A Twist Of Fate
May, 2007 Entries
As seen in Angry Consumer magazine and Bitchy Fat Guys: An American Epidemic on The Discovery Times Channel

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(05/31/07 - 9:09 PM)
Welcome to the last day in what was debatably the single most God-awful month in my entire life. Pretty much everything that could possibly go wrong, went wrong. Here are some highlights:

  • We were informed that we had not registered our cat (we had) and that we would be charged a double fee/fine for not doing so; but if we had, then we had to take the time to prove it.
  • The aforementioned cat has decided that this month would be a great one for exploring every high spot in the house. As a consequence, all of my nice furniture now has oodles and loads of brand-spankin' new claw holes. Yay! As an extra added bonus, he also got into all sorts of food this month, including ruining a whole bag of fortune cookies, as well as other foodstuffs in cookie form.
  • I found a rare book from a reputable source, got excited, found a major flaw, had to ship it back, and I was still out $20.00 due to how I shipped it back after "reminding" the vendor about our pre-arranged agreement.
  • Everyone at work took pills apparently geared toward doing everything in their power to make steam shoot out of my ears, and to allow the customers the maximum amount of reason to bitch me out over and over.
  • I got a "New, unread, pristine" book that was torn - and then taped. How is this new and unread? This was the third - count em' - the third book that I had to go to the trouble of returning in this month alone.
  • My phone did not work the one night that I actually needed it to - but, it was okay: I was informed that within 30-some odd hours, it would probably work again. This, only after I got the Verizon 800 number to finally take on my cell phone, instead of getting the message that I could not dial that number from my calling area over, and over, and over again...
  • I tried to schedule a haircut with a receptionist who thought it would be fun to holler out names to try and guess who I was instead of just listening to me for a few seconds so I could get on with my life: "Craig? Kevin? Kirk? Larry?..." Honest to God, I can't make this stuff up.
  • I had to deal with a credit card fraud at work, which ground purchasing to a lovely halt for a day or so, as someone in California decided to buy something nice for themselves at Best Buy with our companies' credit card.
  • I had one customer who my employees' soul duty was to do things that would irritate him to no end - from mis-processing the order, to putting holes in the wrong place, to scrapping critical parts, to mis-labeling and incorrectly documenting the items themselves, to... need I go on?
  • I had a yardful of garbage on several occasions, because my neighbors cannot seem to figure out how to properly use trash bags and associated receptacles on trash day - ever.
  • My neighbors continue to allow their cat outside even though I have plead with them not to, as he plops right on my deck to piss off my cat just as soon as he's out, and then my cat freaks out, attacks the sliding door glass, and throws up. That is, when the neighbors' cat isn't pooping in my yard, which he is also fond of.
  • I had to deal with one of my new employees who is, apparently, an extremely long-winded version of God himself, as he knows just every little thing about every little thing. And, no matter how wrong he is, he just explains to you (ala Grandpa Simpson) how it is in fact you who are mistaken - in no uncertain terms wile wielding all the warmth and cuddliness of a cactus-addled porcupine on lithium.
  • My repair service vendors for my machines are apparently trying to send their kids to college this month, what with my having been charged for everything from complete incompetence to parts that should be warrantied.
  • My $1,000.00 digital height gage started reading whatever measurements it felt like on my two most mission-critical jobs in house, and had to subsequently be sent God-knows-where for an indeterminate amount of time to be repaired.
  • We blew up over $1,200.00 in cutters on a job that has taken a full week longer than it ever should have - and still isn't done.
  • My knee is once again hurting in new and exciting ways, having not properly healed from my previous injury from months ago.

Dear June:
Please come soon.

Love & Kisses,

(05/30/07 - 9:47 PM)
Oh! The joys of walking on a quiet evening through your neighborhood! The sights! The sounds! The jelly-roll dogs wagging and barking at the same time as they ponder whether it would be better to be petted or to run you off like the cur your probably are! The jackass neighbor kids! Wait - the jackass neighbor kids?

Oh, yes: Them.

He approached from behind as we walked through the subdivision across from ours, fondly known as "the land of folks with fifty grand more to spend". He sounded like an ordinary jogger: clop, clop, clop, clop went the rythmic percussion of his sneakers on pavement. The strange thing was, he was not passing us, which was odd as he was clearly running, and we were walking.

Clop, clop, clop, clop, clop, clop...

And then, the cymbal crash. >PSSSSSSH!!!<

What the shit? I turned, startled, only to see a pre-pubescent jackass running away now, his deed done. In his hands, a pair of 10" cymbals, a mischievious grin on his face.

What in the hell is wrong with kids? Who, in their right mind, decided that it would be fun to - in broad daylight, and in full view of his neighbors, mind you - run up behind two strangers and clash your cymbals together?

We're all doomed. DOOMED.

(05/29/07 - 1:22 PM)
Jeffrey Eugenides "The Virgin Suicides" reads like a Douglas Coupland novel, sans motivation. With Coupland, at least we understand the motivations of the characters. In this novel, however, we are only offered furtive - and speculative, at best - glimpses into the minds of the Lisbon family as it unravels irreconcilably before our very eyes.

That is not to say that this is a bad book. It is engaging, and offers a compassionate view into the lives of the five Lisbon daughters and their parents as they slide - controllably - into their own personal oblivions. What is most disturbing, is that it seems as though this oblivious behavior could be gently curbed at any time, yet no one chooses to do so. The very ideals that the matron in the novel imparts to keep her girls safe and proper seem to be an intregal part of what compels them to their ultimate ends.

In the end, it feels as though the family is viewed in a manner which they have invented for themselves: that of some strange, nocturnal form of life in a dark aquarium on display for only the most hale and hearty of scientific observers to view and possibly comprehend.

The book is frought with sadness and emotion, yet I found myself feeling most sympathetic not with the family itself but with the narrator of the tale. His (and his companions) seems almost the greatest loss: A loss measured in solemn remembrances of things that might have been in a different time and place; of infinitesimally short distances yearning to be crossed without the slightest notion of how to succeed in doing so, as all the while the objects of their sincere affection race toward personal annihilation before their altogether helpless eyes.

This subtle and sincere point of view is what makes the novel significant. We obtain a compassionate outsiders view of beauty and life as they are slowly and methodically corrupted, all the while acknowledging the undeniable potential slipping away, piece by piece, until there is simply nothing left to give over. And we, a mere observer as the narrator is, are powerless to stop it.

Recommended Reading:
"Generation X" - Douglas Coupland

(05/28/07 - 10:22 AM)
Happy Mammarial Day everyone!

What's that dear? It's WHAT, now? Memorial Day? Really? Are you sure? Veteran's, you say? Sure, they certainly deserve our thanks, but are you entirely certain?

Oh, this is great - just great! What in the heck am I supposed to do with these twenty-five hundred strap on plastic novelty busts, then? Tell me that!

On second thought, I'll be in the basement for a while. No calls.

(05/27/07 - 09:05 AM)
How is it that the books that are supposed to blow my mind don't necessarily, but a book that takes a sideline blows me away?

I'll assume that you answered, "I don't know."

I don't know either.

But Haruki Murakami's "South Of The Border, West Of The Sun" is such a novel.

Let me first say that a major difficulty that I had with this work was its subject matter. Murakami seems to believe that infidelity-via-misery and hastily made bad decisions is alright. I disagree - but, then, I'm fortunate enough (unlike his characters) to have grabbed hold of that one amazing chance at happiness instead of letting it slip away (which I almost did), pining for it, and letting it ruin all the stupid decisions that I made thereafter. So, I can't exactly relate to the characters, either.

Anyway, the book. The book - subject matter aside - was so well written its almost palpable, in an ethereal sort of way. It wasn't so much a glimpse into the lives of these people as it was a keen insight bordering on voyeuristic. And I don't mean this in a perverse, sexual sense. Rather, I felt as though I were a part of each character. I could feel what they felt, and could comprehend their motivations completely - even sympathetically, no matter how twisted their logic - based wholly on Murakami's masterful storytelling.

The story arc traces the life of the main character - Hajimi - from twelve-year-old pre-pubescence to thirty-seven year old misery. He fell in love with a local girl when they were both twelve, but neither of them understood how to act upon their new-found feelings at such an early age. Then, as he got older, he made two mistakes that a good many men - at that age, or otherwise - do: He was selfish, and he stopped thinking with his brain.

The rest of his life was a hollow, successful, storybook misery. The greatest problem is: he begins accumulating accessories to his misery, only to begin reuniting, piece by piece, with the ruination of his past on many levels - a ruination that spills uncomfortably over into his present as well.

I'll be honest: I almost feel guilty liking this book as much as I do. It seems to imply that I somehow condone the actions of the characters by merely understanding them - I don't. But it is a story at its heart, and if one can de-personalize it and enjoy it for what it is, it is nothing short of phenomenal. And, for me, it makes me all the more aware of how truly fortunate I am for having found my wife.

There is a line in a song that rang true the moment I first heard it, "There is something about having everything you ever need, sitting in the seat next to you."

Yep. There sure is.

(05/26/07 - 11:07 PM)
For the sake of posterity, I re-read "Snow Crash" (the copy that I had) as I had not read it in something like ten years. Turns out, it's still fantastic.

Hiro Protagonist works for Uncle Enzo's La Cosa Nostra Pizza Delivery by day, and lives - and hacks - from a U-Stor-It warehouse by night. He lives both in this realm, and the three-dimensional Metaverse which he helped to create.

Society has broken down into enclaves, and the law of tooth and fang are in full effect. Sumarian mythology has invaded the modern day, and a proverbial apocalypse of the mind is not far behind. The Metaverse has invaded real life - and it's taking out hackers and programmers via a new drug - Snow Crash.

This book is so out there, that it becomes immediately, wholly plausible. It's a warped vision of what is probably very much akin to our true future as a society. And it's witty in a twisted way, which you simply have to appreciate.

Oh, my gosh, read this book.

Recommended Reading:
"Jennifer Government" - Max Barry
"Market Forces" - Richard K. Morgan

(05/25/07 - 11:13 PM)
I got to thinking the other day, philosophically speaking. Imagine life as a computer program - an executable file. Once the "Enter" (or "Return") key is hit, the program begins running. Once that key is hit, is it fair to say that the program exists?

Now, imagine that not only individual life itself is a program, but imagine that humanity is a program - Humanity 1.0 - and it has been running for some time. It is a distributed program running on many processors - people - and we have not yet reached the completion just yet.

Now, imagine God. He's sitting at a big desk (it's a nice desk), watching the ethereal equivalent of a computer screen. Humanity 1.0 is running along, and doing all sorts of amazing things - some wonderous, some scary as hell. But it's running, and has existed in some shape or form since the "Enter" key was hit and the executable began.

So, here's God; hanging out, thinking big thoughts about how to further baffle scientists about the Universe, when his screen changes and does something that it has never done before. Four simple words pop up - four words familiar to anyone who has ever had a hard time with a drive or program of any kind. They are:

Abort, Retry, or Fail?

He scratches his head. There must be a bug in the software - maybe it's that pesky manatee subroutine that he subcontracted. He is not sure.

After some thought, he poises his pointer finger over the keyboard, his decision made.

Which button do you want him to press?

(05/24/07 - 10:21 PM)

>Logon, JAMF, 16:05:37 05/24/07 | Port 2, 3 lines in use.

***JAMF has just entered the Teleconference!***

From JAMF: HELO!!!!!!!!!!!
JAMF is laughing maniacally!
JAMF is tickling you!
JAMF is licking you up and down!
From JAMF: R U A SYSOP???????
JAMF is drop-kicking you like a football!

***JAMF just vanished from the Teleconference!***

>Logoff JAMF, 16:06:58 05/24/07 | Port 2, 2 lines in use.

(05/23/07 - 08:53 PM)
I received an e-mail yesterday, that said:
"Please quote this item in the following quantities: 0, 25 & 50. Thank you!"

If you didn't get it on the first read, give it time or try again.

(05/22/07 - 06:53 PM)
There is an old addage that states: If something seems too good to be true, then it probably is.

I received "Snow Crash" in the mail today. It was nearly flawless - nearly. Along the spine of the jacket was a yellowish stain of indeterminate origin that had permeated though the jacket protector, and stained the jacket itself. In low light, it was scarcely noticable; but in regular light it stuck out like a coffee stain on a wedding dress.

Somehow, I knew that I shouldn't get my hopes up. >SIGH< But I figured that this was a sure thing.

The up side? I'm getting a refund on my credit card. Still, though - I'd rather have the book.

(05/21/07 - 06:53 PM)
Bluetooth. Sure, we've all heard that word - but what does it mean? Where does the term come from? Why do I sometimes have the uncontrollable urge to wear lip gloss? Er... scratch that last one - it isn't germane.

Lemme help you out there. A long time ago, in our very own galaxy, in fact, was a Danish King named Harold the Bluetooth (or Harold Bluetooth - I'm not entirely clear on this point.) Anyway, old Harold's claim to fame was bringing warring and quibbling factions together to discuss things without any pancrea-stabbing or name calling. As such, Bluetooth technology is analogous to this fateful event of yore, as it brings together many disparate devices to work in harmony for the betterment of the whole. Kind of like the Manson commune, but without all the weird singing and God complexes. Keen.

Changing gears rapidly now:
Do you have a Verizon cell phone? Want to make all of the stuff that should work on it (but was mysteriously turned off for some strange reason not in any way connected with Verizon's separate and proprietary offerings [i.e. - MP3 capabilities, internet, etc.]) work on it once more? Try pressing "0" from the main menu. I know, I know, you're saying, "But Heath - there is no menu choice zero!"

That's okay, do it anyway. Prompted for a password? No worries. Keep pressing zero until it's all full up, and voila - you're into the programming area of the phone. A word of warning, though: if you are unsure what it does, don't press it. Otherwise, enjoy sticking it to the man!

(05/20/07 - 09:43 AM)
I found a new mini-series on the evolution of the personal computer on one of the Discovery Channels last night, that took old footage from prior programs in the past, as well as interviews of key individuals (some of whom are now deceased.)

This is a subject, as those of you who know me are painfully aware, that absolutely floors me. When I was young, my only desire was to do something amazing with a box of silicon and an arcane computer language. Unfortunately, I latched onto this dream a little too late in life, and as such never made my mark as a 'hacker' in the original sense of the word. At least, I almost didn't.

There was a very brief moment - very brief, indeed - when I made a small contribution to the burgeoning computer world. A unique contribution that no one else had made, and something that no one else had done before. This was my one - and only - moment in the sun.

For a time, I worked for a company that supplied voice mail and automated attendant systems to anyone who desired them. This was when cell phones were just hitting the mainstream, and the pager was still the trendy communication device of choice. This company was started by a guy who had already made a name for himself in the local prefecture by dominating the market in the pager and two-way radio business. He was made an offer that he could not refuse, and from the ashes of that business, came the new one. Voicemail - the wave of the future.

We had a mutual aquaintance who knew that I was a computer junkie, and this guy that he knew well needed someone who was young and had no pre-conceived notions about what computers could and could not do. We were put together, and initially I either declined the job, or the President declined me - to be perfectly honest, I don't now recall which it was. But a short time later, something had changed and I accepted when the offer was made anew.

I was paid to do essentially nothing but think all day. This may sound like a dream job to you, but thinking all day is actually tough. If you don't think of something after a while, it really gets to you. I began receiving trade publications from the FCC, and other trade groups and I would read them from cover to cover regardless of content. I was seeking ancillary knowledge so that when the big idea came, I would be ready. Plus, I got to learn more about multiplexing, Reed Hunt and FCC spectrum auctions than any human being should have to know. In my spare time, I began cataloging acronyms and abbreviations into a searchable format via the then fledgling technology of GUI HTML. This, for a brief time, was the largest directory of its kind in the world (Heath's Computer & Telecommunications Acronym Directory), and I would get e-mails from folks at Fortune 100 companies and other countries with additions, clarifications, and thank you's. That was cool as hell, in and of itself. It was short lived, but for a fleeting moment, my web site was the pinnacle of this arcane, backwater service - explaining the inexplicable acronyms and abbreviations that were packed into the lingo of telecommunications and computers. These were often explained once, and then bandied about for the remainder of their useful lives without clarification as though you should have committed it to memory and it was not the writer's fault if you had not. I got tired of this, and apparently I was not the only one. Further, I began to wonder if the people who wrote about these technologies even knew what the acronyms they were conveying meant themselves. Often, I was certain that they did not.

So, I played with the super-expensive mainframe each day, seeking the next big idea. I learned BASH (Bourne Again Shell), SCO (Santa Cruz Operations) Unix, and a handful of other shells to a point where I could get around (octets, anyone?) and started picking apart the brain of this massive machine, connected to the world by trunk lines. This was essentially a telephone switch - the same as those that your local phone company has hidden in their non-descript buildings around the city running AT&T SS7. We had our very own switch hard-wired into the world's telephone network. This was not something that one sees everyday, and machines such as this comprised the telephony system of entire countries. This machine was big iron in a small package, and I found it profoundly mesmerizing: all of that power at my fingertips. 'Awe' does not even begin to convey the sensation that I felt every time I looked at this amazing machine.

I got to know people at LCI communications and even Glenayre, the manufacturer of the mainframe. What struck me was that some of the people I talked to at Glenayre weren't suits - rather, they were geeks, just like me. It was one of the most exciting revelations of my life, and I grasped it with both hands and a foot.

As I made my way through the machines' capabilities, everything was fairly straightforward. What wasn't, was answered with a quick call to these geeks whom I was becoming more and more familiar with by the day. They actually liked when I called, because we bandied ideas about as we talked. I realized that we were actually learning from each other. This machine was so new that even they did not realize its full potential, much like Intel and its fabled 8080 chip. They made the device, and geeks made it a resounding success with what they had made it do.

As I moved through the features, it became more and more clear that one among all the others was something of a black art. Whenever I asked a question about the Bulletin Board feature it either went unanswered, or was answered theoretically. Interesting, I thought. I now realized that if I were going to do anything to contribute to computing in my lifetime, it would be with the Bulletin Board add-on. I made it my business to learn everything about this feature, and then invent random ways to exploit what I felt more and more to be its amazing abilities.

So, I began setting goals for myself: could I dial into it, and then have it dial out to a third system? The folks at Glenayre said that they didn't think so.

Turns out, they weren't quite correct and a day or two later I faxed them the specifications on how the parameters needed to be set to 'trick' the machine into doing just this. And the response I got was electrifying. They were not only excited, they wanted me to talk to so and so. What the heck was this all about, I wondered?

The story I had not been told up to this point, went something like this:
The fellow that had written this application for the machine had done so as something of a pet project on the side. The company realized that it had great potential, if it could be made to work, and so they decided to sell it as an add-on feature that cost extra. The guy who wrote it was on his way to Norway to setup a mass of these mainframes and would be gone for months. Before he left, he threw together a rudimentary manual on the abilities of this feature. A manual, it turns out, that might just as well have been written in Sanskrit. It was incomplete and did not truly reflect the abilities of this powerful piece of software that he had written.

I was floored when they confided this to me, but there was more. I was the only one, to their knowledge, that was messing with this feature at this point; it had not been a big seller, and was only recently made available to begin with. IN THE WORLD - JUST ME. I was both shocked and elated - how could such an amazing tool be so overlooked? Their answer was simple - no one knew how to use it, and no one was interested in hard-selling it until they did. But my boss liked computer toys more than me, so I suspect that was why we had it - he didn't know its potential, but it was available. So, he bought it.

Now I was really excited. Each day I would make progress, and once a week or so I would call Glenayre to ask a question - usually one that no one could answer - and I would also fax them my progress. Then the phone calls began coming the other way. Glenayre started calling me; a young twenty-something who did nothing but mess with a computer all day. I knew then that I was really onto something.

They would call and ask, "Can you make it do this?"; "How does this thing you sent us work?"; "Why is this paramater passed here? What is it doing?".

Ya-hoo! I had found my niche, and I ran with it. I was now famliar enough with this add-on to begin using it on salable packages. I don't now recall whether I convinced the boss outright that it worked, or he challenged me to make it work (it may even have been a little of both), but either way we began looking for a guinea-pig package to try this power tool out on.

It didn't take long. I designed a Bulletin Board system for a local soccer team. And then another. Why soccer? They were there, they had a need, and the Bulletin Board feature was a logical solution. The system could be dialed into by anyone, and they could enter the appropriate number for their childrens' age group and hear messages about practices, times, etc. and then move about the board to different areas. While this technology might seem commonplace now, it was nothing short of revolutionary for anyone - let alone a local youth soccer club - to be using this technology so many years ago. It was an amazing time.

I continued to max out the capabilities of the add-on, and Glenayre continued to call. Somewhere in Japan or some far-off place they were using my parameter structure to do new things. They even joked more and more about me moving to Georgia for a job - I actually think they were somewhat serious on this issue, though I will never know. I'll just asume that they were for the sake of positive posterity. I was floating.

Then, the company ran out of money. And I became a liability. Without animosity, we parted ways. It was a short-lived pinnacle, to be certain. But it was my pinnacle, and a time that I will never forget.

(05/19/07 - 11:21 PM)
"Sputnik Sweetheart" by Haruki Murakami is listed at number three on his "top ten list" by literary critics, right behind "The Wind Up Bird Chronicle" and "Kafka On The Shore". So this book seemed like a natural choice for my next read.

It turned out to be a time-worn tale of I love her, but she loves someone else, who loves no one at all. It reminded me very much of a little song called "Love Stinks" by the J. Geils Band. And the book was about as engaging. Gone were the amusement and wonder that I felt when reading his other works. Perhaps, I felt, it was because he seems to keep relying on the same underlying themes over and over again - passing into ethereal realms, unrequited love and - oh, yes - cats.

I can't say that this is a rehash of prior events, as the other books that I have read have come at a later date. So, let's just call it a pre-hash then. A glimpse into what already has been.

I finally found a Murakami book that I don't necessarily recommend. I didn't mind it, but I felt a little cheated in the end. And there were points where I felt as though the book had plunged into the abyss, only to pull up and marginally redeem itself at the very last possible second.

(05/18/07 - 11:12 PM)
I find more and more that as I write or think about things, stories come to mind that don't necessarily reflect what happened on a particular day. In fact, many days nothing of interest happens. So, rather than bore myself (and anyone else that might be sadistic enough to read this) I either amuse myself some other way (by, say, damning Papa Smurf to oblivion, for example) or don't write anything at all.

The biggest reason that I began this blog, was so that time-down-the-line I could remember things I might otherwise have forgotten. Lord knows a ton of gems have been lost to time, and I wanted to begin saving these for a day when I was bored and old. So, you may get 'flashback' posts from time to time. They're there because I need them to be, so I can remember a story or event that I might otherwise forget in the future. Today's post is just such a thing.

I was reminded (and I don't recall how) of a time when I visited my friend Cathi in Tucson, Arizona. Now, this was after I actually lived there, so I wasn't there all that long. But the week my friend Chris and I went down, Cathi had to house-sit for her boss (he had dogs) so Chris and I had free-reign over her two-bedroom apartment.

I was laying in bed one night, and it was approaching 11:something when I heard through the wall, from the apartment next door, the undeniable sounds of a woman in the throes of... er... 'relations' with a man. She was very, very excited for a long time. And then was very excited again for another long time. She was quite vocal, and seemed to be enjoying herself immensly, so I held no grudge. People have needs. A little after midnight, her appetite was apparently satiated, and all was quiet.

I finally got some sleep, and in the morning related the story to Cathi. As I went on, her face grew confused. When I finally finished, she had me quantify a few finer points - which wall, which room, etc. and then reached a decision.

"That guy is like ninety-years old", she said. "There's no way that that was him."

"Holy crap!", I said. And then it dawned on us what had happened.

The dude was watching porn in his apartment. And the woman's lusty reactions were so loud because he was old and couldn't hear, and had had the volume turned way up, not knowing that we in the apartment complex were all listening in to his entertainment. More power to him, I suppose.

(05/17/07 - 11:47 PM)
I did something out of character for me today. Perhaps it would be more precise to say that I did something rash - crazy even. I considered my options for days, and attempted to rationalize my desires - and failed miserably. I then performed this act of madness in spite of these considerations; in spite of my better judgement and rational thought.

I bought a book.

Now, some might say that that is not such a terrible thing. One might even argue that it borders on commonplace; mundane, even. But this was no ordinary book. Oh, no, no, no. No, this book was special.

Let's rewind to 1992. A guy no one has really heard of just yet writes his first science fiction novel. A cyberpunk, science-fiction novel. No one expects it to do too well, so only six-hundred copies of it are printed. That's it.

Now, because libraries are depositories for a wide variety of, well - books - most are sold to such institutions. A handful, however, make it into the hands of private individuals. You may ask, what is the significace of this action? Well, whenever a library buys a book, the first thing that it does, before it even hits the eyeballs of a patron, is prepare the book for the inevatable battle to come. They do so by gluing in a card sleeve (or sticking in a bar code.) They then Broadart™ the book to protect the ever-fragile jacket. This is a good thing. Then they glue the jacket to the boards. This is a bad thing.

Once the book is all ready to meet the patrons, it is nearly valueless in the eyes of a collector. You might just as well urinate on it or use it for kindling at this point, for the most part. The collector rarely desires a book such as this.

So, six hundred copies were produced, and a vast majority of them met a fate worse than death before even being read. Now, imagine that those books that did get through to private homes got read. Reading, in and of itself, is detrimental to the books physical properties (I know, this sounds nuts - but it's true.) Many probably got tossed on bookshelves, or were sold in garage sales or >gasp< were thrown away.

This gauntlet of dangers left very few of these books intact right out of the gate. Now, imagine that thirteen years have passed. That that book became a seminal work that developed a cult following the likes of which have not been seen since William Gibson's "Neuromancer". And imagine that even an ex-library copy now commands a huge premium due to the books relative scarcity.

Now, imagine a collector. A very, very serious one, who buys the book not to read, or discard, or what have you. No: this collector has but one motivation in mind - he is collecting this book. He is particularly astute, and knows which titles may fare well (as the rest of his collection bore out - it was nothing short of a "Holy Grail"-esque collection.) And then, for whatever reason, this collector orphaned all of his books one day by passing away. But it's not an event that is all bad - now his books are able to be enjoyed by a whole new group of people. And his collection was truly monumental - a lettered, asbestos boards copy of Stephen King's "Firestarter" and a likewise asbestos-boarded Bradbury "Fahrenheit 451" are some of the other gems in this world-class collection. And among these sought-after books, an unread copy of the book that I purchased. His unread copy.

The book was a work by Neal Stephenson, entitled "Snow Crash". It is one of my all-time favorite books, amongst such luminaries as "Atlas Shrugged" by Ayn Rand and the latter-day "American Gods" by Neil Gaiman. To find a pristine copy was the furthest thing from my mind until a notice landed in my e-mail. And once I saw it, I couldn't let go. It actually plagued me.

For days, I vacillated about such an absurd desire. Why in the world would I want to spend so much on something so trivial? But I could not let the thoughts of this particular book go - it continued to return to my mind, unbidden.

I checked to see if the dealer in New York still had it a couple of days later, knowing that there was no way that someone who wanted this book would not have purchased such a stellar, once-in-a-lifetime copy by now. But there it was, mocking me. For the first time in my memory, the word "covetousness" reared its ugly head. A Catholic-labeled 'deadly sin' that I do not normally trifle with; yet here I was, flush with it.

The next day, I received my weekly newsletter of the book world - The Book Thinker - and I saw something equally strange. A lesser copy of this book had sold only that week on e-bay for $1,200.00. I was astounded.

So, I just called the dealer. Just like that, without a second thought. The whole event seems surreal to me now. I called him, and he answered - the man himself. The largest purveyor of Science Fiction and Fantasy books in the United States (and possibly the world); a contributor to "Firsts Magazine", which is the voice of serious (or maniacally-driven) book collectors everywhere, Lloyd W. Currey.

He thought I had called to sell him insurance.

He remained impassive - brusque, even - until I gave him my name and revealed my true intentions. Then things changed for the better, and apologies were made. All the while, I was just floating - I couldn't believe what I was about to do.

And then, it was over. And I have been happy ever since, without a shred of regret. I consider this book to be not just something of a pinnacle of my collection - the pinnacle of my collection, really, after my full run of Michael Connelly first/first's - I consider it an investment (in the last five years, the value of this book in such a condition or even worse has increased 110%.)

So, there you have it. For those of you who know me, you will no doubt be shocked at such a rash decision on my part. But it was the most exciting, rash, decision that I have ever made. And, most likely, I will never do it again.


(05/16/07 - 11:22 PM)
Scott Adams, noted author, in-duh-vidual and Dilbert© creator chose to, for whatever reason, write two books with serious subject matter. For many, the disbelief was soon quelled as they read what it was that he actually had to say. "God's Debris" was the first of these two books (the second being "The Religion War") that focused on big questions - really, really big questions; huge questions, in fact.

I had not read this work before, and ended up hitting it pretty much cold. I was astounded to see so many big ideas (some profound, some stupid) packed into one little package. Many of these ideas, I had at one time or another (and in one form or another) espoused personally, or continue to grapple with on a daily basis. What can I say, the big questions intrigue me to no end.

The problems with this book were manifold. Most prominent seemed to be the fact that Mr. Adams seems ill-equipped to write such a book with anything but marginal ability. What I mean is, he's a good author, and an extremely insightful humorist - but his lack of skill on a serious bunch of subjects such as this painfully shows through. Imagine a neurosurgeon trying to be a waitress - he's not dumb, and he's extremely skilled - but his skillset is not one which will allow him to achieve anything resembling success as a waitress. This book feels analogous to this scenario.

On the whole, Mr. Adams should be applauded for his big ideas - they're really interesting if nothing else. Further, he should be even more applauded for his courage in issuing forth a book which he had to know would villify him in the eyes of some - yet doing it nonetheless. It was a brave thing to do, in my eyes, and I respect him for that.

This was a good book, only inasmuch as it made you think - for good or ill. It was not well written, and at points was anything but succinct. But it was still an interesting read that I recommend for some afternoon when you're ready for your mind to go >PLINK!<

(05/15/07 - 11:49 PM)
I call this work "Papa Smurf In Purgatory".

(05/14/07 - 9:36 PM)
Greetings, and welcome to May fourteenth.

Haruki Murakami is an enigma wrapped in a riddle wrapped in a shroud. I cannot for the life of me figure out what, precisely, the appeal of reading his work is, while I am simultaneously compelled to read it in spite of this very fact. How can this be so?

"After Dark" is his most recent release in The States, and it offers up far more questions than it could ever hope to answer. Once more, I feel as though some philosophical snapshot of the souls of the individuals represented in the book exists in plain sight while meaning - if available at all - is buried in a convoluted explosion of inordinately tiny particles which must be harvested from random corners of the universe in turn and re-assembled into something altogether larger than themselves and therefore more meaningful.

Good Lord, even writing about his work makes me sound like some wistful street poet trying to score on a first date.

This book was good - good, not great - but I'll be damned if I can figure out or even begin to convey why. These books are not for the faint of mind, and perhaps this is why I cannot comprehend how to enjoy them properly. But somehow, on some level, they ring true and are truly enjoyable nevertheless for having done so. And they draw you in, tempting you to read ever onward like a bibliophile lemming headed toward something sinister but all the while enjoying the trip nonetheless.

Recommended Reading:
Self-help books by anyone who can explain this bizarre compulsion to continue devouring works by this enigmatic author.

(05/13/07 - 8:27 PM)
I chose to read "The Queen Of The South" by Arturo Perez-Reverte as a risky aside while waiting for some other books to arrive by mail. I had already begun, when I incidentally went to a bookstore on a whim and picked up something else to read in the meantime. But at 100 pages in, I felt I needed to see the book through.

The first 156 pages are filled with a great deal of quasi-interesting background information, and two "false starts" as it were. And then, the book explodes. I couldn't believe how quickly this work took off like a proverbial rocket. And it was good. I was floored by the last two thirds of this book, which could by themselves have made this a four star book - if the 156-page fuse hadn't taken so long to ignite.

This is a story about a simple woman, who is dependant upon others until she faces an immediate choice thrust upon her one fateful afternoon - become self-sufficient and cunning, or die. She uses considerable cunning in outwitting adversity in an effort to continue living in a tale of impure redemption and strength, told from a darkened viewpoint. She not only succeeds, she excels in the world which she cannot seem to allow herself to escape from. Not since Michael Connelly's "Void Moon" has a story of moral corruption evoked such a sympathetic feeling from me. One can almost feel the emotions ripping the main character apart from moment to moment as she makes choices that will affect the rest of her life - or her ability to continue living at all - as well as the lives of others around her, in a way reminiscent of characters in Mario Puzo's acclaimed work "The Godfather".

This book was, in the end, a great pleasure to read. I highly recommend it, while encouraging the reader to make their way through the initial purgation - it is well worth it, in the end.

While Perez-Reverte is more noted for his work, "The Club Dumas", (which later evolved into a major motion picture entitled "The Ninth Gate", starring Johnny Depp) I actually think that this is a somewhat superior work.

Recommended Reading:
"Void Moon" - Michael Connelly
"The Club Dumas" - Arturo Perez-Reverte

(05/12/07 - 10:32 PM)
My brother and I took my mother out to a local Indian restaurant (not the "Woo-woo" & tomahawk kind - the other one) for Mother's day, as it is one of her favorites, and one of the few that my brother and his wife can eat at, as they are both level 5 vegans with +2 stamina.

Now, this place has never been known for having the sharpest employees. My experience has been that you attempt to order what it is that you want, and cross your fingers that the staff doesn't contradict you somewhere between your table and the kitchen - which happens often.

As I said, we've had our fair share of issues in the past, but nothing insurmountable. Personally, I would have stopped going there long ago, as I have a very low tolerance for this sort of behavior. But I endure because the rest of my immediate family likes the place, and most of the folks there are genuinely good-hearted people.

This all changed last night. Last night was alternately like Dante's fourth circle and an episode of "Twin Peaks" - I just couldn't believe I was experiencing this surreal nightmare, but it turned out to all be true.

For whatever reason, no matter when we have gone in the past, there have always been plenty of seats. Tonight was different. Party after party after party came in like breakers on a foreign shore - and the parties got larger and larger. Initially, my brother was happy for the restauranteurs - they had been good to him, and he enjoyed seeing them succeed.

We were asked how many in our party by a dreamy-eyed woman, who promptly parroted "five" and then proceeded to just walk away. No problem, we figure - she's getting us a table or something.

Nope; but thanks for playing.

So, several minutes later, a busboy asked the same question, and took us to a table - a table that was already set and ready to go. Suddenly, the woman swoops out of nowhere, and shoos him away. THEN, she proceeds to move everything laterally by one table - the chairs, the place settings - everything. I failed to see the logic in this - it seemed downright stupid, actually - but I figured she knew something that I did not (she didn't, it turned out). So we sat, and read what we thought were menus left for us to order from. In fact, she had left five wine lists, and no menus at all. Which is great if we were a pack of lush's or stereotypical hobos; but if you wanted to eat, it made it hard to order.

Anyway, we got situated, and menus eventually appeared - but not enough for all of us. That was okay, we managed and continued to once again be happy about their good fortune and success. Everything would be fine from here on out.

God, we're suckers.

Our "waitress" (in name only) returned, and took our drink orders, and appetizer orders. Then she disappeared for a good long while. Eventually, we received our drinks, but not before another fellow came over to take our drink and appetizer orders - in conjunction with our dinner order. So, we advised him that we had placed the former already, and then proceeded to place the latter.

Then, an intermission occured, as the restaurant filled to a point that would make any good fire marshall cringe - and the waiters now had nowhere to move around - so they just plowed through wherever they could - including behind my wife's head. As we watched the restaurant fill to capacity, we witnessed a party of six or so get seated - at a table with five chairs. For nearly thirty minutes, the good-natured fellow at the head of the table stood, waiting for a chair. I figured that was his problem - I personally wouldn't have stood for it (no tongue in cheek intended, but take them as you can get them, right?)

Our dinners finally came - FINALLY - only there was yet another new twist. My brother and his wife, as I mentioned are vegans. This means that they think all animals are cute enough to save, so they won't let any be killed, used, or milked for their benefit. On top of their dishes - dishes they had ordered for years and years - was a drizzled puddle of cream. When asked, the waitress replied that, yes, it was indeed cream. They informed her that the dish did not used to include cream, and that they could not eat it. The waitress mumbled something (I should have listened more closely, as I already felt a blog post coming on) about it "always having done so", and took it away with a vengeance in her eyes. Everything that we asked for thereafter, she promptly ignored and we had to accost the remaining wait staff to get whatever it was that we needed. She was not seen again thereafter at our table.

Then, when their dishes were finally rectified, we thought we could begin eating. But - wait - where was the rice that my Mom had ordered? Nope, can't eat quite yet. >SIGH<

We also watched as the wait staff (not ours, the other ones) refilled water time and again at the tables surrounding ours - but our waitress seemed to have disappeared to Lord knew where.

Now, I love my Mom but at this point I was ready to walk out and take her to Taco Bell and call it a night. We finally finished our meal and - forty minutes later - we flagged down a waiter who was not our own to ask for the check and boxes. Instead, we got little bowls - and little else. In the end, we just moseyed up to the counter and looked indignant. This got results, and soon the check was paid.

I managed to hold my tongue through most of it. My brother tried to put a positive spin on things, and my Mom guised her displeasure in sympathy. I was having none of it, and I believe my comment was that, had I been by myself, I would have grabbed the nearest person resembling a waitron and said, "You're going to need to pray to all of your gods - even the evil ones - in about four seconds if you don't get it together, bub." But hey - that's just the manager in me. You know, the one who began to analyze the situation about two minutes in and parsed out ways that the staff - were they my own - could (and should) have done things differently to compensate for the overwhelming crowd.

I have not been so relieved to leave somewhere in so very long.

(05/11/07 - 11:19 PM)
For whatever choice reasons, I have been the topic of wild speculation and rumor at work of late. How I got to be so lucky is a fact that goes well beyond my understanding, but not as far beyond as the mis-information that is being suggested about me.

For example - I found out three weeks ago that I had another job, and would be leaving shortly. Who knew? I was asked when my last day was, and only then did I become aware that I was leaving. So, I politely responded that in order to leave I would have to seek a new job, be offered a new job, and then accept the new job. Until that happened, I would not be so easily gotten rid of.

I shrugged this off, until I heard the same rumor again this week - who's propogating this thing? Once again, with good-natured humor, I quelled it. At least these rumors weren't malicious.

Okay, so that one wasn't - but the next one was. There was apparently some animosity on the floor when one employee began informing everyone that I do not, in fact, work all day. What I do, instead, is continue to wrap my boss around my finger while playing video games in my office at every possible chance, unbeknownst to him. Oh, wait - Muhuhahahahah (I almost forgot the sinister laugh.)

What's wrong with these people, that their lives are so uninteresting that they have to make things up and then spread them for somthing to do? Maybe I should buy them all Sudoku books, or paddle-balls, so that they can remain entertained in their spare time - which they clearly have an abundance of.

(05/10/07 - 11:47 PM)
We watched a comedian on television tonight who said, "Hiking is just walking around somewhere where it's okay to pee."

Well noted.

(05/09/07 - 10:17 PM)
I watched "The Big Lebowski" tonight. First, I had not seen this film and normally I would not have even given it a second glance, but several people had been shocked that I had not seen this "great, cult classic" - so I figured I would watch it to end all the disbelief and see what all of the fuss was about.

It begins with narration - I enjoyed the narration a great deal, actually. Everything thereafter left me scratching my head and asking myself, "What in the world am I missing here? Is this entertaining? Is this funny? Should I laugh at that, or is it supposed to be meaningful in some philosophical way?"

Bottom line - I hated the movie. Not disliked - hated. I couldn't really follow it, I didn't really want to, and I didn't enjoy it at all.

(05/08/07 - 11:23 PM)
My wife got this in her e-mail. Let me start by saying, that I did not write this - I wish that I had, but I didn't. I don't know who did, but I'd be happy to give him or her credit. In the meantime, I find myself necessarily plagarizing as this is one of the funniest things that I have seen in a long while. There were pictures associated with this as well, but in the interest of conserving space, I offer it only in text form. If anyone is interested in the entire file, let me know and I will forward it to you - pictures and all - in its original format.

Mattel recently announced the release of the improved limited-edition
Barbie Dolls for the Rockford, Illinois market:

"Northeast Barbie":
This princess Barbie is sold only at Cherryvale Mall. She comes with an assortment of Coach Handbags, a Lexus SUV, a long-haired foreign dog named 'Princess' and a cookie-cutter house. Available with or without tummy tuck and face lift. Workaholic Ken sold only in conjunction with the augmented version.

"Roscoe Barbie":
The modern day homemaker Barbie is available with Ford Windstar Minivan and matching gym outfit. She gets lost easily and has no full-time occupation. Traffic jamming cell phone sold separately.

"Westside Barbie":
This recently paroled Barbie comes with a 9mm handgun, a Ray Lewis knife, a Chevy with dark tinted windows, and a Meth Lab Kit. This model is only available after dark and must be paid for in cash (preferably small, untraceable bills) unless you are a cop, then we don't know what you are talking about.

"Rockton Barbie":
This yuppie Barbie comes with your choice of BMW convertible or Hummer H2. Included are her own Starbuck's cup, credit card and country club membership. She is a "fundraiser queen." Also available for this set are Shallow Ken and Private School Skipper. You won't be able to afford any of them.

"Machesney Park Barbie":
This pale model comes dressed in her own Wrangler jeans two sizes too small, a NASCAR t-shirt and tweety bird tattoo on her shoulder. She has a six-pack of Bud Light and a Hank Williams, Jr. CD set. She can spit over 5 feet and kick mullet-haired Ken's ass when she is drunk. Purchase her Chevy pickup truck separately and get a confederate flag bumper sticker absolutely free.

"South Beloit Barbie":
This tobacco-chewing, brassy-haired Barbie has a pair of her own high-heeled sandals with one broken heel from the time she chased beer-gutted Ken out of Bowling Green Barbie's house. Her ensemble includes low-rise acid-washed jeans, fake fingernails, and a see-through halter-top and multiple tattoos. Also available with a mobile home.

"River District Barbie":
This doll is made of actual tofu. She has long straight brown hair, arch-less feet, hairy armpits, no makeup and Birkenstocks with white socks. She prefers that you call her 'Willow'. She does not want or need a Ken doll, but if you purchase two Downtown Barbies and the optional Subaru wagon, you get a rainbow flag bumper sticker for free.

"Loves Park Barbie":
This Barbie now comes with a stroller and infant doll. Optional accessories include a GED and bus pass. Gangsta Ken and his 1979 Caddy were available, but are now very difficult to find since the addition of the infant.

"Seventh Street Barbie/Ken":
This versatile doll can be easily converted from Barbie to Ken by simply adding or subtracting the multiple snap-on parts.

(05/07/07 - 10:54 PM)
Please disperse - there is nothing to see here.

(05/06/07 - 9:15 PM)
Finished Douglas Preston's first book, "Dinosaurs In The Attic". This book was tough to get my hands on in any sort of decent condition - a fact that was proven once more when I received the book, but not as described (usually when a book has more foxing than an English manor house with hounds, you ought to mention that fact to potential buyers. Foxing negates near-fine condition, in my opinion, but especially so when it is this egregious.) The only saving grace is that it is the only signed and dated copy that I have ever seen for sale. And there are only a handful of battered copies available at any given moment to begin with.

With all of that being said, this book was interesting, though it could have certainly been longer while remaining wholly entertaining. I suppose that when the topic is the American Museum of Natural History, one has to draw the line somewhere. What did make the cut (a motley assortment of stories, indeed) were very well written and interesting, nevertheless.

Ironically, the most interesting chapter dealt with a man I had never heard of - an intrepid explorer named Roy Chapman Andrews. Mr. Andrews interested me for two reasons: first, he was a famous explorer at the turn of the 20th century; so well renound, in fact, that he was the model for a latter-day cinematic explorer that you may have heard of - Indiana Jones. Secondly, he hailed from a small town called Beloit, Wisconsin. My curiosity was indeed piqued.

It turns out that Mr. Andrews even had a spate of books available in the teens through the thirties, published by G. Putnam & Sons that are still available today in reading copies for a nominal cost, at best (but the good ones - man, they're spendy.) I might just have to get me some of those reading copies, though.

I recommend this book to only two kinds of reader: a Preston completist, or someone who is interested by historical tidbits of great importance. If history is more boring to you than Opera - or Oprah - then this book is not for you.

Happy reading!

(05/06/07 - 3:21 PM)
My brother, sister-in-law and I went to my mother's house to reclaim her flower beds (the weeds had clearly taken control, and needed to be stopped before a Triffid-esque invasion ensued.)

We went to pick out plants and rock for the beds, and my brother thwarted me every step of the way. He kept saying that he knew what Mom liked. And, dammit - he was right on every count.

I guess this means that they both have bad taste. >Smile<

(05/05/07 - 11:37 PM)
Whew! What a day! I went out to my bosses' house at eight this morning to help him transplant and divide his aquatic plants in his large pond-system. I had no idea that there would be so many, nor did I predict what a daunting task this might be. It was tedious, heavy and stinky work - the plants smelled like a septic tank after a chili festival.

There were a bunch of us there from work, and still the work progressed at what I can only describe as "stop-motion" speed. There was just too many of the things, and they were too ungainly. I left after only four hours, and I can't imagine how exhausted those who stayed on felt.

On the plus side, three of my coworkers got to watch as I backed up with a wheelbarrow - over a boulder that was behind me, unbeknownst to myself - and fell flat on my back with the wheelbarrow on top of me. I didn't get hurt, so that made it okay for it to be hilarious, apparently.

So, I came home to mow my lawn before my wife and I went to her grandmother's 80th birthday party (Happy Birthday Marilyn!) I had just begun fueling, when my wife comes out of the house with the phone - it was work.

My Mazak operator called and said:
"There's a customer here who wants to know more about our machines, and might want to give us work. Can you come over right now and talk with him..." - and this is where it gets funny - "I told him that you only lived two minutes away, and that you wouldn't mind. He's standing right behind me right now. Will you come?"

Dude - how in the hell can I say no now? Really?!

So, I hauled ass over there and - sure enough - here's this dude who was, "Just driving through the neighborhood and saw your Mazak's, and thought I'd stop in to see what you might be able to do for us."

Turns out this was a good thing - he had been peeking around the shop and didn't think we were all that great, until I gave him the sales pitch to end all sales pitches. By the time he left, he seemed ready to start cutting orders on the spot, so I guess it was worth the time.

Even so - UGH! What a hectic day!

(05/04/07 - 11:49 PM)
Me In Cuba!
Me in Mexico, circa 2002. Note how
I somehow managed to even offend
the normally smiling billboard guy
with my malodorous presence!

(05/03/07 - 9:26 PM)
I finally got around to reading a book by Haruki Murakami - an author that was highly recommended to me by my brother's best man, Mark Dixon (who's opinion I valued enough to give this type of philospihical literature a try, even though it is not typically something that I would seek out.) Mark is an interesting individual, the likes of which I can safely say that I have never met before - and I mean this in a good way.

So, heeding his suggestions, I chose at random to read "Kafka On The Shore". I'm not entirely certain of how to interpret this work. I had the sneaking suspicion that I was performing an action much akin to reading a painting or smelling a song: there were clearly heightened senses involved, and there was art present - but the two seemed to be on two disparate wavelengths, never quite managing a meaningful connection of presence.

The story feels well told, though it also feels a bit saccharine in its convoluted simlpicity. And there are still lingering after-effects (I feel) of the book having been translated from its native Japanese. Perhaps the translation - and a difference in cultural beliefs - are what ultimately clouded my grasp of this work. I do not know for certain.

The only other author that I can equate Murakami's work to is Kurt Vonnegut, as his works also tend to swing in an extremely wild fashion; like a drunken baseball player itching for a last homerun before passing out.

It began as a puzzling narrative that blossomed into something that felt substantial; a book that felt as though it was destined for certain greatness. Yet either I am too simple minded to understand the nacreous layers of analogy and metaphor, or this book fell flat in the end in some respects. The good folks at the New Yorker and Publisher's Weekly speak of Murakami as though he were some sort of modern-day, luminous visonary, upon who's every word one ought to hang languidly. But I am afraid that my intellect, in this case, must be sorely lacking as I found myself vacillating - slipping gracefully from states of what felt much like heightened consciousness to outright tedium.

As I said, it felt like a great book; it felt as though I had experienced something profound. Yet in the end, I felt hollow of the meaning behind the experience; floundering for a semblance of substance within the elegant supposition that I had just experienced firsthand.

As such, I believe that I will read Murakami again (perhaps venturing into some of his seminal works this time around), but my expectations may be heightened due to what I feel was something of a let down in the end. Can I recommend this book? Probably not - I'm not even clear of what it was trying to tell me - so how can I, in good conscience, foist my experience of meaningful emptiness upon others?

I have concluded the following after reading this work: Philosopher's are either the most complex and profound individuals on the planet - or they are the greatest poseurs and thespians of their respective generations. Either way, one thing is abundantly clear: I am not intellectual enough to challenge their ruse, if it exists at all. Or, if I truly exist, for that matter. Ponder that, Plato.

(05/02/07 - 10:11 PM)
On this day in history, someone famous was born. Someone famous also died. Something of note also happened - probably in China, or Japan. Something interesting was patented. A famous something-or-another discovered something new and exciting in some branch of the scientific world.

And you thought it was just some random, normal day!

(05/01/07 - 11:53 PM)
We finally wrote up the guy who took the day and a half off without permission. His response was something substantially less than stellar - he is now making veiled threats that we will lose him as an employee.

OH NO! I might lose a guy who thinks he's God's gift to the trade; who believes he knows everything about everything; who tries to manage himself, so that we don't need to do it for him; who does whatever the hell he wants, whenever he wants. Oh, perish the thought! I NEED guys like him! Why can't all my employees be so self-centered and narcissistic?

Pffft. I say good riddance. What bothers me the most is the whole veiled threat thing. Gang's don't make veiled threats - they shoot to kill. So either do, or don't - I don't care. But don't TALK about it - don't make allusions to the fact that you might, in the hopes that someone will see the error of their ways, and tell you just how wonderful the world is when you are in it. Cowboy up, buttercup, and just GO. Otherwise, shut your pie-hole and do your job - you know, the one we pay you to do within the same boundaries and framework as your co-workers who manage every day to follow the guidelines for the betterment of the company and themselves.

Are you still here? Jeez - GO ALREADY!

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