Sunday, June 11, 2006


The following case study came unbidden, and thoroughly disrupted my carefully arranged plans. I tend to accept these twists of fate these days. Thus I give you a diversion that I nominate as Part 10 of the Things Fall Apart series, another entry that falls under the banner of Social Living. Do let me know if it fits the bill.

An Examination Question

Date: Saturday June 10, 2006
Time: 8:55 am EST

Problem Statement

You are manager of Toli inc., a small but growing concern. The following situation presents itself to you. Discuss how you would resolve the various competing concerns. Provide enough detail to satisfy the reporting requirements of the Sarbanes-Oxley act in light of the corporate history of Enron and recent judicial verdicts.


Hunger: You haven't had any breakfast although you woke up at 6 am on the dot as is your custom this time of the year. The reason for the delayed breakfast. Well...

Dying computer: Your desktop computer has been giving you fits for the past 3 hours as the power supply cuts out every five minutes as a result of being subjected to one too many lights out. More disaster recovery in prospect.

Laundry: There are at least 3 loads of laundry that need to be washed if you want to have something to wear this evening beyond tracksuits.

World Cup: the England vrs Paraguay match starts at 9am. 5 minutes.

French Open: the women's final starts at 9am. Or has it started already? Henin-Hardenne against Kuznetsova.

Day job: Need to check in the code that you promised the team this week. You want to be the Karl Malone of Lotus: "The Mail Man, I deliver". Prospects are dim.

Marriage: Desire for quality time with The Wife. 'Nuff said.

Groceries: Probably a good idea to do. See also: marriage.

Family: The mother-in-law is in town. You should see her sometime today. Also: need to do weekly phone calls to Ghana and all the cousins and friends. You remember that 8 members of the family are due to head to Germany today to support the Ghana team. You need to find out whether they got visas. Basically, catch up with people, talk football.

House: A mess. See also: mother-in-law.

Reading: you normally curl up with a book or three on weekends.

Futures: The Great Move West beckons, you have a month or so to finalize on the moving company, pack your apartment, and purge your possessions. Would be good to get a head start. See also: house and marriage.

Bills: The usual suspects need to addressed. Corollary: day job.

Preliminary Solution

Prioritize: football, laundry, house, mother-in-law, bills, reading, The Wife, day job, hunger (you'll work the rest out later).

Risks: marriage (justification: "in good times and bad"), day job (justification: well it is Saturday), tennis (life is like a box of chocolates), groceries (whatever), The Move (next week).

You're an engineer but technology can only help so much... You could use a Tivo, but even if you had the prescience to have bought one, it would only be good for pausing if you have to run out for a minute. With an event like the World Cup, you can hear the screams of people in nearby houses and in your building. Your upstairs neighbour, like you, is living every moment of the matches and your ceiling felt every half chance yesterday. Unlike that guy at the office who got his Tivo installed on Monday, you have procrastinated. You don't even have VHS tapes to record the games on your old vcr. Also your old TV doesn't have split screens. In any case, you don't like switching during football matches. Well maybe, there's an idea: laptop deals with tennis and day job in one stroke...

The immigrant workers outside your window have a radio blaring as they work, so they too are in the mix.

workers outside

The Set-Up

1. The TV situation

Yesterday you started looking into the furniture business and adjusted the TV stand so that the angle is more amenable for long term viewing. Final is July 9th.

Within reach are two of The Wife's travel neck pillow things. They might come in handy since you are using your 10 year old bachelor futon: furniture from hell and source of chronic back pain and worse. Resolve: Burn it during The Move.

You have six pillows to fashion the futon into some semblance of comfort.

Remote control for switching back and forth with tennis. Check.

Sleep cloth, Dutch wax. Check. Good Ghana boy.

New cell phone. Check. No longer a high-tech Luddite.

high-tech Luddite

Cordless phone for landline. Oops. Need to recharge it. Head to study.

Broom. Within sight.

2. The Laptop Configuration

You don't like to use laptop keyboards for extended periods, you normally use a full-sized keyboard and monitor on your desk in the study. This situation however calls for a laptop intervention.

You borrow The Wife's Cool Pad to prevent the scorching of the family jewels. The wireless access is all set... You decide you need to order one of your own pads. You open up a tab in the browser, search for "Cool Pad" at Amazon... open up another tab for Froogle "laptop accessories pad", another one for PriceScan

You get up to grab the laptop power cord from your study, you don't want to run on battery today.

3. Reading Material

1 copy of Friday's New York Times. You only buy the hard copy on Fridays and Sundays and don't have home delivery, it forces you to go to the convenience store to commiserate with that Persian guy about Dubya bombing his hometown two weeks before the upcoming November elections. Jesus wept. You bought said copy during the hour between games yesterday but have only read the front page... Remaining: the arts section, Krugman and that whole Zarqawi thing...

Kwasi Wiredu - Cultural Universals and Particulars, An African Perspective. Some philosophical reading for the theme for your Social Living series.

Madison Smartt Bell - The Stone that the Builder Refused. You've been carrying this novel around for two weeks and it's getting great. Haiti. Toussaint L'Ouverture. Napoleon. Revolution! Things fall apart.

All set for World Cup.

9:02am. Laundry. Quarters. Quick: downstairs. 5 minutes to go.

World Cup setup

The Match

9:06am. Couch. Remote. TV. Okay.

American TV channels don't show the build up of the games unless the US is playing, the broadcasts start on the hour so you only get 7 minutes of pre-game commentary. There's barely enough time for analysis and you don't get to hear the national anthems unless the US is playing... And then there's the fact that if it's on ESPN there's that annoying ticker taking up the bottom of the screen. They are literally missing the big picture... Univision of course delivers on the comprehensive coverage but their image quality is worse and your Spanish? Well... ¿Se Habla EspaƱol? Well the game's on ABC today and they do full screen, so you'll try the English language commentary.

Sometimes you do want to hear the national anthems that the crowds sing, watch the players pretend to know the words, and soak in the tribal atmosphere. You've missed that today. Most Americans won't know what they are missing. Their country is becoming the Third World in the globalization sweepstakes, and some even seem proud about it... Well hopefully their team will do well in Germany and the underground football nation that I know lurks might manifest itself. Of course, I hope that Ghana will beat them handily, we need a little soul uplift.

Game on. Psyched.

Hmmm... the Paraguayan goalkeeper sustains an injury and has to leave the game.

The American commentator notes, "this is the second fastest substitution of a goalkeeper in World Cup history".

What the hell? You yell at the screen, "What does that have to do with the price of potatoes? This isn't baseball, football isn't a game of statistics."

Well anyway, experiment over. You promptly switch to Univision, they must be talking about things that matter. Anyway you'll need to know Spanish in Mexico, I mean California. (Justification: The Move).

It's a good game, England are looking great. Joe Cole terrorizing everyone, John Terry, Frank Lampard and Becks: the Axis of Solidity. Steven Gerrard, mon dieu. Peter Crouch: the hardest working man in the business... The whole team is shining and on the basis of this start, they could beat anyone. Meanwhile laptop on. Connect to Big Blue network, download latest build. Check

Paraguay is keeping it close. Free kick. Beckham bends it...
"Gol! Gol! Gooooooooool".
Excitable announcer. Another one: "Goooooool".

Loud thumping overhead. A few shouts from neighbour. You shout. "Gooooooooooool".

Workers cheer from outside, must be Boston Irish or something.
"Here we go, here we go, here we go..."
workers safety

Sounds of Wife stirring in bedroom...
"Gol! Gol! Gol!... Bravo. Goooool... Impressionante... Bravo... Gol... Mundialiasta... La pelota... Gol!..."
Remote. French Open briefly. Hmmm... Back to football. Start thinking about your glory days.

me freshman football glory

Laptop down. Pick up newspaper. Put down newspaper, match is too exciting.

Half time. Mexican adverts come on, skimpy dresses, rhumba dancing, eye-candy. Hmmm, you really need to learn Spanish... Still, remote: switch channel to French Open. Henin-Hardenne ahead. Whatever. Come on Kuznetwhatever. New York Times, now on page 4.

Oh! Laundry. Time to change the loads. Run downstairs.

Back upstairs. Hmmm. Hunger, food. Let's see...

Wife is up and about in the kitchen and looking grim... She's having breakfast but with that butter knife in hand, you need to tread carefully, you might get the macho treatment.

You try small talk and start muttering something lighthearted about the World Cup, widowhood and dilemmas... and begin to explain the various things on your plate, and talk about the match so far.

"You should eat", she says.

Good idea. More small talk... The food preparation business is not going too well, you turned on the kettle for the tea, but there was a noise on the TV, so you run there. False alarm, excitable commentator. You head back to pick up the toast. The broom is in your other hand. Start sweeping. Meanwhile more banter about glory days long gone...

me freshman football

You hear: "You're all over the place. You can't go on like this... not a bachelor anymore... A mess..." You nod your head and reach for the butter knife. Fridge. Marmalade. Milk.

The Wife is off in a huff (see also: evil eye). She comes back (avoids your eyes), grabs her laptop and heads for the bedroom.

Yesterday was your boycott day, it seems she's taken your message to heart and is boycotting you today.

Whatever. Justification: The Shankly Code (Shankly, Bill)
"Some people believe football is a matter of life and death. I'm very disappointed with that attitude. I can assure you it is much, much more important than that."
Second half is starting. There's the day job business. Food, laptop, cushions. Remote. Check French Open briefly. Switch. Watch.

10 minutes later, she shouts your name....

"What's up?", you yell between munches.

"I sent you an email".

Uh-oh. A deft multi-tasking effort now takes place.
  • You put down the slice of buttered toast and marmalade and the bowl of Frosties (well Frosted Flakes in the US; the same Tony the Tiger, they're great!)
  • You turn to the laptop, note that the build has long since finished downloading, start the install.
  • Switch to Firefox and open up a new tab.
  • You note that Peter Crouch just got a yellow card... Damn... England are looking like the most interesting team in the World Cup but yellow cards might be their downfall. Gerrard and now Crouch?
  • You click on the Gmail icon in the browser toolbar.
You take a guess on the title of the email that should have shown up in your inbox:
Once again The Wife proves her fortitude and you read
From: The Wife
To: Koranteng@Toli

Subject: Fwd: The World Cup at the Enormous Room

Maybe you can see the match with some friends... Maybe I can meet their widows.

---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: Soul Africa Bulletin
Subject: The World Cup at the Enormous Room
To: Boston Crew


The Enormous Room is hosting live Telecasts of the 2006 World Cup every day for the month of June. The 12 pm and 3pm games will be shown live. The 9am games will be recorded and played after the 3pm games. The bar will be open, but the kitchen will not open until 5:30pm. Feel free to bring some lunch.

see you there.
You smile. Great idea, the Africans in Boston are rallying... Commerce mixed with community. You could do that tomorrow and for the rest of the month, you vaguely hope they have Wi-fi so you could perch there during the work day. The World Cup is a 9 to 5 occupation for a month every four years, you wish you could get paid for it. Still there's no time today.

You fiddle around, back and forth between the Bloglines and delicious tabs, copying and pasting links and titles of things you remember reading yesterday.

You compose the reply in Gmail and hit the send button
From: Koranteng@toli
To: The Wife (Disgruntled and long-suffering)
Subject: Widowhood

Great idea...

See also from my internet friend Noel and his wife Elissa.

Avoiding World Cup Widowhood

Avoiding World Cup Widowhood -- a Guide for the Uninitiated (pdf)

Close game so far.

Back to the game... Paraguay getting close. What gives with England?

Day job: not much progress. New York Times: nope, too tense.

The game ends, England wins... A Google search about your nagging concern "World Cup 2006 yellow card policy first round", nothing obvious.

Ah yes, remote; you switch to the French Open... Henin-Hardenne wins the last point and throws her hands in the air 6-4, 6-4. She deserves it although you prefer Kuznetsova. Better luck next time.

What do you do next?

You head into bedroom to face recriminations.

They are blistering as expected... "In good times and bad". You're in a good mood so you continue with the small talk: lots of things that you're juggling today, talk about the match.

It's not working... Whatever. More football banter... Still not working... more football banter, reminisce about distant glories....

me pennypacker crew victorious

But then she softens for a moment at your evident enthusiasm and asks:
"When is the next match?"
"I don't know, I have to check."
One hour to go before the next match...

Arrggh! You forgot the laundry. You turn. Vague thought: you can't do the groceries in that time... after the next match maybe.

You gather up the towels and such for the next load... You would have washed the sheets too but you don't fancy your chances of survival if you try to remove them while The Wife is lying in them...

You rush down to get to the laundry before that other desperado you met at half-time gets there (you recognized the type, he's also doing laundry and watching the game).

Made it... Arggh! You don't have enough quarters... remember that inflation calypso you were singing six months ago... prescience huh?

You run back up to get some quarters, you almost trip on the narrow stairs.

You steady yourself... there's no need to rush, nice and slow. Quarters. Back down the stairs.

You nod your head at the guy who arrives as you put the quarters in...
"Good game."
"Yeah, England might well win the whole thing."
"Those yellow cards though. Do they carry over?"
"I don't think so. Google it."
"Will do. Again."
You start humming Jerusalem as you walk slowly back up the stairs, it's been on your mind recently
And did those feet in ancient times
Walk upon England's mountains green
You break out in full song as you open the door to the apartment.
"..pleasant pastures seen..."
Hold on, the Belgian national anthem is playing on the TV, the trophy is being awarded.

You settle down on the sofa and take up the cool pad and the laptop
".. builded Jerusalem..."
Kuznetsova is praising Henin-Hardenne. Justine looks as cool as Belgian beer and chips.
In England’s green and pleasant Land.
End of hymn. You need some more music... but the remote for the Rotel amplifier is out of reach, and the universal remote that you have doesn't control said Rotel amplifier, they said it was universal.

That Rotel remote is the worst remote you've ever had the misfortune to use, you remember that you were going to blog about its design flaws at some point. Laptop, you open up Notetab, open toli-ideas.txt and write this nugget down. Later.

So you do the next best thing, you start to sing the next hymm in the Boycott Hymnal: To Hunt the Wren
How will you kill him?
With sticks and stones
You have 54 minutes before the next game: Trinidad and Tobago against Sweden... Now you're talking, The T & Ts are the Dream Team in the World Cup, there's a shortage of Trinidad T-shirts. Like the Ghanaians, Togolese, Angolans and Ivoriens, they are in it for the first time...
ghana road to germany 2006

Oh yes order the cool pad, it worked fine. Lets see... Where's that credit card?

Portugal will be playing Angola somewhere near the town of Marburg. You take pride in that you see things that others can't. You hum along:
Hatchets and cleavers
Honouring his bones
You decide to do the dishes. Ah yes, the kitchen. Then sweep. Then you'll run to the convenience store across the street to get some blank VHS tapes talk with the guy about his relatives in Tehran and their preparations.

The question is what do you do when you come back?

You've just read the answer.

See also Ecstasy

File under: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , Risks: Day job, perception. Next: Ghana vrs USA

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

i take it you only watched the first half, with half an eye on the second? we were awful...