A Twist Of Fate
December, 2008 Entries
"Imagine Don Knotts And Hillary Clinton French Kissing... You're Welcome!"

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(12/31/08 - 11:22 PM)
I'm spending my New Year's Eve working on the computer once more. My wife and I found that we were simply both too tired to play any more Mario Kart (a staple, as well as "You Don't Know Jack!" from Berkeley studios) on New Years Eve. We tried finishing off a decent Anime series that we've been too busy to finish, but we each in turn kept falling asleep.

Ironically, it doesn't really bother us. On a day when people force themselves to do all the normal things with one another, we are simply content to be as we always are - completely, overtly mental for one another and tired.

(12/30/08 - 11:13 PM)
There was nothing on television tonight, so I checked out what was on the 'Geriatric Redneck' Channel. And man - was I ever glad that I did! I've never seen full-contact Bingo before, but those old biddies really know how to get their mean on!

The caller is in a cage with the balls, to protect him from imminent assault, I assume, from the numerous walkers, canes and tubes of Super Poli-grip that the crones wield in this no-holds-barred match of ancient feistiness.

A woman from Alabama named Misti Sue Suggins was the eventual winner, after having lost all of her teeth (to be fair, her dentures just fell out, but still) to her strongest opponent in the fray, Thelma May Skinkly. Ms. Skinkly was eventually disqualified due to an illegal use of undergarment technicality (it's no holds barred, not no bodily waste barred, after all), much to the dismay of the single men in the crowd who actually had glasses thick enough to see her with.

She was seen leaving the parlour with a handsom young eighty-something in a seersucker suit some forty minutes later. His toupee was never found, but he didn't seem to mind.

I fell asleep as Ms. Suggins was adjusting her garters and giving her genteel, yet profanity-ridden victory speech. That, or that beeping I heard was the Life-Alert around her neck malfunctioning or her Jitterbug phone going off - either way, I couldn't make out alot of the words.

I'll never know how she felt at that final moment, I guess. Unless there's a rerun... I gotta go check!

(12/29/08 - 10:36 PM)
I had one of those nightmare-esque components cross my desk recently that required tooling that no ordinary machine shop would ever have the need for.

I had the tooling quoted, and then found out that I needed to get it rolling, as the timeline on completing the components had been unexpectedly escalated.

Rather than rely on a fax or e-mail, I like to call in these tooling orders personally to assure that there are no misconceptions, no confusion, no miscommunication, etc.

I picked up the phone, and dialed my favoritest inside salesperson at my favoritest tooling vendor. I got her voicemail, and I looked at the clock. Hmmm... she should be back from lunch by now. What gives?, I thought.

By 2:15 when I still hadn't heard from her I was starting to get edgy. I knew if the tooling was going to still make it out of Kentucky before the day was out, the order had to go through soon.

At 2:45 I broke down and called her once more. This time, she answered. I politely berated her for not calling me back (this never happens with her).

"I just got your message," she said, "and I'm sorry. I had an interesting time at lunch today."

"Do tell," I responded, intrigued. Clearly there was a story here.

"Well, I thought it was such a nice day that I'd go and get my car washed quick. So, I pulled in, I got gas, I entered my code at the car wash, and away it went. But then, when it was done, it started again. And again. And again. Finally, after the end of the sixth wash cycle, the people behind me apparently got pissed off at the crazy woman hogging the car wash and went and got someone. They finally let me out once they realized what was happening, but I was in there for quite some time."

I laughed, told her she was lucky there was still paint left on the vehicle and then ordered my tooling. It was the best excuse I had heard all month.

(12/27/08 - 10:18 PM)
Went to visit with my Dad and Stepmother today. We actually had a pleasant time as we talked about things and people, getting all caught up. What seemed like three minutes was actually three hours, and we finally got going.

I can't remember the last time I enjoyed my Father's company so much. It was actually kind of nice.

(12/26/08 - 9:27 PM)
One of the attorneys whom my wife works with has a calendar of unfortunate newspaper or magazine headlines.

The one about the Christmas Menorah was just awesome.

Today, he came to my wife with the following in hand. The quote on the calendar read:

"Ride a giant weiner to the land of smiles!"

The quote was referring to the Oscar-Mayer Wienermobile rolling through some town or another.

He was bringing this one to my wife after he had pondered it for a bit.

My wife read it, turned beet red and laughed.

"I don't get it," was the attorneys' reply, "Why is this funny? I tried to figure it out, but I just don't get it."

This made my wife laugh even harder, mostly because he was serious.

He obviously felt he was missing something, and further obviously understood that my wife thought it was hilarious.

After some elegant dancing around the subject on my wife's part, he asked if she could 'draw him a diagram or something', because he still didn't get it. He was being facetious, but the irony of his choice of words was not lost on my wife in the least.

The best part of the story? He was 100% sincere in his inability to comprehend the humor.

I gotta meet this guy. There's a whole head full of innuendo I've got to try on him...

(12/25/08 - 10:48 AM)
It's not really Jesus' birthday, but since no one can decide when it's supposed to be, we picked today by default.

So Happy Birthday, J-Man.

I've been working on this music organization project every waking hour that was not spent, eating, sleeping, or doing something unfortunate in my bathroom that is best left undescribed.

Today is no exception. All of our holidays are finished, with the exception of visiting my Dad and Stepmother. I called them this morning to wish them a Merry Christmas, and see how they're doing.

After a few cold minutes, my Father warmed up and we had a nice half-hour conversation (something of a rarity). We agreed to meet with them on Saturday morning, as they had other plans going until then.

Other than that, I've got nothing.

Have a Merry Christmas (even if you're Jewish or The Grinch.)

(12/24/08 - 11:26 PM)
Holy shit there's alot of snow. I have muscles in my body that are screaming in pain, but I still can't find them. I was so relieved when I finished shoveling this morning - I wouldn't have to do it again today!

That is, until my Mom called me.

Christmas, it turns out, was not at 2:00 at her house. Rather, people were arriving at 1:00, and we were eating at 2:00. I had been mis-informed, apparently. This was at quarter to eleven, and I still had to prepare all of the food we were taking with us (luckily we were on hors d'ouvres duty, so nothing that took alot of cooking prowess - or time.)

But then it got better when my Mother asked if I would mind shoveling for her prior to everyone arriving, as the plow truck had not been back through her condominium subdivision.

No problem, I said, as my muscles mutinied in a collective charlie-horse.

So, I hauled ass and got everything - including myself - prepared. then, I chucked two shovels in my car (my wife insisted on helping - God, she's keen) and headed for Mom's place.

As I turned the corner into the subdivision, I had to laugh. For there in front of me was the plow truck, doing up everyone's driveways right-proper.

Even so, he was about thirty-five away from my Mom's, and there was probably no Earthly way he was going to get there before anyone else arrived.

So, my wife and I set about our task, and thirty minutes later, we had shoveled another ton of snow.

Christmas went off without a hitch, for the most part, after that. I noted some items that my Mom had attempted to hang on her walls on her own, and suggested that she leave it to me as she had done in the past, from now on. They were more crooked than a 3-card monte dealer in a Mexican barrio. At least she tried, though - I give her credit for that.

Notably absent was my once-again-pregnant cousin Sara and her new hubby. It's always nice to see her, and her daughter, so she was missed. Of everyone in my family, she's someone who I actually connect with on some level. Perhaps it's her sensibilities or her down-to-Earth nature. Who can say?

Aunt Linda was once more back in rare form (remember, she was horribly ill for Thanksgiving), and between the lot of us, we all made Mom blush with shame at the ribald jokes that we let fly. And - yes, if you even have to ask - I was the worst offender, and I didn't cross the line so much as obliterate it while humming 'The Battle Hymn Of The Republic."

And I had a damn good time.

Nick brought his friend Mike (nee - Cornbread [Don't ask]) whose family makes ours look like the Cleavers. It's nice to see him too (he's like an adopted cousin that you can't help but love.) Apparently, his beard has become something worth keeping, because he still has it in full bloom. Most astonishingly, my brother was also sporting one (albeit a strange looking one - we can't grow facial hair quite right in my family) and when I asked him if he had lost a bet his response was something akin to, "Something like that...".

I'm still not sure what's going on there.

Welp, I'm off to bed. Plinky is poking me to move so he can get online and play something called "Stomach content quiz", which is apparently all the rage in House-Elfdom. I don't dare ask, because I don't want to know.

P.S. - For some reason (operator error, most likely) the December 19th post didn't initially go through. But it's there now, and you simply have to see it.

(12/23/08 - 11:34 PM)
Work today was surprisingly busy. Even with all of my buyers sneaking out early, we still had our fair share of panicky Pete's whose bosses are more unreasonable than a Feminist with P.M.S. watching "The Man Show".

One project in particular is a $2,000.00 piece of plastic (that's the cost of the raw material - not the finished component). There's another $2,120.00 in gun drilling costs, plus $1,800.00 in machining costs, etc. etc.

All told it's about a $16,000.00 project from start to finish. The first two components were already well on their way after nothing short of a series of fiascos involving engineers on vacation, material changes, design changes, lack of blueprints, incorrect blueprints, concepts that were 'in progress' and, penultimately, salespeople who had promised the impossible only to have their higher-ups demanding that their purchasing department deliver on these promises - or else.

It's funny how purchasing gets blamed, and suffers for the overzealousness (read: ignorance and stupidity) of the salespeople. I see this all the time, and yet the root cause never seems to abate.

We all want to make a sale - within reason.

So, we've been chasing our tails for hours on end on this project. And somehow, we're making it happen (Satan was a tough nut to crack, so we ended up making a pact with a Leprechaun instead. The only drawback was that he posessed a penchant for Lucky Charms that bordered on psychotic. And he demanded 14,000 boxes of them in payment.)

By the time 3:00 rolled around, I was ready for a drink. Normally, we stop business in the afternoon right before Christmas each year to just hang out, wind down, and - if we've been good - get presents and/or bonuses from the Owners.

Apparently, I was very good this year. I received a new iPod&trade Classic 160, and about wet myself. Then I opened an envelope to find a very generous gift certificate to Amazon.com, as well as two gift cards to a local cookie place that my wife and I support (read: can't stop eating things from there because they taste like epiphany.)

On the whole, a tough day with a snappy reward at the end. The bonus? I've been working on my MP3 collection for over a week, with no end in sight. I've been cataloging, fixing, dating, adding, album-art-ing, and on and on and on to create what I hope to be a massively pristine collection that will be structurally sound from here on out.

And when I'm done, I'll have the new toy to put it on. Plus, I now use iTunes at work, so this is going to kick some major hinie (how do you spell 'hinie', anyway?)

(12/22/08 - 11:13 PM)
Want to be the envy of all of your friends at the next gathering that you attend where mindless trivial knowledge is bandied about like so much GenX currency? Then by all means, read the lyrics below!

For, you see, once in a blue moon a song so catchy comes along that you can't help but get it out of your head. And then, you find that your friends have the same problem. And they want to talk about it - not just because it's catchy, but because it's catchy AND the lyrics are hard to understand.

And on this point, everyone has an opinion. So, I would like to present to you the answer to one of televisions' foremost musical mysteries.

I give you: The theme from "The Jeffersons":

"Well we're movin' on up,
To the east side.
To a deluxe apartment in the sky.
Movin' on up,
To the east side.
We finally got a piece of the pie.

Fish don't fry in the kitchen;
Beans don't burn on the grill.
Took a whole lotta tryin',
Just to get up that hill.
Now we're up in the big leagues,
Gettin' our turn at bat.
As long as we live, it's you and me baby,
There ain't nothin wrong with that.

Well we're movin' on up,
To the east side.
To a deluxe apartment in the sky.
Movin' on up,
To the east side.
We finally got a piece of the pie."

(12/21/08 - 12:45 PM)
Went outside to get the mail. Now I know how polar bears feel. In the 18 seconds I was out-of-doors, my eyeballs froze, and I couldn't feel my anything.

These are the days when I truly stand in awe of those individuals who are homeless, and yet somehow manage to survive.

If you're reading this, then be thankful for what you have. You don't know by half how good you've got it.

(12/20/08 - 9:32 PM)
Today we hosted Christmas for my wife's side of the family. With the absence of aunts, uncles, cousins and one Grandmother, it was the smallest gathering that we have held to date. Which was great for space, but it's nice to see everyone at least once a year, all in one place. We missed those who could not be with us.

At any rate, the upside was that everyone got plenty of leftovers (my Italian Grandmother, God rest her soul, would be proud of me).

At the end of the affair, the white-elephant gifts made their debut.

My wife received a box of Cheerios. Now, this is funny because her Father had purchased a case of the things at a job-site that somehow involved the manufacturer (I'm not entirely clear on the specifics, really) one year ago. As such, he had doled out box upon box upon the entire family. This was great for the individuals with children, and the other individuals who wanted to remain on a healthy diet and remain regular at the same time. My wife and I fall into neither camp.

So... what to do with the Cheerios? When it came time for the white-elephant gift this time last year, the answer was clear: Regift them!

Wanda's cousin, Michael, was the lucky recipient. We had a good laugh over the whole thing, and then thought nothing more of it.

Apparently, Michael has a very long memory. And he's clever.

My wife received her white elephant gift. It was fairly large, and very squishy. It was wrapped in black and silver velveteen paper that didn't begin to conform to the term 'ugly'. As the opened the paper, she was presented with bubble wrap. Then grocery bags inverted over one another. Then aluminum foil, wrapped in green painters' tape. Then more and more and more inverted polyethylene grocery bags.

After four minutes of struggle, I helped her by simply ripping a hole in the whole remaining affair.

And there it was, just as she had guessed. The VERY SAME box of cereal from one year ago.

Nicely played, Michael.

Now, as to my white elephant gift. I got my wife's Fathers' contribution, which is never anything short of 'interesting': Sometimes in a good way, but more often than not, not so much.

It was 'wrapped' in a pair of grocery bags. I knew from the feel of it that it was some sort of helmet. Here (in no particular order) is what the 'gift' contained:

  • One Hard Hat (Used)
  • One Quarter
  • One Right-Angle Phillips Screwdriver
  • Four Lens Cleaner Towlettes
  • Two Hand Warmers
  • One Pair Of Foam Earplugs
  • One I.B.E.W. Union Pencil And Pocket Clip
  • One Roll Of Electrical Tape
  • One Small Bundle Of 6" Zip Ties
  • One Small Can Of Armour-Brand Potted Meat (I Have No Idea What This Is)

My conclusion? Someone cleaned out their work truck, and made a gift of the leftover contents.

It was actually pretty funny, and ironically I'll get some use out of at least half of the items.

(12/19/08 - 11:42 PM)


(12/18/08 - 11:42 PM)
I was running late at work. I needed to leave. I had been there for nearly twelve hours. I had my coat on. I had my gloves on. I had my empty coffee cup in hand. I had just clocked out. I opened the door and...

And then, it happened.

He was there! Right behind me! How had he been so stealthy? Oh, God - he had that, "I need something right now!" look.

Nooooooo... too late.

Each year, as I have mentioned before, my Boss puts out a veritable buffet of food. Each day, he mixes it up a bit with a new and or different offering. On this day's menu was swedish meatballs in a crock pot. Second shift had settled in, but there seemed to be a problem...

"Is there any more sauce for the meatballs?" asked Mr. Phillips Screwdriver.

"There may be," I said. "There's really not enough sauce for the remainder of the evening, huh?" I asked.

"Well," he replied, "There might be. But I don't want them to burn, you know."

I'm thinking, 'It's a crock pot. Turn it off and keep them warm by leaving them inside. Your shift is only so long, I can't possibly imagine that there isn't enough sauce.'

Instead, what I said was, "Let me take a look for you."

So, I trudged back into the office. I turned on all the lights, and unlocked all the doors. Then, I scoured all of the cabinets, all of the boxes of food items, my Bosses' office, and every other place I could think of where another can of sauce might be stored.

Finding nothing, I then tried a different tactic. I attempted to contact my Boss both on his cell phone and his home phone - no answer to either.

Next, I tried contacting my Shipping/Receiving manager. She had put a small part of the spread out that morning with the owner, and I thought that there was an outside chance she might know where more sauce was.

She told me to try the fridge.

Okay, so, 'Duh!', I hadn't thought to try there.

I went out, and after some uneventful fridge mining, I discovered it on a bottom shelf. Success!

By now ten minutes had gone by, and Mr. Phillips Screwdriver had gone back to his area. I went back triumphantly to let him know that his precious sauce had been found! Life would go on! All was once more right with the world!

When I told him, he said this: "Yeah, I found it just after you went in the office."

I couldn't believe that he hadn't - oh, I don't know - COME AND TOLD ME HE FOUND IT, instead of wasting ten minutes of my time.


(12/17/08 - 11:37 PM)
Here I go again with yet another 'attempt' at humor. Ready?

Marty the Moron learned that, at age 78, he did not have long to live. His doctor recommended that he spend his last few days doing things that truly made him happy. One suggestion that the physician made was that Marty re-live some of the finest moments in his life. He recommended that he pinpoint moments in his life that brought to mind fond memories.

Marty thought this was a marvelous idea.

Marty left the physicians' office, and went straight downtown. It took some time for him to find specifically what he was looking for, but he finally found just the thing to fit the bill.

He approached two prostitutes standing outside of a bar. Unbeknownst to him, a vice cop was sitting in an unmarked vehicle across the street. While the vice cop could not hear what was being said, he watched as money was given to the prostitutes, and then saw both prostitutes nod and head into the bar.

The cop jumped out of his vehicle, and immediately apprehended a now very confused Marty.

"What's going on?" Marty asked.

"Don't play dumb with me, sir. I'm a vice cop, and I saw you give those prostitutes money. You're under arrest for solicitation of prostitution."

"I'm WHAT?!?!," asked Marty. "No, no, no. You don't understand. You see, I just found out that I'm dying. And my physician said that I should go out and do things that made me happy, or reminded me of poignant moments in my life. So that's what I'm doing."

"Right. By having sex with prostitutes," said the cop.

"Not at all!" Marty said. "It's just that, when I was younger, I had some of my fondest moments playing outside in the country with my cousins. My cousins are all dead now, but I remember that we had so much fun that we never wanted to stop playing and go inside."

Confused, the vice cop asked, "Look, where is this going?"

"Well," said Marty, "We live in a big city. So I couldn't find what I really was looking for, and so I improvised."

"So what was the money for?"

"I gave those two young ladies money to go into the bar and purchase me a gin and tonic."

"A gin and tonic? What on Earth for? Why not just go and get your own?"

"Well, you see," said Marty, "When we were outside playing, my cousins and I, we would get thirsty. And one of my fondest memories was getting a drink from the hose. And, as I said, we live in a big city. So, this seemed like the next best thing."

(12/16/08 - 10:18 PM)
Okay, so - I have a question here.

We've all been to the store. Look, there's no sense denying it. It's true. You know it, I know it. Let's end the charade there.

And, as such, you may have noticed a fairly common phenomena: Stores often have carts for your convenience in random shapes, sizes and materials. They are there so that you may squirrel away your newest 'limited edition' and 'collectable' so and so's; there to place your groceries in; there to place your home decor in; porn; waffles; beef jerky - the cart can be utilized to contain and convey nearly anything.

Add to this convenience that the above said stores have provided a convenient place for you to leave your carts when you are finished with your bodacious shopping adventure. These have been dubbed, like their cattle-ranch predecessors, the cart corrals.

They're plenty wide enough for even the most nearsighted of individuals to make sound use of, and the best part of all is that some cunning engineer somewhere, some ingenious individual who enhanced the work of Sylvan Goldman with a revolutionary afterthought made it so they could be stored and controlled more efficiently by allowing them to nest within one another.

'Heath', you're saying about now, 'Heath - dude - what in the hell is your point here?'

I'm glad you asked! It is specifically this: Knowing all of the aforementioned, why do I constantly watch individuals who (in no particular order of lethargy and lack of impetus):

  • Leave carts where they lie when the loading of their vehicle is complete
  • Watch as said carts often sail away to parts unknown through the parking lot, boldly going where their previous user refused to go once more
  • Actually bring carts to the corral, but leave them just outside, as though putting it next to it will somehow allow the cart to place itself within in an act of heretofore occult osmosis
  • Or, when they do cross that finish line to actually place the carts in the corral (rare, I'll grant you) they simply let them drift away like a childs' toy boat on a windy day.
  • Okay, some people actually make the effort to push the cart all the way in, but don't line it up with others that might already be within, or simply do not align the first few in a manner that doesn't say to those who follow, "I was placed here by a one-armed man who thought I was an enchanted +2 bag of holding until his meds kicked in"
  • The most egregious offenders, in my humble opinion, are the good folks who take the time to bring the cart to the corral. They push it all the way in, they move it to one side even. But then the most heinous of crimes occurs: They just ram it home like a virgin teen on prom night in the hopes that something perfect will happen. And it never does.

So, for those of you out there who are perpetrating the above infractions, I implore you - as a former cart-monkey - please stop it, doofus.

And for those most guilty of the final crime, I ask you to take a long hard look at yourself and ask, "What would Jesus do?"

Now, admittedly, your first response would be that Manna & Quail Hut and The Fishes & Loaves Emporium And Used Camel Dealership would have no call for carts. Baskets were all the fashion, I'll grant you. So, to clarify context: What would Jesus do if he was there with you. Perhaps behind you. Perhaps with a stick. A very large, pointy one.

That's right. He'd poke your sorry butt. Probably ask you to turn your other cheek while he was at it, too.

So do the right thing. And remember: Friends don't let friends strand carts.

(12/15/08 - 7:56 PM)
Years ago, my boss bought a ghetto-pimp santa (complete with shades, vest and top hat) from Lord knows where. He thought it was funny, I guess.

To be fair, he was right on that point.

A couple of years ago, we long-term employees (read: lifers) began experimenting with clever ways to indulge our squirrley sides by placing this eighteen-inch visage of jolly old St. Nick in the strangest places. As recollection has it, I believe that Jim was the first to be visited by the old elf - in his passenger seat, belted in.

We came to calling this phenomena 'Being Gnomed'. Now, this sounds counterintuitive because while Santa is referred to by many names and titles, 'Gnome' isn't one that comes to mind. Ever, really.

The reason for this, was because this particular incarnation of the old fellow was so small, and had all the makings and stature of a right-proper lawn gnome. There is your 'a-ha!' moment.

I'll wait a moment to let that sink in.


There we are.

So, through the past couple of years things have escalated. I've found him in my desk drawer. He's been placed beneath the owner's desk. A desktop wallpaper was created last year and placed on unwitting participants computers. He's been in individuals coat sleeves, mailboxes, and on and on and on.

Each year, we try to find some way to top what we've already done. And it's getting tougher.

Today, a new pinnacle was reached. It was 6:50 in the morning. I was barely awake enough to walk. I was getting in the shower, when I looked down. There he was. Right in the middle of my bathmat. Head cocked back as though to say, "What's YOUR problem?"

It literally took me four seconds to comprehend what I was seeing. Damn, that was really good.

The story, it turns out, is that my co-workers (read:future and past victims of same crime) had all gotten together during our company Christmas party. With my wife, they worked out a way to get it to my house, and she was to then place it somewhere random - and insane, apparently. This she did with precision that even the Swiss would shed a tear over.

It was absolutely brilliant, and I was in awe. I knew, in my heart of hearts, that I could probably never top this one glorious moment.

I could not help but wonder where to go from there...

As of this writing, Santa is in a UPS terminal somewhere. Wrapped snugly in a box, and on his way to the apartment of one of my co-workers who was in on the joke. She's the newest of the group, so I figured we ought to haze her first (I gnomed her right off the bat earlier in the season, and we all had to explain to her what was happening.)

I realize that this isn't quite as great as what was done to me, but it is Santa's first official road trip.

Who knows what next year will bring?

(12/14/08 - 10:56 AM)
I have slowly become an iTunes convert. I find myself this morning instinctively leaving behind my beloved WinAmp software in favor of iTunes. Why? Because it's just way cooler. I love the album art functions, I love the layout, I love the ease of use, I love the play count, I love... well... everything, really. Plus it syncs with the iPods, so - bonus.

More and more, I grow weary of all the difficulty (strife, if you will) that I continue to have with Microsoft products, or products designed to run on their platforms. Vista is one of the worst environments I have ever used (probably since Windows 3.1), and I question where they go from here, if this was supposed to be the resuscitator of their company.

Very interesting, indeed.

I wish that I had taken my own advice when Steve Jobs left NeXT and returned to the fold of Apple. At this moment, I said to my wife, "I should really buy some stock in Apple now, because if anyone can bring that company back, it's Steve."

Years later, I'm kicking myself - because he not only brought it back, he's gaining ground each year.

What awed me so much about Jobs was the obvious media available, to a degree. But when I read " Apple" by Jim Carlton and "Dealers of Lightning" by Michael A. Hiltzik, I realized what a marketing genius this guy was.

So, of course, now I'm kicking myself. C'est la vie. But I'm strongly considering becoming a Mac convert...

(12/13/08 - 11:24 PM)
Went to work today! It's been a while since I had a group in on a Saturday, but with the upcoming Holiday crunch, we need to get ahead. Past instances have shown that big companies like to order things last-minute to put into their existing machines during the Holiday shutdowns. It happens every year and, economy or no, I don't expect this year to be any different.

I woke up at 6:30 (what's up with that?) and went in at 7:00. I worked until 9:15, when I went out to my boss' house to work on his computer. The problem with this was that he lives in the middle of nowhere and, as such, he's still on 33800 dial-up access. This made it pretty much impossible to download anything I required to update his computer in any way. So he got on-site support only. But I did get his printer working, and his firewall/antivirus installed and working.

Then I went back to work to get some headway made on a quote that I'm doing for one of our tier-one customers who is in the process of attempting to obtain from their customer the rights to produce the bottom half of the machine that they are already producing the top half of. This means that there's a gajillion parts to quote, as well as different quantities of said different parts. But I really don't mind, because if they land this contract, then I land this contract. So I'm pulling for us both.

Then I came home and did some chores, and found that my wife had gone to visit her Mother for her birthday (Happy Birthday, Pam!).

Then I fell asleep, and was awakened in a haze of confusion attempting to rationalize the noise I was hearing in all sorts of strange ways. Turns out, it was just the phone next to me ringing with my wife on the other end.

I was REALLY asleep, apparently.

Ended the evening with a movie that I had seen, that my wife had not called "Ghost Adventures". It's a documentary that intrigued me, to say the least (think "The Blair Witch Project" [the scariest movie that I've ever seen, though I can't find anyone else who doesn't just think it's stupid, with the exception of my wife], but this one's a documentary.)

All in all, it was a pretty good day.

(12/12/08 - 11:36 PM)
I've made a fairly compelling decision today. For years, I've sat on the book I wrote and essentially made no strides to achieve my ultimate goal: Getting it published.

Everyone around me thinks being published is easy - all you have to do is write a book. Turns out, that's just not true. You need it edited, you need a compelling story. And, most often than not, you need to have either been in the public spotlight in some way, shape or form or you need to have been (or currently be) working in the journalism industry in some way. None of these apply to me, so I am relegated to the small margins of individuals who might get published.

Of those individuals, most often publication occurs because they know someone in the industry, or are recommended by someone with clout. Again, I don't meet these criteria. As I check my nearly-empty rolodex, the only famous person I know is in prison for a murder he may or may not have comitted. And that's not fame, so much as infamy.

So, being the outside-the-box thinker that I am, I have finally formed a plan. I will self-publish with a local publisher, in trade-paperback form. This will be expensive. Call it a calculated risk.

My plan is to get the book into print. THEN, individuals who I would like to read it can do so. Did you know that most individuals who have any sort of link to celebrity (actors, actresses, authors, songwriters, etc.) are legally bound by their agents of higher-ups from even looking at anything that has not previously seen publication? Yep - it's true.

So, if it's published, I can send it to some of the authors that I correspond with. I can also send it to high-end booksellers in the industry, as well as specialized houses like Doodled Books in Great Britain (who eats up stuff like this for breakfast.) I may even be able to pull off local signings at an institution for all things comic-book and geek related where I once worked.

Will this work? Who the heck knows. But I really don't want to go through the drudgery of conventional attempts to be published. I suppose if it comes to that, I can attempt it later - by sending a bound copy of a published book to potential agents.

Even if it doesn't work, at least I've tried. Right?

(12/11/08 - 11:56 PM)
Continued adding album art to the old iTunes library. I'm a freaking addict to this feature now, and I won't be satisfied until every song has album art attached to it. Some are proving beyond difficult to find, but as the numbers dwindle, I'll just have to get creative (e-Bay, here I come!)

Oh, well. At least it gives me something to do. I'm a freak.

(12/10/08 - 11:44 PM)
Mr. Phillips Screwdriver had a doctors appointment this afternoon, so he came in an hour and a half late. I made the rounds to give him his check, and said my polite hellos. As I attempted to move away, I did something stupid. I asked if everything went all right at the doctor's office. What the hell was I thinking? Seriously, I KNOW better.

Oh, you should have seen the gleam in his eyes - like a seven-year-old seeing a high-end bicycle under the tree on Christmas morning. His eyes said, "Sweet! Someone I can tell this story to! Yippee!"

My eyes said, "Kill me, Jesus. Take me into your sweet loving bosom now. I'm ready."

So, he tells me that he's gone to the doctor because he has had some massive skin irritation on his chest and he believes it to be some sort of allergic reaction. He's learned in the past that he has severe allergic reactions to the strangest things, including yellow number five. Then he begins listing all of the things that yellow number five is in (most I know - it's terribly common) as though I might wish to somehow document this information for future reference.

Then, it got a whole lot worse. He said, "See, here's what I'm talking about."

As he began to unbutton his shirt, I pleaded with him that I didn't need to see the rash - I believed him.

He didn't even hear me.

And there it was. His 62-year old, pale as a cave dwelling fish chest. Complete with a constellation of redness and swelling that looked like poison oak a week after contraction.

I nodded vigorously, in the hopes of physically conveying that I had seen enough, as verbal conveyance usually proves fruitless.

Eventually he put his shirt back on. But he wasn't done. Oh no, no, no.

He then goes on to ask if I recall the foot injury he had shown me sometime around the inception of his employment. I acknowledged that I recalled (how in the hell could I forget? It's still burned into my cerebral cortex.)

"Well," he says, "That was a fungal infection. So I thought that this new one might be from that. My wife gets them all the time. Then I thought that it might be a sweat-gland infection like I get sometimes, but it wasn't that either. So, the doctors put two patches on my back with little grids of things to see which ones I reacted to, in the hopes of finding out what's causing this rash."

Great!, I think. Apparently, as I began wishing him a speedy recovery and began walking away, that meant 'Please! Tell me more! Keep talking! Please, don't even think of stopping now!'

And guess what - he didn't! Ya-hoo!

He then went on to tell me about a myelogram that he had, and how I may not know, but that was for your back. And they inject you with a dye so they can see what's wrong. Turns out that the dye was chock-full of yellow dye number five. Guess what that did to him?

I actually almost giggled, but his story was so harrowing that I couldn't help but feel sorry for the guy. Imagine, being massively allergic to something (at the time, he didn't know what it was - he found out about the yellow dye thing later on) and being injected with copious amounts of it.

He said it felt like his whole body was on fire, and I can't imagine how that felt. Alright, he got some pity points on that one.

In the end, the lesson is this: Don't ask the question if you can't accept the answer.

(12/09/08 - 11:32 PM)
You know those stickers all over snowblowers that let you know that under no uncertain circumstances is it a good idea in any way, shape or form to stick your hands inside unless the thing it turned off, and unhooked from the sparkplug? Yes you do - don't lie.

And you also know how, at some point, you've gone all minor-league super-hero and decided that those stickers couldn't possibly pertain to this one specific moment when you really need to get something out of there. You're positive that - just this once - everything will be fine, and that the good folks at Snowblower Central, U.S.A. are just covering their butts because someone, somewhere, once did something so heinously stupid that it mangled them for life. Then they probably got sued, and decided, "Well, enough of this! We should put a warning label on this thing. In fact, let's make it one big, pictorial and verbiage-filled warning. Who needs paint on this thing? We'll just cover it in warning stickers!"

You know you have done this - again, don't lie. Even I have, and while no genius, I'm not stupid either.

So, when I found out today that one of my top mill operators had done just this, and had subsequently destroyed one of his hands (five breaks, a splinter fracture, lacerations, etc.) I got a little introspective. In fact, the doctors told him that he might not have a hand at the moment, had he not been wearing gloves.

This poor guy already lives on the margins of poverty. He works his butt off, and has a positive attitude. But his kids have made some poor decisions, and he's been there for them - at his own expense. His wife is currently laid prone in so much agony that she cannot do anything until her surgery - which is tomorrow.

So, instead of remaining at the hospital, he has to leave to drive her to her major surgery. Can things get any worse for this guy during this, the most joyous of seasons?

In fact, they already had. Weeks ago we had to turn off all overtime, because the economy tanked. Overtime that many of my employees rely upon to do a little more than make ends meet. They've got kids in college, or are trying to finance their retirement. And this economy wasn't helping - especially for this poor guy.

So, the moral of the story is this: No matter how smart you are (or think you are - I'm looking at you George W.) do NOT, under any circumstances, believe that you are above those happy little warning stickers. You might get lucky - or you could just as easily justify their existance. If nothing else, consider those around you who rely upon your healthy existance for theirs.

(12/08/08 - 11:48 PM)
Learning is fun! Ready?

What do "A.M. & P.M. stand for"? This was my question. Anyone? Don't know? Neither did I.

According to WikiAnswers:

"AM stands for ante meridiem, meridiem meaning noon in french. Ante is before, post meridiem is after noon. Noon in French is midi. Ante meridiem and post meridiem are actually latin."


(12/07/08 - 10:48 AM)
Last night my company had its Christmas Party at a local restaurant (great food, by the way.) The portions were so large that even I could not finish them (I tried - I failed) and I'm no Emmanuel Lewis.

So, as the waitresses made the rounds in the hopes of upping their tip percentages to their fullest potential, we each in turn politely declined dessert, citing the fact that none of us posessed an annex to our stomachs.

Earlier in the evening, I had made damn sure that I was not at the same table as Mr. Phillips Screwdriver, because I thought that going on living beyond that evening seemed like a fairly promising endeavor.

Yet as the waitress arrived to present her inquiry to himself and the missus, I heard a slurred reply that I did not expect.

"What do you have for pie?"

Where was he planning on putting this? And when did he get a buzz on?

My back had been to him the entire evening, so all of my information as to his status of inebriation was coming second-hand from my assistant's assistant on my left.

The waitress, probably excited about earning another .45¢ on her tip, replied with a smile in her voice that there was pecan pie, or they also had cheesecake.

Seems pretty straightforward, right?

Oh, but then came the next iteration of the conversation, "Do you have cherry pie?" he asked as though it were the most natural thing in the world for the waitress to have just momentarily forgotten the existance of cherry pie on the vast menu that confronted her on this very evening.

The answer was obvious. I missed the rest, but I was then informed that Mr. Phillips Screwdriver attempted to take the waitresses' hand in his as she attempted to depart. What was THAT about?

Oh well, at least I didn't have to sit with him and be regaled with stories about:

  • How the Germans were behind everything bad that had ever happened, and their engineers are insane
  • How something was wired wrong
  • How he single-handedly revolutionized something or another that was heretofore the domain of morons until he showed up to radiate the vast knowledge that he posesses to make the product, procedure, or item in question superior to its fullest potential
Yeah... it definately could have been worse.

(12/06/08 - 11:34 PM)
In today's installment of 'Heath Tries To Be Funny' we recall a news story from days past...

Loreena Bobbit tried to make it work with John Wayne after 'the incident', unbeknownst to the general public. Unfortunately they just could not make it work, due to their differences in personality, and the reminder of the event that led them to this place in their relationship.

When they finally went their separate ways, Ms. Bobbitt was overheard saying that she could probably have made it work, but since the incident, John Wayne had a bad habit of randomly going off half-cocked.

Thank you, and good night!

(12/05/08 - 11:11 PM)
I have a new neurotic compulsion: I discovered that my album art is woefully incomplete in iTunes and am now on a mission to make certain that all the album art I can capture is applied to all appropriate songs and/or albums. When you have over 18 1/2 thousand songs on tap, this becomes quite the endeavor.

Thus far, I have spent the better part of five hours tagging and sorting. The ultimate goal is to streamline my music collection that much more, so that I can continue to port it to the next piece(s) of equipment as I get older (because there ain't no way I'm going anything but digital in the future, even if it means I have to stockpile MP3 players.)

More and more, I begin to like this software, over conventional MP3 players... I think it's the ease of manipulation and graphics that I like. I don't know. Who can ever tell with me?

If you're looking for a great way to add album art that is "missing" due to cataloging inconsistiences or irregularities, a great place to do so is at amazon.com. Simply go to the music section, seek out the proper album and or artist, and then choose that album. A large photo of the cover will be on the left-hand side of the screen. Right click it and choose 'copy'. Kick over to iTunes and right click on the 'drag album art here' box. Then choose paste and voila!

(12/04/08 - 11:58 PM)
I went to the bank today, and then went to the store. I came upon one of our mill operators and his wife at the end of an aisle. They were standing side by side, so I crept up and bumped the guy in the butt with my cart. As she began to turn, she told him to move, because he was in the way. Then she finished her turn and said, "Oh. It's just you."

I got a giggle out of her response, more than anything. She's a sweet lady, and I think I just surprised them a little.

(12/03/08 - 11:18 PM)

It's Big! It's Pink! It's Anatomically Diagrammed!

This one's for Dena!

(12/02/08 - 10:36 PM)
I found out today that one of my former employees who I like a great deal (and who had been screwed over twelve ways from Sunday by his former, long-time girlfriend) was dating my Shipping/Receiving Manager who is one of the most down-to-Earth and genuine individuals I have ever known. If I ever had a daughter, I would want her to be just like this young lady.

Nearly two years ago, I had proposed this match to the then current employee (just after his girlfriend hosed him like a fireman at a five alarmer), and he had admitted that he had considered it. Nothing more came of this.

Then, I find out today that she's bringing him to the company Christmas Party, and that they've been seeing each other for weeks. I was so happy for the two of them because in alot of ways, they're perfect for each other. Sure, there will be some hurdles to overcome, but I think on the whole that they should be imminently surmountable for the two of them if they decide that they enjoy each others' company that much.

Personally, I hope for their sake that it works out. They're both good people: She deserves a great guy, and he deserves a woman who won't be anything more or less than what she appears.

Now, if I can just get them hitched...

(12/01/08 - 11:26 PM)
Today is another monumental day in 'A Twist Of Fate's' history. It seems that I have somehow amassed enough stories on one particular topic to once more spawn a specialty offshoot of the blog itself. So, in the spirit of "The Plinky Page" and "The Mr. Phillips Screwdriver Chronicles", I happily unveil my newest offshoot:

Paper Or Plastic?

I hope you enjoy reading about my angst-ridden encounters with those individuals who man cash registers everywhere. This is in no way a detriment to all cashiers (I have a great deal of respect for a good cahier - they're few and far between.) Rather, this is a journal of my encounters with those individuals who have been tasked with this job - and have failed miserably.


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