A Twist Of Fate
February, 2008 Entries
As seen in Habitual Offender Magazine and Lunchbox Today! on Ion Television

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(02/29/08 - 07:13 AM)
Happy LEAP Day! Enjoy all the radio station songs with the word "leap" in them! Enjoy all the inquiries about how our calendar works! Enjoy all the jokes about people's birthdays on this day, making your twenty-year old friend only five! Have I forgotten anything? Oh, yes: Enjoy trying to explain how that extra quarter day works to all your missing-chromosome compatriots as they sit and drool blankly at your explaination and then ask something clever about the sun coming up and pagan rituals.

Have a super day!

(02/28/08 - 11:46 PM)
Finished "Ratchet & Clank: Up Your Arsenal", the third true installment in the series. I found out about seven weeks ago that there had been two sequels to one of my favorite games of all time, and I immediately found them, played them, and finished them. Now I just have to wait for the final installment on the PS2 to come out. It was supposed to ship in mid-March, but has since been pushed back. Which probably isn't so bad, as one loses a great deal of free time playing these things.

No matter how hard I try to be a responsible adult, I simply cannot wait for my wrench-wielding Lombax friend to arrive once more.

(02/27/08 - 11:32 PM)
I fired a whole bucket of crazy at work today. Our driver, who was a nut job, decided that he was going to blow up, and yell at his superior. The problem was, he didn't see me while he was swearing and yelling, and so I dragged his ass into my office. We discussed insubordination, he told me a few choice untruths, and I explaind to him that we were running a company - not a democracy. As such, he didn't get a vote.

There's more to this, but it was a lengthy - and bizarre - conversation, so the brunt will simply have to suffice. I will say that this guy is obsessed with people's respect for him. In short, he feels that no one in the whole wide world affords him the respect that he deserves, and that he respects everone implicitly, so he can't figure out why it isn't reciprocal. Which doesn't entirely explain his outbursts, nor his demeanor. But one thing I have learned: You cannot successfully argue with crazy.

So, twenty minutes later, the same Manager appears in my office to let me know that Bucket-O-Crazy has just done two very stupid things: He left a 12 foot piece of metal in the air on the forks of the forklift, and he left the rear overhead door open for several minutes. The worst part was that he was nowhere to be found, and these items were sitting as is, unattended. My Expediter, afraid of another outburst, asked how he could approach this issue, without setting off Bucket-O-Crazy again.

I gave him an idea of how I would do it, and he then went to the floor and handled it.

Two minutes later, he was back with a look on his face that I had - up to this point - never seen before. "You're not going to believe this," he said. "The guy told me when I politely confronted him that he was 'Testing me'. I asked him what he meant, and he said that he had left these items like this intentionally 'To see how I would respond - in a calm tone, or if I would get upset with him - so he could see if I had learned my lesson from the last encounter."

It was one of those rare moments where I was absolutely without a response.

"I know - me too," came his response to my blank, puzzled look. "What should I do, Heath?"

I sighed. I knew what I would do. "Call the owner. Tell him where I'm at. Tell him where you're at, and get the okay." He nodded and left.

Five minutes later, I had the green light to fire away. I dragged him into another office, and let it all go - politely, but firmly. I asked leading questions, and garnered the damning affirmative acknowledgements that I was seeking in order to justify termination. Then, I terminated him. He didn't understand why in the world I would do so.

"Let me ask you this: You don't feel that your actions of 'testing' your superior, and then stating such, amounted to insubordination?"

"Not at all," was his reply.

So, I tried a different tactic. "If you owned a company, and one of your employees did this to you, you would not consider it insubordination to your wishes?"

"No, not at all. In fact, I would applaud him for doing so."

Okay: Plan C. "Alright. Let's say you're a General in the Military. You tell a Private to go 'over there and stay put'. Ten minutes later, you find him 180° from where you told him to be. Do you applaud his autonomous ingenuity, or do you court martial him?"

"That's the Military," came his response, "The Military is different."

I gave up. I told him once more that employment was terminated on the grounds of insubordination. He then let me know that it was a mistake, because, "You're losing the best thing you have in this whole company."

Welcome to the fairy-land of make-believe. Population: You.

He then went on to say that no one had respected him, as he had respected others without fail. I politely reminded him that this was not so, and that everyone afforded him respect, even when he did not deserve it - ESPECIALLY myself. He then said, "Well, you're the only one."

Then he went off on a tangent about how, if we would just let him do things his way, everything would be fine. His ways were better, and he knew what he was doing. I politely informed him that, while he may have a positive idea from time to time, our methods were fairly well proven. And when he had a multi-million dollar company and twenty-two people relying on him for a paycheck, he could do whatever the hell he wanted. But since this was our company, we wanted things done our way, and that we didn't have the time or energy to deal with the bullshit that he was pulling.

"See?" he said, "You're disrespecting me right now!"

"How?" I inquired.

"You're swearing at me!" he responded.

"I'm not swearing at you. I'm utilizing an appropriate term for the events unfolding here, and I stand by it."

"Plus," he said, "You don't keep your word, so you disrespected me there, too!"

Is there a magazine this guy subscribes to? Something like, "Respect Monthly. In this issue: How to claim disrespect at the most mundane and inappropriate times! How to get more respect from your toaster. Twelve ways of garnering respect from people who you don't know and who don't speak to you as they walk by at the mall." You get the picture.

He then went on to recount an event when he was displeased with his direct superior - a girl; which rubbed him the wrong way the whole time he was there - who he felt was treating him in a demeaning fashion simply by being clear about her desires. We had discussed his insubordination at this earlier time, and I thought we had this problem solved then. He had asked me not to discuss the events of our previous conversation with said girl, and I agreed, provided that he shape up.

Now, he was throwing this in my face as tacit explaination of my disrespect for him. "I did just as you asked, and to this day she has no notion that you and I talked. What's the problem?"

"Yeah," he responded, "but you told the owner that we had talked. You broke your word, and disrespected me."

I politely informed him that I had made no promises to him to not speak with the owner, and that I would be remiss in my duties if I had not. Further, I advised that my allegiances - always - would be to the owner and company before it ever fell with the employees.

At this point, I was tired of hearing him talk in circles. I was ready to be rid of Bucket-O-Crazy, so I told him that I wished him the best, in all sincerity; that I hoped he found what he was looking for elsewhere, or perhaps by starting his own company.

He told me that he didn't believe a word of it, and refused a handshake. Whatever. I escorted him out of the building, and that was that.

And when he was gone, it was like a straitjacket was released from around me as I basked in his glorious absence.

Respectfully, of course.

(02/26/08 - 08:28 PM)
I came home from work today. I actually had dinner with my wife. I had just settled in for the night, when I received a call from my Expediting Manager at the shop.

"Uh," he asked, "Did you tell Mr. Phillips Screwdriver to work on those aluminum plates?"

"Noooooo," came my hesitant and concerned reply. I didn't like the sound of this. Specifically, I didn't like the sound of this because the parts in question had already been through Quality Control and had been deemed correct. They were then moved on to the next operation, which was a finish grinding operation to maintain a tight thickness tolerance prior to jig grinding. The person responsible for this operation was to be the day shift operator on Mr. Phillips Screwdriver's machine, and I had spoken with said operator about my desires to be carried out the following day, as he was headed for home. Then we put the components far off to the side where no one would molest them, and called it a day.

One other piece of information that is crucial here, is a basic understanding of our methods. A copy of the blueprint goes to the work floor for manufacturing. As it moves through each process, a yellow highlighter is used to indicate that a feature exists, is correct, and has been checked. This way, if a print is not highlighted 100%, it cannot get an "Okay to ship" approval sticker from our Shipping & Receiving Manager, and gets kicked back to Quality Control. If an error occurs, a green highlighter is used to make a circle around the offending feature, and is summarily returned to the offending employee (whenever possible or practical) for rectification. Also, I personally review each print before it goes to the floor to determine where grind stock will be left, and how much is to be left. This allows a semblance of tight controls on what is expected of the machinists, and disallows any cowboying to try and tweak in tight tolerances, or individuals thinking that we expect them to hold impossible tolerances because our desires are unclear.

Got all that? Sorry - it was necessary to the story.

Anyway... it turns out that my Expediting Manager, somewhere in hour thirteen of his day, found Mr. Phillips Screwdriver working on these parts - again. Out of curiosity (because he knew nothing more than the fact that they were supposed to be finish ground the next morning) he confronted Mr. Phillips Screwdriver politely, and asked, "Did Heath ask you to do something with those?"

"Yeah," came his reply, "I'm opening up these holes."

My Expediting Manager was skeptical - and rightly so. Usually, when I ask anyone to do anything I advise him that I have done so because when I do, I overstep his authority and it's common courtesy to let him know as soon as possible that I have done so. So, he called me at home and asked me why Mr. Phillips Screwdriver was working on these parts at my behest.

"He's doing what, now?", came my first question. After explaining the situation to me, I replied that I had not only not spoken to him about them, but also that they were deemed acceptable by Quality Control, and should require no further machining within our facility - unless Mr. Phillips Screwdriver had unilaterally chosen to remove the jig grind stock - which would be catastrophic.

Last aside, I promise. Jig grinding is the act of removing miniscule amounts of stock to achieve ultra-tight tolerances in holes and on surfaces. In this case, the tolerance on the holes was +/- .00019". An average strand of human hair is .018"in diameter, so you can see how tight this is. If he were trying to perform this function on a machine such as the ones we use, his odds of success would be slightly better than being gang raped by circus seals singing the opening aria to 'Carmen'. See my concern now?

"I've got to go," said my panicked Expediter, "He's definately making cuts on the material, and I have to stop him."

I agreed, and dropped everything to return to work to sort this out.

When I arrived, I didn't even have the patience to confront Mr. Phillips Screwdriver because I knew that I would eviscerate him with something blunt. Instead, I locked eyes with a perturbed Expediter who took me aside and said, "I asked him again if he talked to you, and he said that he had. So I asked him if he was sure, and he said, 'Well, the parts were laying there!' So I asked him again, and his response remained the same. So I asked him again, and his response remained the same. Finally, I told him that just because they were near his area (and near was a loose term at best, folks) does not mean that he needs to grab them, search for a problem, and fix it. The print clearly stated jig grind stock was to be left; we didn't ask him to work on them; we left him no note to work on them, and nothing was circled in green. Then he let me know that he had re-inspected each of the four components - in their entirety - and found that the jig grind stock was nearly .020", and not .010-.012" as it said on the print."

"Big deal," I said, "That happens all the time; it's aluminum, and the surface area to be ground is minimal, at best."

"I agree," he said, "but he took it upon himself to re-setup on the pieces to remove that extra .008" or so prior to jig grinding.

For those of you who don't know what I'm talking about - this is a futile and stupid act. Let me re-iterate - STUPID with a capital "S". Not only did he waste a ton of time re-inspecting these components, he wasted even more time re-setting them up on the machine, and then re-machining them. And THEN, he had the nerve to out and out lie to my Expediting Manager, to the point of rousing me from my home to come in and defend an action that I never even initiated.

I didn't even have the energy to confront him. I've had it, I've had it, I've had it with this guy. And I'll be damned if he's going to tell people that I'm the reason that he's a doofus.

(02/25/08 - 09:45 PM)
I hate it when my assistant goes to lunch. Specifically, I hate it because then I actually have to answer phones. And I...

>Raid mental lexicon< 'abhor' works here, methinks...

abhor it. Profusely.

So, I get a call today from a matronly sounding woman who is looking for the owner of our company, but can't quite do anything less than butcher his long, Germanic last name.

So, I mentally sigh and ask, "May I tell him who is calling, please?"

"It's Vicki So-and-so," comes the assured reply.

"And where are you calling from, Vicki?," I inquire further.

"California," comes the even response.

No shit? Hey - that's great that you folks have phones out there too!, I think. Instead, I respond, "Specifically what company do you represent?"

"I'm calling about your offline programming. Who is in charge of this?," comes the non-answer answer in the form of a question in direct response to my question.

"We don't do any offline programming here," I respond.

For those of you who might even be remotely interested, this refers to programming CNC equipment ahead of time so that operators can simply feed jobs onto the machines in the fastest possible time without thinking. In our business model, however, this is not a good solution as my CNC employees are substantially bright individuals who are paid well to think intuitively on their feet. Most of my employees, in fact, posess this trait.

"Oh," comes Vicki's reply, "So you don't have that type of equipment." A statement - not a question.

Did I ever say that, darlin'? "No," I calmly respond, "We do have CNC equipment, but all the programming is done at the machine, as we are a job shop."

Silence ensues on the other end for a solid fifteen seconds. Finally, I can take no more as I'm certain that I've once more been hung up on by a faceless telemarketer practicing their well-honed, skilled trade. Just for giggles, I say, "Hello?"

"Hang on!," comes the tart reply, followed by a venomous, "I'm writing this down!"

Is this lady for real? Then - when she's apparently 'done writing' - she says, "Thank you" and hangs up on me.


(02/24/08 - 08:13 AM)
I finally prepared my "tax packet" to go to my accountant today. Good Lord, the older I get, the more things I have to include.

"Did you have any pre-tax inflationary income not concatonated by approaching cataclysmic dwarfism?"

"Did your gender status change physically or mentally in 2007?"

"We noticed that the country of Chad had a gross national product of $500 this year, as opposed to their normal $450 - did you go there? Because, someone did - and we will find out who it was, eventually."

"Did your spouse operate a massage parlour, excavating company or intergalactic enforcement agency from your home in 2007?"

"Did you purchase not more than, but not fewer than, one-hundred and thirteen llamas, alpacas, goats or silicon-based time-rift beings in 2007 for small business or pleasure purposes?"

"Do you or your spouse wish to donate $3.00 to the presidential campaign fund? No? Okay, then do you know anyone who might wish to give to this noble and worthy cause? No? Okay, well how about we just take it anyway? No? Okay, then how about..."

(02/23/08 - 02:53 PM)
We hired a new forty-something sawman at work. He agreed to come in and be trained on a Saturday in order to get him up to speed for the upcoming week. Twelve minutes into the shift, we blew a 20-foot hydraulic line that's embedded throughout the saw. This has never happened before. The best part? No one knows how to fix it, and the one guy who does had just left that morning for a two-week absence.

Then, the guy gets a phone call at work - something like an hour into his shift: It's his Dad, and he's, "Got to go right away - sorry!"

Dude, it's your first day! Are you SERIOUS?


(02/22/08 - 11:16 PM)
If life gives you lemons, you need to be all indignant, like, 'What the hell, life? I thought we discussed this and we said no citrus fruit this year? Huh? You know how it makes me break out. Plus, the guy next door? He got pomegranates - now there's a money fruit, right there. Even mangoes would have been an improvement. But lemons? What do you expect me to do with lemons? And don't you dare say 'make lemonade', because you need water and sugar for that and I don't have either. Plus, what would my dentist think? The citric acid will dissolve the enamel on my teeth faster than the dissolution of an Elizabeth Taylor marriage. Then Larry Fortensky falls from his apartment balcony, and you don't want that on your head, do you? You know what? That's fine; lemons are fine. I know exactly what to do with these now. What's that? Oh, just hold real still and I'll show you...'

(02/21/08 - 11:42 PM)

Ten Weighty Questions To Ponder Today:

  • What if E doesn't equal mc2?
  • What if O.J. had been a mitten guy?
  • If the Universe is expanding, where is it going?
  • Is Lucifer just a metaphor?
  • How in the hell does Martha Stewart keep coming back?
  • What do people taste like?
  • Who was the killer in "The Blair Witch Project"?
  • Is it worth finding life on another planet, if we can't get along with one another on our own?
  • How many years will it be before "1984" has to become a reality?
  • Why do these lists always have ten items?


(02/20/08 - 11:22 PM)
My wife is launching a new endeavor in conjunction with her Church's food pantry. Specifically, she is attempting to assist the individuals utilizing the service of the food pantry with finding gainful employment. This is not to say that these people could not do so on their own. Rather, my wife allows them to use tools and resources that they may not normally have access to, such as the Internet and management experience and perspective.

Her idea was to have these individuals fill out an application, and bring a resumee if they have one. Then, she reviews the data and explains how to best manipulate it to guarantee the best possible resolution. She is also thinking of doing mock interviews, and will be attempting to provide interview-appropriate and work-appropriate attire for those who do not currently possess it. Once the initial evaluation is complete, she will offer advice that most people don't think about (or know) to assist them further in gaining employment.

I think that it's a great idea that's been a long time in coming. Wanda's great with resumee's and she knows what people are looking for in an employee - both before and after hiring.

While this won't be a silver-bullet for everyone, I can't help but think that this will succeed. And even one success is worth the effort.

(02/19/08 - 11:46 PM)

What Are You Lookin' At?
What are you lookin' at?

(02/18/08 - 11:03 PM)
Here's a blast from the past. I don't know where else you can even get one of these, these days. But here it is! Collect it, race it, trade it: Love it - physically, if need be.

Bottom 95% Of The Web & Proud Of It!

This purple gem was popular in the early to mid-nineties when web sites were all about being rated against all of the others, regardless of content. If you had a "Top 5%" award, then you could display the award with reckless abandon as Angels and Saints spread word of your immensity across the vast serfdom that was the world at large. Yes, you were truly someone indeed if you had one. Or so you thought.

But as with all dictatorial monarchies, the serfs were bound to rise up in protest. The button above was the result. It popped up on every page whether it was Grandma Jane's cookie recipe for "Kipper-Smackeroons" or a web site about a mediocre rock band who wasn't cool enough to be called "Something-Death", but also wasn't quite Christian enough to be called "Something-Life" and so ended up being called "Comatose" - or something equally clever (Thanks, Mitch!) They all began sporting this proud logo, flying directly in the face of the self-important top quintile-quartile of web society.

Apparently, it worked. Even my first web site sported this baby front and center. And soon enough people realized that the World Wide Web was something that would get so out of hand so quickly, that rating web sites would be a pointless endeavor. That is, until advertising revenue became >cough< 'viable' - then it had to be proven how you ranked, and the whole mess began anew.

I wonder if Tim Berners Lee had a logo at the bottom of his first web page that read something like:

"100% market share: From the best, most visited web page in the world - mine!"

(02/17/08 - 10:16 AM)
Last night, I was watching COPS and wallowing in human misery for a few minutes before going to bed. Specifically, this particular segment dealt with undercover cops busting prostitutes. With prostitute number two, I witnessed something I've never seen before. The woman trotted up to the door of the guys' truck, jumped in, threw her arms up, and said, "Here's Wanda!" in the peppiest voice I've ever heard while sporting a mile-wide smile. (And yes - that was her real name. Sorry, dear.)

That's dedication to your job. I'll bet this lady could be the world's best receptionist, but instead she's doing this. She's got a miserable occupation, yet she's clearly found a gimmick, and she seems to understand that customer satisfaction means repeat business. And is that marketing sense that I hear in her voice?

This was probably the single most depressing thing that I've ever seen on the show. Here's a woman with clear business acumen, but without the good sense to try and apply it properly. Or at the very least, apply it in a manner that doesn't end up with her being deceased.

(02/16/08 - 10:18 PM)
I finally broke down and got my oil changed today. Apparently, quite a few other people thought this was a pretty keen idea as well, and I ended up waiting for over an hour at the oil change place.

In the corner was a fuzzy-pictured, blaring television that featured the Saturday morning lineup of some station or another. The picture was nauseating, so I didn't bother watching. What I was forced to do, however, was listen to the blaring sound. And the pablum spewing from the speakers of this once proud television made my stomach turn.

I never realized how bad Saturday morning cartoons had become. It was like one long, soulless, mind-numbing commercial that for twenty-seven minutes asked kids everywhere, 'Why aren't you cool enough yet?' It got so bad that I was >this< close to standing up and beginning a long- winded oration on the state of society as a whole.

The most egregious offender was a Yu-Gi-Oh cartoon. For those of you unfamiliar with this, it's essentially a cartoon based on a card-battle game, much like Magic the Gathering. Yu-Gi-Oh has become something of a world-wide phenomenon both here in the States and abroad, including massive merchandising of every sort and about three separate video game franchises. As I listened without option to this nightmare, I could not help but note the lack of anything remotely like a plot. The voice acting was so bad that it was almost laughable, the dialogue-script was non-existant, and the whole show centered around a bunch of pointy-haired, moon-eyed, androgynous anime characters spawning critters from cards. The plot? Get kids to understand how wholly inadequate they are because they don't have the Platinum Expansion pack with the Heath-o-tronic Deathgorer yet.

We must battle - ha-ha-ha!

When a commercial finally arrived, I felt almost defiled. I honestly felt dirty to be a part of a society where it was acceptable practice for parents to let their kids watch this stuff. No wonder they're so screwed up.

But the commercials were almost as bad. One was for some sort of candy-disguised-as-good-food due to the fact that it had the word 'Yogurt' somewhere in it. The kids in the commercial were astronauts, but they hogged ass on their candy-yogurt stash, and so 'due to their dearth, had to return to Earth'. Way to set the bar high, Madison Avenue! At least you used a word they might not know, so maybe they'll ask their parents what it means - right after they beg and plead for yogurt-candy combination number 306. And they'll be fortunate if their parents don't get made fools of by not knowing such an archaic word.

Oh - I gotta go! The new Naruto cartoon is on - Believe it!

(02/15/08 - 10:46 PM)
Greetings, all! Plinky the House Elf here! Master Heath has gone abroad to purchase something nougaty with nuts (I don't know what this means, but he seemed quite pleased), and has left me 'in charge' (read - forced labor) of his blog entry for the day.

Even after receiving a garbage-bag full of Girl Scout Cookies the other day, Master Heath simply could not be hindered by his corpulence in preventing him from purchasing discounted candy. Candy that represents the misery of women everywhere who did not receive it, because their men-folk were too cheap or self-centered to do what society dictates they ought. Namely, cramming their wives full of chocolate and giving them dead plants in the hopes of 'getting some'.

Personally, I prefer the House Elf method of... er... courting. We give the females things when we feel strongly about them throughout the year. We choose not to do so on days mandated by whomever in memoriam of a Saint that no one but the marginal few recall now. I do not ever remember anyone being cannonized for sainthood by the Catholic church for bringing flowers and chocolates to anyone, unless perhaps it was an altar boy to a... no, I really ought not to go there.

For example, I sent Clara the House Elf a gross of deep-fried porcupines the other evening, and I'm certain that this will lead to some ear-on-ear action very soon.

Oh, Clara - when will my unrequited adoration become even partially requited? At least allow me to achieve second base by squeezing your nose, baby. Then we could... whoa! I very nearly typed that.

Whew! At any rate, since Master Heath is away for a short while, I... wait a moment. What in the hell? Who is 'Mr. Phillips Screwdriver', and why does he have his own page? Hang on for just a moment, would you?


Oh-ho! So, recursive characters get a page of their own, do they? Well, I'm recursive - and I'm a character, alright. So, by this logic, I should have a page of my own. Plus, I... hang on, the telephone-machine is demanding attention.


Hmmm... well Alan, the perverted mouth breather who just called at random to ask what I was wearing said sure, I should have my own page. And even though I hung up on him, this constitutes tacit approval from the public. Let me work on this.


There we are! Dear readers, nay - friends in my plight - I give you "The Plinky Page". All Plinky, all the time. I shall use it to do only... no... NO! Bad kitty! You stay away from me, you vile, malodorous fiend or I'll... I'll... Argh! Stop biting my fingers, I'm trying to type you miserable q37n tmcio;w4ieu[n[9ghyuq439vgyeu

(02/14/08 - 11:22 PM)
Happy Day-Before-Assorted-Chocolates-Go-On-Sale-To-Be-Replaced-With-Blazing-Speed-By-Jellybeans-And-Bunnies, everyone!

(02/13/08 - 11:46 PM)
For you hard-core blog-o-philes here, you may recall that at one time in recent past my company employed a pair of best friends. Specifically, best friends who we were 99% sure enjoyed indulging in marijuana as much as - or more than - breathing. You may also recall that when one lost his Grandfather, the other signed his card, "Happy Birthday", even though he knew that his birthday was not for a while yet.

"Oh! Those two!", you say.

Yep - Them. Neither of them works for us anymore, but we received a call from the 'Happy Birthday' writer today. Specifically, he was wondering why we hadn't sent him his W-2 yet. We informed him that they went out on January second, and that his were returned not once, but twice based on the two addresses that we had on file for him with no open forwarding.

The young lady taking the call asked me what we could do for him. I responded that the simplest thing at this point would be to get his correct, current address and send them one more time. And then, I walked away to work on other more pressing matters.

Two minutes later, the young lady returned to my office barely able to contain herself.

"So, I get his address," she says, "and then I asked him for his ZIP code and he just says, 'Uhhhhhhh...' for a minute and then says, '815'."

You've got to be kidding me.

She continued, "So then I explain to him that that's his area code, and I try to explain that his ZIP code is the thing at the end of his mail. But he doesn't know it! Then, he starts telling me where he lives and that he, 'Thinks it's in Loves Park or maybe Machesney Park - he's not sure'. THEN, he starts naming some major cross-streets nearby."

How is this guy still alive and breathing?

(02/12/08 - 10:32 PM)
I received a call today from someone who had come across our company and - specifically - our available materials on the web. This gentleman explained that he was calling from a University, and would like some pricing on some 2" round L6 (a hard-core tool steel) and W1 (a water-hardening tool steel). I told him no problem, took his information and request, and let him know that I would call him shortly with the pricing that he sought.

After obtaining the pricing, I gave it to my assistant. I let her know the circumstances, and she asked what in the world a college student needed these things for. I explained that often they were working on some sort of project with robotics (we've seen this before) and these were odd sizes/materials that he probably couldn't put his hands on wherever he was.

My assistant made the call. She left a message. She hung up and said, "Huhhhh..."

Alright, I figured, I'll bite. "Huh... what?"

"Well," she says, "his message says, 'Hi. This is David. I'm currently forging the soul of a demon into my sword. Please leave a message and I'll call you back when my work is complete'."

WOW. This guy must get laid a TON.

So then, I asked the obvious question: "Does the sword do D4 damage, with the potential for a bonus roll for +2 cold damage, or is it a regular sword?"

(02/11/08 - 7:55 PM)
Just finished Douglas Preston's newest novel, "Blasphemy." Preston, and his sometime partner Lincoln Child never cease to amaze me with the depth and breadth of their creativity both collectively and individually. And this book is no different.

Some of the topics of modern science that absolutely hold me enthralled are the subjects of universal expansion, matter and anti-matter, and the creation of controlled black holes via proton/anti-proton collision. Alright, I hear you yawning, but it makes me go all gushy inside - so sue me.

I was so thrilled to see this topic given the Preston-treatment that I liked this book from the first moments. The research and comprehension that went into crafting it were, as always, second to none and masterful in every sense of the word. That being said, the ending left a bit to be desired. I could see the premise, and I could see where he intended to take us, but there was a major letdown late in the game that took some of the magic away.

I don't even want to synopsize this work for you, because it's too difficult to do properly. I loved this book - loved it. Not for the story itself, but for the subject matter and the presentation. The story was almost ancillary for me, due to my specific desire to read everything that I can about topics such as these. That being said, I don't think that this book is for everyone. It's very topic-specific, and could be outright offensive to alot of people. I am not one of them.

While I can recommend this book, I hesitate to do so for anyone not already well-read in this particular author's work. My money still rests on "The Codex" as being Preston's single most impressive fictional work as a whole. And when Preston and Child get together, nothing thus far has topped "Thunderhead" in my opinion. Though a goodly number of their collaborative efforts are still far superior to nearly anything being written in the genre today.

And as for Lincoln Child doing his own thing? Like Preston, it's all great stuff. But if I had to choose a favorite, I think that "Deep Storm" would have to be it.

These guys - singularly and collectively - are a literary force to be reckoned with, and should be on every respectable bibliophiles bookshelves. If they're not then... well... you have no idea what you're missing.

(02/10/08 - 11:12 AM)
And now, we bring you another installment of "Heath tries to be funny in new ways by making up jokes better left uncrafted":

A man walks into a podiatrists office, and says, "Doc, you've got to help me! Every time I take off my shoes, me feet begin reciting pi, and they don't stop until I put my shoes back on!"

"Oh, that's quite common. You just have a bad case of Mathlete's foot."

Off to work!

(02/09/08 - 11:32 PM)
I'm sorry that I've been remiss in posting. It isn't that I haven't wanted to, it's just that I've been busy. I worked more than seventy-five hours this week, so time for blogging (after eating and sleeping) was minimal at best.

But here I am! The reason that I mention work is also to lead you into this short story. Yesterday, I went in at 6:40 in the morning, and wrapped up a little after four in the afternoon. I was tired, I was cold, and I needed a shave so bad that homeless people were giving me their change.

So, I went home, I showered, I got dressed, and opened the bathroom door to clear out the sauna that I had created. As I was putting on my socks, my wife who vaguely remembered me a week ago came in to talk. I was still pretty tired, and the hot shower hadn't exactly invigorated me. So, she's talking, and I'm brushing my hair. I proceed to take out my hairspray as I'm listening to her. Then I sprayed it in my hand because I forgot that I did NOT have my cologne in my opposing hand. Mid-spray I looked down to find out why my cologne felt so weird on my hand, and voila!

The upside was that my hair smelled great, and that my hand didn't get all mussed up in the wind.

(02/08/08 - 10:13 PM)
On our way to the bank tonight, we saw a car coming around a back-road curve all too quickly for the conditions. One moment it was following the curve, and in the next it proceeded to continue straight on into a field. The driver was definately going too fast, but everyone seemed to be okay. We were only a half-block from the bank, so I told my wife that I was going to pull over for a minute and see about pushing them back onto the road.

As I approached the vehicle, it disgorged three teenage males, all talking at once. One had clearly made himself the defacto leader, and was talking as the others listened. The driver was a young girl, and the Leader-guy was yelling at her as she laughed, screamed and wailed, "I told you not to text while you were driving, and I told you to turn your wipers on before your windshield was covered."

Oh, I thought, this'll be a treat.

So, they all end up staring at the car. I finally make it up to them, and I say, "Do you need some help?"

No one answers me, and Leader-guy keeps talking. About ten seconds later, one of the other occupants turns to me and asks, "Can you help us?"

Were you not here, ten seconds ago dude? I answered that I had, in fact, asked precisely that. Leader-guy was saying that there was no hope, when I pointed out that there were four of us, and that she was only three feet from the road. "Let's just try rocking the vehicle to get it back on the roadway."

The two passengers began to come around - one even had his hands on the trunk with me - when Leader-guy says, "No, it won't work." and they proceed to stop helping.


So, as I'm getting pissed off, another car pulls up behind the girl. One of the passengers says, "Oh, shit - I think that's my Grandma. I'm in trouble, I'm in trouble. I think it's my Grandma."

The vehicle stops, and disgorges another three teenage males who look none too weak. Jokes go around, as the girl driver recognizes the newly-arrived driver and squeals with delight.

Great, I'm thinking. Now there's seven big dudes to push - perfect. So, not wanting to get any more snow in my shoes and not wanting to stand here anymore, I say once more, "Okay, there's seven of us now. This should be a piece of cake. Let's get this moved."

At this, I get a few casual glances from the individuals not currently participating in the outdoor meet and greet, and ultimately defacto Leader-guy just says, "No, it won't work. We need a shovel. Does anyone have a shovel?"

No one does.

The girl driver begins to wail and scream once more, and the Leader guy says, "It'll be fine. Next time you slide, though, don't take your hands off the wheel and throw them up in the air and scream. You need to keep control of the car."

I try to argue the point with Leader-guy, but he's talking shop now with the driver of the other car. I wait, and I wait and I wait, and no one even acknowledges my existance as they reminisce in the snow and cold, all the while the driver is crying.

Finally, I just began walking back to my car without so much as a thank you or a goodbye.

The moral of the story? Stupid is everywhere, and you cannot fight it alone.

(02/07/08 - 11:42 PM)
I got a call today from one of our older ex-employees (older meaning he was an ex-employee some time ago, not older as in age) who had a problem.

Now, to precurse this, I'm in the midst of the week from hell, and I've got twelve things cooking and not a second to spare. He begins the conversation with his trademark slow drawl; over-articulate and strange. His methods of conversation are really something to be heard, and are like nothing that I've ever experienced before. He posesses the congeniality and diction of a professional butler, but comes in a trailer-park package. Strange, strange, strange, this guy.

So, he asks how I am, and I ask how he is.

"Not so good," he says. I tell him that I'm sorry to hear that, to which he replies, "I'm hearing that alot lately, but thank you anyway."

"The reason I'm calling, is that I was wondering if you could help me, my old friend."

Uh-oh - old friend? No, no, no, I don't think so. Now my radar was up and the phasers were set on stun.

"You see," he went on, "you might have heard that my garage burned down. All of my vehicles were in it, and I have nothing to drive at the moment. So I was wondering if you guys (meaning my boss, myself, and my fellow employees) would like to buy some tools real cheap so I can go out and just buy a clunker to get back and forth in."

So many questions! So, I picked the most obvious one first, "Weren't you insured?"

"Well, yes," he says.

"And isn't the insurance company taking care of your claim, and getting you a vehicle?," I asked.

"Well... they're not to that point yet. And you know, without a car, I have to walk several blocks just to get a loaf of bread. And the snow is deep, you know. I just need enough money to get myself a clunker, and I'm willing to sell these tools for pennies on the dollar, my old friend."

Now I'm skeptical. Something is off, but I can't put my hands on it. "Well," I say, "I can't allow you to just come in here and setup a tool sale. That would have to go through [my boss], and he's not back in town until Monday. The best that I can do is talk to him, and let him know of your request." Actually, I could - I just knew that it wasn't a good idea.

"Well, I'm kind of in a pinch here, Heath. You guys know that I never did you wrong, and that we parted on good terms. And these tools are pretty valuable, and I'd be willing to sell them for pennies on the dollar. Even if [my boss] can't use them, he might find a need for them later. They're all blackened from the fire, but he's getting a great deal because he could clean them right up and sell them as new. And I still haven't been able to find a job in a long time, you know."

Now, my first thought is that most tools have been through a heat-treating process during manufacture, and that a fire such as the one he was describing probably negated a good deal of what the heat treating had initially added. The worst part was that no matter how hard I tried to be firm and compassionate to this guy, I could not get him off the phone. He kept recycling the 'old friend' and 'never did you wrong' comments, which was a bit offensive. I don't mind people asking me a favor, but don't pull this guilty, 'you owe me' crap.

I keep thinking about the whole eight minute phone call, and a whole lot doesn't add up. My wife is thinking meth lab, which may not be too far from the truth, but I don't picture this guy doing that. He's a genuinely nice guy, who's weird as hell. He's an articulate drunk who I think may have damaged one too many brain cells at one time or another, and who I can't figure out for the life of me. Without a doubt, he is one of the single oddest men that I have ever known, and I hate talking to him because his methods of speaking and logic make my brain turn to mush.

(02/06/08 - 11:18 PM)
I got one of those scary-as-all-get-out 'Jesus Prayer Rug' thingees in the mail today. Has anyone seen these? They actually cause me physical revulsion, they're so creepy. And I think Jesus would be pissed. He'd be like, "That so doesn't even look like me! Who's making these things? C'mon, Dad - let me at 'em!"

The letter comes with a flyer with testimonials about how great this deal works. It also comes with a ledger-sized "Prayer Rug" that you kneel on, complete with a magic-eye style picture of Jesus whose eyes open if you stare at it long enough (it's creepy as hell) and a 'prophecy' that you are supposed to destroy if you don't keep the chain letter going. But, if you do keep it going, you are allowed to read it. There's so much crap in this envelope that you would stop reading or I would stop typing - or both - before I got it all in here. So let me hit some of the high points:

"Important! Only break open this sealed prophecy after you have put this Church Prayer Rug and your prayer requests back in the mail... If for any reason you are not going to return this Church Prayer Rug, then this sacred prophecy must be destroyed, unopened and unread, because this is a sacred, spiritual prophecy, sealed word, concerning you and your future.

"God's holy blessing power is in the enclosed anointed Prayer Rug of Faith we are loaning you to use!!!"

"My husband was saved..."
"God blessed me with over $5,000.00..."
"Big 6-room house..."
"Received $10,000.00..."
"17 acres of land..."
"New car and job..."
"Healed my throat..."
"Blessed with $46,000.00..."

I can sum this up in a nutshell:

Dear stupid:

We need some cash, and we're hoping that you believe in God. We mortals have deemed this paper stuff sacred, and we're using simple printing techniques and calling them 'divine' in the hopes that you will fork over your hard-earned dollars to us, and then possibly something good will happen to you that you could potentially attribute to your actions. If not, whatever.

God's not here to smite us at the moment, so we'll probably get away with this. Here's some testimonials from predominantly greedy bastards like you, who got some worldly goods through human intervention with the Divine that only we can provide via a blind letter every two years or so. Some people were marginally more faithful, and asked for stupid things like the curing of ailments instead of a ranch in Palm Springs or a winning lottery ticket. Okay, so the lottery is technically gambling, but we give you permission to play it because God told us that that part of the Bible about 'casting lots' didn't forsee the Lottery coming until it was too late. Trust us, it's cool.

If you can't give us some cash, the least that you can do is pass this thing back to us so we don't have to spring for another packet to send to the next moron who derives their faith from anything from cereal boxes to Church. Thanks, dummy!

If you choose to believe in God, I believe that belief and faith are all that are important. You're on his radar, it's cool. You don't need some crazy-ass pseudo-ministry to help you with a magic carpet to get what you need, spiritually. And if you're after worldly goods stemming from anything other than leading a hard-working, God-oriented life, then you're deluding yourself.

Even if I didn't believe in God, I would still be offended.

(02/05/08 - 11:39 PM)
So, I'm watching COPS 2.0 last night, killing a little time before I nod off for the night. For those of you who don't know (and you're not missing anything but tacked-on, plebian entertainment, I assure you) the "2.0" refers to the addition of a bar at the bottom of the screen that provides trivial questions about the happenings unfolding on the screen before you, as well as "expert" advice from some retired something or another, "Captain Sesame Street" type. And the big draw (apparently), is a web-chat feature that allows any moronic twelve-year old with a PC to weigh in on droll questions as they are posed throughout the show.

So, I'm watching answers to a question scroll by from such legends as 'Theo_The_Bard' and 'ICPP2', and essentially tuning it out, when I read the question. The question read:

"What would do you on a roof?"

Clearly a typo; clearly a chance for instant humor for any willing participant with even the dullest of rapier wits. Yet not a single viewer who was ad-libbing seemed to notice, as they pounded out the Mary Poppins and bird-man jokes.

What makes this all the more ironic is that one of the "features" of the bar, as mentioned above, is the offering forth of questions about the events unfolding. Often, they wait several seconds, and up to a full minute, before posing deep questions such as, "In which hand was the man holding the bowling trophy when he assaulted his wife?" Or, "How many false names did the woman give to Officer Stankowicz before he maced her?"

The point I'm trying to make is here is a show that has been fully one-fifth geared toward people paying close attention and thereafter participating in mind games, such as this. And yet, not a single viewer responded to the question at hand: "What would do you on a roof?"

(02/04/08 - 7:28 PM)
Today I received what was debatably the oddest piece of mail to date this year. It was an offer for a "CleanSweep" Debt Consolidation Plan from Bank of America and... The National Fish and Wildlife Foundation. WHAT?

Okay, so I figured it must just be an indicator of how they reached me; that I must have bought something, somewhere, that the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation got wind of, and assumed that I would be a great tie-in customer for this amazing offer extended only to myself and any other homonid creature with a pulse. But honestly, this wasn't the case. After reading the offer, I could find precisely zero inkling of how in the world these two organizations tied together and moreover how they had divined that bringing me into the middle of their bizarre, sordid tryst was a hot idea.

What I really, really, don't get is that this is a financial vehicle that I have not only no use for, but that I also have no fiscal precursor in place that would reasonably explain my having received this offer in the first place. The letter says (without once mentioning the significance of the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation logo emblazoned predominantly in the upper left-hand corner) that, "This one line of credit could give you the means to pay off all or many of your high-rate debts, possibly saving you money every month by helping to eliminate those never-ending high-interest payments." Uh... good, I guess?

I think that I'll return it with a random offer of my own that is so non-specific perhaps it's right on the mark:

"Congratulations from Heath D. Alberts and the Unofficial Wham! & Luncheon Meat Fan Club! We're here to help you rid your home/trailer/appliance box of all of those pesky poltergeists that keep preventing you from procreating in any meaningful way with supermodels. This single, self-affirmation form that you re-mail to yourself could give you the means to do nothing or everything with the help of Ms. Cleo and Captain Kangaroo, possibly enlightening you to the fun and exciting world of Amway sales and/or homosexual prostitution, helping to eliminate those wacky Jehova's Witnesses who won't stop reading your thoughts no matter how much foil you glue on your noggin. It's fast, it's simple, and it won't cost you anything - and you won't not be not loving your antithetical cosmopolitan foibles in some or no time at all!"

Think they'd bite?

(02/03/08 - 11:36 PM)
Yah-Hoo! It's another fan-schmabulous Super-Ball Sunday!

As some of you may be aware, the undefeated New Hampshire Patrons are taking on the New York Gnats in an all our curling-iron brawl. These two immense and titanic foes will do battle in the spirit of being paid tons of money to put ones' personal safety on the line. The Patron's coach tried hard not to put a hidden camera in the opposing teams locker room to see if they notice that their coffee has secretly been replaced by Folgers crystals... let's take a look anyway!

This year, the commercials promise to be the best ever! It's my understanding that there will be a D.A.R.E. commercial starring none other than Bea Arthur! BEA ARHTUR! Also, you can bet your ass that there will be a commercial with a monkey. Or, at the very least, John Madden.

I just hope that a commercial for ACE Hardware comes on because, dammit, I'm about due for a gimmick sale involving a paper sack that I can stuff all of my 20% off items into - even extension cords! This friends - THIS - is why I shall endure the tour-de-force that is the Super-Ball showdown. The amazing commercials usually only air once, and I'll be damned if I'm missing that sale.

Yes, Super-Ball Sunday... where men and women alike get drunk and eat anything with double- and triple-digit saturated fat content and pick little squares on a hand-drawn graph to prove who's better at taking who's money. What's not to love?

The Golden-est Girl of All!

(02/02/08 - 4:56 PM)
Worked a ton today. Working a ton tomorrow. Work, work, work.

I liked it better when I was about five. Back then, I and the girl-herd in the neighborhood had no real inkling of what this "work" thing was, so when we played house we just improvised. To specify here, I liked it better when I didn't know what work was - not the playing house part. That I usually didn't like so much at all. But in a nearly all-female neighborhood it was that, or I could play Barbies. But not with any of the good ones. I always had to be Ken's friend, and nearly always the girl I played with thought it would be 'just perfect' if my chick-sion figure's name was 'Bubby'. Stephanie, what the hell was wrong with you, girl?

Then again, I played anyway... what the hell was wrong with me?

Anyway, back on the slightly more specific (and much less embarassing) topic of work: All we knew for sure at that age was that our parents (for the most part) went there everyday, and didn't seem to enjoy it much. Whenever I had to 'go to work' at the insistant behest of my pseudo-"wife", I usually just went four feet away and pretended to turn a screwdriver because this was the toughest thing I could think of.

Come on - I was five.

And it was way better than my six-year old "older wife" demanding that we play Happy Days and I had to be Fonzie (Ehhhh!) And as Fonzie, I had to kiss her - and her orange-popsicle coated visage (Ewwww!) Er, no thanks...

I wonder if growing up around all of that estrogen made me averse to sports and gave me my decorating sense and affinity for my wife? Thank God my friend Chris (boy Chris - not girl Chris) came around to his grandparents' who lived just next door from time to time, or I might be life-partnered with a brute named Lance, raising peek-a-poo's in a mid-century modern >shudder<.

Thank you Chris! Thank you, thank you, thank you!

(02/01/08 - 11:44 PM)
Went and did Christmas at my Dad's house tonight. Let me say that again: Christmas - on February first. Turns out, there really is such a thing as waiting too long. Yeeps.

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