A Twist Of Fate
February, 2009 Entries
"You shot who with the what now?"
- Jasper (The Simpsons™)

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(02/29/09? - ??:?? ??)
It's not a leap-year, stupid.

(02/28/09 - 11:03 PM)
I've been working my way through our DVD collection now, converting them into iPod format. Which is cool, because these end up being only about half of a Gig in size, and allows us variety when we elect to have it.

That being said, it's something of a tedious task. And you don't realize how many movies you actually have until you begin converting them.

And I still haven't begun thinking about how I'm going to do the cartoons and television series. THOSE should be a hoot.

Still, it'll be worth it in the end. Probably.

(02/27/09 - 10:22 PM)
I was feeling pretty good. I had gotten out of work a squidge early, and it had been a rough day. But now I was free for the weekend! I was going to begin by getting things done!

I went and got gas, I did some chores around the house. But I'm getting ahead of myself here.

The FIRST thing I did, was I went to pick up a few essentials for the upcoming week at the local Wally World (I know, I'm evil - but it's close, and I'm time conscious.)

I remembered nearly everything, and I was making great time. As I approached the home stretch, I realized that there were very few registers open at the moment. And the few that were all appeared to be staffed by aged individuals who had the speed of a two-person wheelbarrow race at a fat farm picnic.

Now I will say, in their defense, that being a cashier gets tougher the older you get. You're standing for hours on end, moving things that are at the very least cumbersome, and often heavy. So I'm sympathetic with slower speeds under these circumstances, as I hope someday the young Turks who come through my line at the MicrosoftWorld Store will be as well.

So, I waited my turn. And I waited. And I waited.

Here was the problem, as I began to observe the checking method being employed by the woman manning the register (no pun intended.) She was old, yes. She was struggling a bit, yes. But this is where my sympathy ends. Because she was also stopping after every second item to make small talk with whoever would listen about her grandkids, their illnesses, their great ability to make art out of macaroni, etc.

It might have been okay, but apparently she had a hell of a lot to say. And there were three packed carts behind me, and no backup checkers in sight.

But this was not the worst offense. The WORST offense occured when she came across an item she had apparently never seen before. She would study the item, look over the packaging, ask questions about the item, etc.


When it finally came my turn, I prayed that I had nothing interesting. But it was not to be so. She studied my Italian Beef package (oh, that sounded dirty, didn't it?), my jar of mushrooms, and several other items. She then went on to exhibit yet another trait that I had missed from behind the mountain of groceries that had previously been in front of me: she would grab one item, think better of it, and grab another, and then finally a third (or fourth, or fifth) and finally scan one. Then she would attempt to figure out how to bag it, and what with, and after assessing the situation make the poorest decision possible.

It's really not funny, but I almost wanted to climb over the counter and just say, "Watch".

Checking is one of my strong points, apparently. I know this because when I worked at the sign of the big red K when I was sixteen, we would all be cross-trained as checkers. And on the odd occasion when one was needed, I became the requested individual because I was told that I was faster and more accurate than the people who did this all day.

I probably would have been more jaded, if I did it all the time. But all those hours of time and motion study my first - and current - boss Dave had engrained in my head since I was ten were paying off - as well as all of those hours spent playing Tetris.

So, I just held my tongue, and waited until she was finished. Then, as I went to leave, she decided that we had not talked enough.

"Do you work with so-and-so?"

Shit. I was wearing my company jacket, and one of my employee's wives works here.

I corrected the first and last names, and mentioned that I worked with that individual.

Apparently, that clicked, because she went on to tell me how she was just the best of friends with his wife, and did I know that she worked here?

I was as polite as possible, and exchanged nothing more than the bare minumim requisite pleasantries.

Then I got the hell out of there.

(02/26/09 - 11:03 PM)

"Girls need attention, and boys need us - so let's make everybody glad." - Meiko

"If you kiss somebody, then both of you get practice." - Regina Spektor

(02/25/09 - 11:11 PM)
Here's a photo of the first picture of a ghost that caught my attention at age nine. It's since been debunked, and the original photo is much larger than what's shown here (I couldn't find a full-spread picture of it like the one I saw in a book as a kid - just this cropped version), but it scared the hell out of me while intriguing me all at the same time.

My grandfather was extremely open-minded, and read voraciously. In one of his books, I found this picture among many others (all but one of which were eventually debunked, as photography became something of a science in later decades.)

Boo, dammit!

This photo was taken in front of a church alter. The sun is shining in brightly from behind through the stained-glass windows, and the whole picture is - while obviously fake to my now thirty-something mind - simply unsettling.

(02/24/09 - 11:11 PM)
I finally decided to purchase a new pair of hard drives today. I got online, I picked the ones I wanted from the most reputable brand in the business.

I decided that, for whatever reason, I would read the reviews first to make certain that there were no problems. This was mostly an afterthought, but when you're buying 3Tb of hard drives, it's good to know that they're solid.

I could not believe what I was reading.

It appears as though my favorite brand, and subsequent line, of hard drives had a big problem on their hands with the 1Tb and 1.5Tb models. Based on the reviews, they rarely worked fresh out of the box, or crapped out shortly after being utilized.

Yeeps! I think I'll wait a little while.

Thinking about buying one any time soon? Read this first:

Click Here

(02/23/09 - 11:04 PM)

"Prince found behind hunting lodge sexually assaulting turkeys".

"I love when Bender on Futurama says, 'Shut up baby, I know it'."

"Granite countertops and gamma radiation - is there a deadly secret?"

"Jennifer Aniston, Jennifer Love-Hewitt and Jessica Biel star in porn film in a dream a friend of mine had."

"In my friends' screenplay, Barack Obama comes out of the closet - he's holding a long, hard, hanger in his hand and might want to save a woodpecker."

"Tom Cruise might be watching television because he's a homosapien."

"You could make fast money now, if you had the secret method employed by Brett Favre - but it doesn't exist."

What was that all about, you might ask? Well, a recent article in Wired Magazine suggested that for a blog to be successful, you need to reference current events in a unique way. This way, you're not creating news but, rather, you're voicing your opinion on a topic while drawing readers in with a fake headline.

One of their suggestions was, "Inside Britney Spears' Shaved Head - What Was She Thinking?", or something to that effect.

Now, I have a problem with this. If your blog is for yourself, then what does it matter who reads it? If you're trying to get exposure, then are you blogging for yourself, or for the masses?

Perhaps I have this all wrong. So I'm going to try an experiment. I'm going to put some catch-phrase-esque lines in my blog, and see if readership picks up (hence, the above.)

I figure that I don't really care who's reading it, but I'm curious to see if this truly yields any new blog 'converts' who will STAY. To me, this is the key. It's easy to throw a lure in the water. It's hard to land the fish without skill and the right equipment.

There. That ought to get some attention. We shall see.

(02/22/09 - 10:16 AM)
Pissed off about losing your hard-earned 401-k? Angry because, 'Whoops - we made a mistake' bankers are just now realizing what we knew all along for the last two years - that credit was being over-extended and real estate was being over-valued?

Then I recommend the current issue of Wired Magazine to let you know that you're not alone.

How in the world anyone with half a brain could allow our fiscal issues to become so egregious is simply unfathomable to me. When you have commercials from ump-teen different agencies on television telling you - the poor, defenseless consumer - that hey!, you shouldn't have to pay back ALL that money you spent! We know you're broke! And for a nominal fee, we can help!

This is when you have a problem that is clearly out of control.

And yet, what did we do? Why, let those agencies collect their fees! Let those 'poor souls' who overspent eliminate their debt!

But someone must pay for this. Who's paying for this?

You are! Thanks a bunch, sucker!

Get angry people. Let your congressional and senatorial representatives know that this is NOT acceptable.

If you, like me, live in Illinois, however, you might just as well give up on that because - oh yeah - they're usually pulling some string or another, or are on the take in some fashion as well.

What has this country come to?

(02/20/09 - 11:18 PM)
After two dynamic days of quoting and incoming work, we experienced today a War-of-the-Worlds-esque screaming silence. The phones barely rang. The fax barely spewed. The e-mails were never sent.

What gives? We continue to get these odd fluctuations of a couple days of being slammed, followed by the eternal void of nothingness.

(02/19/09 - 11:02 PM)
I finally went to the doctor tonight. Turns out, I had a regularly scheduled appointment that just happened to coincide with whatever has been kicking my ass for the past four days (fevers twice per day, stuff in my throat that I won't try to describe, etc.)

It was probably a good thing I mentioned it, because he took one look in there and said, "Wow. That's really infected."

Then he did something cool. He said, "Look, I could give you a bunch of tests to figure out precisely what it is. Or I could just prescribe an antibiotic and we can get rid of it."

I chose the latter.

(02/18/09 - 11:02 PM)
My Dad called me at work today. The reason? He wanted to let me know that he had purchased a snow rake for use on roofs.

(02/17/09 - 11:06 PM)
This one's dirty - so if you're offended, don't read it. If you're not, you'll probably still be offended. Yet, I feel, that when something even remotely funny pops into my old noggin', I just have to share. And to be fair, it's not all that funny. Really.

Remember, you've been warned. You still have a chance to bail on this entry. If you're still reading, I assume no liability for your anger and/or disgust in the moments to come. Fair enough. Ready?

"Erections are a harbinger of things to come."

See? Not really all that funny, but someone out there groaned and/or laughed.

(02/16/09 - 11:22 PM)
Jim, our Expediting Manager at work, told me a joke today:

A policewoman pulls over a drunk, older man. After a belligerent few minutes, it becomes clear that he will not cooperate, and needs to be hauled in.

"Sir," she says, "I am now going to read you your rights. You have the right to remain silent. Anything you say can and will be used against you..."

At this point, the man smiles and loudly interrupts her, saying, "Your Boobs!"

(02/14/09 - 11:06 PM)
My wife told me a story this morning. She mentioned that for something new to do, her sister had picked a few stocks to watch, just to see how they fared.

I've done this before. In fact, the one time in high school I did so, I made more hypothetical money than any of my classmates (I invested in Sara Lee and Rubbermaid.)

One of the stocks that she had chosen was Continental Airlines. So, when the horrible tragedy occured she asked my wife the following question:

"So, does this mean that my stock just crashed?"


Okay, it's tragic - don't get me wrong. But this is the sort of dark humor that makes me proud. And I never expected it from her.

Way to go, Dena! You're one step closer to eclipsing your Dad and I as the black sheeps of humor in the family!

(02/13/09 - 11:14 PM)
I stopped at Wal-Mart after work today to pick up a few things, and to pick up both my and my wife's prescriptions.

My wife and I both have HSA plans (Health Savings Accounts) which are high-deductable plans that allow you to tax-defer money to a special account to pay for medical expenses. These types of plans are perfect for individuals like us, who don't have children and aren't too old to have the Doctor on speed-dial.

So, I got our prescriptions. I pulled out my HSA card. I attempted to pay. I slid my card and got... 'encryption error - call tech. support' on the terminal.

I was perplexed, because I had never seen this before.

The cashier sounded flustered, "Ugh," said newly-licensed driver cashier chick, "It's been doing that all day. I'll have to run it directly through the register. Give me your card."

I shrugged, and she did whatever it is sixteen-year-old cashier's do with their registers (hey - I'm not here to judge). Again, the results were the same.

"This card is no good," she announced loudly.

Slowly, oh so slowly, Evil Heath was coming forth.

"No," I said, "I just got the statement. I have credit monitoring. I know there's over 'X' amount of dollars in that account, and the only time I use it is here and at my Doctor's office. It's perfectly fine."

She is now visibly annoyed that I'm arguing with her. "Let me call someone, then."

So, she rolls her eyes, and retreats five feet to her trusty wall phone. In an annoyed tone, she calls for some sort of higher-up, as she stares at my card.

The phone across the pharmacy rings, and she annoyingly demands that the caller be transferred to her.

"This guy is here, and it's telling me his card is no good, but he insists that it is. I tried running it on the register, but it won't work. Can you do something?"

Now, bear in mind there's an annoyed cluster of geriatric ladies and other individuals forming behind me, and this girl is speaking loudly enough to make certain that they all know that it's in no way HER fault that they're having to wait. That, in fact, it's the moron/deadbeat with the probably stolen credit card in front of them who is the asshole.

This entire time, I had been taking note of the strange movements and actions of the second individual in the pharmacy. This was a girl who looked about seven years older, and something in her finally snapped.

She calmly walked over to the cashier that I had been blessed with, and said loudly enough for all to hear, "That terminal has been acting up all day. It doesn't matter where you run it. I will try it down here for him, because I'm sure the terminal is the problem."

She takes me to the other register in a diminutive fashion, we run the transaction, and in less than one minute we are off and running.

I thank her queitly, and I mention that if she has the authority to do so, she might want to let a Manager know that Queen Ya-hoo down there is telling people their cards are no good without checking the facts.

She apologizes, and I let her know there's no need - she didn't do anything.

And, I could be wrong here, but it seemed as though a sudden wave of vitriol was now finding its way to cashier number one from both co-workers and customers.

Serves her right for trying to cover her ass, and embarass me in front of them all. Yep - they heard it all, all right - and they then saw the end bit where she looked like a moron.

(02/12/09 - 11:22 PM)
We had been performing a miracle at work for a customer all day today. As the day wrapped up for first-shift, I had to decide who on second shift would take over and continue the miracle components.

My choice was clear: even though he's annoying, he's a damn good machinist.

I had to choose Mr. Phillips Screwdriver.

I spoke with the day operator, who is one of the most seasoned (if not the most) in the shop. He said one thing:

"Mr. Phillips Screwdriver is going to want to increase the feeds and speeds as soon as he walks in - DON'T LET HIM. The feeds and speeds are optimal for this job, to keep the heat out of the part. Plus, the inserts in the cutter have lasted the whole job so far. If he ups the feeds and speeds, he'll burn up inserts (about $11.60/each x 3 to load the cutter, F.Y.I.) and he'll induce heat - and therefore stress - into the material.

This is significant, because we were attempting to hold tight tolerances, inclusive of flatness, parallelism and perpendicularity. These would all be jeopardized if heat were introduced into the material. Think of a pork rind curling up when it hits the fryer, and you pretty much get the point.

I thought it was odd that he would give me such a warning. It was clear - even to me - that the feeds and speeds were optimal. Why would a seasoned veteran like Mr. Phillips Screwdriver attempt to do otherwise?

I let it go.

Then he arrived, I explained the situation to him. Imagine my amazement (I know, I should have known better) when Mr. Phillips Screwdriver says, "That's old-school machining (he's a full twelve years older than the day shift operator) - I'd never run this under 600 RPM (it was being run - successfully - at 270 RPM.)

I explained that it was working, and that I'd like to please stick with a proven winner in this case.

He then want on to explain that he could do the job on his machine.

I let him know that that was obvious - but that the job was already setup in this machine, and I wanted him to finish it here in the interest of avoiding redundancy and saving time.

Guess what he did right after I left?

If you said, "Cranked up the RPM's and moved the job to his machine!" you're absolutely right!

(02/11/09 - 10:16 PM)
I got a call from a former employee this afternoon. There's nothing unusual about this, really. Especially in the current economic climate.

What was interesting about this call, was that this employee had given his two-weeks notice to my Boss prior to leaving our employment. Later that morning (about two hours, give or take) the Boss left on a business trip.

He was no sooner out the door than said employee came up to me, shook my hand, and told me he was done.

"I know, Dave told me."

No, he said, he was done - right now.

I asked about his two weeks, and he stated that he was just ready to go - that his new job would take him immediately, and he felt that this was for the best.

I strongly recommended that he re-think his position, but he was insistant.

And so, he went his own way. Which was disappointing, because we had spent a great deal of money and effort to train him on a high-end machine for the last several months. In fact, he had hindered our staff on those machines as they trained him, making those machines less profitable still. But we felt that, in the end, it would be worth it to have another operator who was capable, in the end.

When the Boss returned, I explained the situation to him, and he was quite upset. My Boss, you see, has zero-tolerance for people who do not offer - and then follow through with - two-week notices. He takes it as a personal insult and affront.

At the time I didn't so much, but over time I have come to agree with his views (I usually do, in the end.)

Anyway, back to the story.

So, after several years, this employee calls me out of the blue.

"Hey, Heath! This is so-and-so. How's it going?"

I told him I was fine, and that things were fine.

He asked about the state of the business - whether we had had to lay anyone off (we hadn't) and whether we were still busy (we're steady.) Then he asked if we were still working forty-hour weeks (we are.)

"Wow!" he said, "I'm lucky to get two or three seven hour days a week here. It's not looking too good."

I let him know that I was sorry to hear that.

"Can I have my old job back?"

Just like that - out of the blue.

"Nope," came my glib reply.

"Oh. Why not?"

I went on to explain to him that we had invested a great deal of time, money and effort in him to better his station in the machining world and that, as a reward for doing so, he elected to leave without proper notice.

I then went on to explain that after his departure I was informed that he had intended to leave wihout notice, and all of his co-workers had advised against this course of action. His mentor, specifically, cited the fact that in this industry, word gets around - and you never want to burn a bridge. Any bridge.

So, I said, there's really nothing for it. You snubbed the guy who took you under his wing - and that's a one shot deal.

I wished him luck, and we ended our conversation.

I feel bad for his current situation, but if I've learned nothing over my bizarre employment career, it is this: Keep your options open. Today might be rosy - but no one knows what tomorrow will bring.

(02/10/09 - 11:36 PM)
I was knocking around TV-land tonight (the place, not the channel) and came across a Ghost Hunting show. The investigators on the show were attempting to record Casper saying something clever like "Get Out!" (which is amazingly popular among the undead-but-not-gone set these days.)

In an effort to elicit a response, the investigator said the following:

"If you don't want to speak to us, you need to say something so that we know."


(02/09/09 - 11:21 PM)
It's Monday! Time for another round of "Heath Makes Up Jokes Best Left Un-Made Up!"

Let's begin, shall we?

In New York, a group of corpulent Benedictine monks have elected to branch off and form their own sect devoted solely to the study of philosophy. In an effort to distance themselves from their prior order, they knew that they would require a new moniker.

After much deliberation, they settled upon one that seemed to encapsulate everything that they were.

And so, they are now know as "The Deep, Fat Friars"

(02/08/09 - 11:04 AM)
It's getting warmer. The snow has - in a mere forty-eight hours - met its maker, for the most part. The sun is finally out, and for notably longer stretches of time. Spring is coming. And it cannot come too soon. I'm about fed up with the cold, the snow, and the inevitable lethargy and lack of desire to go outside and do anything that comes with the harsh mistress that we collectively call 'Winter'.

(02/07/09 - 12:46 PM)
My Dad volunteered me to go and work on a computer this morning, so I began my day in strange surroundings, working on a computer for a guy who I had never before met.

It was a little unnerving. It usually is, in instances such as this, because you never know what you're going to find, or what you might do that will later become a fulcrum for blaming you when some errant piece of spyware blows the hard drive into the next century.

I treaded lightly, to say the least.

Next up: A meeting with my banker, Ed. We figured out that for a mere $80.00 per month, we could knock ten years off our home mortgage, roll the two together and save a ton of money.

This is why we love Ed.

So, in thirty days, I will have a new mortgage. My house appraised for what I feel is way more than what it's worth (I'd like to see the appraiser sell it for that in this economy, or any other for that matter) but I suppose that it's better than the alternative.

(02/06/09 - 11:46 PM)
I got sent home from work early today. Yep - you read that right. My Boss let me know that he really wants to cut costs, so he only wants me to work forty hour weeks.

This is fine with me (it's like a vacation, actually), but the problem was that he'd been gone for two weeks, so I'd been needed at work a squidge more than forty hours that week (imagine that?), and I would have my forty in in about an hour-and-a-half.

He said that was fine.

I disagreed, but who am I? The inherent problem is that I am required early in the morning to approve all of the items that are to go out that day, as well as to setup our Expediting Manager with his daily list-o-things that he needs to keep an eye on. I am also 'on call' for any and all of our customers who have come to expect impossibly fast responses to their inquiries - whatever they may be - from me.

Couple these facts with the fact that in this economic climate the first reasonable quote returned usually obtains the work (which is almost always us - no one quotes faster, and it's one of our claims to fame), and you begin to tread on thin ice indeed.

So, the question I pose is this: If you're attempting to save money by eliminating the individual responsible for the primary step in obtaining the work that MAKES the money, then how much are you really saving?

(02/04/09 - 11:43 PM)
Okay, so I've been on a 'big universal thoughts' kick lately. I had another one today:

If space is a vacuum, and fire cannot burn in a vacuum, then how is solar fusion possible if fire is involved?

I'm sure there's a great explaination for this that I would never comprehend, but I find it odd that the sun can have a massive fusion reaction for hundreds of thousands of years in the vacuum of space.

Further, I question how ignition occurs in the first place. My only thought is that perhaps there was once a mantle of atmosphere or something akin to it prior to the initial ignition.

Which begs another question: Could a predominantly flammable liquid/gas moon or other astral body BECOME a star due to ignition? Or is this simply an impossibility?

(02/03/09 - 11:22 PM)
Something to think about:

In a Universe where dimensional facets seem to be the lynchpin of everything (X, Y, Z, and Time), what happens if there is a fundamental phenomena that we cannot observe or quantify that works like a mirror.

Here's what I mean: A mirror reflects everything, but not everything can be seen by the observer, because the observer can only see what is relative to his location of view. This fact, however, does not negate that if one had enough viewers one could still potentially not view every possible aspect and angle of what the mirror could potentially present to you.

So, with this in mind, is it possible that there is a phenomena simliar to a mirror acting on or in the universe around us, thereby skewing our viewpoint to only a fraction of its potential.

It's something to think about.

(02/02/09 - 11:22 PM)
Here's a new joke I thought up:

The pessimist sees the cup as half-empty.
The optimist sees the cup as half-full.
The Jewish mother-in-law sees the cup, ignores the contents, and says, "What? You couldn't get out the good crystal while I'm here?"

(02/01/09 - 10:32 AM)
Ya-hoo! It's another action-packed, star-spangled, hyphenated-expression Super Bowl Sunday! A day when the average American bets their hard- earned dollars on which group of overpriced athletes will be the victors in a one-shot, all-or-nothing, hyphenatation-packed race for the pinnacle of the sport (until it all begins anew in a few months.)

My God, who ISN'T totally into this.

Oh, right... me!

Pfffft. I didn't even know who was playing, to be honest (I hear it's the Steelers and the Cardinals) and I don't care. It's not that I mind that people enjoy this - I enjoy alot of stuff (most of it legal) that a great many people scratch their heads at. It's just that I don't get sports - as a collective whole.

I think comedian Jeff Dunham summed it up nicely when he spoke about NASCAR:

"It's five-hundred miles of left turns."

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