Archive | June, 2013

My first day at the gym… Or why the YMCA sucks ass!

27 Jun

Many of you are aware of the many bad happenings that are going on in my life. This year has simply not been my year. I knew it wouldn’t be, but I tried to keep a positive attitude and before this year happened, I did my best to forge a plan that had a few set-in-stone goals. These goals were simple: Get my A1c (blood sugar) down, get to the gym, not stress out over my kids, be a better husband, support my family, maintain my small business, become a more integral part of my church. It is now half way through the year. My A1c has increased to 9.7, I want to pull my hair out over the rest. I have accomplished nothing.

My wife and I have been members of the local YMCA now for over two years. When we heard on the radio that they were offering some special, I contacted a few friends of mine who are active and former YMCA board members. They were aware (at the time) what my needs were and were very excited to hear that I was seeking membership. Since then, all hell has broken loose, and today was the first day I was able to actually GO to the YMCA. The experience was both disappointing and discouraging. I hope they appreciate the $1200 donation. I could have had my roof done three months ago, had I not frivolously spent that money on this worthless experience, by that’s a whole other blog post.

So the episode went like this… I walked in with my infant and my toddler. One of the things that enticed us to join the YMCA in the first place was the fact that they had a Fitness Center and a pay-by-the-hour child care room. I stopped at the front desk to check in, only to have to wait ten minutes or so for someone at the front desk to tell me I didn’t have to check in. Undeterred, I took my kids into the child care room. Everything seemed to go smoothly, even though the only older lady there could barely speak English. Then as I was about to leave I was told, in horribly broken English, that they did not accept children under one year old. I thought to myself for a moment, but could not recall that rule ever stated, but again, undeterred I hoisted my infant up in her car seat and made my way to the fitness center.

I swiped in, grabbed a towel, and made my way over to the treadmills, where I hoped to get a good 30-45 minutes of walking just to say that I accomplished what I set out to do. As I sat down my baby daughter, I could hear the ladies flocking around me, cooing and awing at my daughter. I figured I could sit her next to my machine and all would be fine. That was when I heard a man clear his throat behind me. I turned to see a fit, older, black gentleman standing there in a ‘staff’ shirt. Instead of greeting me, perhaps asking me if I was new there, he says, “You can’t have that kid in here.” I paused a moment, looked the man up and down and said, “Oh, really? Why is that..?” The man replied, matter-of-factly, “There are no children under 12 allowed.”

Now I knew I wasn’t born last night, but it seemed a bit odd that I had just come from the room where they watched children and was told that they wouldn’t accept my six month old daughter. Here, they were not accepting anyone under twelve. Instead of looking this guy dead in the face and asking him how in the hell anybody who comes to this facility with an infant even uses it, because think about it — you can’t swim, use the gym, roller skate (I hear there are certain times/days where they’ll let moms use a stroller on the rink), or any other damn thing without someone screaming ‘abandonment,’ but they don’t allow you to participate *with* your child at this place. So much for *family friendly!* This had been one of my biggest stumbling blocks when it came to the whole idea of going to the gym!

So I just said, “Fine” and walked out of the Fitness Center. My phone in hand, I called my wife and told her that we would be promptly cancelling our membership to the Edwardsville YMCA. Yeah, they’re going to take out their mid-July payment, but I guess I should be so blessed. As I went to the desk and filled out all the paperwork, I saw many frustrated parents with infants in car seats who had a similar look on their face — that look of “I pay good money for this?” — and I’m betting that many a membership was lost that day. And they were so rude. As I filled out my paperwork, the gal who was awaiting my paperwork strolled into a side office and talked to some administrator for twenty minutes, basically leaving me standing there waiting on her for most of that time.

Really, if I wanted to be treated like shit after paying all that money, I would have gone to the Boys and Girls Club! Needless to say, my board member friends will be getting a call from me. This was definitely one of the lowest points of my year so far. Now, I’ll either have to make some sort of deal with my father-in-law or my wife’s aunt to watch both my kids (not likely), or I’ll have to basically put my infant daughter in a stroller and walk the busted sidewalks of my neighborhood in this 90+ degree heat. The nearest ‘mall’ to me is in either O’Fallon or Alton (roughly 40 minutes to an hour away) and most other gyms (I am finding out the hard way in the Communist State of Illinois) have similar ageism restrictions regarding infants. It was both aggravating and a discouraging experience.

Oh, and the YMCA sucks ass! Rude.



If a resignation falls in the woods, and nobody is there to hear it…

11 Jun

So I’m at my wits end. Take the multiple ceiling collapses that keep happening around my house due to a faulty roof, multiply it by a bratty toddler, a screaming infant and a regret-less wife, add infinite zero incoming work and subtract the fact that I haven’t been able to bring much (if any) new business since Christmas 2012 and you get the summation of my ridiculously unprofitable year so far.

In the meantime, a stellar client that I picked up just before all this fun stuff hit the fan is suffering, because I decided to let myself be thrown into a project, that from the word jump, has been consistently unprofitable and still to this day has little value. If they were a client, I could easily say that they were violating my 80/20 rule. That rule basically says that they are eating up 80% of my resources while accounting for less than 20% of my revenue. In all honesty, they’re more like a 75/0 rule (which mathematically shouldn’t exist anyway — divide by zero). They’re eating up 75% of any sort of “free time” I have at all (which isn’t much to begin with) while providing absolutely ZERO income.

But I digress. Here’s more to my point. A wise man once told me that there is a difference between a hobby and a business.

A hobby is something that you not only love to do, but it doesn’t matter how much time (or money or sacrifice) you throw put into it. It’s not meant to generate a profit and is all for fun. It doesn’t hurt anybody and it doesn’t take away from your bounty, mainly because you have a surplus. I know some folks like that, blessed that they are, and God-speed on their hobbies.

A business is for profit. It is a money generating machine, whereby you place time, money, sacrifice and service into this “magic black box” and an excess of currency comes rolling out the other side. You then take this newly generated income and either put it into your own affairs (the fruits of one’s labor) or you put it back into said business (advertising, promotions, expansion, improvements, growth, so forth). At some point you either sell said business or you dissolve it.

Nobody likes to be in a “tree house” business. That has always been my own little term for these little fad start-ups like back in the “tech bubble” days. It’s basically a hobby trying to be a business. If you want to see a good example of folks who have had to endure such a business, go visit or someone similar.

Basically you get hired by these businesses that somehow received an over-abundance of funding for a market that the owners of said business have no honest clue how to actually penetrate, so they hire a bunch of people, expecting one of them to be some sort of visionary lapdog, but in the meantime the business operates like a hobby with unclear goals, crappy leadership, vague direction, low expectations and eventually  the whole damn thing comes crashing down and the good folks who were mindlessly coming into work every day without a clue what the hell they were supposed to accomplish are greeted with a big “Sorry, we’re closed” sign on the office suite door. In the words of the Todd-meister, when they finally ‘wake up’ they look around and say, “Hey? What the hell happened..??”

Usually when I get involved with a business, I expect a clear-cut notion of where in the hell it is going, what its end-goal is and to what duration we (as a group of folks trying to accomplish all of this) are willing to beat our collective heads against the wall before we simply say “enough is enough” and call it quits. I expect to know exactly what I am to be doing at any given time during this process, and low-and-behold, I expect a minimum level of compensation. I have taken it in the shorts way too many times with these “hobbies” and “tree house” businesses to want to endure yet another round of it. Tack on the fact that I have a family that I am responsible for, then you see why I simply do not have time to play games anymore.

Since I am already less than impressed by the notion of receiving gratitude over monetary compensation, you can probably understand why I am weary of putting forth sponsorship of certain projects using my company’s name. If that company does something inappropriate or contrary to something that myself or someone representing my company would do, then that sponsorship actually hurts my company’s reputation. For instance, if I sponsored some sort of art group, and they were displaying lewd performance art or a crucifix in a jar full of urine, then those whom my business serves (who would not be too fond of such things) would certainly take offense to my association with such a group. The consequences of that could easily lead to losing said client and therefore losing revenue from that client. I would immediately drop my sponsorship from that group in order to attempt to salvage my reputation, unless of course I was making some sort of statement or taking a stand against some atrocity, whereby I would take such a monetary hit with some sort of value of pride at least.

Needless to say I found myself in quite a predicament these past few weeks when an outfit that I was performing technical work for decided to outright bash an individual who was closely tied to a larger group of people that make up a significant portion of my clientele. To make the situation worse, I could have just as easily turned the situation in all of our favors, if I had been made aware that this outfit was poised to take this action, instead of finding out entirely after the fact. Sure, there appeared to be a nuance of back-pedaling from their actions, but in the end, it is like Glenn Beck once explained on one of his shows while at Fox — (paraphrasing) when he says something, he has to stick behind it. If he lets fly an opinion of somebody, integrity had better follow along with it. Sure, that opinion may eventually change, but if someone got up every morning and back-tracked from what they said the day before, after a while people would quit listening to that person until after they came back with their retractions. That doesn’t display character or integrity thereof. So, the bashing had to stand. Over the next week to ten days, as this slowly made its way to the ears of my clientele, I began to receive feedback that was just as I expected and not favorable to this outfit. By design the question was posed (directly and indirectly) as to why I was continuing to support this outfit. Without any significant monetary compensation to endure such a debacle, I turned in my resignation.

That resignation was ignored, to the best that I can fathom. In fact, the verbal gratitude has increased, but now with the added loss of monetary compensation, this has become a real lose/lose proposition. To keep what is left of my own personal integrity, I am deciding to go ahead with continuing with this outfit only for a little while longer, only because I see a slight glimmer of light at the end of the tunnel. It immediately caused me to review the status of this outfit, to where I determined that it was not being ran like a business at all. It was not generating any revenue and for the most part, the product being delivered had little significant value in and of itself. It was not being adequately promoted, advertised or otherwise circulated. It made me sad to think that I was spending all this time and effort and sacrificing significant time on this hobby that was making very few people happy and me miserable. Usually when a hobby stops being fun, you quit. When a business stops being fun, then you stop what you’re doing and fix it.

So I’ve looked over some ways to dove-tail some aspects in that may or may not benefit myself and/or my business in the next couple of days. If it works out, then great. If it doesn’t then I guess I’ll just resign again. This time I guess I’ll put a greater point on it. In the end, if I’m going to waste my time, it will be on something that I enjoy doing and also something that doesn’t cause me to have to sacrifice time with my family or the income that I need to sustain them.