Barbarian Group Photo Booth.

Rick and Keith set up a photo booth at the Barbarian Group Holiday party on Thursday night. Basically, you walk in; press a button and a picture is taken. It’s stored on a hard drive and a little while later it shows up on a huge screen on stage. It was quite fun to watch.

Here is Tobyjoe poking fun at Ryan.

See them all here.

More on Boston later when I’m not totally beat.

Heavenly Boston Cream Pie

Tobyjoe and I are heading up to Boston later today. Tomorrow is the annual Barbarian Group holiday party so we decided to go up a day early. We’re staying at a hotel that happens to have the infamous Heavenly Bed. That’s right, Internet. Tonight, I’ll finally get to take this thing for a test drive.

We’ll be back on Friday morning equipped with photographic blackmail of some fellow Barbarians.

P.S. I’m going to turn off comments for this post to avoid any spammers and/or mean people. Happy Holidays!

Some Contemplate Suicide When They have a Migraine. Me? I Suffer With Style.

The other day while suffering through the final stages of the most traumatic 12-hour migraine, I flipped off a great movie to watch the Style Network. The show that was on at the time was called Style Original Special, Tom and Katie’s Wedding

I loathe Tom Cruise. I don’t dislike him in that I’m-secretly-obsessed-with-him kind of way. (Although, I am a little intrigued by his arrogance.) Overall, I can’t stand the guy. I cheer whenever the media blasts him. I cheer when he gets fired. He repulses me. And I care more for pieces of cardboard than I do for Katie Holmes. But for some reason in my painful, teary-eyed state, I wanted nothing more than to watch Style report from Italy on Tom and Katie’s wedding.

When Tobyjoe returned from the kitchen with his lunch he looked at me, and then at the TV, then back and me, and then to the remote control that sat snuggly between my hands. Some other girl had replaced me.

“Baby, did you just turn off the Nick Cave movie to hear about Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes getting married?”

“Yes. I need nothing right now.”

“Hmmm. Nothing?”

“Yes. Pain. Head. This is perfect.”

“I understand wanting nothing. But, honey, we’re better than this. We’re above that. We don’t watch celebrity weddings on the Style Network. Are you running a fever?”

“No.”

J Lo was invited. So was Will Smith, Giorgio Armani, and Brook Shields. It took place in a castle or something.

“Why would she go to his wedding after all that ‘postpartum depression is total crap’ crap?”

“I don’t know. But I fail to see how eating ham sandwiches at an after party is news.”

“I wonder if a bunch of people will run out and eat ham sandwiches now. Do obsessed people do that? Do they run out and consume the finger foods of the rich and famous?”

Like most TV shows about celebrities, I was left with the television equivalent of blue balls. But in all fairness, I’m not sure what I expected. Did I expect Style to have the insider look as to why Katie tucks her chin in as if she’s avoiding a perverted uncle when Tom tries to kiss her? Did I want them to point out that she looks like a victim of child molestation when she and Tom hold hands?

Yeah, I kind of wanted that.

Roast the Bean

Tobyjoe turns 29 today. He’s a wee lad.

This is a picture of him when he was a really wee lad. He’s sitting with his sis.

Here is another one. He didn’t even dye his hair. Whose hair does this so quickly? Bean’s hair, that’s whose.

This is the Beanager:

This was taken by a friend of ours a few weeks after we met.

This is Beaner’s white spot:

(There’s that hair again! Changin’ for no reason!)

I love the Beaner.

Happy birthday, my sweets.

Wall Street

My brother has worked on Wall Street for years. All this time he’s been telling me stories, stories that have rendered me speechless. I had no idea things what took place at the NYSE. I’d seen movies, heard stereotypes, and I’d placed a few bets here and there, but my brother’s stories had me asking, “You’re making this up, right? Hookers? Really?”

I’ve often suggested he start an anonymous blog but he’d get caught and lose his job or worse, face charges or something. The blog thing never took off. Plus, unlike some members of our family, he’s not addicted the Internet, or blogs, or putting his life out there on the Internet for anyone to read (and criticize). He’s the smarter one of the two of us, which is probably how he works on Wall Street.

On Wednesday I finally made it down to the New York City Stock Exchange in lower Manhattan to watch them ring the bell and tour the floor. The experience was remarkable, moving, stressful, entertaining, humbling, and pretty outstanding, to say the least. And in spite of the fact I’m very ill at the moment, I had a most profound experience.

I arrived at 8:45 AM and had to call him from outside. There are several entrances and even the best of explanations could not have gotten me in through the correct door. He met me on Exchange Place and Broad Street with a red visitor’s pass. Security checked my bags and we were shuffled inside. Once inside the building, I was asked for ID by a police officer. He took my name, asked for my social, and told me to stand on the x where he snapped my picture and made me a visitor’s ID. Then, I was told to go through a metal detector in much the same fashion one moves through at the airport.

The building itself is super confusing. Once beyond the metal detector and through a few hallways, I had no idea which way I had come from and where to go from there. I followed Ryan who led me through a turnstile and up a flight of stairs to the floor, or, should I write, The Floor.

The actual floor is made up entirely of wood. It reminded me of a bowling alley for some reason but that could be because so many people were changing into more comfortable, and quieter shoes.

The main room’s ceilings stand stories tall. I have no idea how high they were. Balconies lined the floor holding camera crews such as MSNBC. Men were everywhere and I really do mean everywhere. (I’d be curious to know what the women to men ratio is). Some people wore blue jackets, some work black ones, gray ones, and others wore suits. It didn’t take me long to realize that there was a code. The guys in blue were able to cross the line. Some of the others had to stand behind it. Within the boundaries of the blue line, stood the brokers and the traders. The floor was buzzing with stories from the night before, about yesterday’s closing, game scores, everything masculine. People guzzled coffee like it was fuel. It was 9:15.

Ryan took me into other rooms. I checked out the “new room”, which was indeed newer but I still much preferred the older looking one to its shine. Something about the wood and the cathedral high ceilings in the main room gave a visitor the immediate feeling of excitement. The main room said, “Power” and stood on a pretty hefty base of history.

We buzzed through a few more rooms and then made our way back to the floor where Ryan’s post was. I still had no idea which way was south, north, east, west, or up and down for that matter.

And that’s right about when then the tone began to change. It was like watching America’s engine sputter to after a night’s rest; 9:30 was quickly approaching. People were moving into place, getting ready for their long, and stressful day.

Above Ryan’s booth, in a balcony overlooking the entire floor, stood a group of important looking people. They were the chosen few who would be in control of turning the key and starting the day by ringing the opening bell. (Incidentally, I was a little disappointed to discover that the bell isn’t actually a bell anymore but a button, which explains how a cat helped ring it earlier this year. But it was still really cool to watch.)

At 9:30 everything came to life. The brokers’ hands began typing madly. I don’t think I’ve ever seen fingers move that fast. The noise level rose. People grew intense faces. They stood taller, more rigid. They were, after all, dealing with extremely large quantities of other people’s money. (I watched one trade take place for 33 thousand dollars and it wasn’t even 9:45.)

Unfortunately, I had work to do in SoHo so I was only able to stay until 10:30. But in that time I got to meet a few specialists on the floor who graciously explained what they were doing. I was able to follow a trader around as well. Plus, I got to discover what Ryan did for a living, (which I am still a little confused about but now that I can picture it [I’m one who learns more by watching] I think I’ll better understand his explanations.)

I only wish I had the chance to see it before technology took over, back when they yelled out numbers (they still yell out numbers but it’s not the same) and scribbled things down on pieces of paper. I only wish I could have seen it back then. But I’m grateful for having seen it at all.

It really was quite special. I hold the experience really close to me and it has me wishing I could get paid to watch other people work, figure out what they do, an anthropologist for work, I’d love to study jobs. While I was at the NYSE, I couldn’t help but feel like I was standing inside one of America’s vital organs. And any stress I have ever experienced as a graphic designer pales in comparison to the stresses of Wall Street. (I haven’t held that kind of perspective since the conversation I had with three drunk coroners at a bar in Washington, DC.)

Today, I woke up and thought, “So, that’s happening right now.” Because before yesterday, I had no idea.

Mary Cheney's Baby.

“It’s very disappointing that a celebrity couple like this would deliberately bring into the world a child that will never have a father,” said Crouse, a senior fellow at the group’s think tank. “They are encouraging people who don’t have the advantages they have.”

OK, Janice Crouse, perhaps Ms. Cheney and her partner, Kim, should have aborted the baby instead. Perhaps that’s the message you’d rather send to the people who don’t have the advantages they have?

With all due respect, Mrs. Crouse, kindly place your “concern” for America right back up your own ass.

Overly Emotional Today

You know what the worst part about this story is? The worst part, the part I can’t seem to stop thinking about, is the fact that James Kim died without knowing that his family was safe. This bugs me greatly.

And this story sucks.

New Wart City

I haven’t left the house since yesterday afternoon and at that point I drove to Fornino for a calzone. The girl behind the counter greeted me by saying, “How is you don’t know our menu yet? I see you here all the time.” I wasn’t thinking straight when I ordered it, which is why I asked for a stromboli. And to be honest, I’m not even sure what a stromboli is let alone its difference.

I’m sick. I came down with what appears to be some sort of sore throat and my head is stuffed full of snot and goo. It’s as pleasant as I am charming.

I’m wondering how I got here and why I’m wondering about that at all. And I’m wondering how it’s December already and how I’ll be 33 soon. I’m wondering why I’m sick today and why I can’t do anything about it. I’m wondering why I’m doing so much wondering at all.

I can see lower Manhattan out my living room window. It looks like the top of the inside of a cave, or like the root of a wart if you were to bore it out from its head, flip it upside down, and inspect it under a microscope.

Someone once told me that warts don’t actually have roots, that they don’t go very deep at all. But I still imagine them being deeper than they are tall, like an iceberg.

Someone else once told me that Manhattan is as deep as it is tall and if both those things are true, the things that other people told me, my wart analogy sucks.

Millions of people are killing time right now, watching the minutes tic by as they check CNN, the New York Times, or their least favorite blog preparing themselves for their more irritating commutes home. Soon it will be really cold. Soon we’ll see our inevitable first snowfall in a city that knows no snow days.

I miss snow days.

Today, I’m sick. And it’s getting dark and I haven’t left the house since yesterday.

United 93

Today marks my first day working from home since my last day at work three weeks ago. It’s been pretty awesome. I won’t lie.

I got up at 7:30 AM, showered, and then got dressed (and, yes, I need to mention that I got dressed because I nearly stayed in my jammies). I sat down and immediately began working. I’m currently creating a 200+ page book for someone in InDesign. Let me just say, I thought I knew InDesign walking into this but that so wasn’t the case. NOW I know InDesign. After the 25th chart, I can attest to the knowing of InDesign. In fact, I could teach InDesign at this point. (In my jammies.)

At around 3 PM, I decided that I needed to eat at Fornino. So I got up off my ass and drove over to Bedford and North 7th and ordered a calzone. It was delightful. (Thank goodness I got dressed!)

It’s 4:15 and I’m trying to decide if I want to continue working, nap, or watch a movie from OnDemand. And while a nap sounds awesome, a movie sounds good too.

What movie? I’ll tell you what movie.

Here was an email I sent to Missy earlier:

“Hey, did you see United 93? If I watch it alone at home will it kick my ass? I have wanted to see it but TJ won’t watch it. So I’m debating…

Her Response:

“I watched it one night and I was practically on the floor, heaving & sobbing.

That said, it’s a really terrific film.

Missy”

Toby’s going to kick what’s left of my ass when he gets a hold of me. He’s going to pick me up off the floor when he gets home, comfort me, and then kick my ass again for watching this movie. I’m so dead. I’m so dead.

Edited to add: I haven’t been able to sit through much regarding September 11, 2001. I look the other way when they show clips and I don’t much like looking at pictures from that day either. Every time that I do, I experience and unbearable amount of sorrow and I guess I never felt that it was necessary to put myself through that day all over again. But I want to say something about this particular film. United 93 was unbelievably moving and while it made me cry it also filled me with a huge amount of respect and love for those who fought back that day. I’m feeling emotional right now but a little hopeful as well.