Friday, November 30, 2007

The FJ smells like roses

Let me first apologize for the Florescent Jungle’s two week sabbatical. Last week I was busy doing my part to help the American economy on Black Friday. However, I did not begin my Black Friday adventure until noon, when most of the 4 a.m. crowds had already dispersed.

Two weeks ago, the FJ experienced technical difficulties when her internet and phone service went kaput, thus cutting off all communication with the outside world. A few days later IT Geek gave his one day notice and left for greener pastures. I hold him personally responsible for sabotaging our office external communications prior to his departure.

I returned to the Florescent Jungle on Tuesday after an extended Thanksgiving break. Tuesday was a quiet, fragrant day in the FJ. Yes, you read that right. I said fragrant. Trudy’s treasure trove of office gadgets includes an air freshener.

Trudy has a particularly acute sense of smell. I would dare to say she has a sensory perception rivaling that of most animals. On days when the office air quality does not meet her levels of purity, she takes matters into her own hand and perches an air freshener on her desk. The scent of Meadows and Rain permeates the entire office. It is particularly pungent when your desk is only two cubes away from Trudy’s. Concentration and regular breathing become difficult.

Because no one in the office has Trudy’s nasal prowess, we haven’t been able to pinpoint the odor that Trudy finds so offensive. Our best guess is that she’s trying to combat Island Stan and his unique mix of white rum and pheromones.

Our HR Manager (who does God’s work) is about one more air freshener incident away from putting out a memo that addresses appropriate office scents.

Catch me up, please.

As you may have noticed I've been away for a couple of weeks taking care of my mom, havn't read a newspaper or seen the news in days. So what's the scoop, the skinny, the word on the street - in short what have I missed?

Monday, November 19, 2007

Dan Seals has finally updated his website - and its got some problems.

Dan Seals has beaten the predictions and posted his positions on selected issues on his website. A couple of problems are apparent after a quick read:

He lies and claims Kirk does not support SCHIP – when in fact Kirk voted for the successfully passed senate version of the bill and voted to override Bush’s veto.

He misinforms by claiming the surge was a failure – but see here, here and here.

He still doesn’t live in the district but has provided an interactive feature for the rest of us to see if we do.

He supports a timeline for withdrawal from Iraq.

He has no comments on ethics reform, economic growth, the war on terror, illegal immigration or support for veterans

AFSCME and SEIU are the only organizations to endorse him.

His resume says he is a business consultant and adjunct professor at Northwestern University – nothing about his job as Director of Business Development for The Point.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

God Speed, Mr. Speaker

I disagreed with Speaker Hastert on many issues, but never doubted his commitment to public service. For all the power and perceived perks, elected officials walk a hard road. The Speaker traveled it with dignity and humor.

Friday, November 9, 2007

The 3 O’clock Showdown in the Florescent Jungle

Every day at 3 p.m., Bruce and Gary participate in what is known as the 3 O’clock Showdown. This is ultimate test of strength and endurance for two grown men who appear to have entirely too much time on their hands. Bruce and Gary are the same gentlemen who once made a bet to see who could buy the worst possible $10 or less lunch for the other to consume. The “winning” combination? Tuna burrito from Taco Fresca. Criteria for winning? Amount of time spent in the restroom after lunch.

Past 3 O’clock Showdown events have included:

· Seeing who can spin around in ones chair the longest without throwing up
· Lifting themselves out of their chair using only their arms and seeing who can support themselves the longest
· Playing a game of miniature darts. This provided hours of office enjoyment until Bert confiscated the darts, but not the dart board itself
· Creating the most disgusting combinations of Jelly Belly jelly beans imaginable for the other person to eat, again without throwing up (buttered popcorn, cotton candy and jalapeƱo reigns as the most repulsive combination ever created)
· Playing online games, such as Yeti Golf and Penguin Baseball, in search of the highest score

Bruce and Gary are now running out of ideas and they need your help. What 3 O’clock Showdown feats of strength would you recommend?

Bean reports encouraging drop in Iraq violence

Read the full story in today's News-Sun, but there is more and more encouraging news from Iraq:

After returning last weekend from her second trip to Iraq, U.S. Rep. Melissa Bean, D-Barrington, said she noticed a palpable change there from her first trip to the embattled country two years ago. "In addition to just hearing from the leadership that there was a decrease in violence, you could feel it and see it," she said during a conference call Wednesday.

Bean said security seemed more relaxed than during her first visit, a condition she found "personally disconcerting" at first, and she said she also noticed that hospital facilities were less strained with casualties than they had been two years ago. "It was encouraging overall," she said. "The anxiety level was not what it had been."

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Lake County Statehouse Primaries

Today's Tribune has an interesting round-up of Lake county statehouse primary races. Incumbant State Senator Terry Link has a democratic primary challenge from North Chicago Mayor Jerry Johnson, as does incumbant Rep. Eddie Washington who faces two democratic challengers in Angelo Kyle and Tony Elam.

There are four candidates vying to replace retiring State Senator William Peterson. Rod Drobinski and Dan Duffy will face off in the republican primary while Bill Gentes and Richard Hammes battle it out for the democratic nomination.

The Trib cites changing demographics for the increased number of democratic candidates. Demographics may have a lot to do with the Lake County Board Races. But the mess in Springfield probably has more to do with the challenges to sitting legislators, than does changing demographics. Call me crazy, but Terry Link's portrayal of the Tin Man, hand out for "greasing," at Carmel Street Scenes just doesn't sit well when the legislature can't pass ethics reform, a capital bill or a budget, but can find time to keep their pay raise.

Friday, November 2, 2007

Dan Seals finds the 8th CD!

We know Dan lives in the 9th and has campaign meet-ups in Chicago. Now he's found the 8th Congressional District:

EIGHTH DISTRICT DEMS: U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin and 10th District congressional candidate Dan Seals of Wilmette will be the featured speakers at "A Celebration of Democracy" dinner sponsored by the 8th District Democrats and Independents at 4:30 p.m. Nov. 11 at Hawthorn Woods Country Club, Hawthorn Woods.

Wonder when he'll find the 10th?

Florescent Friday Fashion Don’ts

Even on my schleppy fashion days, like today, I can still pull it together. Not everyone in the Florescent Jungle is as up to date with the latest styles as yours truly. They could learn from me and avoid these common fashion flubs:

The Denim Storm. Stonewashed denim went out with the 1980s. So did wearing jeans with a jean jacket. In the Florescent Jungle, we are shocked and awed by the Denim Storm – stonewashed jean jacket, stonewashed jeans, a light blue t-shirt and denim Keds. Debbie Gibson called. She wants her outfit back.

Good Ole Muffin Top. Mid-drift tops are tacky. A shirt that exposes part of your stomach when you do so much as answer the phone isn’t flattering – it’s gross, regardless of your size. No one wants to see that – especially not when they’re sitting across from you eating lunch.

Poop Wash. Just as you should Just Say No to stonewashed jeans, you should also say no to the “poop wash” look. Poop wash jeans combine perfectly nice dark blue denim with a hint of brown to create the most awful shade of puce imaginable. If your friends tell you that your jeans remind them of fecal matter, you know you need a new look.

Did I Miss the Flood? It’s a fact of life that pants do sometimes shrink the wash. And it’s okay for socks to show a little when you’re sitting down. But if you’re standing up and your socks are completely exposed, you’ve got a case of high waters on your hands. Save those pants for the next time you’ve got six feet of flood water in your basement, not for the office.

Don’t Mock Me. I don’t understand the purpose of the mock turtleneck. Either you want a turtleneck or you don’t. Make a decision. If you’re going to wear a turtleneck, either commit all the way or don’t commit at all. (This also applies to Dickies)

The Michael Jackson Billie Jean Syndrome. Back in the early 1980s, Michael Jackson made it acceptable to wear white ankle socks with black shoes. Today, that look, like the King of Pop’s career, is dead. Always wear dark color socks with dark shoes and vice versa. Unless you’re wearing boots and then you can wear Halloween socks in March like I’ve been known do.

Underneath it All. Men, please, I beg you, wear an undershirt. Always. Even with t-shirts.

No Cargo. Cargo pants are great when you’re in the military, not when you’re in the office. And yet someone decided that cargo dress pants were a good idea. They’re not. If you need extra storage space, perhaps you should consider investing in a briefcase or man bag and leave the cargo pants to our soldiers.

Dressing for the Season. Yesterday I saw a woman wearing Capri pants. The calendar read November 1 and the thermometer read 53 degrees. No one wants hypothermia. So please, put the Capris, shorts and flip flops away and don’t look at them again until next spring. Your extremities will thank you.

Tapering Off. If you have a friend who still wears tapered pants, consider hosting an intervention like we did in the Florescent Jungle. The conversation went like this:

Bruce (the office metrosexual): “Thank you for wearing those tapered jeans. You just made my day.”

Steve: “What’s wrong with them? I found them at the bottom of the drawer.”

Bruce: “Did you have to point your toes to get them on?”

Steve: “I don’t know what you’re talking about. Gary, what does the tag say on these things?

Gary: “Hmmm….baggy fit…tapered leg.”

Bruce: “They make you look like a lollipop, dude.”

Steve retired the tapered jeans and bought some new, straight leg jeans that very same day. Tough love for sure, but I think Steve would tell you that it’s made him a new, more stylish man.

Thursday, November 1, 2007

My favorite Kansan asks "If we ignore them will they just go away?" A special report from the writer of the Florescent Jungle

As someone who spent her formative years in Topeka, Kan., I’m familiar with Fred Phelps and the Westboro Baptist Church. Phelps and his followers single out other religious and ethnic groups, but are best known for their belief that homosexuals are to blame for all of the world’s ills, including the AIDS epidemic and the War in Iraq. Their hate knows no age and has no boundaries.

The church – a term I use loosely because they are in no way affiliated with any Baptist Church institution – gained national notoriety when they protested at the funeral of Wyoming hate crime victim Matthew Shepard. Since then, they have taken to picketing funerals of fallen soldiers across the country, waving signs that carry messages like “Thank God for dead soldiers.”

Lawsuits and court cases are nothing new to the Westboro community, but losing them is. Yesterday a jury in Baltimore awarded the family of Marine Lance Cpl. Matthew Snyder nearly $11 million after finding Phelps and his two daughters, Shirley Phelps-Roper and Rebekah Phelps-Davis, liable for invasion of privacy and intent to inflict emotional distress. The win is a moral victory for the Snyder family and other families who have incurred the wrath of Phelps and his followers. Whether the ruling sticks remains to be seen. Phelps plans to appeal and many constitutional law experts believe his appeal has merit.

People have their stereotypes of Kansas and Phelps and his followers do nothing more than tarnish the image of the thousands of great people who live there. My best friend, a native Topekan, sums it up this way:

“It’s funny because the new girl in our office was asking me about them (the Westboro Baptist Church). It made me realize that I just don’t notice them anymore. It’s horrible to say, but they just sort of blend in. I guess we’re all just used to them here in Topeka. It’s when I see them in other communities that it really bothers me. I hate that it’s the one thing Topeka is known for.”

I hate that this group thrives on the attention that they are now getting. What we all see as a defeat, Phelps sees as a victory for his cause. People in Topeka, who have tried time and again to stop Phelps and his followers, have thrown up their hands in defeat and have taken to ignoring them. Will more lawsuits and counterprotests against the Westboro community finally silence their hate? Or if we, as an American people, ignore them, will they just go away?
What do you think?
Yours Truly

The Problem with Dan Seals and The Point

Team America has a series of posts on Dan Seal’s new company The Point – a for-profit, activist web community that creates campaigns to target businesses and problems people think need fixed. There are thousands of targets, ranging from big corporations to Lake County Doctors. I did a little digging at their site and found some troubling aspects to the venture, including questions about how they make a profit, how targets are selected, and a general willingness to obscure and bend the truth as well as outright lie. A few examples:

In his Point bio, Dan is described as a former congressional candidate – But he has been campaigning as a congressional candidate in the dem primary for the last year and he filed petitions Monday. Nothing former about that.

From the Point’s vision statement: We believe The Point best serves the public as a non-partisan facilitator of participatory democracy – Political campaigns are partisan by nature, and having a Director of Business Development actively running in a democratic primary for elective office is hardly bi-partisan.

Of course this could all be a much bigger problem for the Point if, as suggested by the Seal’s campaign, Dan does not work for The Point at all, writing in an e-mail, “Here's the deal. Dan is a business consultant and adjunct professor at Northwestern University.”

And then there is the campaign against Starbucks:

Began on September 10th to Stop Starbucks from Using Hormone-Injected Milk., the Point declared the campaign a success with only 43 of the 50,000 required members joining, including Seals. But you see, Starbucks had already addressed this problem, issuing a press release back in early June on their goal of using no dairy produced with rBGH in U.S. stores. Food and Water Watch, a non-profit watchdog and advocacy group received a letter from Starbucks in August citing the company’s commitment to be rBGH free by the end of 2007. Well before the Point went on-line. I suppose picking a problem that has already been solved is one way to claim success. But a for-profit venture taking the credit for a not-for-profit effort is, well, slimy.

There is a problem when a company that sets itself up to be a web-based knight in shining armor for fairness, honesty and accountability goes about its business this way. And there is an even bigger problem when a candidate for public office has a leadership position in the company and is not willing to state clearly “this is where I work.”