April is crawfish month

The Overton Square Crawfish Festival will be held Saturday, April 8 in the parking lot behind Bayou Bar & Grill, from noon to 6:00. For those of you not familiar with the area, Madison and Cooper is the nearest major intersection – the festival will be behind the buildings located on the south side of Madison.

The Rajun Cajun Crawfish Festival will be held downtown Sunday, April 23 from noon to 6:00. It will be held along Wagner Street between Union and Beale, just east of Riverside Drive. This has turned into my second-favorite street festival of the year (#1 being Cooper-Young in September). It’s one of the few events that can cause me to skip a Sunday at Sleep Out’s.

Mmmm crawfish… mark your calendars now.

Beer recommendation

Last night was Pint Night at the Flying Saucer, and I decided to try some of the 5 new draft beers that they have added to their Spring menu. One of them, Left Hand Milk Stout, stood out as particularly good. I’m not normally a fan of dark beers – I usually avoid Guinness and similar beers like the plague – but this one was the exception. It went down very smooth – according to their website, milk sugar mellows the roastiness normally found in stouts and makes this beer especially smooth and creamy.

Left Hand Milk Stout normally sells for $4.75 a pint at the Saucer, or you can wait until next Monday for Pint Night and pay $2.50.

Interview speak

A friend of mine recently landed a good job after a long couple of months interviewing. Hearing her stories made me think back to some of my past job interviews – things the interviewer has said and what they really meant. For example:

“Our work week varies greatly – you may work 40 hours one week and 65 hours the next.”

Translation: You’ll be working 65-hour weeks every week.

Any reference to “our corporate culture”

Translation: This is a miserable place to work, and everyone here is consumed by office politics. Good companies don’t think in terms of having a corporate culture; only bad ones do. At good companies, people just show up and do their jobs.

“Now, if you tell me you can have a project done in four days, I’m going to hold you to that”

Translation: If you tell me you can have a project done in four days, I’m going to tell you to have it done in three and hold you to that.

Multiple references to “our drug-free workplace” or a drug-testing policy

Translation, if said by a lower-level manager or non-manager: A lot of people at this company smoke weed.

Translation, if said by an upper-level manager: A lot of people at this company do cocaine.

“Saturday is a great day to come in and get caught up on work”

If you’re a normal human being, no translation should be necessary for this one.

“I get a tear in my eye when we sing the company song at the annual convention”

Translation: I am insane, and so is everyone else in this company.

“We work hard, we play hard”

Translation: If you aren’t sick enough of seeing your co-workers by the time the workday wraps up around nine P.M., you’ll then be expected to go grab a beer with them and “unwind” at the local bar.

If you hear more than one of these during an interview process, my recommendation is that you get up immediately and RUN out the door. Don’t worry about closing pleasantries or what people will think of you; just get out as fast as you can.

Good link – Paul mentions Romania in yet ANOTHER post

www.aboutromania.com

Yeah, yeah, I know I’ve been mentioning Romania a lot in my posts recently. The girls left six months ago April 5, and for some reason I’ve been missing them this week. This is a really good link though – lots of good pictures of Romanian architecture and historical buildings to look at.

Yet another reason why Romania is better than us: They went on Daylight Savings time effective today, whereas we’re not there for another week yet. Looking forward to it being light outside until 7:30. I hate winter and am ready for it to be over.

Deal of the Week

This week, I have a Deal for you on external hard drives. If you’re running out of space on your computer and need to pick up some additional storage at a bargain price, this is the week to do it. External hard drives also allow you to share large amounts of data between computers, if you do your work on more than one machine. A friend of mine pretty much runs his small business off one of these external drives.

If portability is the key – the ability to pack up your drive in a laptop case and carry it with you on the road – check out the 60 GB Western Digital external USB 2.0 portable hard drive, found on the back page of this week’s Best Buy ad circular. $60 in instant savings drop this week’s price to $99.99, and there are no rebate forms to fill out. Reviews on CNET.com praise this drive for being super-easy to install, and for not requiring an additional power source for most computers (it draws its power from the USB connection).

If you don’t need to be able to carry your external drive around with you on a regular basis, you may prefer to take a look at the Seagate 100 GB external hard drive, on the front page of this week’s Office Max ad. This drive offers 40 GB more space for $20 cheaper ($79.99), and is also USB 2.0 compatible. The downside is that its design is more boxy, making this drive slightly less easy to transport.

Whatever your need, this is a good week to pick up some external storage for your files. Back next week with another Deal.

Band recommendation

If you’re looking for something to do tonight, check out Starunner, a band from Chicago who is playing at the Tap Room tonight. I caught about an hour of their set last night while watching the NCAA tournament, and they were excellent. MidwestBands.com describes Starunner as “a Chicago based four piece that plays original Jam/Funk/Hip Hop/Rock/Jazz music. Nationally touring band with an independently released debut album entitled OverStand. Starunner is constantly stretching the boundaries of musical/genre rules.” That’s a far better description than anything I could come up with. Well worth checking out. I don’t believe there will be a cover at the Tap Room tonight, and they have over 20 beers on tap, including my favorite, PBR.

Google ads have now been on my site for 36 hours and my total ad revenue so far is $5.75. This is one of the best moves I’ve made in a while.

Don’t forget to check out my MySpace page, and if you’re a MySpace member, add me as a friend. Back tomorrow with Deal of the Week.

Will you be my friend?

I have set up a page on MySpace – www.myspace.com/paulryburn

My blog and everything will still be here – I’m not moving the entire operation over to MySpace. But I realize that a lot of people use it for networking, and I figure it might be worth it to have a presence there, if only to direct people to my blog here.

So if you’re on MySpace, check out my page, and add me as a friend if you want. Currently my only friend on that site is some doofus named “Tom” who is apparently put on everyone’s friend list when they sign up.

Woohoo! My Google AdSense revenue has ballooned to over two bucks on my first day! Guess I can afford that down payment for a condo now.

Friday night – time to go visit my mug at the Tap Room. See you later!

Friday update

– I have a friend looking for a job as a dental assistant… so I figured I’d use the Power of the Blog to see if I can help her out. She can do receptionist work, or actually assist (hold the suction, things like that – but not a hygenist). She’s a hard worker and is very friendly and sweet – I think she’d get along well with patients. If anyone knows of any openings shoot me an e-mail (paul@paulryburn.com) and I’ll pass the info on. Thanks.

– So last night I went to the Saucer to watch the Memphis-Bradley game. Took a seat near the pool table (good view of the big-screen TV, and more importantly, good view of the waitresses). Met a guy who manages rental properties who needs a website done. I gave him my contact info and we made plans to talk soon. Very cool… consulting work just seems to be falling into my lap these days.

– Two weeks until the new job starts. I’m thinking how nice it will be to have an entire hour for lunch in Midtown. So many good places to go. Cooper-Young, which will be about 2 minutes away from where I’ll be working, has lots of options. Looking forward to a pita sandwich at the Deli and some of their delicious fries… and I’ll finally get to go to Casablanca. It’s been open almost a year and I haven’t been there yet. Haven’t been to Do for sushi yet either – is it open for lunch?

I’ll also be two minutes away from Overton Square… which means I can get a slice of supreme at Memphis Pizza Cafe… catfish acadian at the Bayou… and a little farther down the street is the MONKEY!!! I hear they have the downtown Blue Monkey menu at the midtown location now… Hot Wing Egg Rolls!!! Woohoo!

And further down the street there’s delicious Italian food at Fino’s… and if I drive a mile or so further still, there’s Vietnamese food at Saigon Le.

People who live and/or work in Midtown… what are some other good lunch spots?

– Looks like I may be going to a silent auction tonight presented by Lantana Projects, a nonprofit that offers a residency program for international visual artists, and develops the culture of contemporary visual art in Memphis. I responded to the person who invited me to the auction with the following e-mail: “I’ll go if I don’t have to wear a tie.” Here’s a link to info about the silent auction. DJ Buck Wilders will be spinning Memphis soul and R&B, which should set the tone for a fun evening.

– My mother e-mailed this morning with a good link: Zillow.com, where you can type in the address of any house, and find its appraised value and the values of the other homes in the neighborhood. This site helps keep real estate agents honest, and lets buyers know if they’re overpaying. Thought I’d post it since I know at least one of my blog readers is shopping for a house.

– Here’s a link to Nine O’Clock, which contains news in English from my favorite country, Romania. I gotta tell you, though, after reading it I’ve come to the conclusion that not much exciting happens in Romania. If I were the publisher of this e-newspaper, here’s what I’d put on the site: “The news isn’t very interesting today, so here are some pictures of hot Romanian girls instead.”

– As you can see, Google ads are now appearing on my blog. I enabled this option, decided to give it a try. Here’s how it works: People click on the ad links -> I get money. Since they approved me to host their ads about 10:00 last night (before that it was displaying public-services ads which didn’t pay out), I’ve already earned a whopping 16 cents! Woooooo! We’ll see how the ads go for a couple of weeks. If they get annoying I’ll take them down. I kinda like the concept of “do what I’d normally do anyway, and get money for it” concept though. True, I’m whoring myself out for cash, but I already do that 8 hours a day anyway, so what’s a little more. At least this income stream doesn’t require me to sit in a damn cubicle.

– I’m extremely annoyed with the Tap Room right now, because they removed the video game machine with “Gone Fishing” on it. (That’s the game where fish jump out of an icy pond and a polar bear hits them with a bat. Best game ever to appear on a video crack machine, by far.) That probably won’t stop me from drinking several mugs of PBR there this weekend, though.

– Just looked at my website tracker to see what kinds of Google searches are leading people to this blog. Someone searched for “carmel tube top.” That’s pretty funny.

– All right, off to work, where I’m helping a heating and air conditioning company get in the Guinness Book of World Records in the “Most Confusing Rebate Program Ever” category. 8 hours in the f***ing cubicle and it will be time to start drinking!

Thursday update

– I’m hungry for lasagna today. When I was teaching at the U of M in the late ’90s, one of my students felt sorry for me because I didn’t have a wife or girlfriend, and brought me a pan of homemade lasagna – the best I’ve ever had. She used real ricotta and mozarella cheese, and sausage rather than just plain old ground beef. I have yet to find an Italian restaurant in town that even approaches that incredible lasagna. But, there are a lot of Italian places I’ve never tried. Any recommendations?

– Maybe I can convince one of my neighbors, who recently proved her ability at cooking Italian food, to give lasagna a try.

– There was an article on the Memphis Business Journal’s website that the crawfish harvest is about 30% of what it was last year. I hope that doesn’t negatively affect the two local crawfish festivals, which are both coming up. The midtown one usually happens the first weekend in April, and the downtown one, the third weekend.

– The Memphis in May Music Fest line-up has been announced. Here it is.

– Every year, Memphis in May honors a particular country, and holds international-themed events the week between Music Fest and BBQ Fest. This year’s honoree is Costa Rica. I need to lobby the Memphis in May organization to select Romania as next year’s country. One of the top Memphis in May people has a plate on the wall at the downtown Saucer, and if he hung out there at all between July and October of last year, he may already be familiar with what a wonderful place Romania is.

– And speaking of Memphis in May… kind of early to announce this, but since I’m on the topic already… I’m accepting invitations to tents at BBQ Fest. E-mail paul@paulryburn.com to respond. I’m not ashamed to use this blog for personal gain. I’ll probably repeat the announcement a few more times between now and mid-May.

– NCAA tournament tonight: (1) Memphis vs. (13) Bradley. Estimated tip-off is 6:27 pm. I’ve got an appointment to get a haircut after work, then after that I’ll probably head to a bar and watch the game. Probably I’ll be at the Saucer, unless I don’t like the beer they have on Fire Sale, in which case I’ll be at Sleep Out’s.

– And that’s it for now… time to fulfill my ultimate purpose in life, which is of course sitting in a cubicle all day. Back tomorrow, unless I have a heart attack and die from all the excitement.

For those downtowners who are into dance…

Tangophilia will host a four-week Foundation Series of classes in Argentine Tango, to be held at Quetzal on four successive Mondays, April 10-May 1, from 6:30-8:00 pm, with guided practica afterward. Early registration fee is $50, $45 for students. If you can’t make the April schedule, they’ll repeat the Foundation classes in May.

For those of you not sure if you want to commit to the four-week series, you can try it out for one night at Harbor of Health on Mud Island, where they will be having a one-night introductory lesson (“tango in a nutshell”) this Friday, March 24 from 7-8 pm.

I’m not saying that I will be there for these (although I haven’t totally ruled it out). Just wanted to pass the info along for downtowners who might be interested.