I think I’m a nice guy.  I go to church (gladly), pay my taxes (grudgingly), and try to be polite at 4-way stops.  I’m trustworthy, loyal, and pay my debts.  I give charitable contributions, including giving of my time, and I always buy Girl Scout Cookies.

Okay, so that last one shows I have good taste, not good character.

I also try to help out my friends.  If a co-worker needs a reference, I’ll give it to him.  Most of them I give gladly.  On all of them I tell the truth.  Most of the time it’s good for the job seeker, but not always.  One time a co-worker asked me to be a reference for him, and I got a call from the potential hiring company.  The telltale question: would I hire the job seeker myself?  Usually I’m pleased to answer Yes, and give reasons why the hiring company would get benefits from the hiree.  This time, I had to answer “Yes, under the right circumstances.”  They asked “What circumstances?”  “If I needed the position filled and there was no one left to hire.”

My co-worker had burned bridges, not in anger or animosity, but in a lackadaisical work ethic and a sub-par understanding of the subject matter, across years of working together.  He wouldn’t or couldn’t get it together enough to be a positive influence to the team.  He had other projects where he was high energy, high involvement, but work was not one of them.  So from my viewpoint he potentially had a job, but in reality it wasn’t going to happen.

Which brings me around to the world of sports.

The Cincinnati Bengals won another one today, if you consider losing 23-17 to be a win.  That is their sixth loss in a row.  These guys are taking the “How to win friends and influence people” book and using it to prop up an uneven chair.  That is one potential use for the book, but not its best use.  I notice in the Yahoo game summary today that the top performer for the Bengals is their quarterback, Carson Palmer.  He made the list by throwing two touchdowns and three interceptions.  If those numbers were reversed, the team may have gotten a real win instead of coming in a strong second.  At two wins and seven losses, the Bengals have placed themselves out of post-season play.  I guess they could maybe make it if they won the remaining seven games and every other team in the NFL lost all their remaining games, but the likelihood of that is fairly low.  At least they hold the longest winning or losing streak in the NFL.

And my NASCAR driver, Mr. Tony Stewart, is finding it rough to stay up in the points.  He made it into the top 12 to be in the chase for the cup, but is not doing so well.  He finished 17th in today’s race, badly enough to drop him to 8th place in the chase.  He is 363 points behind the leader.  I don’t think he can make that deficit up in the single remaining race.  Maybe if the drivers ahead of him quit this week, just decided to go to Greece and buy themselves an island or something.  I mean, it is possible, right?  In the meantime, Mr. Stewart is having fun.  He took time this weekend to go sprint car racing – the kind where you tie a steering wheel to an over-sized engine, then strap on just enough parts to call it a car.  He didn’t do so well there, either.

That’s him in the red car, getting clearance for takeoff.  You can see the 20-second video clip and read the story here.

I’m not sure what the big picture is with this weekend’s activities.  I pick losers?  I’m a better judge of character than I am of sporting teams?

I need a longer nap?

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