Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Passed Away Resulting from Cancer: Poh Nikbar August

Rita Mulcahy, PMP

“What do you do?”

“Project management,” I reply.

“What is that?”

“...I make spreadsheets.”

And so goes the conversation any time I am asked about my profession. I don’t know what I do, so saying “spreadsheets” is easier than trying to explain project management.

I do know that three letters added to the end of my name on LinkedIn make me more valuable—PMP, or Project Management Professional. PMP is a credential that demonstrates I know project management, even if I say "I make spreadsheets,” and even if I think all I do is make spreadsheets and only know how to make spreadsheets.

My company invited me to take part in their PMP training program, along with nine others. I’d like to claim it’s because I’m a promising young professional, but really my company’s average age is 74 and there’s only 10 employees with the mental capacity to pass the test. Our program is training with PMP Exam Prep, the best-selling guidebook for passing the PMP exam, authored by Rita Mulcahy. In other words, Rita is the absolute expert in spreadsheets.

Rita was diagnosed with stage 4 Breast Cancer in September of 2005, and was given only months to live. Rita spent the next five years privately fighting her disease. She continued working, even authoring five more best-selling books. Rita succumbed to cancer in May 2010, though her company continues on and even published the seventh edition of her book this summer, which my training group is using.

I look forward to Rita’s book developing me into a spreadsheet master, er, um, Project Management Professional: Benjamin Rubenstein, PMP.
Rita Mulcahy, PMP

Leia Mais…

My Favorite Fantasy

Many fantasies churn through my mind. One comes to mind that is more appropriate for this medium. Is it moral? It involves gambling and attempted cheating. Is it safe? The trash talk can lead to physical violence. Is it healthy? It causes tension, frustration, and blood-pulsing rage. I'm talking about fantasy football.

Fantasy football wasn’t always a part of my life. As a late teenager, Sundays in autumn were my Jewish Christmas. Sunday NFL Countdown, a preview show, at 11:00 a.m. as I make my predictions for the day. Redskins game at 1:00 accompanied by pizza. Late afternoon game at 4:15 accompanied by Goldfish, cupcakes, and other nutritious foods. Fast food dinner at halftime. NFL Primetime, a highlight show, at 7:30. Sunday Night Football at 8:15. All in all: essentially 13 consecutive hours on a La-Z-Boy or couch, a few thousand calories, and a social life that took a free fall*.

Thank goodness I was diagnosed with bone cancer in the fall season. Aside from my hospital lacking ESPN—a crime worthy of the President’s attention—this NFL television routine was my refuge. Watching football and discussion of the games was my favorite activity in the world, behind actually playing it (because, remember, I had no social life*). And so this routine kept me hopeful, always looking ahead to the next week. One more completed NFL week meant the same for cancer, too. I could get my chemo or waste away on a hospital bed, anemic and lacking an immune system, and be perfectly content. Anybody who says professional athletes do nothing for others are ignorant. For me, they briefly made cancer life acceptable, normal, fun.

Because of cancer I will never play football again. And sadly I can no longer sit on my La-Z-Boy for 13 consecutive hours, either. That ability has been crushed by the need for constant productivity—time watching means time missed on my book, blog, speaking, publicity, outreach, Twitter, Facebook, trying to get to -10% body fat, and so on. But the biggest culprit is fantasy football. Instead of peacefully watching games for the pure love of it like as a teenager, I’m constantly fretting over my players’ stats. “Did Jason Snelling get that goalline carry and steal Michael Turner’s touchdown points?” It’s just a neck twitch. It’ll go away.

I estimate that I spent at least 4,000 hours on my book, but I’m terrified to make a similar estimate for fantasy football. Our league had a live draft this past weekend in Charlotte, North Carolina. Consider this for the time commitment: three hours studying players to prepare for the draft and creating two spreadsheets, one hour of rules discussion, two hours drafting players, and several hours of bickering over rules, players, trades that people won’t make, who drafted the best, who drafted the worst, etc. Each week I will study player rankings from several reputable sites, decide who to play and who to bench, lose sleep over that decision, develop severe stress acne if my decision ends up the wrong one, and lose friends over the outcome. Repeat this 16 times—but only if I’m lucky enough to make the fantasy football finals.

The 13-hour TV-watching routine I used to have was a drain on my social life. But at least then I could fabricate excuses for staying in, like, “Us Reform Jews study Torah in Sunday school all day.” Fantasy football is even more detrimental to my social life. After I tried explaining it to my female companion, she said, “I don’t get it.” This is even before the onset of my inevitable irritability, full body acne, and constant neck twitching. If my Jew charm doesn’t work wonders on her before the season starts, then I’m hopeless.

Leia Mais…

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Acid Dip

I worked from home today, and took a brief afternoon break down at my swimming pool. Before I hopped in, the Russian lifeguard (aren't they always from the Eastern Bloc?) called everyone out for ten minutes. I couldn't understand her broken English, but figured the pool needed cleaning or chlorine.

Ten minutes later she blew the whistle and I took a dip. Then she walked towards me. "...Pool...out...," she said. That was all I got. Not the best time for a language barrier.

I climbed out. "But you blew the whistle," I said.

"I know. I sorry...acid."

"You're adding acid to the pool? Do I need to shower?"

"You might want...don't have to...I would."

"OK....will I be safe if I do not shower?" I said. Will my skin fall off?


"...Go shower."

I showered and waited for her next non-accidental whistle blow. I also waited for someone else to jump in first. A little boy took the initiative. After he seemed fine, I followed suit.

Lesson: Always make sure the guinea pig is someone vulnerable like a child or the elderly. If they can survive then it's a good bet that you can, too.

Leia Mais…

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

How to Get Famous in Five Easy Steps

Step 1
Make millions of people follow me on Twitter, including Ashton Kutcher, without them knowing it. I’ll then force-retweet for every idiotic comment I make. Once Kutcher tweets that I should be on Two And A Half Men, then I’m legit.

Step 2
Convince 400 million people to “like” my Facebook Page by offering a free cupcake. I already have a deal in place with Little Debbie to send 400 million individually-packaged cupcakes around the world. Little Debbie is so terrified of Hostess’ increasing market share that it wasn’t even that hard to convince them.

Step 3
Hire an army of people to blog original content so that my readers keep coming back. With my real job and never-ending tweets, I won’t have time to do it myself. After realizing that nobody will work for the nonexistent-to-minimal amount that I would pay them, I will either abduct aliens to do it for me, or train cockroaches how to type. My apartment building seems to have several hundred billion of them, so surely some must be prodigies.

Step 4
Kidnap President Obama’s social media marketing director. If you think Obama won the 2008 election because Sarah Palin can’t name more than seven U.S. states, you’re wrong. Obama won because of an onslaught of social media marketing aimed to get young people out and vote. This soon-to-be kidnapped marketing director will act as my project manager, for the operation codenamed “Make ruBENstein Famous.” And since I’m already kidnapping him, I might as well steal his PMP certification, assuming he has one. I really need mine and this is an easier method than studying for and passing the test.

Step 5
Contact the people who created Final Destination and learn how to see visions of events that haven’t happened yet, so then I can record the craziest stuff and upload them to my YouTube channel. Most people probably think it’s just a movie, but it’s actually based on hard scientific fact. My YouTube channel would jump to the 66th most popular site on the entire web, just behind pornhub.com.

Mila Kunis and Natalie PortmanThis five-step process will make me famous. My initial months with fame will be selfish—using it to get dates with Mila Kunis and Natalie Portman, appearances on Two And A Half Men, and to get cockroaches to synchronize a sleep dance for when I go to bed. Eventually I will quit my job and watch HBOgo.com and Netflix 90 hours a week, eat all my meals at Harris Teeter, and invest heavily in roach killer. I will make sure to get on the cover of Men’s Health Magazine, after I hire Sylvester Stallone to be my trainer.

But after this brief chill-out period, I will use my fame for the betterment of mankind. People find my book, perspective and story inspiring, especially adolescent and young adult patients and survivors. So I will visit patients in medical centers and sign books for them. I will speak at organizations about how to live a healthy and cancer-free life post-survival.

Young adult survivors are a neglected bunch, stuck in between pediatric and adult care. Not young enough to be in those commercials where they use children to convince you to donate money, and not old enough to garner significant research money. But there are hundreds of thousands of us. They need a voice, a leader, a short Jewish dude to show them the path to continued survivorship.

And when people of my generation get older and there’s no social security, the world is in depression and war, and pollution and cockroaches are rampant, me and my army of survivors will take over the world. Our past pain and suffering have given us perspective, making us incorruptible. Our past radiation will cause a superintelligence mutation, allowing us to always know the right thing to do. We will fix our dying planet and human race, just me and my other pediatric cancer-slaying warriors.

But only after I cheat, trick, and criminally find my way to fame, one step at a time. Speaking of step 1, time for me to hack Ashton Kutcher’s Twitter account.

Leia Mais…

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Arlington Update: Bob

the ruBENstein Media experience has been widened to include videos. You may now find me on YouTube at YouTube.com/benrubenstein. Enjoy my first video log about my good pal, Bob.

Leia Mais…

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Stylin'

Someone recently posted on my Facebook page about the Paleolithic diet, which focuses on meats, fish, vegetables, fruit, roots, and nuts, and excludes grains, legumes, dairy products, salt, refined sugar, and processed oils. It then occurred to me that my eating habits are built around the Paleolithic diet, though I do eat some whole grains and legumes, like oatmeal and pinto beans. I've been eating this way for years without realizing it was common or defined.

Now I wonder if my different fashion senses are similarly defined.

My dress wear: slim fit, plain-front, lower-rise pants; extra slim fit shirts with vertical stripes; Clark's shoes; of course matching my socks to my pants, and matching my leather. Metrosexual? Not totally. I may fit many of the characteristics according to AskMen, but as far as I know no guy has ever questioned my sexuality, or been jealous of my success with the ladies.

How about my new summer style I have not yet implemented but am considering: colorful, above-knee shorts, short sleeve t-shirt or polo, and slip-on shoes. Most people would find that appropriate without socks or with no-show socks. Here's the kicker: half-calf dress or crew socks.

Before you mock me for being trendy or absurd, think how logical it is: my slip-ons will never develop an odor, I can keep the same socks on after work, and I won't get as many bug bites when playing bocce outside.

Before full implementation, I have two questions:

  1. Just like my quasi-Paleolithic diet, does this fashion style have a name?
  2. Does anyone have any thoughts before I go forward with this? Please do share. Except for Ol' Brit and Sec-Z-Bec. Your raucous opinions are duly noted.

Leia Mais…