A Twist Of Fate
May, 2008 Entries
As written about at "Wall Drug"

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(05/31/08 - 10:16 PM)
I went in to work for a few hours this morning. The bed came in today. No one was harmed.

I ended up having to go to Madison on my own to get our oil changed, because the bed delivery was on their terms - not ours - and we had scheduled the oil change and tire rotation already.

Which is another story in the "Stellar Customer Service!" category.

My wife called Don Miller service on Wednesday to schedule the services on Saturday. Simple, simple, simple. The problem? The guy had to call her back. So she waited. And waited. And waited.

On Friday morning, when she finally called him back, and mentioned that he had not called her back, he was unphased. She once more asked for a Saturday appointment. This was his reply.

"Those fill up fast. You need to call in advance for those."

Yep. Honest to God.

She mentioned again that she had called, and that he was supposed to have called her back. She also mentioned that we lived in Illinois and that next Saturday wasn't an option - it needed to be this one.

What does Captain Logic do? Why, he offers suggestions!

"How long can you leave it here for on Saturday?"

My wife replies that, in order to leave it, we would have to stay in their facility all day or until the work was done, or we would have to drive two cars to Madison. She once more reminds him that - duh - we live in Illinois. Again, she mentions, that that would require two vehicles... Illinois... etc.

"Well, I'll see if I can squeeze you in." At which time, he offers an early morning appointment.

My wife says, no, I asked for a 2:00 PM or later appointment.

Which, he miraculously allows when he realizes that what's convenient for him is probably no longer an option.

It wouldn't be so bad if people made mistakes and said something like, "I'm truly sorry. I made an error."

I do it all the time, and I admit it when I do. But then I make it right, and I attempt to not let my human nature get in the way of a solid days work again.

Instead, this in-duh-vidual chose to myopically insult my wife, while trying to keep his life simple, with a clear disregard for what she required.

The upside, to be fair, is that we typically don't deal with this guy. The folks we have dealt with in the past at Don Miller have all been pretty damn good at what they do. I just hope they curtail this guys' single-minded ability to cheese people off thoughtlessly.

(05/30/08 - 11:07 PM)
In today's installment of "The New Bed Saga": The Case of the Missing Mattress!

I was called away from work at 2:20 PM this afternoon to come and receive my new bed! Which was great, except I had been slotted for a 4:00- 8:00 PM delivery, so as not to interfere with work. Apparently, a timepiece of some sort is not available to delivery drivers or their logistical handlers.

So, I received a call. Or rather, my assistant received the call, and turned it over to me. Here is what the driver said when I picked up the phone:

"Yo, dude. I'm about five minutes out."

Note the glaring lack of identifying who he is, or what he wants. This wouldn't be so bad, but I take ALOT of calls during the day. I figured out who he was, but I made him work for it anyway.

When I met the individuals at my home, I just wanted this whole ordeal to be over. He brought in the pillows, he offloaded the box spring. Then he said, "You didn't order a mattress, huh?"


I explained that, yes, I had. Why in the world would I want a box spring and pillows? Do I look like a Yogi?

"Yeah," came his slack-jawed reply, "I thought it was kind of weird when we were at the warehouse."

He showed me his paperwork, and it's glaring lack of a mattress. I showed him both my sets of paperwork, both with a matress smack in the middle (I had to get two sets, because the first time they ran it, they forgot to put the haul away on.) Whoops!

Reeeeeeally. Then why didn't you ask the logistics guy if maybe there had been an error THEN, rather than questioning tha absurdity of it NOW?

Now, his partner speaks up, "We've seen stranger things get delivered."

Which, I guess, they probably have. BUT, why would someone purchase a high-end box spring and pillows, but skip the mattress? How often had that happened, I asked?

Smart guy just shrugged like I was a raving lunatic. Which I was fast becoming.

So, the next thing I know, they have the box spring in my house and are asking where I want it. I have no clue where to put an errant box spring, so I just tell them to put it in my living room.

Then they start up the stairs. Slack-jaw says to Smart Guy, "We've got a haul away on this one, too."

Whoa, whoa, whoa. Are these guys for real?

"Uh, guys? You're not really taking my old mattress and box spring now, are you?"

"There's a haul away on here. You don't want us to take it, then?"

"Well, I don't know where I'll sleep, since you only brought me a box spring today. So, no, I'd prefer that you not."

Slack-jaw just shrugs, and asks me to sign the paperwork, stating that everything was delivered in good order, and that the haul-away occured.

"Do we need to change this?" I inquired.

"Oh," he says, "yeah. Because we didn't haul away. We have to change that now, or they won't do it later."


So, I ask when I WILL actually see my mattress, and he calls dispatch customer service or whatever. He tells me that I need to talk to her, so I get on the phone with a pleasant woman who seems to have a head on her shoulders. She advises me that my service representative had set up only the delivery of the box spring and pillows today, and that most likely he had forgotten to add the mattress once it arrived at the warehouse on Wednesday.

I let her know that he had said that it was coming in on Wednesday, and that he needed until Friday to get the whole package delivered which is how we ended up here.

She said that the mattress was in, but it was in Waukesha. I asked why in the world she would drag me away from work for a box spring, and further why they would waste the time, gas, and manpower to make two deliveres when the first was abject futility?

She once more blamed my service representative, and said that she could probably have my mattress on Monday's truck. I asked if there was a Saturday truck. She said that, yes, there was, but it was full.

I finally convinced her that it would be an awfully good idea to squeeze it in, which she finally did. Then I mentioned that the haul-away would also need to be accomodated for.

"Didn't they take that today?" came her reply.


No, I advised, because I probably might like to sleep somewhere tonight other than on the floor.

"It's a good thing you told me. I'll make sure it's on the paperwork."

Yeah toots - you do that.

Why, WHY are people so stupid? I expect this (unfortunately) from National Cheapo Chain Furniture Store, but not from the likes of them. I now understand why my customers keep coming back: We offer few errors with good communication and quality items at a fair price. That's it folks - that's the secret. If you're business chain contains a moron faction, the whole system is flawed. As such, the only remedy is to idiot-proof the system, or replace the morons. At my company, we've done both. The result? We have a ton of business during the lean times - such as right now - when all my sales representatives are telling me that other machine shops are struggling. Of course they are! I use some of those shops, and I can't tell you how many instructions are ignored or followed incorrectly; how many items are made incorrectly; how many phone calls go unanswered; how surly and unapproachable the client contacts are and on and on and on. THIS is why we are thriving in a lean market: We actually give a damn.

So, to American, I say this: Fix the problem, or you are doomed to mediocrity. If you want repeat business, get your shit together. I know that my business has been lost - but there is still hope for others. Don't continue to make the same mistakes.

To the remainder of businesses I offer this: Pay for quality, and monitor everything. Do quality checks and talk to your customers. You should know what you're doing right - so don't ask your customers that. Ask them what they don't like; ask them what you're doing wrong. This - and only this - will guarantee not only success, but utter success.

(05/29/08 - 11:42 PM)
Ever wonder why a compact disc holds 74 minutes of music? I always assumed that they started with a size constraint, and just fit as much as possible within said constraint. Not so! In actuality, a VP at Sony was a huge fan of classical music. After poring over what he knew about the length of many symphonies, he let the boys in R&D know that the compact disc design must accomodate 74 minutes of music. The reason? He wanted to make certain that Beethoven's 9th symphony would fit all on one disc. It's really just that trivial a reason.

(05/28/08 - 11:16 PM)
"Bloodsucking Fiends" is Christopher Moore's third book, but happened to be the final book of his that I read. It was the prequel to "You Suck", and outlined the beginnings of the story of the love affair between C. Thomas Flood, recently relocated Indianian and Jody Stroud, recently deceased vampire.

It's essentially a beginning to the story that was expounded upon in the later work, and was at the very least an engaging read. While not a stellar work by any stretch of the imagination, it still bristled with humor - moreso than many of Moore's other works. Read it, and read the sequel as well. They're an interesting aside, at the very least.

(05/27/08 - 10:46 PM)
Hello, all! Plinky the House Elf here! I found out today that yesterday was a holiday, yet Master Heath chose to write his own entry. While I still view this 'blog' kajigger as glorified slave labor, I must admit that I have begun to relish the idea of having my meek and meager voice heard. The problem with relishing the idea though, I have found, is that the relish tends to make my head very sticky and inviting to the cat, while not wholly adding any tang or zip to the thought itself. But I shall persevere to continue to understand the fickle and strange ways of humankind!

Yesterday, I was informed by Mistress Wanda, was Mammarial Day. And while we house elves are predominantly androgynous (save the gluttonous ones who live with the likes of John Goodman), I supposed that I could see the attraction with glorifying the mammaries with a day of it's own.

But how wrong I was! Apparently, the mammaries have done a great deal for this country, and America as a whole. For you see, Mammarial Day is a day of remembrance. A day to honor all the brave mammaries who fought and died in the Porn Wars (I thought Mistress Wanda said, 'Boer Wars', but that couldn't have been right. When I found 'porn' and 'mammaries' tied so closely together in my Google search, I knew that I had simply misheard her.)

There is also a tradition of flying the flag at half mast. I had never been able to figure this out, until my research revealed that the Latin word 'mast' actually means 'breast', which is what a mammary is. So, now I understand: We fly our flags at half-mast to honor those brave mammaries who have gone forth to keep freedom alive, but have not returned. I will never think of Nancy Reagan the same way again.

After tying all of this up, I now understand those late night commercials that have perplexed me so. You see, I often witnessed a product called "Girls Gone Wild" available only after seven PM and never on Lifetime. I never understood why these young women were so keen to show their mammaries at a moments notice. Now I understand. They are glorifying their mammaries before they get sent off to war, possibly never to return.

So battle on, brave Mammaries! I, for one, will salute your efforts (even if I don't understand them.) What's that?...


Master Heath has suggested that I not use the term 'salute your efforts', as it might be misconstrued. I don't get it, so I'm leaving it. He's a moron, anyway. Have a lovely day!

(05/26/08 - 11:07 AM)
Welcome back! If you thought that we were just being jerks and tormenting you with a glaring lack of entries then you're correct! Also, we were on vacation or something. I don't know - alot of people were saying stuff.

So, you're about to receive a monster entry comprising everything I want to impart, but whose date of occurance I can't pin down. Here goes!

First, I have to mention that I finished Patrick Rothfuss' first book, "The Name Of The Wind". I was nothing short of blown away. Not since Tolkien's books has a fantasy title blown my mind, and this one easily gives Rowling a run for her money as well. Yeah - it's that good. The story is broken into three pieces (egads - a trilogy!). This was unintentional, according to Rothfuss, but as the book began to get to a massive length, it just seemed logical to break it into three pieces (and at 661 pages, piece one is quite long).

This is the kind of book that you never want to end, and those are so rare as to be next to impossible to find. I personally am chomping at the bit for the next installment. It surrounds Kvothe (pronounced "Qwothe"), a humble innkeeper with a titanic past who is getting on in years. A traveling scribe, dubbed Chronicler, happens in to his inn one afternoon and realizes exactly who he is and requests to document his life story. The entire trilogy is a retelling of the extrordinary life of Kvothe - a now legendary figure - but from the perspective of the truth, versus the fantastically embellished stories that have grown up around him over the years. Throughout the book, we move back to the inn to check on our storyteller and his ghostwriter, and we begin to suspect that while Kvothe believes his adventures to be at an end, he may have no choice but to have just one more.

If you love Rowling or Tolkien then you must - MUST - read this book. It is essential, and you will buy me something nice for the prescient advice. Probably. This book is so good, it prompted me to create a fifth rating category in my booklist. I added a five-star category for what I have dubbed the "epiphany" books. Books that are so good, there's just nothing else to compare them to but one another. They're rare, but this is certainly one of them (I currently list seven in total - what does that tell you?)

True DAW first edition/first printings of this book are becoming scarcer by the minute, and very soon will be well out of reach (currently the least-expensive signed first edition I can find goes for $136.00 and there's only two left). This, from a book that was only published months ago. Already it has begun to garner serious attention, and Amazon has it shortlisted as one of the 10 best books of the year for 2007 (they don't categorize normally, so it's lumped in with non-fiction, etc.)

Next, next, next. Once more, we should have purchased vacation insurance. For those of you that know us, you know that whenever we go on vacation, something awful usually happens. To whit:

  • Food poisoning (both of us for three days in Idaho Falls)
  • Massive sinus cold and fever (me on our honeymoon)
  • Throwing our back irrevocably out (Wanda in Wisconsin)
  • General illness (we never seem to get sick, except on vacation)
Not only do these things befall us, they invariably end up cutting our trip short and sending us home early. This year was an exception only in that we did not leave early. I did, however, get food poisoning (I lost twelve pounds in three hours! Ask me how!) and was down for about fourteen hours. Wanda had a cold the next day. Truly, a treat!

Aside from that, our vacation just didn't feel like a vacation. My problem is that it takes me so long to unwind and let go of stress that I usually can't properly enjoy most of it. This year proved to be no exception. But hanging out with my wife is always keen.

We went to Asheville, North Carolina this year and our B&B was fairly nice. We went and visited The Biltmore Estate, and it was really something. I've seen alot that America has to offer, and this is right up there. The place is an architectural marvel, and is so well executed it becomes difficult to fathom that it was, in fact, build by human beings. Coupled with Olmstead's landscaping of the expansive grounds and it seems like something out of a fairytale. A very expensive fairytale.

Biltmore also has a winery, and after a tasting with a passle of rednecks (one who only knew he wanted, "The Red kind - the reddest y'all got!") that was overseen by a clearly jaded steward who had seen more than his fair share of rednecks, apparently, we bought a case of Chenin Blanc that was absolutely amazing.

To fill some of our remaining time, we went and poked around downtown. The stuff that was so touted turned out to be a little on the boring side, although I did find a bookstore that had tons of books that made me drool (and my wallet shriek in terror). Suffice it to say, I didn't actually purchase any, but the reverance and awe were clearly present on my part.

We also went and visited some waterfalls. At least, we tried to. The first one was a bit precarious, as we drove forever until the paved road ended. Then we drove a single lane, trap rock, mountain road for a solid half hour to the top of a mountain. This was a little scary, as guardrails were notably absent, the turns were precarious, and the heights were, well - high. Making it more dangerous were the people also driving on the one-lane, trap rock, mountain road who had no business operating a motor vehicle. Fortunately, they were few and far between.

Once we got to the top, the "dead-end parking lot" mentioned in our travel guide turned out to be a circle of dirt in the middle of nowhere. Then, the guide said that there would be a hiking path on the right-hand side, that would take us to the 70-foot falls at a distance of a half-mile. What it didn't say was that the "hiking path" was little more than a cut in the forest that went over precarious rock formations and had water-swept areas every fifty feet or so.

In the end, it was worth it, though.

North Carolina
P.S. - I'm 6' 3" and standing about 50' back from the base of the falls.
And you were all ready to call in a Sasquatch sighting, weren't you?
Don't lie...

Before leaving for vacation, I sent an e-mail to all of my customers. It let them know that I was leaving promptly at 5:00 PM on Friday afternoon, so if they had any last-minute quotes or projects to send to please do so on Friday morning. I sent this on Thursday afternoon.

My customers apparently think I'm a magician, as at 3:30 I received a 68 item quote from a customer whose quoting projects are highly labor intensive, followed closely by a twenty-item quote at 3:45 PM from another customer whose items aren't a cut-and-dried walk in the park to quote either. Now, I appreciate the opportunity to do the work, but I was kind of peeved.

See, I had planned to mow my lawn before I left. I also had to pack, and go to the store. I chucked these plans out the window, and ended up paying our youngest employee $40.00 to mow my lawn over the weekend, and ended up working until 8:45 PM. So, even before my vacation had begun, bad things were happening.

The second waterfall we were going to visit wasn't quite as remote, but was much more difficult to get to. The Blue Ridge Parkway is a scenic drive over the spines of the mountains, and it's really something to see. The problem was, we drove for an hour and were nearing the peak of Mount Mitchell (tallest mountain east of the Mississippi and south of Canada, by the by). Our waterfall was at mile marker 361. At mile marker 353, the road was barricaded and 100% closed. So, not only could we not get to the falls, the only way down was back the way we came - an hour drive. My question was this: Where was my warning? Where were the signs? Was I pissed? Yes and no. I probably would not have made the drive, if not for the lure of the falls. This would have been a mistake, as it was a truly beautiful drive. BUT, it would have been nice to know that the road ended thirty miles before it was supposed to and over 5,400 feet in the air with no other way down but back from whence we came.

Mount Mitchell Peak - North Carolina

All in all, we've elected to call this vacation a draw. Not a win, but not a total loss either.

We decided to go and purchase a bed when we got home, and this opened up a whole new can of worms. Our current mattress set is about 13 years old, and in hindsight is in desperate need of replacement. Lately, Wanda hasn't been sleeping very well - if at all. And once we arrived at the hotel on Saturday night, halfway to our destination, I realized when I laid on the bed that I was probably missing something by not having replaced my own sooner. Because it felt nothing like that one.

When we originally purchased our current set, we were alot more strapped for cash. But after sleeping on a $99.00 futon matress (no frame) and then sleeping on an air mattress for a while (I really don't miss those days) we blew the wad and spent $800.00 and some change on a decent Sealy set. Again, this was thirteen years ago.

So, I figured it was time. We went to American, after making certain they had some sort of holiday sale going on. We got there early on Saturday, and found the higher-end Serta sets. The one we liked was about $1,300.00 (which was about what I figured on spending), but the salesperson mentioned that we may wish to try one more set before making a decision. How much did we know about TempurPedic, he asked?

Aside from the name and generalities brought on by television, nothing, we said. So, we followed him over to a supple, Nerf-like bed and had a lay down (I officially hate laying down on a bed while people in the store marvel at the sight, by the way.) It was... different. But, after a few moments it became clear that this bed was superior to the high-end one we had left behind only moments ago. The one we were perfectly ready to purchase.

"Alright," I asked, "How much is this one?" My guesstimate? $2,300.00. I wasn't even close...

All told, the magnificent work of craftsmanship we were currently prone upon was - sale priced - at $4,173.00. But hey, that was with tax.

Four thousand dollars for a bed? Who PAYS that kind of money? We liked it, but - man.

Of course, after walking around for ten minutes discussing it, and after laying on the two candidates once more, one after the other, we bought it.


To alleviate my having to run to the other bank to make a transfer, I figured we'd simply take advantage of two years free interest by obtaining an American card. For those of you who don't know me, my credit is impeccable. If I ask for a $1,000 line, I get twelve. It's really no ones business, and I'm blessed to have such resources that lead to such good credit. So, if I seem insincere, I apologize. I only mention this fact because of what happened next.

We were declined, pending further processing. WHAT? I have never - never - been denied credit. Anywhere. Not since I was sixteen, and Sears said, "Piss off." My assets outweigh my debts, and my credit score just gets better with age.

So, I figured there had been some mistake. The customer service representative said that they could not tell me why credit had been tentatively denied for legal reasons, but perhaps there was something we had not mentioned? She also mentioned that it did happen once in a while, which made me even more concerned. If it was an everyday event, then fine. Maybe there were some tough credit strictures. But "once in a while" was disturbing to hear.

Now, I know she was doing her job, but I was pissed. What she was saying was, "I don't know you from Adam, but apparently you did something wrong in the past, or forgot to pay something." And I can't fault her for her delicate tact, either. She also mentioned that maybe something had not matched between the form, and the actual credit report. I asked her to call it in again, and the same result came about. This time, though, she asked us how much we made (it's in the report) and where my wife worked. WHAT?

So, I just paid for the thing, and let her know that I was a bit irritated. I then asked for the whole sequence of events to be rescinded. I no longer wanted an American card, thank you. But, she said she couldn't do that. There was no way to stop the process, even though I was not approved.

Now, I was freaking out. I called my Banker and my Broker on my way home, but could only reach my Broker. He knows my credit, and was dumbfounded that a retail store would not extend me $4,000.00 in credit. He suggested that either something fraudulent was occuring, or the report was somehow in error. Nothing else made sense to him.

So, I stopped by the office on the way home, and pulled both my and Wanda's credit reports. They were perfect, with the exception of the fact that Wanda's said she was born in the year zero, and that she had no employer. This was from Experian (the agency American stated they were using), one of the three agencies who handles credit along with Equifax and TransUnion. The latter two had been used on us before, but to my knowledge, no one had ever pulled an Experian report. If they had, they would have realized that my wife was apparently an unemployed, two-thousand and eight year old hottie.

I'm still bitter and embarrassed, but for no good reason I suppose. I'm just used to getting what I want, and not being humiliated in front of several people who I do not know, who are all thinking privately, "Here's another deadbeat who thinks he's got good credit".

Well, I do. Dammit.

But, I digress. The rest of that afternoon went off without flaw, and I look forward to our new bed and some pleasant nights of sleep.

We then went and purchased a new office chair, as the one we have currently, while very nice, was killing our poor backs. As I get older, I realize that back surgery is probably in my future if I don't do something different. So, since my office chair sends it into spasms, I figured it was a no-brainer to get a new one. We got one of those weird, meshy, ergonomic models with adjustable everything. The downside is that now, if I fart, there's nothing there to stop it. I'm kidding... probably.

The following morning, we decided to take a trip down to the local antiques mall. Normally, we don't bother, but once or twice a year they host a stall-sale in their parking lot where local vendors of antiquities come to hawk their wares. Mostly, it's the auction house and estate sale set.

Yet, each time we have gone, we have found some thing or another that grabbed our attention and was more than reasonably priced. We went with only forty-three bucks between us, and ended up with three. We found a keen cast-metal dragon to hang above our door in one of our bedrooms (with a fantastic patina to boot) and a Spanish lapel pin for Wanda. I also found a first edition, first printing of an early Grisham book that was one of the few that I had only Book Club editions of and it was in great shape. A bargain at three bucks, really.

I spent the rest of the afternoon "cleaning out" the DVR, and found an abundance of educational shows that I had missed in the past week to divert my waning attention, as I was just too cranky and tired to read.

Once more, I apologize for having missed so many entries. Both to myself, and to the few of you who actually read this. We don't have another vacation planned in the near term, so plan on my being here each and every week for a good long while.

(05/11/08 - 09:43 AM)
It's been raining all night, so it's probably a good thing that I got my lawn mowed on Friday afternoon.

Today, I install Service Pack 3 for Windows (it's monopolizing my computer's resources as I write this, so there's a lovely hang-time to everything.)

(05/10/08 - 11:36 PM)
Wanda and I went to my Moms this morning to paint the basement that we didn't get to paint last winter (it got too cold, and I wanted to wait until it got warmer so that the place could air out and also so I would not be faced with a wife-sicle.) Plus, we were pretty wiped out from months of house-grooming and we figured the basement would probably keep.

We managed to get it done in a fairly decent amount of time, so now all that is left is to finish painting the garage and to do some touch up around some light fixtures.

Then Mom took my brother, his wife, myself and my wife out to dinner for all of the help that we gave her in renovating her houses, followed by dessert at her place. I felt kind of bad, as Mother's Day was only hours away, and she was doing all of this for us instead of the reverse. We did give her her card and gift though, so that made me feel a bit better about the situation.

(05/09/08 - 10:12 PM)
I went the full nine tonight and trimmed, swept, mowed, etc. By the time I finally got in the house and had dinner it was 9:00. It was kind of a long day.

(05/08/08 - 06:43 PM)
Today, I began reading a book that you will be hearing a great deal about in the next six months. Patrick Rothfuss' "The Name of The Wind" is the first book in what may very well become a modern day "Lord Of The Rings" trilogy. I'm not far into the story, but I can tell you this: the writing is more than just evocative, and reminiscent of Tolkien. You get a sense after only a few pages that Rothfuss has a rare knack for smithing words and it is also apparent that he is a perfectionist.

Want to make some money, somewhere down the line? Get your hands on a signed first edition of this book. I'll let you know how it was once I've finished it (it's a monster at 661 pages.)

(05/06/08 - 11:27 PM)
Today, I learned that the largest denomination of American paper currency ever printed was a $100,000.00 note. It was printed specifically for financial institutions to transfer huge sums of money to one another, and was never available to the public. I can just see bank managers shrieking, "Ya-Hoo!" as they simply hold the thing.

You can read more about it here.

Who's Got A Woodrow?

Want to learn more about the monster denomination currency for the rest of us? Click here.

(05/05/08 - 09:32 PM)
My assistant's assistant tried to fax something to our own fax machine today. I realize that she didn't mean to, but damn - that's funny.

(05/04/08 - 06:43 PM)
"Lamb" by Christopher Moore was a book that I had intentionally shied away from for a very long time. Truth be told, it was this book that originally kept me from reading Moore's work for a number of years.

The book's full title is: "Lamb: The Gospel According To Biff, Christ's Childhood Pal". And knowing what I know about the irreverance of Moore, it took forever to bring myself around to reading it. And I'm actually quite glad that I did.

This book was meticulously researched, and I applaud that. While I'm certain that it would be minor blasphemy to some, and heresy to others, I found that it helped to humanize (no pun intended) one of the greatest figures in history (and, debatably, the most misunderstood.)

This book chronicles the life and times of Joshua (nee, Yeshua, nee Jesus) that are notably missing from the New Testament through the eyes of his good friend Biff. If anything inappropriate is done, it always falls to Biff to do it - Joshua stays meticulously innocent throughout the entire text, which works for me.

We are presented with a modern fable that ties old to new. In the acknowledgements, Moore even states his shortcomings, his errors, and his imagination stretches. On the whole though, I found it to be a well researched, well written book that I didn't find to be overtly offensive.

Having read the Bible cover to cover (thank you, Catholic High School), I can say that a number of events described are indeed in there, and were protrayed, structurally, accurately. And I can also say that I even learned a thing or two about governmental structure and the dangerous times of Christ's early years. And if you can learn something in the process, what's not to love?

I don't recommend this book to the truly devout. It'll probably piss you off - somewhere, somehow. But to those of you who are secure enough in your faith to understand that it is a fable that has no overtly blasphemous intent; that was written with forethought and compassion, then I'd say go for it.

(05/03/08 - 10:18 PM)
I went to work this morning, right after I picked up my second lawnmower from the place where I have the annual maintenance performed. The weather couldn't seem to make up its mind, so by the time I was out in the open I was freezing in shorts and a t-shirt where when I left it seemed well on the way to being a sun-shiny day. It was 47 degrees.

After work, I came home and did a few things and then sat down to read for a bit.

Then, a most dreaded event befell me. The phone rang. I hate answering the phone. I can't explain it rationally, and I won't even bother to try - I just hate it.

I figured hey, look on the bright side - maybe it's a family member who has something interesting to discuss. I should have known that this would not be the case however, because, for whatever reason, my family posesses an unnatural penchant for contacting me only at work, and during working hours. To this day, I still don't know why but my theory is that questions about computers and so forth simply cannot wait.

Further, what always makes it more interesting is that they ask if I am busy. Which, I realize, is a common pleasantry borne of politeness and I can appreciate that. But, usually, I'm busy.

Anyway... the phone rang, and I cringed as I looked upon the bright side. I answered the phone with a half-hearted, "Hello."

"I'm comin' in!" came the only response from what seemed to be a middle-aged woman with a hint of a prior southern accent that she appeared to have been unable to shake in what I will surmise was a number of years living among us yankees.

"I beg your pardon?" I said, perplexed. At this point I was waiting for the punchline, or for someone I knew to drop their most righteous falsetto and embark on a conversation. This was simply not to be.

"I'm comin' in!" came the mystery voices' only response.

"I'm sorry," I replied, "I'm afraid that you've lost me here."

Then, she hung up. Not even so much as, "Sorry, wrong number" or "I hope you weren't doin' it." Nope. She just hung up.

I was curious, to say the least. I was tempted to call her back, but I just didn't care enough. I figured a little mystery never hurt anyone.

(05/02/08 - 10:42 PM)
I arrived home from work tonight, and it was sunny and mostly warm enough to deter me from complaining too loudly. The sun was shining, and I was confronted with a lawn that was vigorously growing, to say the least. I had a decision to make.

I elected to mow the lawn. I figured it would be a good way to unwind after work, and it was relatively nice out.

Man, I'm stupid.

As I began to mow, I felt the wind kick up. Then it kicked up some more. When it finally felt like a wind tunnel experiment, I paid attention to the direction that it was blowing - directly from the south/southwest. As I took a gander over yonder, I saw a mass of gunmetal clouds forming ranks with one thought on their mind - making me uncomfortable.


Worse still, I usually mow my lawn on the top speed. The problem is, when the lawn is too healthy the grass is too thick to accomodate this, so I had to kick it down to a middle setting. This means that I have to mow for twenty extra minutes.

As the minutes passed, the wind was attempting to buffet me prone and the cold that accompanied it was slowly sinking into the interior of my corporeal self. Worse still, the sun had given up on me. As the misery became more palpable, the wind kicked up to a full gale and the rain began. And I don't mean a warm, refreshing drizzle. Nope - this was damn near to hail, but it was about a half-degree too warm to freeze.


So, I continued to mow in the front - where there is no protection from the wind and rain. And the weather continued to be weathery.

About the time I got into the back yard, where there's plenty to block the wind, the wind began to settle a bit. About the time I finished mowing, the sun was back out, and the rain had stopped. My timing could not have been more abysmal.

(05/01/08 - 11:13 PM)
"The Island of the Sequined Love Nun" was a bit of a surprise, being a Christopher Moore book. Here was a book that managed to be both funny and poignant. His premise was fascinating, if not pure evil. But fascinating nonetheless.

Tucker Case flys a big pink jet for a national cosmetics company. That is until he gets snockered and attempts to initiate an off-duty hooker into the mile high club. Whereupon he crashes the plane, receives a lawsuit from the hooker, and has severe damage done to his "little co-pilot."

Jobless, penniless, and in a heap of trouble and hurt, he is presented with an offer to fly for a mysterious doctor on a Pacific island that he has never heard of. The doctor is aware of his checkered past, but is willing to let him fly because he desperately requires a pilot.

Upon his arrival at the island, it becomes clear that everything is not what it seems, and also that a cargo cult is in full and healthy bloom amongst the islanders, save for an old cannibal who still thinks that their God's spokesperson would taste better than she looks.

This is one of Moore's books that can be read on its own, and it's one of his better works. As a whole, it's not as wacky as most, but the subject matter seems to allow for that. Also, Roberto the talking fruit bat keeps us grounded in wacky, so all is right with the world.

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