That sinking feeling

My employee communications job has turned into “crisis communications” of late (thanks a lot, Wuhan exotic animal market!) and there have been a lot of workdays that have stretched into worknights. (Which also explains my lack of posts recently.) So the last thing I needed when I got up on Wednesday morning was a clogged bathroom sink. But that’s exactly what I got. Actually, it’s not exactly what I got… I got exactly TWO clogged bathroom sinks. Our master bathroom and hallway bathroom are back to back upstairs, and share the same drainpipe.

I played a bit of “plunger ping-pong”: plunge the master bath sink and the standing water would go to the hallway sink…. plunge the hallway sink and it’d go back to the master side. I did manage to yank a field mouse sized lump of hair out of one drains (ah, the glamorous life!) but it was clear that the clog was farther down in the pipes.

I’m far from handy (and far from handsome… sorry Red Green), but I was 72% confident that I could pull out the pop-up plug and/or disassemble the PVC pipes below one of the sinks and clear the clog. But I also was 99.9% sure that I’d screw up the reassembly (which is in tight quarters in a vanity), and we’d then have a leaky drain on our hands. And I was 110% sure that I didn’t have time for this nonsense, with my company’s head of HR and COO already pinging me about the latest corona-crisis.

I got caught up in work and forgot about the clog until that afternoon, when I suddenly remembered that one of my co-workers has a husband who is a master plumber. And they live nearby. And she said he gives a “friends and family” discount to her co-workers.

So I pinged her via our company’s instant message system to get his phone number. I also couldn’t remember his name. Here’s what happened next:

It was a bit crazy. Freaky. Eerie. I mean, what are the chances that she’d use the bogus name of “Herbert” in a chat with a real Herbert’s son, on the very day that he passed away a decade ago?

I’ll spare you the rest of the chat, but we wound up having a nice little conversation about my father. The day started with a lot of frustration, but it wrapped up with some warm fuzzy feelings. Guess things — including clogged sinks — happen for a reason.

Oh, and the ghost of Herbert must’ve heard us summoning him from the Great Beyond, because after I texted Erin’s husband and we arranged for him to stop by the next morning, I went upstairs and the drains were working fine. Thanks, Pops… for everything!

Ballers just want to have fun.

If you were a basketball player and you were on a team that won 25 games and made the Sweet 16 your freshman year, and a team that went 6-14 in conference your sophomore year, which would be more fun? The answer is the latter team, at least if your my wife’s cousin’s daughter. (OK, “first cousin once removed” if you must insist on the proper terminology. Who are you anyway… Emily Post?)

Meggie Burgess transferred from Christopher Newport, a school in Virginia that is a perennial D3 powerhouse. Her old squad is ranked #22 in the country, won their conference tourney last night and is headed back to the NCAA tournament with an impressive 23-4 record. But those victories aren’t very fulfilling if you rarely see playing time, and Meggie had the fewest minutes played of anyone on last year’s 25-win team.

“I was sitting on the bench last year saying, ‘I hate this. I don’t know if I want to do this. I don’t know if I want to play anymore.’”

from this Carroll County Times article

She transferred to McDaniel, a D3 school closer to her Maryland home. The team was in rebuild mode, with a brand new coach, but Meggie finally got a chance to contribute, playing in 21 games and averaging 2.5 points and 2 rebounds a game, including a 13-point/3-rebound/2-assist effort in their final game. The WNBA probably won’t come calling anytime soon, but that’s not the point. It’s feeling like you’re contributing to the overall squad.

“Just coming here and being on this team and playing well during practice, and actually getting to participate during practice, was more energizing and more motivating in itself.”

Same article as above.
Photo: David Sinclair

Transferring isn’t always the best option… sometimes you have to work through adversity. That’s not just how sports work, that’s how life works. But in Meggie’s case, she was able to go from a virtual non-entity to a valued member of a team. And that sense of purpose is really rewarding… in sports as well as in life.

“Meggie has grown, I think, more than anybody else in the last couple months… Coming from a situation at Christopher Newport where she wasn’t really in the playing rotation, and then coming here and being able to get minutes and be a contributing factor is huge.”

McDaniel women’s basketball coach Christin Gowan, in the same article.

Besides, Meggie’s new team is called the Green Terror… that’s way cooler than being on a team called the Captains.

The full article from the Carroll County Times is here.

Photo: David Sinclair

Mom-trepreneur

Here’s a very cool article from a very cool website (Women of Cincinnati) about a very cool person (Jackie Roberto) who runs a very cool business (Madison Design Group).

photo from the Madison Design Group website

The article is about how Jackie balances work and family. We’re good friends with Jackie and her husband Phil (he’s the organizer of the “Fool Moon” late night bike rides that I occasionally attend… and he helped clean up this messy WordPress site of mine, too). Our kids went to grade school together, and now are in high school together, so we’ve witnessed their balancing act firsthand, with a ton of admiration.

The interview was conducted by our mutual friend, Judy Zitnik, yet another parent from the grade school gang. The profile is part of a series on Women of Cincinnati:

There is no single definition of an entrepreneur or the obstacles they face. As part of our year-long series sponsored by Main Street Ventures, our community chose 12 of the biggest obstacles female-identifying entrepreneurs face, and we found 12 women who spend their days conquering them. Explore the whole series here.

That’s Jackie on the right (and our mutual friend Judy Zitnik Finn on the left).
Photo by Chelsie Walter

The entire interview is great – please read it. In the interim, here are some money quotes:

Because to be a good creative, you have to have a life. You have to be immersed in life to know how to communicate or to write or to design. You have to be informed in that way to be better at what you do. So we try to make sure that we work really hard, and then we leave. And then you do whatever you want. It’s not work hard; play hard. It’s work hard, and then have your life in whatever way you define it.

As a fellow creative, I wholeheartedly agree with this. Time spent disengaged from work is part of “filling the well” so that you have creative energy when you reengage.

The moment you have the baby, you’re like, “Stay home with the baby or work?” Well, staying home looks a lot easier until you realize it’s actually harder. It’s way harder. You know, I’ve always joked, “Well, clients never wipe their nose on my legs. They never cry. (Or if they do, they never cry in front of me.)” 

Honestly, though, it is way harder to stay at home. I think it is the unsung amazing work for our society. And it has almost always been on women. It’s changing slowly. It’s a noble and important job. But it is still a thankless job. And you know, we know some stay-at-home dads, and I’m sure they feel the same way.

Well said, Jackie!

For me, it’s not really about money or all the outward signs of success. It’s not that I’m immune to all that, but it’s just about living modestly so that I have enough money to have interesting experiences.

Jackie and her husband Phil are all about the interesting experiences. Just salt-of-the-earth, kind, caring human beings raising two wonderful daughters… while also carving out meaningful careers. I’m tempted to say “we should all be so lucky” but really it’s more like “we should all follow their example.”

The Joker gets serious

While most of America was watching Hour 88 of the Super Bowl pregame hypefest, Novak Djokovic was capturing his 17th Grand Slam title in the Land Down Under (which might have to change its nickname to the Land That’s On Fire).

I’m happy for “The Joker”… and not just because he’s my doppelgänger. (OK, he’s 23 years younger, much more athletic and much better looking… but if you squint you might see a slight resemblance.)

Djokovic or Dubbatrubba? You decide! Photo: Getty images

Djokovic’s career has overlapped with the heyday of both Roger Federer (20 Grand Slams) and Rafael Nadal (18) and he probably doesn’t get nearly the acclaim he deserves. Slowly yet steadily, he’s been gaining ground on both in overall titles and Grand Slams. He’s six years younger than Federer, and a year younger than Nadal. Before his career is over, he just might be the all-time leader in Grand Slams.

Photo: Getty Images

Novak also seems like a good dude. After the Australian Open final, he wore a jacket with Kobe Bryant’s initials and NBA numbers on it, and in his victory speech he offered some heartfelt words about what really matters in life.

“This is a reminder to all of us that we should stick together, now more than ever, being with our families, stay close with the people that love you. Of course, we are part of a professional sport. We compete and try our best, but obviously there are more important things in life. It’s important to be conscious and humble about things that are happening around you.”

Sounds like a winner to me.

Photo: Getty Images



They’re not pooches, they’re mooches.

Our household has four pets. The two low-maintenance, no-muss, no-fuss cats? Those would be mine.

The “wake up” and “be awesome” parts are optional.

The two giant, stinky, dirty-pawed, have-to-let-them-out-no-matter-the-weather beasts? Those belong to my wife.

However, I usually get up before my wife, and as soon as the dogs hear signs of life, they are rarin’ to go. So I have to let them out each morning, and feed them breakfast. But dogs being the tricky creatures that they are, with no self-regulating stomachs, would bust out the “puppy dog eyes” when my wife got up, and act like they hadn’t just been fed.

Exhibit A: Hope, as in “I hope she falls for it.”
Exhibit B: Bibo, the poor widdle pupper-wupper who is STARVING!

But their days (and nights) of doggie double dipping are OVER, thanks to a state-of-the-art solution called an “index card.”

“Breakfast” on one side, “dinner” on the other. Once we fill the bowl, we flip the script.

Don’t call PETA on me, these dogs are in no danger of starving anytime soon. They still use those puppy dog eyes to get a spoonful of peanut butter every day… and they occasionally help themselves to whatever food is within snout’s reach on the counter.

Be sure to tune in next time for Episode 2: Dogs taking up the entire bed.

Will the (pizza) circle be unbroken

Our daughter Leah started her first real job Monday. She’s working at Ramundo’s Pizzeria. It’s a family-owned small business, but it looms large within the dubbatrubba family.

Our oldest, Gabriel (age 19) has been working there since the location in our neighborhood opened two and a half years ago. Son #2 Peter also started working there when he was 16. Now he’s away at college, but Leah (who turned 16 in June) slid right into his old slot, working the sandwich/salad bar. She didn’t even have to interview – her older brothers’ work ethic got her a free pass.

Gabriel has moved up the food chain (pizza chain?), starting as part of the pizza-making crew, then doing deliveries (which pays better), and now he’s the night manager a couple times a week, working around his class schedule at the University of Cincinnati.

The owner is super nice. The pay is good… the freedom it affords our kids is even better. Gas money for the car. Yet another guitar for Gabriel, some Doc Martens for Leah, and funding for a Robinhood investment account for Peter (dude doesn’t buy stuff… he still has every nickel he ever made).

The owner is named Tony Ramundo… but you probably could’ve guessed that. (Photo credit: Forrest Sellars, Community Press, in this article)

But it’s not about the cash, really. It’s learning to show up when you’re supposed to, working hard when you’re there, treating customers with courtesy and respect, getting along with your co-workers, earning promotions through your efforts. All the habits they’re forming now that will serve them well, well beyond when they’re serving pizzas.

Free shift meals too!

It’s said that small businesses are the lifeblood of a community, and the American economy. I’ll raise a toast to that! (Craft beer buckets available at Ramundo’s for the incredibly low price of five cans for $15…)

photo credit: Yelp

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