A Twist Of Fate
March, 2010 Entries
"You better cut the pizza in four pieces, because I'm not hungry enough to eat six." - Yogi Berra

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(03/30/10 - 11:06 PM)
I offer today an excerpt from an e-mail that my wife sent me yesterday:

"...Also, I went Highlander to get some tea for this week at work, and some older frumpy guy came up to me in line and said I had pretty hair. Then he asked if he could touch it.

I told him I didn't think my husband would appreciate it.

After he left, the clerk said he was one of the regulars. She said 'He's a nice guy, but a little off his rocker'."

How does a simple compliment go from nice to pervert in .01 seconds? Here's your answer, folks.

(03/29/10 - 11:12 PM)
Let's be frank.

"Hello! I'm Frank!"

There we are. Now that we're being frank, I'd like to point something out. Anything that J.J. Abrams has a hand in is the pinnacle of television (perhaps not so much with Felicity - haven't seen that one). There: I've said it.

I've watched five seasons of "Lost", the first season of "Fringe" and am now in the process of working my way through "Alias". And every drawn out story, plot twist, and episode as a whole leaves one wanting more. How does this guy do it? And why aren't there more like him out there?

Some would say Chris Carter is your guy and yeah - he's good. But no one in my mind outranks the A-man. This guy is television gold. Where does he come up with this stuff? And the actors he has working under him - even the 'who is he/she' ones end up being nothing short of stellar. Where do the casting agents find these guys?

If you're not watching his shows, then you're doing yourself a disservice. You had just better hope that he doesn't find out and put you on a plane.

(03/28/10 - 10:42 AM)
Finished Tim Dorsey's latest book, "Gator A-Go-Go" last night. Finally, Tim is back on the horse, with a fast-paced Serge Storms novel the likes of which we haven't seen in some time. Don't get me wrong - any Serge book, is a good one - but this one excels at being good.

We have intrigue, plot twists, insanity, bong hits, cunning trailer trash and some more insanity all wrapped up in a neat little package.

This one is definately top-notch, and to those of you who are not yet reading his work, I say, 'What in the world are you waiting for?'

(03/27/10 - 9:36 PM)
Spent a short time this morning at work, where several people once more failed to deliver on their promises to show up (shocker, I know.)

Then I came home and got all of my tax documents finalized ('bout damn time, I know) and took them to the accountant so he can see how massively Uncle Sam is going to perpetrate my wallet this year.

Came home, got the checkbook updated (exciting - don't I know it!) Then I decided to finish up the two most recent issues of Wired that I've been neglecting.

As I settled in to read, my neighbor (the one I'm fairly indifferent to, which is about as good as it gets from me) decided today would be a perfect day to take down a beautiful tree in his front yard with a miniature chainsaw.

And so, for the next seven hours, I watched him destroy one of the most lovely trees in the neighborhood (he's going to plant a conifer there! Not enough of those around!)

It was fairly depressing. I actually liked that tree - alot. It was some sort of exotic weeping tree, and had finally grown to a commendable size. Now it's just firewood and ash, leaving a big scar in the yard where it used to live.

So long, tree.

(03/25/10 - 7:37 PM)

Latitude 26-06-59 North
Longitude 80-06-19 West

(03/24/10 - 10:12 PM)
Mr. Phillips Screwdriver likes to play by his own rules (in case you hadn't noticed.) We have procedures at work that he openly ignores, and others that he gets involved with that have no need of him. He's a finicky guy that way.

Sometimes, a job will go to the floor with what is called a routing. The routing is a step-by-step instruction guide of how we (i.e. - the company) wish the component to be manufactured.

Often, Mr. Phillips Screwdriver will take something simplistic and mundane and cross it out on the routing. Then, he will impart his own wisdom via pencil.

He's so charitable.

So, today I get a routing with a part that has come from him. He has brought it into the final inspection area as a completed component. As I study the routing, I find where we are currently at, and then I see this:

Mill Component Complete Per Print
Drill 9.2mm hole

Which - essentially - is the same thing. But here, dear readers, is the REALLY funny part: He changed the routing, to make it >AHEM< 'correct', but he made just one small error. The hole - in fact - was supposed to be 9.52mm. Not only did he modifty the routing incorrectly, but he made the parts incorrectly as well.

Perhaps he expended too much brain power on the alteration. It's difficult to say.

(03/22/10 - 10:06 PM)

Who's got the pickled wieners?
The Biggest Ball Of Twine In Minnesota

(03/21/10 - 9:58 AM)
Spent a fitful night sleeping, only to wake up WAAAAAY too early to my stomach making noises like a battle of Norse Gods all determined to send one another to Valhalla, with the occasional symphony of tree frogs in the background.

As I lay in bed, I got to thinking about something that just seems stupid. Recently, a number of DVD producers have begun shipping their sets/series in what I can only call a cardboard 'wallet'. The position put forth is that it is more environmentally friendly.

While this may be true, how many people are going to be throwing away their DVD television series any time soon? Here's the reality: They scratch your DVD's. I know this, because some of the DVD's I've received in these wallets, when taken out for the first time, are already damaged. And this is especially disturbing now that the distributors of The Simpsons are doing this.

What gives? Who is really benefitting from this packaging? Here's what I know for sure: NOT ME.

(03/20/10 - 5:37 PM)
Spent the day working on the media library (shocking, I know.)

Downloaded three Starcastle albums from the 70's, and found them to be amazingly addictive. Starcastle was a band that I never would have found (much like Angel, who's CD's I now have all of as well) had it not been for my friend (and former Angel, Journey & R.E.O. Speedwagon electrical roadie), Norm.

At first, I couldn't get into the whole Starcastle/Angel thing, but something snapped in my head and I said to myself, "This is different: this is good!"

The rest is history. Starcastle reminds me (and clearly, others), of Yes. And this isn't a bad thing. They have a similar feel, but I actually like them better.

So, if you've never heard of either band, then give them a go! I haven't been so struck by a band's uniqueness since I first discovered The Electric Light Orchestra, which is debatably one of the greatest bands of all time. And certainly one of my favorites.

(03/19/10 - 9:22 PM)
Had a fairly slow morning at work, so I managed to get caught up on some back-burner items I had been letting slide for the past few weeks.

The afternoon seemed to explode after everyone got back from lunch, so what I thought would be a short day ended up being an overtime day.

Sometimes, you just never can tell.

Came home late, and by the time we got our chores done, the evening was getting on. We were supposed to go to my Boss' wife's surprise party, but we just didn't have the energy at that point. Instead, we elected to just order pizza and call it an evening. We felt bad, but we were just too tired from our respective work days - physically and mentally.

When I ordered the pizza, I asked the girl on the phone (who by now knows me as 'the guy who knows his total and whom you do not have to call back'), "Does anyone ever order a triple cheese pizza? Does such a thing even exist?"

After asking, all I could think was, 'She must think I'm nuts.'

Much to my surprise, however, the answer to both questions was 'yes'. Who knew? Then she proceeded to ask if I wanted one.

I politely declined.

(03/18/10 - 11:13 PM)
Has anyone else heard rumors of a live-action Smurfs movie?

All I kept thinking was, "Who in the hell wants to see this?"

Peyo must be turning over in his grave. Or laughing his way to the bank. As I understand it, he's something of a recluse/eccentric, and I'm too lazy to research the facts.

(03/17/10 - 8:11 PM)
I got wind of an incident that occurred last night. Apparently, Mr. Phillips Screwdriver ran out of a certain type of tools (this isn't supposed to happen - if you are getting close to running out, you get ahold of me and I give you more.) Of course, his lack of foresight 'drove' him to do something that I have, in the past (on numerous occasions) explicitly forbidden him to do: He scavenged someone else's tooling without their prior knowledge.

I'm not sure of how it came to pass that our CNC Turning Center operator on second shift got involved in the whole thing, but two scenarios come to mind: Mr. Phillips Screwdriver went over and bothered him (most likely) or the CNC Operator wondered why Mr. Phillips Screwdriver was over in an area he had no business being in, and in the interest of productivity went to see what was up (possible, but not likely.)

So, Mr. Phillips Screwdriver explains his dilemma to his now captive audience.

Let me take a step back: On each box of inserts (which are small carbide pieces that are changable into and out of a tool as they go dull or break) there is what is known as ISO nomenclature. The International Standards Organization has developed standards to identify and quantify these tools across the board to avoid the inevitable confusion of proprietary codes across the broad spectrum of vendors out there.

The inserts Mr. Phillips Screwdriver was seeking were from a certain company, in a certain colored box (each company seems to have their own box color) in a certain size, style, and grade.

He appeared to have the right ones that he had squirrled away from the other operators' area, but he was consternated, as the numbers on the box didn't match where he believed they should.

"See - here," he pointed out to my CNC Operator, "These seem to match, but these numbers don't match, and I think this is the grade. What should I do?"

Aha! A perfect question to ask a LATHE operator, who uses LATHE tools, about MILL inserts! Genius!

The Operator, in a show of good sportsmanship assessed the situation, and immediately saw the flaw in his time-thief's logic.

"Mr. Phillips Screwdriver," he began, "Those numbers on those stickers are dates. They appear to be when the inserts were purchased from the tier-2 vendor, to be sent to us."

And he was dead correct. Want to know how the numbers looked?

'03/08/2010' versus '03/10/2010'. These were the numbers that Mr. Phillips Screwdriver was just certain were the grades.

I can't even begin to understand how that happened. I really can't.

(03/15/10 - 10:22 PM)
I have some advice to impart. It's advice that I myself only recently took. And shame on me, because I too have been victimized.

It's simple advice, and it's simple to implement, and yet far too many people don't until it's too late. Myself included.

Microsoft Internet Explorer has become something of a defacto standard for internet browsing. While I realize that not everyone out there is using it, I also realize that those who are are walking a perilous path that will - at some time - almost certainly collide with misery and anxiety.

My advice? Take ten minutes and download redundant browsers. Here are links to two that I like:

Mozilla Firefox

Apple Safari

Who knows: you might even like one or the other better than the one you're using now.

What I can say for sure is this: You will always have a way to fix your crippled or corrupted browser when it goes all wonky, rather than having to rely on some kind soul you know to fix it for you. Or, if you're truly unfortunate, having to pay someone.

I shudder at that thought.

This just happened to Wanda's Grandmother, and it was a stark reminder to myself to get this message out (and to get my butt in gear and go redundant myself, so I wasn't too big of a hypocrite.)

Just my two cents.

(03/14/10 - 8:26 PM)

Still Wanted In Four Countries!

(03/13/10 - 3:43 PM)
Just got home from work (ask me how fun that was!) I'm in pain, and wasn't really going to go in today. I was actually going to call someone to let them know that I wasn't going to make it, because I had said that I would be there (figuring that my muscle would be better by now - not even close!) As I was exiting the shower, my Boss called, and asked when I was coming in because he wanted me to check something.

Well, that clinched it. He knew I was hurt, and still called: He must really need me there, and I wasn't going to disappoint him.

I got dressed and made my way over to the shop where, it turns out, he didn't so much need me to inspect that one thing (others could have - in fact - done so.) It turns out that about a half-hour into being there, he asked if I could type up a four-page report for his church meeting tomorrow. The reason? My Assistant was supposed to be in that morning, but she had elected to take work home with her in lieu of coming in, and had let no one know.

So, I was there for this. I got it now.

I told him that was fine, but I wished that he had just said so. We could have faxed back and forth, or I could have asked my wife to go and get it. Instead, I did another 4 1/2 hours of damage to my already painful muscle.

Good times!

(03/12/10 - 9:13 PM)
This morning in the shower, I felt what I assume to be one of my inter-costal muscles get seriously damaged (that's one of the happy ones that runs between your ribs.) This has only happened once before, about two years ago and to the same muscle. The first time it felt like I went momentarily blind with pain, doubled over, and it felt like an M80 had gone off in my chest. I'm not exaggerating in the least, either. It was extreme.

So, imagine my surprise when I decide to shampoo my hair and the same thing happens again. Yippee!

I cannot breathe, I cannot move, and for the briefest moment, I think that death might not be as bad as all this.

Eventually, I make it through the shower, but I can't even begin to hide from my wife the fact that I am hurting something fierce.

I make it to work, and it becomes obvious to everyone present within a matter of minutes that Heath ain't right. Fortunately, my co-workers go all matronly on me when this happens (usually it's my back that goes out) and try and take care of me, and keep me from injuring myself further. They can be so keen, sometimes.

So I struggle through the day, desperately wishing for a painkiller but knowing that I won't survive getting in my car to go and get one. So I just tought it out.

I get home, and finally get my painkiller from my dwindling stash. I hoard them, because when my back goes, I still have to go to work. But it's not like they grow on trees, so I try and use them sparingly and only when the pain is just too awful.

I finally manage to find a position that I can sit in, and spend the remainder of my evening essentially motionless.


(03/11/10 - 10:26 PM)

"The truth about after, is it causes before." - Stuart Davis

(03/10/10 - 10:08 PM)
I'm nearing the end of my work day. Second shift has checked in, and I'm thinking about getting some real work accomplished in the lull of the late afternoon.

Suddenly, my Expediter comes into my office, clearly flustered, and says:

"Heath, can you please go and see Mr. Phillips Screwdriver. He's ranting about a tap that he thinks the print is calling out incorrectly, and I don't have any more energy to deal with him. "

Fair enough.

So, I make my way to the floor to find Mr. Phillips Screwdriver essentially making laps around the tap cabinets and doing nothing in particular.

"Mr. Phillips Screwdriver?" I say, "What seems to be the trouble?"

At this, rather than stopping to speak with me, he immediately changes directions and hustles toward his machine.

To the outside observer, it would appear as though my halitosis has driven him away like a Vampire from garlic. To anyone in the know, you would realize that that was the international sign to follow him.

It takes a while to master these subtle nuances of his.

So, I sigh and follow. Immediately upon reaching his machine (And before I'm totally there) the 'speaking-in-tongues' monologue begins. I'll give you a brief glimpse of what this is like:

"This part, uh, small tap... not standard... too small... they want... I dunno!... can't find... spaceman."

Alright, the spaceman part I might have thrown in for color.

So, I do what any good manager would do - I shut him up and make him talk to me in cohesive chunks.

"Hang on," I implore. "Let's look at the tap in question."

It turns out it's a tiny, 2mm jobbie. Tiny, yes. Incorrect, no.

After much conversational parsing, I come to the conclusion that he's concerned there's been an error on the print (there hasn't - just because it's small, doesn't negate it's relavance. Which is good, because otherwise my wife would... you know what? Nevermind.)

He's also telling me that we don't have said tap in our inventory.

So, I ask the obvious, "Have you checked both the plug taps AND the bottoming taps? Because you really need a bottoming tap in this situation, anyway."

Rather than replying, he says, "Well, it's an odd size!" And nothing more.

So, I ask once more, "Have you checked the bottoming and the plug tap drawers?"

"It's an odd size, I dunno why they want this!" And, again nothing more.

I realize that he's on planet Screwdriver right now, and that the only way I can save my time and temper is to simply check for myself.

As I'm making my way to the drawer where I now know he hasn't looked, I ask once more. "Have you checked the bottoming and the plug tap drawers?"

"Yes! It's such an odd size, I dunno why they want this!"

Uh, yeah. I got that, Mr. P.S. As he's saying this, I'm opening the drawer. And lo and behold, there in front of me, is the tap in question. Like a shining beacon of hope in a little fluted stick of metal.

"Here's the tap that you should be using." I say patiently. "You see, it's a bottoming tap, so the long, pointy lead has been removed to tap into those hard to reach places like the one you're attempting. There's a string of bearing balls in that block you're tapping, and if you go too deep, you'll ruin the bearing block."

At this he looks at the tap and says, "Well, there's no lead on this one!"

Are you even listening - AT ALL?

"I realize that," I say, and then re-iterate the importance of keeping the tap and tap drill shallow so as not to damage the bearing block. I also re-iterate that this tap is, in fact, the cats' pajamas for what he's doing.

"Well," he says, "I'm going to have to use this one, but the lead is gone, so... I dunno. I don't understand why they want such a small tap. It's almost never used!"


What's really bad, is that he kept me in his gravity long enough to say this same thing thrice more, without (apparently) hearing my continuous rebuffs to the contrary.

Eventually the components got done. But at what cost?

(03/09/10 - 10:16 PM)
Am I the only one who has ultra-vivid dreams?

Let me explain: Some people have vague dreams of falling or whatever. Mine are like a $300 million dollar James Cameron production with overlapping storylines, dozens of clearly identifiable characters with clear motives, and settings and special effects that would make Peter Jackson drool.

All my life, my dreams have been vivid. But in later years, they've become nothing short of epic.

And I've died in my dreams - twice. Once was so realistic, that when I took the bullet to the head (don't ask) I actually injured my neck in the real world from the backlash. And, instead of going to God's big corral in the sky (as legend would have you believe), I instead went ex-corporeal and watched the cops and the medical examiner do their thing with my lifeless body.

Weird, I know.

I have no idea what part of the brain causes dreams to be this deep; this diverse; this intertwining. But the one I had last night was the mother of them all.

I was just curious if I was the only one.

(03/07/10 - 9:22 AM)
Welcome to a Sunday installment of 'Heath Tries To Be Funny!'

One day, a dock builder was doing his job. It was a sunny day on a gorgeous lake, and the wind was lilting lazily over everything when he was suddenly struck by lightning.

After recovering, he returned to finish the job.

The next morning, he received a call from the owner, stating that he was not paying for two docks. Puzzled, the man went to take a look and, sure enough, where one had been there were now two.

As he was observing this strange event, his cell phone began to ring like mad, as former customer after former customer began calling and citing a similar situation.

The man was puzzled, and did not know where to turn, so he called a locally known psychic and self-professed master of the occult.

After listening patiently to the man, the psychic responded, "Oh, that's an easy one. You have what we in the industry call a 'Paradox'."

(03/06/10 - 10:24 PM)
Went to work this morning (hooray for over-overtime!)

Then came home and did some chores around the house and worked on the media library (like that should be any surprise to you hardcore blog-o-philes out there.)

Wanda and her sister went shopping for an interview outfit for Dena's upcoming big interview (you go girl!), and then she stopped over for a bit and visited.

My Dad called me about thirty minutes before I got the opportunity to call him. Honest to God, I was going to, so it was ironic that he beat me to the punch. I'm still not sure that he believed me, but it was good to talk with him for a bit.

Wanda and I settled in this evening to finish up a series that I stumbled upon accidentally on Amazon.com called "JPod". The only reason it piqued my interest was that it was based on Douglas Coupland's book of the same name (his second-best work, in my opinion, just behind "Microserfs").

I ordered it used, and it's turned out to be a must-see show. It stars Alan Thicke as an alcoholic, misogynistic, washed-up, actor who is married to a June Cleaver-type who just happens to have a grow op in her basement. And I hated Alan Thicke - until now.

The social commentary in this show is seriously rampant, but it's so fresh - and Coupland's influence is so crystal clear - that you just can't help but love the characters - all of them - to death. This show is freaking amazing.

It doesn't appear that this show went into a second season. Nor does it appear that the DVD release 'error' of episode eight stopping mid-episode never to be seen again was ever fixed. And somehow, that's okay.

You'll treasure what you do see and, if you're like us, you'll pine for more.

(03/04/10 - 9:43 PM)
I received my package from the East Coast today, containing a product that a week ago I was unaware even existed (thanks television!) It's a locally-distributed product called 'Autocrat Coffee Syrup', and it's used to make Coffee-Milk which, incidentally, is the official state drink of Rhode Island.

Man, you guys sure know how to party over there.

Seriously though, this is one of three products I was enlightened about as a potential replacement for my now Canadian-only coffee syrup. The reviews of this, and the other two products, weren't stellar. But I figured that I'm good at tweaking things to taste, and after my first go of this stuff (not as bad as everyone made it out to be, but definately not the same as what I was hoping for, either) I think I've come up with a solution.

I'll let you know how it goes.

(03/03/10 - 10:13 PM)
Someone in the shop had the Styx song, "The Grand Illusion" playing today, and as I was listening along, I noted - for the first time in probably forty or fifty listens - the stupidity of one particular verse:

"...don't be fooled by the radio; the TV, or the magazines... who show you photographs of how your life should be..."

And my first thought was, "How does radio show you pictures?"

Why I had never had this thought, I'll never know.

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