A Twist Of Fate
November, 2009 Entries
"Always go to other people's funerals. Otherwise, they won't come to yours." - Yogi Berra

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(11/28/09 - 11:56 AM)
I caught part of a show the other night about animal police. There's a whole bunch of them, centering on different cities on the Animal Planet channel. This one showed a veterinarian holding up a cat that was about the size of our own, but was a few pounds heavier (about 2-3). She stated that this was also a form of animal cruelty, and that the owner may be cited for having an overweight cat.

I couldn't believe what I had just heard.

Here is what went through my head:

° One may legally have an abortion.
° One may legally have obese children.
° One may not legally have an overweight cat.

Sweet Otis Redding, has this whole world gone insane?

(11/27/09 - 8:24 PM)
Wanda and I each had fairly productive days today. She cleaned the house, while I took the snowblower in to have the tires tubed for winter. I then went outside and raked and burned all the leaves (a majority, anyway), got the call from the tire place and took the snowblower from there to the small engine place to get it tuned up, went to the bank, went to the store, and got the bills paid and the checkbook all up to date. All the while, I continued to work on ripping our television DVD's to iPod format, while downloading this weeks' batch of free songs from Amazon.com.

I actually felt like I hadn't wasted the day, so I played the new Super Mario Bros. Wii for an hour or so. While not without its charm, I feel kind of disappointed so far in the game. It feels alot like a re-hash of things before, and I was hoping for more innovation, as well as more interesting graphics on the new platform. I don't know, perhaps I'm too fussy.

Perhaps I'm just too old for it to be as fun as I recall it having been as a child.

(11/26/09 - 8:16 PM)
Spent the day with my side of the family at my Aunt Linda & Uncle Doug's house. The main attraction was their little Scottie dog, Brodie (better names, Aunt Linda, better names) until my cousin showed up with her cute-as-a-button daughters whereupon Margaret (the oldest) became the main attraction as she played with the dog in lieu of my wife who gave in to the cuteness of the whole event and just watched.

This was also the first time I had gotten to see my cousin's second daughter and new arrival, Zoe. I don't know how my cousin and her husband keep pumping out such cute-dorable kids, but good work, the both of you.

The notable absence was my other cousin, Patrick, who was unable to attend. He ended up staying in Osaka, Japan where he and his 'significant other' live. This was a shame, as I like seeing them both and seeing what's happening half-way around the world.

Perhaps next year. We did get to see my brother's friend, Cornbread (nee, Mike), who's always a good guy to get to touch base with now and again. He's been a friend of the family for so long, he feels like a step-brother to me and I'm always glad to see him.

Other than that, everyone seemed sort of docile and non-gregarious this year, on the whole. I'm not sure if this is a good sign or not. I think there may still be some underlying issues with the death of my Grandfather having yet to come to full closure (i.e. - getting his accounts and affairs in order somethree years later), so perhaps that's it. Or maybe I was just tired.

Either one would explain it.

(11/25/09 - 2:48 PM)
Work died off a little today, so I snuck out a bit early. Our custmers and vendors all appear to be taking advantage of the lousy economy by not being open tomorrow or friday, as well as taking a half-day today. This provides me with little to quote and few orders to process, so I figured I'd come home and get some things done.

Thus far, I have also avoided a purchase that arrived at work for me today. The good folks at Nintendo have issued a new Super Mario Brothers game for the Wii just in time for Christmas, and I ordered up a copy as soon as I knew it existed.

The really REALLY exciting thing is that they've reverted back to a side-scroll format (allbeit a severly enhanced one). So, old school geeks like me who remember the first five Super Mario Bros. games being the neatest things since sliced bread, while the sixth one blew 3D chunks are finally placated with something we never thought we might see again: Side Scrolling.

I cannot emphasize enough how much willpower I am exercising at this very moment. Suffice it to say, were it a new Ratchet & Clank game I don't think I'd be here typing this. Turns out that there's one of THOSE too, for the PlayStation 3 that just came out.

Now, I just need a Playstation 3...

(11/21/09 - 8:04 PM)
Often on Friday evenings, Wanda and I enjoy washing away the remains of our week with pizza, mindless television, and a drink. It's something that we both often look forward to, just shutting our minds off for an evening.

We always order pizza from the same local place, because it's the closest thing available up here to our favorite place of all in our old neighborhood in Rockford. Every time I call, I let them know my total (because we always order the same thing) so that they don't have to call me back with it if they're busy. Sometimes they do, sometimes they don't.

Tonight, I got a young lady who I have spoken with several times before. I gave my order and, once again, gave my total. Moments later the phone rang. It was the young woman at the pizza place calling me back. She quoted me a total that was one penny less than what I had told her.

There was a polite back and forth before she burst into laughter. It turns out, she was just trying to be funny. I thought it was pretty well played myself, and told her so. She apologized, and I told her no need - it was a pretty funny back and forth, all in all.

At least SOMEONE out there in the world at large still has a sense of humor.

(11/20/09 - 2:06 PM)
FRIDAY! Woo-hoo!


It's been a Deusy of a week. All of my first-shift guys are back on the payroll, as well as my Expediter (this means I can actually take a moment to think straight at work again.) It's been a good week, and it seems to get better with each passing day. I just hope we can keep this pace of inflow up, but even if we can't, it still looks like we'll be in work until the end of the year.

So I'll worry more then, if we run out.

One of our old employees who knew more than my Boss and I about running a business, which was one of the reasons he quit with no notice (read: SARCASM), stopped back in to visit, as though nothing were wrong; as though he hadn't proverbially spit in my face by simply walking out on me one day as I walked in the door, later calling my Boss and telling him what a terrible person I was.

My Boss decided that perhaps he was wrong, and sided with me, which was kind of refreshing. Suffice it to say, that he's not my favorite person. I couldn't figure out for the life of me why in the world he just popped in, until I heard that he had pulled the same stunt at the place he left us for just before the economy tanked.

Whoops. Bad timing, I suppose.

He's now working in Verona, Wisconsin, which is about a 55 minute haul from his home. I'm sure there's a mathematical equation he could show us know-nothing businessmen to prove why this is such a good strategy. But I didn't bother to ask. And I was glad when he was gone, because I was worried I might speak my mind.

(11/19/09 - 7:08 PM)
Just got home from dinner with my keen wife. I got home late tonight, and by the time my daily chores were done, she was home and I had not even had time to begin dinner.

It was a rough day, but a good one for the most part. We were extremely busy at work, so that made for a nice, flowing work day. The down side was that a collection agent representing the lovely folks at R.E. Services kept calling constantly and harassing us, while not telling us what it was that he wanted, exactly.

He began with my assistant, on call #1. He asked if she could verify employment. She responded in the affirmative. Then he asked if anyone else could do so. At this point, we knew he was from 'R.E.S.' and was named 'Doug'. This was all we knew, and all he would give.

My assistant stated that, yes, others could verify employment, but she would have to help him, and whom was he calling about please?

After running around for some time, he got belligerant and she finally hung up on him. But he wasn't done. Oh, no no.

On his second call, he asked my assistant if she were going to hang up on a recorded call once more. At no time had the individual mentioned that the call was being recorded until this point. After several minutes of badgering, my poor assistant gave up the ghost, and handed the call off to me.

I answered the phone with cheer and professionalism, as I would any other call:

"Good afternoon, this is Heath speaking, how may I help you?"

"Heath! Heath? Like the candy bar, Heath?"

"Yes sir."

"Alright. Heh-heh. Hey, what's your address there?"

No mention of who he was, where he was calling from, what he wanted, or whether the call was being recorded.

"I'm sorry," I replied, "To whom am I speaking, please?"

"What? You don't have an address? Is this the way you treat all of your customers?"

"No sir," came my response, "I don't treat anyone any particular way. I just like to know who I am speaking with, and what their business is."

"This is Doug, with R.E.S. Now what's your address?"

"And what is this call regarding?"

"So you don't have an address?"

This little back and forth went on for about a minute, with me killing with kindness and not giving an inch, and Doug getting hotter by the moment.

Eventually, I hung up on him.

But he wasn't done. He called back a third time, harassed my assistant, and she hung up on him.

The fourth time, I happened to answer the phone.

"I want to talk to anyone there who isn't you," came Doug's greeting to my having answered the phone.

"I'm sorry, may I ask who's calling?"

"You know who this is, and I don't want to talk to you. I want to talk to anyone who isn't you. You were extremely rude to me last time, and then you said that >mumble< could answer my question and I got shuttled off to get lost in your voice mail system. Does anyone else there answer the phone besides you?"

Whoops, Doug. Keep your lies straight. I never sent you to someone else, as I'm it. And we don't have a voice mail system. It must be hard to lie and badger all day, and still keep things straight.

I thought about arguing the point, but simply said, "If you can tell me the nature of your business, Sir, I would be happy to help in any that I may."

"No, I don't want you. Is there another department that I can talk to? Accounts payable? Accounts receivable, shipping? Anyone? Anyone but you? And I'm about ready to file a complaint with the Secretary of State of Illinois that you hang up on people!"

In my mind, I went, "Uh, what now?"

"Well, you have to do what you have to do, sir. None of those individuals are available to you. If you would care to tell me what this is in regard to, I will be happy to provide any information that I may, but so far you have been a bit elusive on the subject."

"Do yourself a favor, and hang up on me again. Go ahead, do it. See if I don't file a complaint."

I waited, without saying anything further, and he eventually hung up on me.

We then did a little research, my now assistant and I, and found information and testimonials on R.E. Services. They're a collections agency. And there were numerous testimonials on-line attesting to behavior such as this being experienced by others.

I spoke with my wife, and found that not only were they assholes, but they were also breaking the law. The Fair Debt Collection Procedures Act states that you, nor your agents, may not contact the employer of a debtor.

Whoops. Guess ol' Douggie didn't know that. I guess, for the time being, I'll just sit back and wait for my reprimand from the Secretary of State for improper phone etiquette.

I'm sorry, I'm actually laughing as I type. How stupid is this guy?

(11/17/09 - 8:12 PM)
The fish that my wife picked out turned grey and died. After watching his symptoms, and his speedy decline, we found that he more than likely had a swim bladder infection. The upside is that he probably would have died in the near term, regardless of whether he were here with us or not. The down side is that my wife feels like it's her fault, when in fact there's nothing that she could have done based on our findings.

So, she got a new fish. And this one is brighter, faster, and a whole lot more active than the last one (go figure). The fact that it seems to be doing well seems to be bolstering her spirits, but I still have some convincing to do to make her truly believe that she did not commit an inadvertant act of icthiocide.

Here's a picture of the new little guy. According to my wife, this shot shows the fish, "Being narcicissistic and staring at himself in a shiny rock.". We'll call that a caption, then.

Why am I so beautiful?

(11/16/09 - 7:18 PM)
I was talking to my Boss today about nothing in particular (a rare moment, anymore) and he relayed to me a very interesting story.

He mentioned that the other day, parent-teacher conferences were held at his Church's Pre-School. Everything went smoothly, except for a meeting between one teacher, and one parent.

For a bit of background, here's a story that is secondary, but still germane to the situation.

One recent day, the teacher told all of the students to clean up their areas so that snacks could be handed out. Every student complied, with the exception of one young man. He openly refused, and became vocal and belligerant toward the teacher. After several requests and warnings, he was told that unless he complied, he would not receive his snack. He retorted that he didn't care, and that was that.

So, everyone else finished cleaning up, and snacks were handed out to everyone but the stalwart boy. At this point, the boy went into a shrieking, crying frenzy over the perceived injustice being openly perpetrated upon him. This did not stop until his mother came to pick him up. As she saw her teary-eyed son, she asked what the matter was. When the matter was explained by first her son, and then his teacher, the mother took the teacher aside and scolded her that, "We do NOT treat him like that! Not even at home!"

Beginning to see where this is going? But wait! It gets better!

The conferences were held days later, and this mother came in ready for war. She was livid. The reason? Because this church-sponsored pre-school was, "Shoving Jesus and their beliefs down her kids' throat."

When it was gently brought to her attention that all of their signage and literature indicated a Christ-centered education, she was having none of it. She threatened suit, demanded a refund, and went on a tirade that spent all of the good-nature left in the poor teacher, who was near tears when the woman had had her fill of bullying.

I once again say this: Just because you can breed, doesn't mean that you should. What the hell is wrong with people?

(11/14/09 - 2:12 PM)
I actually watched "Loose Change" for the first time this week. It's a movie that I had heard about from a friend back when it was first released. Due to events at the time (we were flipping a house, so we were kind of busy) I promptly forgot about the whole thing. I ended up buying a copy about four months back (the final version) with the intention of watching it but, once more, got too busy.

One of my co-workers mentioned a pair of conspiracy films that he had seen, and asked if I had seen them as well. I told him that I had not, and he loaned them to me to watch (I'll let you know about them after I watch them.)

This reminded me of "Loose Change" a second time, and I decided to finally watch it.

The result? Mixed, but interesting. The producer of the film raises alot of questions that I myself had, as well as raising many that I knew nothing about. His questions are, for the most part, well founded on factual data that he and his group have collected. This helps to bolster their point. Further, he has also collected data that debunks points made by individuals in power, which also strengthens his position further.

The only issue I have is comprehension of context. In other words, while the data is presented in a way that seems to indicate that the 9/11 attacks were a grand perpetration upon us by our own Government (a fact that I am personally inclined to believe, moreso after seeing this film), one has to be careful about making a decision based on one viewpoint alone.

When the original attacks occured, I and others around me began absorbing the coverage on all the networks for hours and hours on end. We would then (most likely like most of America) discuss our thoughts, or share our findings each day with one another in an effort to put into perspective the event that had radically changed our lives in some meaningful way.

I also had two friends of the family who were in The Pentagon that fateful day, and having spoken to one of them, can validate to some small degree the information being presented in the film. It's only a mere fragment, but it still bolsters the filmmakers questions, as well as my own.

With this being said, I feel that I can at the very least say that I have seen a good deal more from 'the other viewpoint', and still hold my personal belief. I would highly suggest (as the filmmakers do as well) that anyone who wishes to know more seek it out to make the most informed decision possible. I'm not that interested in it anymore (not that I don't still consider it a tragic event), so I choose not to seek out new information. This film being the exception.

By educating oneself, one can avoid what I like to call 'information by omission'. What I mean is that sometimes, a fact or thought left out of a larger whole can skew a viewpoint in a way that is desired by the individual presenting that viewpoint. There may very well be even more evidence out there (alright, I'm certain that there's tons of it - germane or not) that helps to bolster, or disprove points or thoughts presented in this film.

What I will say, in closing, is that to the filmmaker's credit, the questions he has asked are rational and certainly deserve an open response. Instead, what we have received from our Government Officials are vagary, conflicting information, lack of information, or outright lies. This is disturbing, in light of the magnitude of the event that occured. Moreoever, it is shameful that a Nation as large and prosperous as our own, built on the ideals of the Republic and Democracy, can be lead by individuals - chosen by the public - who perform these acts of chicanery on the populous.

(11/13/09 - 3:10 PM)
I just picked up my e-mail for the week. In it, was a forward from my wife. The original mail had come from my sister-in-law, and was in regard to the November 4th post about my now hard-to-find coffee product.

I almost wish I had not opened it, and yet at the very least I feel awash in a sense of closure.

The product is now only sold in Canada (eh!). It is no longer sold in the United States. She DID however find ONE person on E-bay™ who was selling six-packs from Canada.

She even sent me the link. How cool was that?

I eagerly clicked the link. And there, on my screen, was the Canadian-cousin to my American package: The product I wanted was there! And available with a "buy now" option. I was all sqooshy inside until... >SIGH<

Until I looked at the price. For, you see, apparently a markup of 400% didn't seem too far out of the question for the Canadian seller.

And while not too much, perhaps, for him, it was for me. I truly wanted the product, sure: but not that badly.

So, I am forced to clarify my November 4th entry: I will reimburse if purchased within the contiguous United States for no more than $5.00 per bottle.

If (and I'm sure no one has) but IF someone thought they'd be my favoritest person in the world and has already purchased via E-bay then let me know, and I'll certainly honor my original offer. And I'll enjoy my expensive coffee too, dammit.


(11/12/09 - 9:21 PM)
So, last night was just a super-neato time.

After writing my blog entry and heading off to bed, I laid there in horrible pain until about 12:00, when I could lay down no more and it had become apparent that sleep would not come.

A fever was coming on strong, and so I elected to make camp on the couch. I turned on the television, and checked out what was ready to escape from the confines of the DVR. Fortunately, there were some decent distractions in there. Unfortunately, by about 2:30 I was out of decent ones, and had moved on to background noise. My pain had intensified, and it felt like my whole body were a pulsating mass of lava and needles. The fever worsened, and I began to feel light headed. I forced myself to half sit, half lay down, and just ride it out.

A little after 3:00 AM, I could almost feel the fever break. I began sweating profusely (which, for me, is a good sign. When I run a high fever, it seems that my body will not sweat no matter how hot it gets.) Aren't you glad to know that!

I finally fell into a fitful sleep on and off until it was time to get up for work. As I attempted to stand, I felt as though a boisterous herd of elephants had run me over, and wished very much indeed to simply collapse back on the couch and let the chips of the world around me fall where they may.

But, I needed to get up. I got going, and got into work. Today was the first day in the past week that my Boss has been in the office. And my employees had decided to do some decidedly poor decision making prior to my arrival. This resulted in a thorough inquisition on my Boss's part to me upon my arrival.

I was frustrated because they all knew better. And he knew better than to think that I would simply let poor decisions be made. I explained that I had not, in fact, been there when said decisions had been made. And further that when I was there those decisions would have been rectified immediately - just as he had done.

To explain a bit more: I arrive at 8:30. This is due to budget cuts, layoffs, etc. We've dual- and treble-purposed several employees (I among them), and have tried to make the very best of a difficult situation. And we're doing it. The problem is that Management and oversight are tougher and tougher to perform, when there are 800 other things in your face at any given moment, all marked 'Urgent!' This I also related to my Boss, who was at least minimally understanding (while also being totally cognizant and aware of the situation already).

The fact of the matter, I explained to him, was that I had done what I always do: I micro-manage so that I can keep everything moving like clockwork. It takes more time on my part, but it guarantees that my employees do not have to think about anything more than their specified role within the corporate structure. By micro-managing, I take control of the situations that lead up to parts getting out the door in good order, and leave the rest to the best.

The problems that my Boss was alluding to were problems of macro-management. He had put in place several macro-management strategies, and the shortcomings that he was citing were results of this. Not that this makes those strategies wrong (one is actually working quite well, in fact.) Nor does it make me immune to blame (I still have a job to do that requires oversight of his operation.) But it does rely heavily on the individual employees making decisions that we know them to be capable of making on a day to day basis. Specifically, these decisions center around their ability to do their job to the most efficient and time-effective degree. This is one of the reasons why they are paid very well.

So, no - I can't macro-manage in my sleep. And I think I might have actually gotten this thought through. It's tough to say with him, sometimes.

At any rate, it turned into a good discussion about the problems I was currently dealing with as the only manager on-site during the day. With no one to delegate to, I was handling the responsibilities of the Expediting Manager, as well as my own. Further, my Shipping/Receiving Manager is also doing our driving at the moment, so she is not there to delegate to either for the better part of the day.

I just hope that I can keep this up. I've always been good at juggling a ton of tasks at once. The problem for me is when I have no one but myself to delegate tasks to. This demands that I not only find the solution, but respond to personal delegation to see the solution through. And for me, it's a matter of time that I don't have. Because the next hurdle is always coming up very quickly...

(11/11/09 - 7:30 PM)
My wife had the day off today (don't ask - it's a long story). Suffice it to say that her law office has some odd setup with alternating days off on legal holidays when the courts are closed in town.


I got home from work, and offered to take her to dinner. She accepted with glee, and off we went, a happy couple into the sunset. Yet, the more I drove, the more I found it difficult to ignore the niggling feeling that something was a bit off with my well-being. I couldn't put my finger on it, but I began to think I might finally have become seriously unwell. Not that I had been feeling great for the past few weeks. But I had certainly been holding major illness at bay. And not that this would come as any surprise, with the veritable throng of virus and bacteria-laden co-workers that I had been working around of late. Nearly everyone in the shop has been sick, with the execption of myself and my Shipping/Receiving Manager. Worse still, there seem to be several different things going around. Viva variety!, I suppose.

It seemed to me that as individuals would finish out one sort of illness, they would trade-off, and get something else in something akin to a secret-Santa trade gone white elephant: Sure, you get something, but it's never what you want. And it may possibly be worse than what you gave. Especially if my father-in-law is involved. (Love ya, Gary! Elvis: not so much.)

We got to the restaurant, and I was definately feeling it, but I pushed it aside as just being hungry. In reality, while I had eaten el zilcho all day long, I didn't really feel hungry either. I figured I was deluding myself, but on the off chance that I was wrong, I figured that we were already there, so let's eat.

We ordered, and as we conversed we noted that there was a group of four male teachers and administrators from the local school system sitting in the booth directly behind us. We knew this because they talked a great deal about work, interspersed with reminiscing and random trivial facts.

The most annoying bit to me, was that they kept asking trivial questions of one another as one would talk about a particular topic. This in and of itself was not annoying. What was annoying was that on several occasions no one knew the answer. And being the pompous, trivial know-it-all that I sometimes am (read: ALL THE TIME), I actually wanted to simply pipe up with the answer, rather than hear them back and forth about what the answer might possibly be.

Yes, Whitey Ford did in fact pitch for the Yankees. And, NO, Sandy Koufax [nee, Sanford Braun] was NEVER a New York Yankee. He signed with - and stayed with - the Dodgers for his whole career, even through the move to Los Angeles. And while the Yankees sure do have a history for picking great players, they not only never picked Mr. Koufax but no one else did either. He was picked up as an amateur free agent (also known as a 'bonus baby') by the Dodgers.

But hey: what do I know?

As the lunch hour transitioned into the dinner hour, the hostess went to the wall and dimmed the lights. But she dimmed a bit too far, a bit too quickly. Then, she recovered almost as quickly, and all was placed right (but now dimmer) in a matter of a second or two.

This took the lot of us diners by surprise, including the foursome behind us.

Then, over my shoulder I heard, "Am I dying, or did the lights just dim in here?"

Wanda and I both tried not to let our laughter be heard, but it was pretty tough. The guy's timing and delivery was spot-on, and it was so funny I only wish that I had said it.

As I finished eating, I knew something was horribly wrong. Even as I write this, I'm in a great deal of discomfort and am headed off to bed early. I just hope that I feel better in the morning.

(11/10/09 - 3:50 PM)
I had a woman walk into my vestibule today (go ahead, make your joke: I'll wait.) She was carrying one of those large, mass-produced-in-India, steel stars that seem to be ubiquitous of late. She wore an entirely inappropriate outfit for her age and the weather, and it was somewhat offputting. Specifically, she wore terrycloth short-shorts and a hoodie that didn't seem to fit her right, and showed way too much chicken skin on a body best covered in hard-core Muslim garb.

She explained that she had just come from the gym down the street (also one of our customers), and had driven by our place and had an idea.

She asked if we could turn this $12.00 'treasure' into a firepit cover for her new firepit.

It was kind of a cool idea, to her credit.

I told her we can do just about anything, and asked her about the project. At this, she whipped out a photograph of one of the nicest patio/deck/firepit combinations that I think I have ever seen, and I immediately knew several things:

  • This had been a VERY professional job
  • This professional job had cost her (or her husband or both) somewhere in the 5-digits to have done
  • She really didn't want what she was asking for

I started with the last one first. "Ma'am, we can certainly do what you've asked. But I don't think that it will be what you want. You've asked me to take this raised-pentagonal shape with a flat-planed bottom and add a parabolic base to it. It can be done, but it will be extremely difficult, as you would be merging three separate geometries: Parabolic, flat, and pentagonal. This will end up being cost-prohibitive.

The next problem is that you have obviously spent a great deal of money, effort and time in achieving this amazing looking firepit. If we put this star - either by itself or with another piece attached to it - over the firepit and in the elements it will rust. And that rust will stain the porous stones to no end, making your gorgeous firepit look awful unless you choose to prime and paint it, and then maintain it. This will most likely need to be done at the end or beginning of each fire-pit season."

She had more thoughts that I lovingly shot down, one by one, with logic and reason. This led me back to my original statement to her when I had seen the photo, "You're going to need stainless-steel, and it will have to be custom-made."

She finally agreed that this was probably the way to go, and we began working on a design. Within another five minutes, I had a rudimentary sketch drawn up. The design met her approval, and all of her needs. I asked her to please - for her own sake - go home and measure the outisde diameter of the fire pit with a tape measure.

The reason? She had eyeballed the star against my tape measure when she initially brought it in and said, "Yep. I think that's about right."

Which is great, if you don't mind buying the same thing a couple times over in order to get it to fit. And I sort of figured that for as much money as she (or her husband, or possibly both) might have on hand, no one in their right mind would wish to do this intentionally.

Even so, she fought me on this. "I'm not really handy."

I wanted to scream at her, but I very politely and tactfully said, "Well, if you, or perhaps your husband or significant other could just take a tape measure to it, and give me a call with the resulting number, this will guarantee success. If neither of you feel comfortable doing so, I'm sure there is a son, daughter, friendly neighbor, or someone that you know who would probably not mind doing so for you."

I just hoped that I was right. I told her that I would get the design quoted and call her with a working number in the near term. Which finally brought an end to her incessant question of, "How much is this going to cost?" that she had been asking every step of the way. As though I can somehow envision the price of something non-existant, with no design - no plan - in my head and that I could, further, estimate costs of materials and labor in my head without a calculator (alright, I can to some degree but... nevermind.) Of course she had no way of knowing this, but it was tantamout to walking into a high-end London Tailor and saying, "I need to know how much it will cost to clothe me."

Too many variables; not enough planning.

Suffice it to say, I think that in the end she was well pleased with the resultant plan. I think she felt as though I had listened to her needs (all 20 minutes of them) and that I had addressed all the concerns she had, as well as the ones she should have had, but had not tought of.

I just hope to heck we quote her a price she likes, and that we actually make a few bucks on the job. If not that, then I hope that her word of mouth is a torrent aimed at all the right outlets. This, too, would have some estimable value.

On another note, we received a catalog in the mail today from Despair, Inc. (whose products I could build a wardrobe out of, among other things - check them out!)

On the back of the catalog, the mailing label was in a really odd spot. Where one would assume the mailing label should have gone was the following message in VideoJet ink:

Hey - check this out! A (former) bonehead in our graphics department laid out the back of the catalog incorrectly. The USPS told us the address sticker had to go OVER the Laptop Skin pic or they can't mail it. So we're using this newly available "ad space" to bid a fond farewell to Cody. (Mourn you 'til we join you, bud. Peace.)

If that wasn't intentional, it makes it exponentially hilarious. Either way, I got a kick out of it.

(11/09/09 - 5:10 PM)
I just woke up from a nap. I kept trying to sleep, but just as I would arrive with suitcase in hand to the Slumberland Ranch, the phone would ring anew. And to think, I pay over $50.00 a month for the priviledge.

Any-hoo, I've been assaulted virally with something unpleasant that makes me just run a slight fever and want to sleep. This would be good if I were a junkie who was broke and didn't mind a mild, fever-induced, high in place of the real thing.

Unfortunately, that isn't me. I'm all sorts of crazy and overtly unpleasant to be around, but I don't fit the bill on that front. Ironically, I'm actually more pleasant to be around when I'm feverish because I don't have the energy to get as upset with stupidity. Or anything, for that matter. Go figure.

I've also just learned that my wife is on her way to purchase a fish. She's been thinking about it for a week or so. Originally she wanted one for her desk at work. She was considering a Beta for a lot of reasons. Mostly, they're low maintenance and they can breath actual air. (Little freaks of nature, I know. What the hell, right? You don't see me all like, 'Ooooh - I gotta get me some gills!')

Back to the story: She even had a tiny, one-gallon, corner-style, fish tank picked out, but her employer(s) were rather emphatic when they told her no. If only she worked for Troy McClure (if you don't get that, don't worry about it. ['Romantic Abnormality' my ass, Troy.])

So, she broached the subject with me. RE: Fish in the house.

I honestly didn't want it, but when I told her that I wasn't going to do anything to intentionally keep it alive - and she was good with that - I figured I didn't have alot more to argue about. Once she showed me the size of the tank, I figured I could live with it. I'm sure I'll get used to it shortly.

On the plus side, it can't be any worse than our last houseguests. My whole life still feels upside-down. Maybe that's why I keep making Chinese eyes and saying 'Mate' all the time: I'm trying to cope and/or adapt (if you don't get that either, once again - don't worry.)

So, we now have a fiercly delicate icthiological specimen in our bedroom. Suffice it to say Wanda is like a little kid about the whole thing (which makes me happy by vicarious association.) She doesn't ask for much, and it's good to see her so excited about something. I wonder if we'll ever truly understand what makes the other tick. Sometimes, I think part of the fun of a relationship are those unexpected surprises that pop up from time to time.

Like wanting a fish, for example.

(11/08/09 - 11:18 AM)
Stupidity is alive and well. I was made painfully aware of the truth of that statement when I read a recent article. The 'villian' in the article was a laid-back, highly-regarded scientist. The 'hero' of the article was a former Playboy model and sub-par actress. So, who wouldn't choose her thoughts with no scientific backing over the thoughts of a scientist who had helped develop a vaccine and was highly regarded among his peers, all the while producing copious amounts of data to prove his 'heroic' counterpart wrong?

Apparently, there's alot of stupid in this world. I almost didn't read this article. Now I'm not only glad that I did, but I urge you to do so as well. Make your own choice. I know what it will be, but as you make it, marvel that others don't make the same one. I know I did.

An Epidemic Of Fear

(11/07/09 - 9:42 PM)
Spent the entire day with 'The Mistress' (i.e. - the media library, for those of you not in the know, or you literalists). I completed one of many long-term projects that I had given myself, and it was satisfying until I once more realized just how much more work I have to do to bring the whole monstrous thing up to a level of perfection that I have set as a goal for myself. So far, it's been literally thousands upon thousands of hours in the making. I'm not even exaggerating, though I often wish that were the case.

I've already got the new, redundant 1.5Tb drives over 60% full, and I'm not even half-way through all of my television DVD's. I've already begun searching out new alternatives for when the beast eclipses even those bounds (and it will). Luckily, I've found that my favorite hard drive manufacturer also makes an out-of-the box RAID server in 2- 4- and 6Tb sizes. So, I'm hoping that by the time I need the space (spring, perhaps?) I can buy a redundant pair of these beasts and CAT-5 them in in the basement. This should solve all my problems, and with RAID's (literally a '(R)edundant (A)rray of (I)nexpensive (D)rives'), I should be able to sleep soundly knowing that my 14 years of cataloging, ripping, and organizing will not require repetition.

After a day with The Mistress, I thought my wife might want to hang out a bit too, so I offered to take her to our favorite, authentic, Mexican restaurant. We had a nice and relaxing meal, and just enjoyed each others' company. Then we came home and watched a DVD, and I promptly fell asleep. I've been fighting something off once more, and it seems all I can do to stay awake these days.

Still, a good day all in all.

(11/04/09 - 10:16 PM)
I have a mission for those of you in blog land. For the past several years, my wife and I have enjoyed a product from Nestle called 'Iced Java'. It comes in an inverted squeeze bottle, much like chocolate syrup, except it is meant to make iced coffee. Originally it came in three flavors, and was ubiquitous to all the stores we frequented. For some reason, store by store, the flavors dwindled to one (where have French Vanilla and Double-Chocolate Mocha gone?)

And then, store by store, they stopped carrying it entirely. The final store we could find it at stopped carrying it as well this summer, and we have since been unable to locate a store that carries the stuff.

Here's where you come in: I need to you to search this stuff out. No matter what store you are at, if they sell coffee, I need you to check that aisle and see if you can find it. If you do, notify me post-haste, as I will drop everything, jump in my car, and proceed to wipe them out of stock.

Or, if you're family (and only family please), and you love me to pieces, I will gladly reimburse you up to $125.00 for any that you find and purchase. I will even come to your home to pick it up, check in hand.

So help me out here, folks! I'm on my last bottle (we began hoarding when it started to disappear) and I'd like to not consider a 'moffee' (milk+coffee = moffee. It's something the wife and I adopted) free world.

Thank you in advance!

(11/02/09 - 9:21 PM)
Pick a number. Any number. Make it as big as you want, I don't mind. Just no decimals, please.

Got it?

Now multiply your number by two. If you need a calculator, I'll wait. I'm not doing anything else at the moment anyway.

Got it? Now add twelve to it. And please don't tell me you need a calculator for this. Just lie to me. Say it's taking so long because you have a ham burning in the oven or because your dog just peed in your lap.

Got it? Finally! No, I'm sorry. I shouldn't judge.

At any rate divide the current number in half. I might be able to allow a calculator here, but if I were you, I would still hang my head in shame a little.

Finally, subtract your original number from the current number. By original, I mean the number that popped into your noggin when I first sucked you in to this pointless little exercise.

Click here to see your result!

(11/01/09 - 11:12 PM)
Here's something fun to amuse yourself:

Stupid Tests


* P.S. - There's 13 triangles. I know, I counted them. If you can see them all, then this site might not be for you.

Also, my cat is frolicking around trying to get my attention. He's cute as hell when he does that, but I have no idea what he wants.

I keep asking him, but he just meows.

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