A Twist Of Fate
January, 2011 Entries
"Just because you can't, doesn't mean you shouldn't try. And just because you shouldn't, doesn't mean you can't." - Me

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(01/30/11 - 12:13 PM)
It's been a BUSY week. I've been working my way through the Animé DVD's to convert them for the media library - and I'm almost done thanks the the wicked stupid amount of time I've spent doing it.

When it's done, though - it's done. There's nothing more to do, and after 30+ months straight, that's just fine by me.

The back has been more on than off, so the pill consumption this week has been up slightly (though still no 3-dose days, which is good.)

We're getting a new, faster, cheaper internet provider on Wednesday. With this comes phone service as well, so I'll be saving about $70.00 a month when everything is said and done, as well as having far faster service.

This makes me happy.

What doesn't make me happy was having to lay to rest our pet snail this morning. After months of happy frolicking and interesting contortionism, she had a few progressively declining days before heading to the old escargot platter in the sky last night.

I'll actually miss her. Who would have thought something so insignificant could prove so interesting?

Wanda and I have been happily hunkering down most evenings, enthralled with blazing our way through the entire run of "The X-Files", and as with all amazing television, fearing the end. It's like other shows: You know it's over, but you crave more because it's so singularly special.

Still, we've got more to go (though, not much) so until then...

I've made a concerted effort to curb my spending this month, as the final quarter of 2010 was flush with big-ticket items (most necessary, some not as much). The upside is that, barring the unforseen act of God, we shouldn't need anything for some time.

Work has been surprisingly steady, in that I haven't had to scrounge for work. I've been fortunate enough to cherry-pick the gems, and leave the less desirable items alone. Times like this I feel spoiled, but it's nice to be able to pick and choose, while not blindly accepting any 'dead woodchuck' jobs.

At one time, before the economy tanked, I had two assistants. We had to let the second one go when times got tough, but she has just landed a job with one of our customers - right next door, in fact - so we're all thrilled for her.

The upshot of the whole thing was that when the economy picked up, I was afforded a second assistant once more who came in the form of a former employee who had been gone for some time. The stars all aligned, and now I have a more highly-skilled (and diversely skilled) 2nd assistant, who is proving invaluable to both my, and my Assistant's, sanity. Trish - you're a gem. Don't even think of leaving again, woman.

I've been in a 'Jimmy Eat World' (That's a band, folks) place ever since their new album hit a few weeks ago. I've been re-visiting some of their old stuff, and am just blown away that I didn't parse it out more carefully. These guys are geniuses, and I'm loving the re-discovery. Though I will say their new stuff, in my mind, is better than the older. I'm sure others would say precisely the opposite, but I have something of an affinity for power pop.

It's just about time to take in the heap o' stuff to our accountant to see how much old Uncle Sam sees fit to return to us. As per usual, we have no pre-conceived notions, and it's always something of a surprise. We shall see.

My recurring dreams of trying to open combination locks and failing have returned. Specifically, I'm in high-school (though it looks different each time) and it's between periods. I'm running late already, and I space my combination. This actually used to happen 2-3 times a year, in truth. Each time the lock looks different, and each time I fail to open it, and wake up in a panic.

Weird, huh?

At any rate, I plan on hunkering down this afternoon with a black and white film or two and having a little 'me' time after almost ten hours in front of the PC yesterday, and another six today. I'll be glad when 'the weekend' doesn't mean, 'a different kind of work.'

(01/23/11 - 12:57 PM)
Alright I'll be honest - I kept meaning to get at this thing last week, and was just too busy to make the time for it between work, being sick, my back acting up and just plain being lazy.

Even as I write this, I admit that I've been busy on other projects this week which have kept me from doing this up right. That being said, I'm about to (sort of) punk out again and write a bulk entry. Around me at this very moment are four networked PC's all ripping DVD's to iPod format for placement on the home server. If you've ever tried ripping 20 minute episodes on powerful machines, then you know it's REALLY fast. As a consequence, I find myself jackrabbiting from machine to machine to keep up, as well as trying to write this and import the items into iTunes and get them appropriately labeled.

Suffice it to say, I've got it down to a science, but it takes a great deal of concentration. Of course, to make it more interesting, I am also writing this at the same time. I've already taken two pauses to cue new episodes just since the first paragraph. They're that fast.


It was -8 when I woke up this morning. Every window and door in the house was frozen, and even the cat was loathe to move about from his warm spot too much. Wanda's Grandmother (who usually attends church with her on Sunday mornings) has broken her toe and, as a consequence, my wife elected to go alone this morning, much to my consternation.

I'm happy she's feeding her faith, but I worry. A lot, actually. If I wasn't so retarded for her, it might not be so bad. But I'm totally retarded for her, and can't imagine being without her, so I worry.

She'll be fine. I know, I know.

Three more pauses, by the way. Told you it was fast. Why am I doing this to myself? Because after more than two years of converting, I'm finally near the end, and I just want it done. I've been through nearly 6,000 television shows and over 1,000 DVD's. Our collection is a lot bigger than I thought. But it's AWESOME to be able to cue up anything, anywhere in the house or on the iPods. It really is.

Since my last writing, Jimmy Eat World has issued a new CD entitled, "Invented" which is significant because after loosely following these guys since my brother turned me on to them years ago, this is the first album that has blown me away. Here we find power pop at its finest, and the more I listen, the more I love it.

After the Mr. Phillips Screwdriver debacle (see below!), I received one of a number of free publications that are specific to my industry. The first of which had a center-fold article (and photo) of an Italian C.E.O. who was an up-and comer with his global powerhouse company.

I took the liberty of leaving it - open - in Mr. P.S.'s area, just to show him that his meager anecdotal evidence, and subsequent specious reasoning was - at best - entirely flawed.

Let's see - what else. Wanda has had two opportunities to advance her new 'Virtual Assistant' business, which is amazing since she's only been in business for herself for a few weeks. For those of you who don't know, she is a Notary, tested expert in Word, Excel, PowerPoint, etc. who types 90WPM, knows dictaphone, software packages, HTML, HTML add-in's, video and graphic design, a wide variety of fields of law, resumee's, and on and on. In other words, she's every employers wildest dream, and she's an office ninja for hire as of the first of the year. So if you - or your company - can't afford a $20.00/hour ninja on full-time staff, you call her in like the Navy Seals for a tactical strike on whatever project you have cooking.

Neat, huh? By the way - four more stops.

Work has been - well - work. We've been steady, and we've brought in a greenhorn to train in the VMC department. It's a high risk, but with a high reward factor if it goes well. And it's going pretty well. So, here's to hoping.

Work has been coming in steadily from a plethora of sources, which is great because diversification is a keystone to our success.

My back hasn't, on the whole, gotten better. I had a couple of weeks where I swore it was, but then it reverted with extreme prejudice to its former, incessantly painful state. I'm getting used to it.

I discovered a site last week with free, public-domain, films and television programs from the 20's on called The Archive. Suffice it to say, I have been downloading a ton of free movies from a bygone era and loving every minute of it. I have a weird penchant for movies from the thirties, and this slakes that thirst more that I could have ever hoped for. I've been taking the time to curl up with a couple a week, and I haven't been disappointed yet. Check it out!

The snowblower has proven itself a Godsend this winter thus far, with my back being what it is. It has - essentially - made snow removal a non-event. Which is precisely what I had hoped for.

Five more stops. It's a good thing that I'm adept at multi-tasking.

At any rate, not too much excitement of late. Which is a good thing in my book. Speaking of books - I'm 61 pages into a new novel that I"m fairly excited about. I hope to have it finished and released by the end of the year.

The holiday season is over, and things have reverted to a level of normalcy that I can certainly appreciate.

(01/05/11 - 6:13 PM)
Sometimes, Mr. Phillips Screwdriver takes things a bit too far. Yet, instead of backing down, he prefers to nosh on both feet as they are firmly ensconced in his mouth. Today was one of those days.

He entered my office with a question on a blueprint. Nothing surprising nor unusual there. He began to verbally revile certain nationalities for their ineptitude of not being him. In this instance, it was an Italian blue print. With me so far?

So, once I point out that it's in Italian, and I can't decipher what he's pointing at, he decides to regale me about how no one in Italy manufactures machinery for the paper industry, and how in the world did such a print, then, originate there?

The obvious aside, I mentioned that, in fact, there WERE companies in Italy doing precisely that - companies like Uteco.

His reply was that they couldn't possibly make machines of any substance or size, so they must be tiny.

Again, I retorted by mentioning that, in fact, their machines were used in the newsprint industry, and tended to be enormous.

But he was hearing none of it. Then he went on to impart his wisdom that the reason he was right was that - and I'm quoting here, folks - "All Italians make terrible managers."

I wanted to let it lie, but I just couldn't. But before I could get another word in, he continued, "You never see any Italian managers in any company. Not one."

I mentioned that this was probably not the case, but off the top of my head I could not argue coherently. Then I pointed out that I am 1/4 Sicialian-Italian, and how did that work?

Overpowering my end of the conversation, he just rolled on, "We had two Italian Managers where I used to work at >Old Company Name Here< - one on the shop floor, and one in the office. The company went to hell, and do you know who the only ones fired were? Those guys."

Now, it happens that I know precisely the company he is speaking of, and my data doesn't quite spin it that way. So, I take another tack instead:

"So, let me get this straight," I say, "Your basing the management abilities of an entire country's population on nothing more than anecdotal evidence based on two people you used to work with. Have I got that right?"

"Exactly!" he says.

He goes on rambling, but I just don't have the frame of mind to absorb any more madness, and he soon leaves when he realizes that I am no longer listening.

Wow. Just... wow.

(01/04/11 - 7:26 PM)
Over the long weekend, someone mistook our large, steel chip hopper for a dumpster, and illegally dumped five contractor bags full of trash in it.

My resourceful Welder & Mechanic at work (you rock, Lars!) had to go in and fetch them and then, on a whim, he decided to see if there was anything incriminating within the bags so that we could find out who the jackhole was that left us these unwanted gifts.

Irony of ironies, two of the bags were chock full with old boxes - with UPS and FedEx stickers fully intact.


So, I had my Assistant call South Beloit PD, and Officer Lee (who we totally love because he rocks) arrived to take a report. I had not seen him in some time - specifically not since the alarm went off at 2:00 AM a few months back and we cleared the building, guns drawn (well, not me with the gun - but you get where I'm going with this).

After an afternoon of doing his thing, he couldn't get any of the folks he talked to to own up to having done the deed, so we had to let it go - which was kind of disappointing, but it could have been worse.

(01/03/11 - 8:16 PM)
Normally YouTube isn't my thing. Here I'm making two amazing exceptions:


(01/02/11 - 9:53 AM)
Spent the afternoon with Wanda purging the living crap out of the office. It's amazing that for as little stuff as we think we have, we always seem to find a TON of stuff to get rid of. The Salvation Army pile is sizeable, we filled three garbage bags of stuff for the great landfill monster (sorry, Mother Nature), not to mention purging what remanined of our CD collection down from several hundred titles to a scant forty.

I also took the opportunity to re-lay all the shelves into a more contemporary-situation-suiting fashion, which made the whole place look far more cavernuos and organized that it ought to have.

Took the tree down, and cleaned up after it. All in all the day was liberating, but after four hours we both got hungry. Then just hunkered down to tortellini and mindless television.

Today, I have no idea what I'm going to do. I wanted to write sometime this weekend, but the spirit just isn't in me at the moment (not to mention that my back is far from cooperating as I type this.) I feel like I've worked three 10-hour days instead of enjoying my time off. For the most part, this is true, as working on the media library is just that - tedious work.

So what does one do when they're in the position of not wanting to overtly waste time, but also wishes to be entertained in some way that is meaningful. This is a conundrum that I face all too often. No matter what I do, I rarely feel fulfilled, and always consider in hindsight all of the other things I could have accomplished, but that would have been less fun.

Sometimes, even I annoy me.

(01/01/11 - 9:28 AM)
After working on my network issues for two straight days, I feel compelled to just walk away from the whole thing for a day so that my brain doesn't turn to mush, anymore than it already has.

I had everything working, then it didn't, then it did, and then it didn't. Suffice it to say I now understand 99% of the whys, and have them rectified. But for a guy who has limited networking experience (but a TON more now), I think I came out pretty well.

The toughest part of the whole thing was getting the wonky software for the RAID server to work, followed by understanding how it wanted to be setup, in conjunction with the software it was bundled with. I had it all down, except for one tiny, eensy, thing which kept the whole works from working 100% correctly until 5:06 PM yesterday when I figured it out, and changed the single setting (of hundreds) that was out of whack.

I should be able to install these things in my sleep now.

I managed to find a new DVD-ripping software for doing my conversions to iPod format that I was doing on my XP machine which has now gone off the reservation, never to return.

My friend Gary spent a goodly part of his friday morning attempting to rectify this, but after trying everything that I had (and a few things I hadn't thought of - he's the network guy, after all) we both threw up our hands at something that should work but simply doesn't.

My old DVD software ran a treat on XP, but would not run on 7. And since no updates/upgrades seemed forthcoming, I was forced to search elsewhere for something that would work on 7, but be as intuitive and simple to use as the old software.

After sampling seven different suites, I found exactly one that did what I needed to do, with the interface I wanted. The upside? I can now work faster on three machines, instead of the one I have been using for the past two years. The downside is that I now have to work harder. But it's all worth it to have a fully-backed up media library that we can use on the iPods and laptops over the network. Because I need my comedies when I cook alone, dammit.

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