A Twist Of Fate
March, 2008 Entries

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(03/31/08 - 11:14 AM)
Finished Robert Charles Wilson's second book, "Bios", and was fairly content with the outcome. It chronicles humanities efforts to colonize an Earth-like planet in the near future. The problem is, everything that has evolved on said planet is 100% toxic to humanity and kills with ruthless efficiency in a manner akin to hemmoragic fevers.

Enter Zoe Fisher. Zoe was part of a secret project involving five children who were genetically and physically modified in an effort to discover a way for humanity - specifically, her controlling political party - to colonize this new, harsh world.

Everything falls apart in the end, as political and human intrigue ensue in a fairly satisfying manner.

On the whole, this was not a monumental book but it was enjoyable. I have already ordered up "Darwinia", Mr. Wilson's first book, to see what all that's about as well.

I recommend this book only as an aside to the hardcore sci-fi fan who wants a short but enjoyable read on some idle afternoon.

(03/30/08 - 10:13 AM)
Today feels like a purging day. No, I'm not bulimic. I mean, look at me - do I look bulimic? Yeah, a 232-pound bald guy. Yeah, I've got dietary issues, sure. But not that kind.

What I mean, more specifically, is that I think today is one of those rare days when I'm in the mood to get rid of things that I'll probably regret in some way later, but hopefully will forget about before I can regret their loss. It's a crap shoot at best.

I sent an e-mail to a guy in California about my Pez collection because I've just decided that it's time. I'll keep a few, but the rest are just taking up space.

I'll regret this later, but for now it's time to clean! I think I'll refer to this cleaning after the time of year in which it falls... Spring.

Yeah... 'Spring Cleaning' has a ring to it, doesn't it? I think maybe I'll even trademark it...

(03/29/08 - 11:02 PM)
We went to Madison today to get the ol' oil changed. Today, we also elected to sell some books to the place where we've been buying books for years - for the first time. God, that was hard. I've been replacing editions, and culling the stuff I can part with from the collection - which were still pristine and Brodart wrapped. This should have made them very happy to have them to sell, indeed.

Anyway, while we were there, I also decided to head downtown to the place that I have been buying my earrings from for the past sixteen years. So, we made the perilous trek downtown, parked, and walked the requisite four blocks to... a mexican restaurant?

Crap. Turns out, some time in the last eighteen months or so, the store had closed and had been turned into a mexican restaurant. I was understandably pissed, but I was determined. I mentioned that it would be funny (probably) if I walked into work on Monday with tortilla chips dangling from my ears, explaining to anyone who might ask that I was hell-bent on buying earrings from that specific establishment, regardless of its current incarnation.

So, if anyone knows where I can get surgical stainless-steel earrings with tiny yin-yangs on them in an extra long stud length I'm - no pun intended - all ears.

(03/28/08 - 11:35 PM)
A fellow at work is preparing to retire at the end of this year, and has a property for sale. >SIGH< Why must you tempt me, fate? At any rate, I swore that I wouldn't even entertain another property in the near term. But it seemed like such a good deal on the surface. It was for sale for $13,000.00 below fair market, had a number of major long-term repairs recently done, and came complete with long-term renters.

Alright, alright - I looked at it, okay? I have a problem - so sue me.

I ran the numbers, and it looked mildly promising. MILDLY. The problem was, the assessed valuation was more than the fair market value. This is a bad thing, because there is typically only one factor that causes this "upside-down" situation - the neighborhood.

And after seeing this house, I sort of understood where the assessor was coming from. The house would have been a great investment in its current form IF you could either pay cash for the entire transaction, thereby negating interest on a loan, or you were willing to keep it as a slow-growth investment for twenty years. And I wasn't about to part with $55k, thanks. This - and only this - would have made this an attractive deal, in the end. What amazed me the most was that, after running the numbers, a no-brainer turned into a no-dealer. Who'da thunk it?

The worst part was that, after nearly four years of rental, the renters called the seller today and told him that they were hitting the old dusty trail. They gave him a convoluted reason, but I think the simple answer was that they loved their landlord, and knew a change was imminent and as such decided to pull up stakes while the getting - and the rent - was still good.

Oh, well. I wasn't really looking anyway. Probably...

(03/27/08 - 11:08 PM)
Yay! New "Code Monkeys" begin on April twentieth! Woo-hoo!

(03/26/08 - 11:44 PM)
And now some tongue in cheek humor, brought to you by "Heath Tries To Be Funny" brand potato chips.

"They're mediocre, at best!"

An oyster watched each day as divers came and took away his friends and family. Each day, the divers moved closer and closer to his portion of the shoal, and each day he grew more and more concerned about his welfare.

The next day, he knew, would be his and he was having none of it. So, in a desperate plan to save his own shell, he began moving to a nearby shoal of mussels, which had been unmolested by the divers. He dirtied his shell, and planted himself right in the middle.

The next day, he watched in horror as his place was worked over by the divers, and his former neighbors were methodically harvested.

After the divers had left, he heard the mussel next to him say, "Way to go! Your clamoflauge worked!"

(03/25/08 - 11:26 PM)
I finally sold the truck today, which was an odd end to an odd purchase. I bought the truck from my Dad, because it seemed like a fantastic deal at the time. Or at least, it would have been. The truck had some latent defects that were deal-breakers, but neither of us knew about them until months later when something went wrong and my mechanic found them. The worst part was that the whole reason I bought the truck was for hauling heavy or long things, and the defects prevented this very thing. Such is life.

At any rate, I sold it at a whopping loss (and less than scrap prices, even) to a young man that I work with, and who I have known since he was eight, who was in desperate need of a new truck. Specifically, his truck looked like something that even Mad Max would turn his nose up at.

So, it served its purpose, and now it's gone. And I can begin forgetting about the poor investment and all the money it cost me in the months following its purchase.

(03/24/08 - 11:37 PM)
The term "Making Money Hand Over Fist" stems from the way coinage was once produced. A sheet of precious metal was forged, and then a punch was used to uniformly create the circles of currency. Once the circles were punched, a second, negatively embossed stamp was used to impress upon the coinage the appropriate denomination and design.

In order to perform the above functions, one would have an anvil (presumably one made of hardwood) and would use a hammer to strike the punch and stamp. This positions the hands in a hand over fist configuration - one to hold the hammer over the fist which is holding the punch or stamp. And thus, the term finds its roots.

OoOoOoOo... educationy.

(03/23/08 - 10:48 AM)
Greetings, dear friends! It's another holiday, so you know what that means: I, Plinky the House Elf, am relegated to the blog entry for today so that Master Heath may entertain himself in his special, Bacchanalian way.

You humans certainly do have a great many holidays indeed. We House Elves only have two: Annihilation Day (which only happens once - we're still waiting for this one) and Socktoberfest, where all House Elves get together for a day to swap stories about the latest trends in removing stains of every sort from secondary footwear. It's really great!

At any rate, Master Heath has explained that today is Easter. What he neglected to mention was what this Easter thing was all about. I took this as a challenge, and would like to take this opportunity to present my well-researched findings.

Apparently, there was a fellow some time back named Jesus (pronounced 'hay-seuss', based on all the criminal records that showed up in my search.) Some pilot didn't like him all that much because Jesus was more charismatic than he, and so decided that it might be a good idea to off the competition. This pilot had Jesus emulsified (yeeps!), but he could get away with it because he was the head of the L.A.P.D. and was good at dealing with Kings.

Apparently Jesus was one tough fellow though, as three days later he re-emerged from a truck stop in Mexico disguised in a rabbit suit. To keep a low profile, he began handing out eggs to children. Also, since he saw his shadow, there were only six more weeks of winter.

I'm not entirely certain how all of this fits together, but I know that if I were a jealous pilot I would be looking for my charismatic competition near or around airports and not around truck stops. Further, I would never suspect a rabbit handing out eggs to be a Jewish King. It's rather brilliant, actually.

At any rate, some humans celebrate this day each year in memoriam of this Jesus fellows tenacity and cleverness. I believe also that ham and pie may be involved, but this has been difficult to ascertain thus far. But I shall persevere!

(03/22/08 - 11:08 PM)
Went to work for a bit this morning - after visiting two banks to rectify the missing mail situation. The bad news was that Ed (my go-to bank guy) was on vacation, but his staff handled my problem competently. My other bank was a little tougher, as they wanted to charge me $116.00 to stop-pay all of the lost items. Their fee is $29.00 per check, and by the time I had worked my way up from phone service to physical presence in the office of the Assistant Manager, I managed to negotiate them down to one fee for the cluster of checks. Why are these things like pulling teeth? Ugh.

At any rate, all seems to be well at the moment. Sure, I had to triple pay one mortgage and sure, I had to double pay my wastewater bill. But, in the end, the amounts were trivial compared to the other big numbers that I had to double up on until I could get the original checks stopped.

(03/21/08 - 11:47 PM)
The other day, we got a nasty call from one of our older financial institutions asking why in the world we had chosen not to pay our mortgage. I advised her that, no only did I not decide to do so, but that the payment had been sent early. *(Refer to the March 13th post.)

We got this resolved, fees reversed, etc. All was right with the world until... today.

Today, I received two more notices of failure to pay. I was seeing a pattern here, and when I looked in my check ledger my worst fears were confirmed. All of the items (five in all) that I had mailed out on February 24th had not reached their destination. Worse, these items totaled just a squidge under four thousand dollars. This meant that I had to double pay - and fast - in order to keep collections proceedings at bay.

I frantically wrote letters and checks, went to the post office and sent the little buggers. Then I e-mailed Ed letting him know that he would be sending me a nasty letter any time now because I hadn't paid him. Or, rather, I had, but it had never arrived.

The whole experience was nerve wracking because I'm so used to being in control of everything. Here, I felt like a faceless criminal in a world of automated attendants and 800 numbers with no humans. I received a number of threatening, computer-generated letters for missing a single payment. Threats of collections, credit bureau contact and so forth were all readily present. This brings me to a point of issue. Specifically, if I owe the water reclaimation district $1.83, couldn't they just call me to see what's up, since I usually pay months in advance (in fact, I had sent them $100.00)? This, specifically, is what I dislike about computer-generated mail. They make no distinction between an honest error and a deadbeat. Everyone just gets treated like a criminal pariah right from the get-go, apparently.

More disturbing is the fact that only one phone call was received for four delinquencies. Why? And why not have someone who has the authority to act and view my records call me, instead of a smarmy person who can do nothing but treat me like a deadbeat clown? This is what I don't understand. It's probably about money.

(03/20/08 - 9:23 PM)
Burl Ives has a cool beard.

(03/19/08 - 11:42 PM)
My wife and I have an unnatural affinity for Cadbury Eggs. Every Easter, we get all giddy like schoolgirls when we first see them emerge, and this year was no different. We blew through a goodly amount of them, and when we ran out, I said something akin to, "Yeeps! It's almost Easter! What happens after next weekend?"

It was clear that something must be done. And if you know me, you also know that when I want something I grasp it firmly and yank. I wanted these eggs for longer than the following week, so I formed a plan: I was going to buy them; alot of them.

I went to the store, and found the aisle. As I imagined all of the sad children on Easter morning, I removed an entire cube from the display shelf, leaving an unsightly hole where chocolatey goodness had been only moments before.

This is how insane I am. Let me break down my purchase for you:

( 1 ) - Complete shelf display cube
( 54 ) - Number of four-pack boxes
( 216 ) - Number of individual eggs
( 1,080 ) - Grams of fat in 216 eggs
( 32,400 ) - Number of caolries in 216 eggs
( $95.72 ) - Cost of 216 eggs

It will take us the better part of the summer (and most likely, into the fall) to eat all of these and who knows - maybe we'll get sick of them before then. Somehow, I doubt this though.

As my wife is fond of saying, "You have a problem". What she means by this, is that I never do anything halfway. At least, I'm fairly certain that's what she means. It was hard to tell on this occasion, because as soon as she saw my purchase she proceeded to literally fall on the floor laughing and out of breath.

Then, we each ate an egg.

(03/18/08 - 9:23 PM)
Recently, I saw a commercial for a new Kevin Spacey flick titled "21". While not so much a movie guy anymore, when I saw at the end that it was based on a book, I knew that I had to read that book.

Four minutes later, a copy was on its merry way (I'm compulsive - so sue me) and I was happy.

The book was titled, "Bringing Down The House" and was written by Ben Mezrich. What was interesting about the book was that everything was factual. This was a great story, yes. But, moreover, it was a great story that had actually happened.

The book centers around a former MIT professor and his small team of super-intelligent students who use a mathematical system to legally count cards while playing blackjack. The team(s) (turns out, there are two) hit Vegas for all it's worth, and in the process discover the true meaning of greed. The book chronicles the entire groups' exploits, but is centered around one man - Kevin Lewis - who experiences the whole series of events from a mid-stream recruitment to a severely final expulsion from every major (and minor) casino from coast to coast.

While not a particularly spectacular book, part of its appeal is seeing the underside of a world few of us on the outside know exists. This, for me, was where all the appeal lay: To be able to live this sort of insane lifestyle of money, power, and intellect - if but for the briefest of moments - through the eyes of another. All from the comfort of my own home.

Gambling, and blackjack in particular, are not normally things that I would take any notice of. But here is a book that was well-written, that competently tells a compelling story, and that had me flipping pages for a couple of odd hours much like the main character in the book methodically absorbed hands of blackjack.

I recommend this book as a great aside to anyone who wants to see - and understand - the mind of a master gambler; to live their unique lifestyle in safety, if only for a moment.

(03/17/08 - 11:44 PM)
My Expediting Manager was ill today, so I had to commandeer his role as well as my own for the day. Part of this usurpation of tasks involved divying out work the the new, part-time guy. I hand selected four jobs for him, and at two-thirty, double checked that all was in a state of readiness for his arrival. At four thirty, he arrived. He then let me know that he had three jobs in his area that were no problem, but he also had three pieces of material that didn't go to anything.

I let him know that, in fact, he had four jobs, not three, and the specific material in question did indeed have a print that was in his area for certain. When we walked out to his area to rectify what I was certain was an oversight, it turned out that he was now correct: Only three prints for four sets of material. I looked high and low for the print, and explained to him that the material in question was part of a larger weldment. The first stage of manufacturing the weldment was to mill these three pieces so they could be fit later when the turning operations occured.

"Oh!" he said, "Well, that fellow there came over when I arrived, and as he was looking through the pile of prints, he pulled one out because he said that I wasn't supposed to have it."

It was all so clear to me now. Guess who he pointed to?

Yes, Mr. Phillips Screwdriver. A man that the new part-timer had not yet met during his two previous daytime shifts to get him acclaimated. An individual that I had hinted would be of no help to him whatsoever in the evenings, which was WHY I wanted to acclaimate him during the day when friendly folk were still about. Yep. His first encounter with Mr. Phillips Screwdriver, and this was how it was going. Splendid!

So, I moved kitty-corner into Mr. Phillips Screwdriver's area, and immediately found his stolen booty. There was the print, sure enough. I explained to the new guy - loudly enough for Mr. Phillips Screwdriver to hear, of course - that I wasn't certain why the print had been removed from his custody, as I had personally willed it upon him in the hopes of having that portion of the job completed that evening.

After outlining the situation, and getting progressively louder, I finally got Mr. Phillips Screwdriver's attention.

"Oh!" he said, "I didn't think that he was supposed to have that!"

Okay, fair enough. So I asked what his line of reasoning was. There was a routing with the print, and the parts were with the print. Had he investigated this prior to usurping the parts?


I also inquired as to why I was not immediately advised that there was some sort of problem, so that I could rectify it because I was STILL THERE AT WORK.


Finally, I asked that he not remove anything from anyone else's area without first seeing me from here on out. I figured that if he wanted my job that bad, I could just start being the one who mumbled about the stupidity of everyone not myself and how everything always led back to somehow being the Germans fault.

It still does not cease to amaze me the volume of audacity contained in this man's corporeal housing. Truly, quantification can only occur on some heretofore unknown scale. Perhaps the "Screw" would be metaphorically viable.

(03/16/08 - 10:18 AM)
Greetings all! Plinky the House Elf here. Master Heath is snoring like a torpid hippo on the sofa in the other room, so I thought I would just tiptoe in here to write his blog entry for the day in the hopes of being recognized for my overt kindness. Most likely though, I will just get an extra scrap of toast crust in the morning. But I shall not complain. No indeed; not me. I am not the complaning kind.

For those of you who may not know, I blinked into being only a year or so ago at the behest of Master Heath's imagination. Before that, I was just a random smattering of atomic particles floating blissfully about the Universe and occasionally referred to in a Hawking or Feynman equation. Truly, this existance is far superior to communing with God on a Universal level as I randomly explored the nooks and crannies of the Universe as an immortal being of scattered atoms. But I digress. I shall not complain about my new plight, confined as I am to a small tri-level in the middle of nowhere in the middle of the midwest. Nor will I complain about the sights, sounds and smells surrounding me in my new prison. I am really not the complaining kind.

Being new to this 'corporeal life' gig, and being newer still to being in close proximity to humans - and an even closer proximity (not at my own discretion) to felines - I thought that perhaps I ought to take it upon myself to learn more about each of these in turn.

My findings thus far are perplexing at best. For instance, it appears as though felines fear a man named Bob Barker, prefer a woman named Betty White, and also prefer a food called Iams. What is interesting, is that while Iams is not looking, I noted that felines also seem to give their undivided loyalty to Cat Chow, Fancy Feast, and something called Meow Mix. I have yet to understand this dichotomy of tastes and loyalties, and have concluded that more research is required to pinpoint feline loyalties. Clearly a ruse of mass proportions is occuring, although I cannot determine which is the truly preferred product. Interesting indeed.

Even more interesting is what I have learned about humans. I have only ascertained how to make the television command stick provide one feed at any given moment, and the only channel I have thus far been able to access with success and regularity is something called Lifetime. And I am ever so thankful for this, otherwise I would have never suspected that Master Heath could be so cold, calculating and cruel. According to this channel, the males of the species are all evil, vindictive, predatory monsters with only one thing on their mind: iron-fisted ownership of females. The male of the species will apparently beat the females without warning because they burned dinner. I noted that quickly, as Master Heath cooks sometimes. Interesting.

It is also apparently mandatory for the male of the species to have relations with the females' friends and co-workers, as well as the males' friends and co-workers as well. Sometimes the male of the species will even kill the females for no reason other than to continue these secondary, tertiary and quatranary relationships. This was especially interesting to me, as I would never have known this by observation of Master Heath. He nearly had me fooled that he truly thought the world of Mistress Wanda, and was treating her with the utmost care, love and respect. But I'm onto him now! I shall protect you, Mistress Wanda, when he consumes mass quantities of Bourbon, and subsequently throws the glass over the fireplace as you plead with him that you love him, and he proceeds to strike you back-handedly, thereby reducing you to a tearful heap on the floor. What a monster! I should be thumping him roundly as we speak, but Lifetime has shown me that females' cannot possibly defend themselves against the males without a firearm, and I have none. But I'm watching him ever so closely for my opportunity.

I now know that the females of the species are always correct, courageous, and show nothing more than undying love for their mates, regardless of their inevitable mistreatment by their misanthropic spouses.

Thank you Lifetime for opening my eyes to the silent danger within the confines of my own home. I am certain that if not now, then later, I will owe you my life for it. And I thought the cat was the real monster here. How wrong I was. Men are the real monsters; the slumbering Satans. And Lifetime should be the females' weapon of choice in the fight to destroy them, and create a lesbian utopia.

(03/15/08 - 11:37 PM)
I asked my wife if I could take her car to work today, so that I could get it washed for her. She was so excited.

When I arrived at the car wash, it was the one day when I have seen it in non-functioning order. Outside was a lone, orange road barricade; it's presence mocking the gesture that I had fruitlessly attempted. It figures.

(03/14/08 - 11:06 PM)
I hired an assistant for my assistant today. Like my current assistant, who came in on the very last day - decision day, at the last minute of the last hour - this one also did the same. My boss was about a whisper away from hiring a woman I didn't care for in the least, when I interviewed this other woman at 3:30 on decision day.

I went into his office, and told him, "This is the one we need to hire. Nobody else even comes close."

My boss, God love him, knows a TON about his business: Machining, manufacturing, mechanical things, etc. What he has no idea about is computers and clerical issues. Enter: Me. My job is to help parse out the poseurs from the ubergeeks, and find someone that I can work with on a personal level, as well as a competency level. For whatever reason, he still likes to get involved with the decisions on the clerical/computer side, and his choices always frighten me a little. A great deal, actually.

Once, he hired a fifty-something woman (my first assistant, whom I had no say in hiring) who didn't know a spreadsheet from a time bomb, and who moved like a tranquilized manatee. She was nice, yes; she could work the hours that we required, yes; she would work for what he wanted to pay her. And none of it meant a thing.

When it came time to hire the next one, I begged off and got him to let me do the interviews. He still had the choice, in the end, but I influenced it to no end so that I didn't have to weather another sweet person with no clue. This was how I found my current assistant.

Now, we're so busy (about 40% more volume than last year, which was about 40% more than the year prior to that) that my assistant required an assistant to delegate tasks to. My boss and she wrote up the ad, and started the interview process. He chose two "strong candidates" whom I promptly shot down with gusto, noting to my assistant that I would rather have no one than one of these two.

So, when the girl we hired came in at the last minute, I hoped - prayed - that he would heed my request and hire this one. Mercifully, he did, and I breathed a sigh of relief at the bullet that I had dodged. Specifically, the one in my brain pan when I put myself out of my misery at the thought - or potential reality - of having another 'assistant' whom I would end up babysitting... er... assisting. Unless I get two bucks an hour and full refrigerator privilidges, I'm not about to go down that road again.

(03/13/08 - 11:07 PM)
I received a nasty phone call from one of my Mortgage companies tonight (National City Bank) asking when I was planning on paying the past-due monthly installment on my piggy-back mortgage. The sum? $107.42.

I advised that I had planned on paying it on February 24th - the date I mailed it out in full.

The woman, full smarm in motion, advised that the payment was in fact, not received, and that I was now delinquent and as such I must pay with a check over the phone immediately, or I would be referred to the Credit Bureaus. Yay!

I told her that wasn't a problem, I was happy to pay it, and that it must have been a mail SNAFU somewhere. Then, it got ugly.

To precurse the ugliness, I would just like to point out that I always pay early (sometimes months in advance), and have NEVER missed a single payment, nor had a late payment in the history of the two loans that I have with this institution.

She begins taking the information, but then informs me that I now have to pay a delinquency fee of $38.00, plus a check by phone fee of $15.00 - for each check. For each check?

Yep! You see, I need one check to make the payment, and one to pay the check by phone fees, which is $30.00 now, because I require the second check to pay the first fee. Lovely!

I tell her that there's no way that I'm paying that. I'm happy to pay what I owe, but if I am forced to pay these "extras" that I will, as a matter of course, pull my loans and move them. Further, I wish this documented in her notes, so that anyone who might care can see that they had the opportunity to avoid losing the business. She doesn't really care, and continues residing in smarmy town.

Now I'm pissed. My wife called our loan broker at this institution the next day, and the broker informs her that that's really not her thing, but she'll see what she can do. My wife re-iterates that we will move our loans if something isn't done; if this is the kind of rigid, back against the wall service we can expect after five+ years of prompt and early payments.

As of this moment, we have no positive resolution, nor does any seem forthcoming. The solution? I'm once more going to call upon Ed, my banker of choice. I know that he'll not only make this new loan right for me, I also know that he's there to serve my reasonable needs and requests. This is why to me, it is paramount to deal with individuals who can help you personally, and make decisions such as this without resorting to some faceless corporate clan for a ruling. I'm willing to pay more for services such as these, and wouldn't have it any other way at this point in my life. It's worth the extra cost, to save on the time and effort of fixing crap like this.

Plus, you don't have to deal with some smarmy cold-caller who's God-knows-where and doesn't know you from The Hamburgler. Robble-robble.

Robble Robble!

(03/12/08 - 11:17 PM)

This is a test of the Emergency Blog-Cast System. This is only a test:

We Now Return You To Your Regularly Scheduled Program, Already In Progress

This has been a test of the Emergency Blog-Cast System.
If this had been a real Blog Entry, information would have followed the header.
This concludes our test of the Emergency Blog-Cast System.

(03/11/08 - 11:39 PM)


(03/10/08 - 11:34 PM)
Welcome to another installment of "Heath tries to be funny!" In this episode: TWO 'Yo' momma' jokes! Ready?

"Yo' momma so stupid, she thought Ortega Night was a rare mineral."

"Yo' momma so stupid, she thought that Kotex referred to an ancient, Central American civilization."

(03/09/08 - 01:12 PM)
Yay! More snow! In March! After a record year! I like exclaimation points!

(03/08/08 - 11:42 PM)
My cat decided that I really didn't need to sleep last night, so I finally gave up and got out of bed at around a quarter to seven. Little did he know that today was vaccination day. My fervent hope is that he will see this action as direct retalliation to his sprawling on my legs at night and biting me every time I move. Maybe then he'll let me get some sleep, if he equates not doing so with being poked, prodded, and generally violated in an office filled with the sights, sounds and smells of other animals, their owners, and the obligatory couple of nut-job, suspiciously-single, old ladies who have fourteen-something cats of their own and know - just know! - that even though your pet might indeed be the spawn of the Dark Lord himself that he will surely let them pet him no matter how much you attempt to warn them not to, thereby preventing the resulting lawsuit.

(03/07/08 - 11:39 PM)
I watched "I Am Legend" today. The only real reason was to see how it compared with the book.

It didn't.

The difference - at the risk of sounding too tongue in cheek, here - was night and day.

(03/06/08 - 11:46 PM)
I got a postcard-sized item in the mail today (who knew mail was so interesting?) that was clearly mass-produced, yet supposed that I would not notice this as I gasped for dear breath at the notion of what this important - practically life saving - card was telling me.

It was from the "Vehicle Warranty Division Electronic Notification Center". Where they're located and their affiliations in any official capacity are, of course, a closely guarded secret. Otherwise, just any old person could find them and then that would certainly lead to a terrorist attack on their facility because a service as inherently valuable as the one they are offering is beyond price and without measure. Whatever it might be. I read on...

In a red band on the postcard it read, "Important Vehicle Information". Yeeps! I had better look into this!

It then listed the year and make of my car. Their prescience was, without exception, tacit reason to read on as they clearly knew something important and had chosen the most obvious method - mass-produced post-card thingee - to contact me. Their decision was sound, indeed. Were I only more observant or intelligent, I am certain that I would have, by then, understood the meaning of the card in my very hands.

The remainder of the obverse was simply my name and address. Naturally, I panicked. What were they trying to tell me? How would I find them!

"Oh, woe is me!" I wailed aloud to a cold, soulless room. Yet the only response I received was a condescending meow from the cat as he mocked me openly for my inferior brain function. I was nearly ready to curl up into a fetal ball and begin pounding the top of my head with my fists.

But it turns out that, where an obverse exists, so too does a reverse! At that precise moment, a light shone down upon me from the Heavens above as a high choir of angels harmonized in a state of perfection. That, or someone's headlights flashed through the blinds and I heard a mufflerless S-10 drive by. It was all too emotional to analyze at that exact moment.

Nevertheless, I plodded onward toward the message - my personal message - from the benevolent senders, wherever they may be. The message began simply with a phone number, and the hours to contact the number. I was calming down; everything would be alright. I would receive their message and act upon it accordingly, now that they had thrown me a life-preserver in the form of an 800 number. All was right with the world, until I read the next line:


Important!? Great Charlie Brown in a thong! What had I missed? What was I to do? And then it just got worse!

"If you have difficulty getting through, we may be experiencing a high volume of calls. Keep trying or call back after 11 a.m. Please have your current mileage available"

Egads! I didn't even have my mileage available! Not only was I not getting through by not calling, I wasn't even prepared to call yet! It might already be too late! Too late for what, though? Jeez, I didn't even know that! I wasn't prepared in any sense of the word at all! In light of this, I chose to read on as a means of becoming fully aware of my task, and to prepare for it completely and without omission.

Region: National
Priority Level: High
Vehicle Type: All
Classification: FINAL NOTICE

Oh geez, oh geez, oh geez, oh geez... >breathing into paper sack<. Sweet Jesus, this can't be happening! How did I miss the other notices! I swear to any and all obligatory deities I never saw it... them... eek!

After I calmed down and vigorously interrogated my wife, neighbors, family and postal carrier they all said that they had not seen them either. Now I was thinking conspiracy.

The worst part was that I still don't know what it was that I was supposed to have done! I might be arrested at any moment for non-compliance! Help! Postcard people! I don't know what to do! Please - just one more chance! I swear I'll do whatever you ask. I didn't mean to not comply. Oh, I'm feeling faint... >THUD<

(03/05/08 - 11:53 PM)

"Nobody wants to be Peter Criss, Lois - not even Peter Criss."
- Peter Griffin, "The Family Guy"

(03/04/08 - 11:03 PM)
Today at work, Mr. Phillips Screwdriver came into my office seeking my advice. Probably, that is.

He first accosted my assistant regarding her knowledge of saving files on floppy discs. She politely told him that she was essentially a child of USB's and CD's, so floppies were pretty much foreign to her - like tabouli.

Next up: Me.

So, he tells his tale of woe: How he cannot save a looooong filename with about five periods in it. I begin to respond, but it becomes immediately clear that this conversation is, in fact, another patented monologue. Seriously, I opened my mouth to speak about twelve times and the most that I managed to say was, "erm!"

He tells me that he cannot save the files on disc for this one particular customer only. Now, I know that he's using a Windows based system with a proprietary overlay for his machine. I also suspect that the problem lies in the communication between the two with specific regard to long file names, sans truncation. But it doesn't matter as he has effectively hit the mute button on anyone within a six foot radius and created a small "No Logic Zone" for us all. Yippy!

As his tale winds down, and I stop trying to speak - at all, actually - he lets me know that the crux of the problem is that he had once heard, at a company that he once worked for, that the company that the print in question was for had somehow gotten computer and software manufacturers to get these files to be un-savable so that proprietary information could be prevented from being leaked hither, thither and yon.

And he was deadly serious about this, folks.

Now, the problem is - back in the world of logic and reason - we "smarties" all know that, while some mid-range manufacturing firms do hold some clout - somewhere - the odds of collusion of this magnitude are about as good as a Muppet porno flick. It ain't happenin', no matter how much you wish it to be so.

So, the odds of this story being accurate are nil. Alright, it's impossible. And stupid. There - no more sugar coating. And yet, as he points to his temple and winks, he states once more that he has it all figured out; that collusion has occured and that no one - NO ONE - can save these files because that would allow for the dissemination of proprietary information.

Problem number two: Why not just copy the blueprint and say, "Hey, Bob! Here ya go! Here's something I'm disseminating to you because I should not be, and because I can't write a proprietary program for my specific machine and save it for you, which is what I would really rather do because it's so much more useful to just anyone than a bona-fide blueprint of the component. I hope you can still make the part without that proprietary program that we - the vendor - have written. I know it will be tough working from a complete and accurate blueprint, but you'll just have to make do because those fat-cats at so-and-so corporation are just too smart for us."

Get real.

Finally - FINALLY - I jet out a sentence. "It's a long-filename issue that I'll look into. It appears as though it doesn't like the periods, or the length - or both."

His response? He leaves, and immediately asks my Expediting Manager, "You know anything about floppies?"

And my Expediting Manager, God love him, knows as much about computers as he does yodeling or French cuisine: Bupkis.

Whatever. At least he went away.

(03/03/08 - 10:12 PM)
God has a sense of humor - I'm certain of it. I'm watching Cops - again - and I see a guy flag down an officer. He tells him that a woman has been stabbed, and that the perpetrator has jumped a fence. It's REALLY dark, and the 'fence' is a four-foot high concrete wall. The officer investigates, and sees the man lying below. Fifty feet below, on the railroad tracks. Specifically, the man thought he was jumping a four foot fence. In actuality, this was true. The problem was that beyond that four foot fence, was a fifty-foot drop over a railroad tunnel to a bunch of shale rock and railroad ties and tracks. The man was contorted in a shape that no human being should be able to be in, barely breathing, and lying in garbage and stagnant water.

It's really kind of funny, in a dark sort of way.

(03/02/08 - 10:13 PM)
I finished Tim Dorsey's new book, "Atomic Lobster" last night.

WOW. This was, by far, his funniest book to date. This book actually had me in tears - twice. It was one laugh after another as the most insane story unfolded on the pages before me.

A group of geriatric women run the numbers and find that it's cheaper to perpetually be on a cruise ship than it is to be in a nursing home. So, they pack up and begin their quest for retirement along with the Brimley's (a.k.a. - the available men-folk who've beaten the male/female ratio of old age.)

Back is phenomenal anti-hero and lovable serial killer Serge Storms, who once more finds clever ways to eliminate those he feels have wronged society. Coleman and Rachel are back too in an all out battle to see who can destroy their bodies and brains the fastest, and in the most clever ways.

Serge joins a support group for un-assertive folks to show him how the other half lives, and finds himself in the company of his old, timorous friend Jim Davenport. Davenport has just recently moved, and his over-assertive wife has forced him to join this group, after she agreed to join an anger management group.

The Diaz brothers are also back in a scheme to smuggle yet again, only this time they're tied in with a strange group of sarape-clad men who are not all that they appear, but are still inept nonetheless.

Tex McGraw and family also get involved, with Tex attempting to make good on his word to kill Jim.

There's so many recurring characters and so much intertwining story that you won't get a good deal of it without having read all of his books before. But, having done so, I was richly rewarded with what I feel is his best book to date.

I cannot say enough good things about Tim Dorsey - I just can't. He is at the top of my list of favorite living authors, and his skill at dry - and wet - humor just gets better with age.

Not reading Dorsey? Get on it! What's the matter with you?

(03/01/08 - 09:11 PM)
Ugh. I went in to work at 4:45 this morning, and it just screwed my internal clock up for the rest of the day. We had an order get missed somehow, and a customer who was irate about it. The problem was, we receive a report each week showing open orders to alleviate such a problem in a world of faxes and e-mails, and these items were not on the report for three weeks - and finally showed up 72 hours before they were due.

Our Expediter contacted the customer to discuss the problem; she yelled at him; she hung up on him. Remember the lady who ruined my New Years holiday - this was her. My Expediter called her back; she hung up on him again after telling him that those parts had better be there.

Then, she e-mailed my assistant demanding a written account - in detail - of how such a mistake could occur, and what we were doing to prevent it from ever happening again. She also let my assistant know that she would be contacting the owner to let him know about the events that had been foisted upon her by his incompetent staff.

Too late, honey - we already told him before you threatened us.

Needless to say, I scrambled to get material and get the components run, which is why I had to go in so early: To make sure all went according to plan, and to bring coffee and doughnuts to the good people helping me out on this one.

What was actually humorous about this event, was that on Friday afternoon while we were discussing amongst ourselves in the office how delightful it is to work with this woman, one of our employees came in at the tail end of our conversation and said, "You're not talking about so-and-so, are you?"

Now, we never mentioned any names other than her first, and he has no idea who she is. Turns out, he knows her from past experience. Which explains why, when we advised the affirmative, he simply shook his head and said, "Man. She's a real >choice expletive<."

So, we talked a little, and then another employee came in the office and caught the end of that conversation. "You're not talking about so-and-so, are you?"

Seriously? We said that we were, and he shook his head and said, "Yeah, she's a real treat."

Is this woman on TV, or has her vitriolic presence simply become that ubiquitous? Either way, I'm glad that I'm not the only one who feels violated every time I speak with her.

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