from Baltimore and Washington. You know, bragging rights and all that.

So imagine my shock, bordering on catatonia, when my brother-in-law, a Ravens season ticket holder since the team came to B'more in 1996, surprised me with an invite to go to the game with him while we were at his home for Thanksgiving dinner. Everyone in the family knew he was going to surprise me with the ticket, meaning that (a) they're very, very good at keeping secrets, and (b) I can't trust a one of them. [/kidding]

You have to understand how huge this was for me. I hadn't seen the 49ers play in a regular season game in-stadium since the early 70's. During the team's glory years, when I still lived in Sacramento and could have, in theory, gone to the 'Stick and seen the team, a combination of (a) every game was a sellout, and (b) I was poor, conspired to make that impossible. Needless to say, I was CISED to see my boys in person in a year when the team is actually really, really good again.

It's hard to describe the atmosphere. Unless you've been to a game at M&T Bank Stadium, you can't imagine the electricity of that place. Ravens fans are as rabid as any in the NFL, and they're rabid without being assholes like the fans in Philly.

The 49ers lost the game, 16-6, but it was tied 6-6 at the start of the 4th quarter. Two factors contributed to the loss. The short week left little time to prepare to face one of the premier defenses in the NFL. And an injury to starting guard Adam Snyder meant that human turd Chilo Rachal had to play. Rachal's penalty for chop block (technically assessed against Frank Gore, but Gore engaged first before turd-boy fell on the Raven player) negated a 79-yard touchdown pass from Alex Smith to Ted Ginn. And Haloti Ngata played turd-boy like a fiddle. The offensive line was overwhelmed -- especially once the Ravens took their final lead -- and surrendered 9 sacks.

It was so great to see my boys in person, even in defeat. We went toe-to-toe with one of the NFL's best teams on one of the craziest home fields in the NFL on a short week. And I got to see for myself, in person, just how good that 49ers defense is.

To see pictures of my excellent adventure, hit this link. Note: the picture at the top of this post is a screen capture from the NFL network telecast of the game. That's right, the Vulture was on the telly, scowling as one would expect from a Vulture.


Thursday, November 17, 2011

The perils of an extensive vocabulary

Ah, first-world pains. I used a word that means exactly what I meant to convey, but, because it so closely resembles another word -- a not-very-nice word -- it was, shall we say, cause for unintended offense.

Our story begins...

I accepted a position with a new company back in October, with the intent of starting that new job on October 24th. I started that job yesterday. Yeah, I know - yesterday wasn't October 24th. What pushed back my start date was a call from the old employer telling me that if I wasn't actively employed by the company on November 15th, I would forfeit my utilization bonus for Q3. Since we're talking about a pretty sizable chunk of change, I wasn't happy.

Fortunately, both the hiring company and the new customer were understanding and agreed to push my start date back to November 16th.

In the interim, my supervisor from the old company wanted me to talk to him about what had made me decide to leave the company after 14 years. I sent him an email detailing the things that had left me dissatisfied. On the subject of the "stay until 11/15 or lose your bonus" matter, I wrote:
I was informed that my earned Q3 bonus would be forfeited if I weren’t on the payroll 6 weeks after having earned it. That is seriously the most niggardly policy I’ve ever seen.
I used the word "niggardly" because it conveyed exactly what I thought of their policy.
niggardly - adjective
1. reluctant to give or spend; stingy; miserly.
2. meanly or ungenerously small or scanty: a niggardly tip to a waiter.
I sent it off to my supervisor and cc'd my HR rep.

On Tuesday I had my exit interviews with the old company. As I was wrapping up the interviews, I ran into the Director of Professional Services, a man I've known for several years. For the purposes of this tale, I'll refer to him as "Bob". To further assist you in understanding how this conversation started and where it went, I will further note that "Bob" is a black man.

"Bob" said to me that he appreciated the candor of my "why I left" email...but he was troubled by my choice of wording. Puzzled was I. What exactly had troubled him? He pulled up the email and read back the offending passage.

Niggardly. Yeah.

I explained to him what I meant by it, but he still seemed puzzled/concerned. I finally got through to him when I described it as "mean-stingy - like Ebeneezer Scrooge". It was as if a light bulb turned on over his head. He finally grocked that "niggardly" had nothing to do with "nigger".

At that point his whole demeanor changed. He wished me the best of luck and expressed his wishes for me to one day return to the company, etc, etc.

Words have meaning. But sometimes a word that sounds too much like another word can really bust your balls. Fortunately for me, "Bob" went to me directly and asked me about it man-to-man. But what if "Bob" wasn't a measured, intelligent man? It could have gotten sticky, I suppose (although one has to wonder, what was he going to do, fire me?).

Would I use that word again to describe a similar affront? Possibly. But it's a dangerous world these days. Check this out to see how use of the word "niggardly" can be hazardous to your well-being.

The moral of the story is: just because you know what a word means doesn't give you license to drop it like a grenade in the midst of people who don't know what it means.

Unless, like me, you enjoy that sort of thing.