A Twist Of Fate
October, 2008 Entries
"Remember Alan - The Random Phone Caller!"

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(10/31/08 - 11:06 PM)
Greetings all! It is I - Plinky the House Elf! Goodness, but you humans have a great many holidays. I've just begun recovering from all of my reasearch on Columbus when I find out that today is something called 'Halloween!'

Master Heath and Mistress Wanda didn't even bother to tell me - I had to find out from two young ladies dressed in afro-clown wigs demanding a trick or a treat at my door as their parent looked on.

Is this clown evil?

When I inquired if these humans were insane, Master Heath less-than-patiently explained the situation to me. Then he chastised me for answering the door by promptly stuffing me in the dishwasher for a double cycle.

When the double cycle was done, and even my colon was clean (not at my discretion, mind you) I was once again 'free' to roam the confines of the house.

I began my research on this bizarre phenomena, and here is what I learned:

The Irish and the Scottish brought Halloween with them when they came to American in the nineteenth century because 'They'd be damned if the English would take that from them too!' Apparently, they were drunk. Master Heath is 3/4 Irish, so this may explain his wild temperment and mood swings; or, his affinity for alcohol and Sterno.

At any rate, they brought it with them, because a guy named Sam Hain thought it was a good idea. He apparently had visions (possibly while drinking) and felt that on this particular day the dead would come back to plague the living with sickness, poor crop yields, Slim Whitman music and bad Ed Sullivan impressions.

To combat this onslaught of dead jerks, a guy named Stingy Jack (who was greedy, drunk and a gambler to boot) decided that in order to undo the damage he had done one night on a bender with Satan that the townspeople should carve a turnip or rutabaga into a head because it was the most powerful part of the body and would frighten off evil spirits - but not alcoholic ones, apparently.

Satan was upset because he was just coming out of a bad relationship with a chick in Ronkonkoma who was something of a harlot. Jack convinced Satan that climbing a tree was a good idea for some reason and then he carved a cross into it because he thought it was funny.

Satan didn't agree, and since Jack had bested him in a Jaegermeister shooter contest earlier, he cursed Jack to wander the Earth for the remainder of his days with only a keychain light, which was about as useful as a candle in a turnip.

This is why we carve pumpkins, because no one under the age of eighty-three knows what in the world a Turnip or Rutabaga is. Plus, the Irish couldn't figure out how to make anything alcoholic from them and they had bought a lot of stock in pumpkin futures that now proved worthless. And even though rutabaga and turnip vodka was gross, it was still alcohol - and that clinched it for the Irish and the Scots.

The Witchcraft Act of 1735 contained a clause preventing the consumption of pork and pastry on Halloween, but pork rinds were a popular bar treat and doughnuts are a great hangover cure (apparently), so the act was repealed in the 1950's when the Irish and the Scots had sobered up enough to realize what had happened. Sure, it took them a while, but they had a good time anyway.

Children and adults alike use the holiday to dress up and demand candy from their neighbors who have their porch lights on. The porch lights are a symbol of wealth, in that electricity isn't cheap. And by leaving all these lights on you're telling everyone that you're better than them and are wealthier. Because humans want to feel important, they give out candy to show how benevolent they can be with their wealth. Sometimes they also give out fruit, which is believed to be an invitation by the ultra-rich to destroy something on their property.

Razorblades, thumbtacks and poison are also popular among the rich who are trying to thin out the numbers of poor, but irradiating candy has been used in modern times to make the children who eat it glow to scare the individuals who might otherwise try to kill them.

So there you have it, friends! I am now about to go outside, as I see some of my kin walking around!

Hey! Hey guys! Wait up!... I'm a house elf too... Heeeeyyy...

(10/30/08 - 11:34 PM)
He's a complicated man, and no one understands him but his woman - 'Mr. Phillips Screwdriver'! You're damn right...

* (For those of you just tuning in to pop culture, that's the theme from "Shaft".)

I haven't mentioned this before, but Mr. Phillips Screwdriver has his own personal fleet of vehicles (five, at last count.) So, imagine my surprise when one of my co-workers was selling a Cadillac DeVille and Mr. Phillips Screwdriver was interested in purchasing it. Bear in mind that it's just he and his wife in the old Screwdriver homestead, and they already have five vehicles plated, insured, and ready to roll into action at a moments notice.

So, he asked all the usual questions. Then, he began asking some unusual ones. He wanted to know, specifically, who had performed what maintenance on the vehicle in the past. My fellow co-worker dilligently supplied the information, much to the consternation of Mr. Phillips Screwdriver. For, you see, he didn't want to know where the work was performed, so much as he wanted to specifically know who had done the work. As though we all befriend every grease monkey mechanic that we encounter.

"Hey! You, working on my car there! I see your name is Jack. Hey, tell me a little about yourself. Would you like to come over for dinner tonight? What are your turn-ons?"

No one does this. Who remembers the name and pesonality of the pimply teen at the Lube Hut from last week, let alone cares?

Mr. Phillips Screwdriver does!

So, when the questions proved to be unanswerable to his expectations for all intents and purposes, he elected to purchase the vehicle to add to his armada anyway.

My co-worker was so glad that her intensive interactions with this individual were completed. But it was not to be so!

For, you see, Mr. Phillips Screwdriver elected to pay by personal check. This was most likely only accepted because he was a co-worker. As such, my co-worker had to go to his bank - in Janesville - to get the check all cashed and squared away immediately (she was selling the car for someone - it wasn't hers) so that she could pay the owner. When she arrived at the bank, the teller seemed to know immediately who the check was from because she said, "Oh, this guy."

Apparently, Mr. Phillips Screwdriver is entriely memorable, and has made his mark everywhere.

When the check was run, there was just one tiny problem. He was $50.00 short in his account. So, here's the scenario: My co-worker who was doing a faovr for a friend is now in Janesville at a foreign bank trying to get the money for the car whose title she has just given over to Mr. Phillips Screwdriver and his bank says he's $50.00 short.

It just doesn't get any better!

(10/29/08 - 11:33 PM)
Today, I'm having my Blog's window washed. I apologize for any inconvenience.

(10/28/08 - 11:08 PM)
I received my monthly statement from the good folks at ING today, and discovered that I had lost another $9,000.00 in the short span of twenty-eight days. This brings the total losses on this one account alone to $17,000.00 in the past quarter.

Now, I understand that the markets are tanking - I get it. But when you have a high-caliber fund with high-caliber managers, I kind of expect more than a monster loss such as this one.

This brings me to my point: I have no faith in investments that don't have the words "Real Estate", "Property", "Waterfront", or "of deposit" in them.

Perhaps in the future, but not at the moment. I truly feel bad for those who have retired and rely upon these investments. I can't even imagine how they must feel.

(10/27/08 - 11:36 PM)
Finished watching the "EscaFlowne" series, and wasn't too disappointed. The series surrounds a series of characters who all have a serious case of Bob Hope nose. As per usual, I defer all the raw data to WikiPedia through the link above.

My impression of the series was that, on the whole, it was a fairly decent, linear story. What I felt would have been a little nicer was a slightly more comprehensive understanding of the differing kingdoms on Gaea, but perhaps this was simply unecessary to the storyline. I for one would have liked to have seen it, nonetheless.

This series didn't drag, and that seems to be my impetus for a recommendation these days. So, I can recommend it, but it certainly isn't the pinnacle of the genre or he artform either. Bear that in mind.

(10/26/08 - 10:21 AM)


And you thought your cat was big...

(10/25/08 - 11:18 PM)
Finished watching the "Rune Soldier" series, and had mixed feelings about it. The series gets a lot of bad press, review-wise, and I can see why to a point. The series surrounds adventurers, but the adventures never seem to materialize. Rather, it becomes more of a human growth story, which isn't necessarily bad.

I don't necessarily recommend this series, but I can't entirely condemn it, either. It's a decent aside if you're tired of giant robots, and just want a storyline that's essentially linear and occasionally laugh-out loud funny in its' subtle humor.

Oh, and also, "This is not my will!"

(10/24/08 - 11:02 PM)
Here's a keen fact, people:

When an apple turns brown, it's actually rust. It's true! Apparently, there is a high iron content in apples, and when the iron molecules make contact with the air around them, they immediately oxidize, forming rust. Who knew?

(10/23/08 - 11:16 PM)
I came home today to a clean house, a mowed lawn and dinner. Yeeps! My wife must really be struggling with not working. When I asked her about it, she said that she felt bad being idle for even a moment. I can totally sympathize, because I'm wired the same way. I felt bad for her, and I can't wait for her - for her sake - to begin her new job on Monday. The upside? Dude! - my lawn was mowed, my house was cleaned and I got dinner! Woo-hoo! She had also run some errands and tied up a few other loose ends to pass the time.

My wife is so keen.

(10/22/08 - 11:21 PM)
Thirty-six hours after being terminated, my wife was offered a job. The pay scale, initially, is slightly less than what she was making at the old place, but the raise timeframes look promising. The benefits are good, and the distance is slightly less than what it was before. She was also informed that of all the five finalists, she was chosen because they had hopes for her succeeding the Office Manager in the future.

Can I get an "Oh, hell yeah!" here? ... Anyone?

How can someone, in this economy, find a job like that, that quickly, without raw talent? How can you fire someone like that, who can make the impossible happen like that?

Dear Old Employer:

You're so stupid.

Love and Kisses,

(10/21/08 - 11:03 PM)
My wife went job hunting today. She (and subsequently I) never realized how many law offices there are out there. She also went to the unemployment office. I can't imagine how that must have felt to her, but I know I would feel wholly defeated. All I can do is sympathize and keep reminding her that she's amazing. She's still taking it personally, though. Introspection, in an instance such as this, is most likely inevitable.

My family, after being incredulous, was extremely supportive. Even my co-workers who know Wanda, and know her talents, were angry for her. One employee who has been around for a while, and who I consider a friend even said this:

"Don't expect her to find a new job in one day, Heath. It's a tough economy, so for her it'll probably take two." This is how confident we are in her skills and abilities.

I also learned that her former employer had a meeting with the staff to explain that they had terminated my wife because she was not a team player. It's like standing in front of the stabbed corpse, while holding the bloody knife, and saying she died of old age. Who's actually buying this?

(10/20/08 - 11:21 PM)

Hell Has Frozen Over

Ladies and Gentlemen, Hell has frozen over. Not only was my wife verbally reprimanded for the first time in her life, she was also subsequently written up for the first time in her life, and then she was fired for the first time in her life. Is there a story here? Oh, you bet there is. It all began with her assisting a fellow employee - I can't make this stuff up, people.

On Wednesday, October 15th, Wanda observed her employer's wife (and her Office Manager) discussing a software issue with a fellow employee. The employee wanted Microsoft Word to do something, but she wasn't sure how to make it do so. The Office Manager did not know either, but she stated to the employee that if she could figure it out, this avenue of resolution to the problem would be acceptable to her.

As the Office Manager walked away, Wanda chose to interject the answer in an effort to assist. She went to the employee and advised what needed to be done to achieve the end desired.

Shortly thereafter, she was called into the Office Manager's office, and was verbally reprimanded. The reason? She had kept the Office Manager "Out of the loop", and she didn't appreciate her doing things like that without first consulting her. Was she thanked for her assistance? Nope! Instead, she was called on it, and told not to do it anymore.

Now, my wife finds herself in a paradoxical situation. For, you see, the employees in the office had come to rely on her for many things in recent past, because she often had the answers or advice that they sought. Further, even if the Office Manager had said answers, she was often unapproachable due to her swings in moods and temperment. So, the natural solution for the employees had been to simply go to my wife for assistance when necessary. Are you seeing stormclouds on the horizon yet? My wife and I didn't, but in hindsight perhaps we should have.

On Thursday, everyone had contributed $20.00 to a kitty to take their employer out for a Bosses' Day lunch. Wanda had contributed, but she does not eat lunch. Still, she elected to go on the outing for the sake of fellowship and a break from work.

Upon returning, she was summoned into the Owner's office, and was once more reprimanded. This time, she was told that she was "Inconsiderate" and "Rude" for not having eaten with the other employees. He was incredulous about her actions, and made no effort to hide his apparent disdain and disgust.

Welcome to Bizarro Land - population: My wife.

On Friday, she was once more summoned into the Office Manager's office. The reason? The Office Manager didn't believe that my wife truly understood what she desired when she had stated on Wednesday that she wanted to be kept in the loop. As such, she felt compelled to put it in writing in the form of a write-up, to expound upon her verbal warning of a mere forty-eight hours ago. Had my wife done something in the meantime? Nope! The Office Manager just felt that this was necessary, without any further provocation.

My wife simply kept her calm, and took it in stride in 'Head down, mouth closed' mode.

On Monday, the Office Manager once again summoned her into her office. My wife was told that her services were no longer needed. When my wife asked for the reasoning behind her termination, she was told that she was not a 'Team Player'. This seemed entirely the opposite of reality, so my wife asked her to elaborate. Instead of elaborating, the Office Manager took a different tack, and stated that she was not a good fit for the office, in that she did not get along with her fellow employees. Once more, my wife asked her to elaborate on which employees were in question, as they all got along with her better than anyone else in the office. In fact, she had friendships with most of them outside of working hours. Instead of elaborating further, the Office Manager finally said, "You just don't mesh with my husband and I."

My wife once more asked for elaboration, but none was forthcoming. She was let go, never to return.

Now, here's some things that you wouldn't know if I didn't tell you that make this all the more surreal. As I have already alluded to, the employees in the office saw her as something of a beacon of light, because she had the answers they needed, without the hassle and psychosis of the Office Manager. She had even received a card from a co-worker that very morning telling her how appreciated she was, and that her presence made employment there bearable. Does this sound like someone who isn't a team player?

But wait! There's more! One employee who was terminated came to my wife to have her resumee done - for free, of course. Another sought her advice when a problem occured in the office that very week. My wife also worked a great deal of time on her own, so that she did not get in trouble for working overtime, but also so that clients were taken care of in a timely manner. She brought work home, and did it unpaid. I could go on and on, but I think it quickly becomes clear that the Team Player angle, and her not gelling with fellow employees angle just don't work.

I haven't had a ton of interaction with her fellow employees, nor her employers. But I like to consider myself a fairly quick study when it comes to parsing out a persons' motivations. As such, here is what I believe happened:

The Office Manager, who, again, is married to the Lead Attorney and owner, enjoys her role of power. Who wouldn't? She is accustomed to having employees who are dependant upon her. This isn't necessarily a bad thing, as it allows her to keep a tight reign on things, which she clearly enjoys. There's no harm in that. What she was not prepared for was the level of competency and skill that my wife brings to the table. A level of skill and competency that allowed her to be sought after to this day by not only her former employers, but also by 'headhunters'; a level that allowed her to test higher than any employee before or since at Kelly's testing facility for Excel, Word and typing; a level of skill that allows her to see perspectives from both the employer and employees' side, and to think like a manager. By all rights, such an employee is almost unheard of. Add to that her positive attitude and work ethic, and you have every employers wet dream.

The problem was, in my opinion, that she was TOO good. The Office Manager realized that things were happening without her interaction, and when she began to keep tabs on it, she realized that without any prior intention my wife had made her something of a dinosaur - an obsolete novelty. And I think it galled her. As such, I think she was looking high and low for a reaon to terminate at that point. I believe her focus went right past what an asset my wife was, to what a threat she was to her little fiefdom. The worst part is that the Lead Attorney was receiving all of his information from his wife - the Office Manager - about my wife. As such, he had a poisoned tongue in his ear for what I can only surmise was a good long while before he elected to side with his wife and terminate mine. This isn't surprising, as his role in the businss is to win cases and make money. His grasp of the day-to-day isn't necessary, as he relies on his wife to feed him whatever information he requires, so that he need not be involved. And I can only guess that my wife was so villified by the end, that he didn't have any compelling reason to argue about her termination.

I think what is most disappointing is that in a world where individuals of any skill and talent are so difficult to come by - and retain - someone like my wife who is a veritable Office Ninja can be let go over something so petty. Especially when working in an environment where one employee can't ever make it to work on time, and is out more than any other three combined; where one employee stirred up racial issues without being terminated; where my wife worked for a second-tier attorney who had run off four employees before my wife due to the enormous expecataions and workload. What kind of message does this send to the rest of the office?

I know this is all for a reason, but for the life of me I can't fathom what it is...

(10/19/08 - 11:08 PM)
"Elfin Lied: Diclonious Report" is the best Anime series that I have seen to date. The artwork was nothing short of breathtaking at times (and no - I'm not referring to the nudity), the storyline was solid and the characters nearly had me in tears on several occasions. I'd attempt to summarize it, but I have come to find that WikiPedia always does a far better, far more in-depth job than I could - or care to.

I highly recommend this series to anyone who enjoys well-plotted stories, and who doesn't mind extreme violence.

(10/18/08 - 11:42 PM)

1018 Mild (Low-Carbon) Steel

Minimum Properties

  • Ultimate Tensile Strength: psi 63,800
  • Yield Strength: psi 53,700
  • Elongation: 15.0%
  • Rockwell Hardness: B71


  • Iron (Fe): 98.81 - 99.26%
  • Carbon (C): 0.18%
  • Manganese (Mn): 0.6 - 0.9%
  • Phosphorus (P): 0.04% max
  • Sulfur (S): 0.05% max

(10/17/08 - 11:36 PM)

Chuck Norris

(10/16/08 - 11:03 PM)
When I arrived home today, at 5:20, I found an invitation in my mailbox. It was a small piece of deckle-edged, purple paper about two and a half inches square. It read that I was invited to a Tupperware party on October 16th, at an address down the street at 6:29 PM. It further read that I should R.S.V.P. to 'Angela' if I was, or was not, coming.

In case you haven't put this together yet, I received the invitation precisely 69 minutes before I was supposed to arrive, or decline via telephone, to the party.

Now, I am of two minds when I consider the ramifications of this nearly-punctual invitation. The first is that Angela is a moron, who has enough marketing sense to attempt to sell hamburger to a cow. The second is that Angela is a genius who is able to adapt quickly. In this case, the adaptation may have stemmed from having a great many declinations of initial invitations, thereby provoking a secondary blanket of invitations at the last minute throughout the neighborhood in the hopes of bolstering the numbers of the partygoers.

With that being said, and my personal assessment of the few other neighbors I have met coupled with my general assessment of humanity as a whole, I have come to this conclusion:

Angela is a moron.

(10/15/08 - 11:22 PM)
Remember The AL-a-MOE!

(10/14/08 - 11:22 PM)
Finished the "Outlaw Star" anime series and wasn't disappointed. The recurring theme in what we like, versus what we dislike seems to be a linear storyline rather than an individualized one. This makes the whole viewing experience feel like one long movie, rather than a series of disjointed installments.

We follow the adventures of a crew that makes no sense whatsoever (in a good way, it turns out) as they all follow the path to the "The Galactic Leyline". We're led through a world populated by Tao-magic wielding assasins, cyborgs, bio-mechanoids, and the occasional alien race or six. On the way, we discover the ruins of a lost civilization and uncover the political leanings of each of the major pirate factions, as well as the governmental and outlaw entities.

The primary protagonist, Gene Starwind, is a formidable boy in a man's body. His eleven-year old sidekick, Jim Hawking, is his polar opposite and is the Yin to Gene's Yang. The dichotomy works, especially when the mysterious Melfina shows up packed in an hibernation suitcase. While Gene tries to get into her pants, Jim tries to place her in the role of a mother figure.

Along the way, we meet a flaming arms dealer, an assassin, and a boisterous cat-woman who all - for reasons of their own - join the crew as fair-weather companions.

The quest culminates in a race to the Leyline, where all the forces of good and evil line up to stampede all over each other to get what they want. And the end doesn't dissapoint.

On the whole, the one thing that I didn't like about the series is that it felt like a Hanna-Barbera series from the seventies. What I mean by this is that the animation and colors had a slightly 'washed-out' look, which was mildly disappointing. I also could have done without all the shouting matches that seemed a bit contrived. Other than that, it was a fairly solid series that I could recommend.

(10/13/08 - 3:30 PM)
Greetings once more! It is I - Plinky the House Elf! Master Heath and Mistress Wanda are both at work. I got bored, so I excited electrons within this magic television-typewriter to pass the time. Little did I know the significance of the day! Truly, this is a momentous occasion endorsed by fate!

Today, dear humans, is Columbus Day! Just imagine: when I awoke this morning in the hamper, I had no idea that Columbus Day even existed, let alone its' historical significance. And if I didn't know, I began to wonder if you did either. I used my powers of deduction and intuition and decided that since the day happened 516 years ago, and the average human only lasts for seventy-two years, that you could not possibly know!

I shall share my hard-won data with you, dear humans. It turns out that in 1492, a man named Christine Columbus drove a Pinto with a girl named Nina and a woman in a Santa suit named Maria. They traveled west because Queen Isabella and King Ferdinand of Spain gave him money to do that, even though he was Portugese. The Portugese King was too cheap, and didn't want the hassle.

So, west he went. What was he searching for? Well, it turns out that spice racks were hard to come by. You had to go all the way to someplace called 'The Indies' to get them, which was no good because the going was treacherous. Vampires, demons and man-eating frogs blocked the way and there were some mountains too.

So, Ferdinand and Isabella were visited by Christine one day, who said that he could find a faster way to get spice racks from the east by going west. Wait - what? Isn't that kind of stupid? I mean, why go west to go east? That doesn't... hang on...


Egads! It's true! My notes were correct! Well, except the Christine part. Apparently, his name was Christopher. I like Christine better, though. At any rate, the King and Queen of Portugal knew it was a stupid idea, so they wouldn't fund Christopher. Christopher, knowing he was right even though his idea was stupid, sought help elsewhere. When he visited Ferdinand and Isabella, they were mighty high (or was that high and mighty? My notes have some cheese on them... no - it must be high, otherwise how do you explain financially backing a stupid plan like that?) They decided that it sounded like a great idea, and they gave him some money. And thus, the world's first successful infomercial was born. Unbeknownst to the throng, a footman named Renaldo Popiel was present during the pitch meeting, and entered the entire experience in his journal. The journal was passed down from generation to generation in his family, but no one ever used this knowledge of hard-selling limited time offers, as far as I know.

So, with a large canvas bag with a Dubloon sign painted on the side, Christopher (I still think Christine is better...) went and got on his Pinto with his crew and Nina and Maria. They began sailing west to get east, and traveled for a long time across the ocean and through what appears to be a Rand-McNally logo, if my globe is correct. He finally spotted land that he thought was Spice Rack Central, but turned out to just be what is today the Bahama Islands & Carnival Cruise port.

He called the people there "Chuck", but when that didn't stick, he tried a different tactic and named them Indians, because that's what people in Spice Rack Central were called, collectively.

As soon as he arrived, he apparently did alot of sneezing and kissing, because the Indians (I think Chuck was better) all got sick and thought he was a God. He used this opportunity to trade one bead for the Island of Manhattan. When the Chucks... er... Indians realized that beads didn't taste good, and also didn't imbue them with magical powers, the angry New Yorker was born.

Oh, and New Jersey was apparently a landfill, even back then.

So, Columbus loaded up his Pinto with Gold, Frankincense and Myrrh to give to some Wiseguys back home who he owed money to. Apparently, the mob was alive and well during this time.

The Pinto

So, there you have it, dear humans! A historically-accurate retelling of how Christine came to the New World and met Chuck to get some spice racks by going west to go east. Each year, we commemorate this day by letting our children play Nintendo at home, rather than going to school. I don't really understand that part, but perhaps it's a tribute to doing the exact opposite of what makes sense. Perhaps this is the true meaning of Columbus Day. I'll leave that up to you, dear humans.

(10/12/08 - 11:08 PM)
Heath Tries To Be Funny! - Now With Exclaimation Points!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Con-Agra Foods has developed a new type of oil specifically designed to keep french fries from being oily and limp. The oil is said to make the fry rigid on the outside, with a crisp shell. The inside remains soft and pliable making for a perfect eating experience each and every time.

As such, after much consideration, a name was chosen for the new miracle product: They called it 'Fri-agra'.

See you next time!

(10/11/08 - 10:32 PM)
Mowed the lawn today, and actually talked with the one neighbor I like. I found out that she's a veritable know-it-all when it comes to the goings-on of the neighborhood ('Abner! Abner!'). She informed me that our previous neighbors were now divorced, that the rental house was empty with no takers and that marital bliss was not to be found across the street from her. She also let me know about my hillbilly neighbor (this one I haven't mentioned before - the one who races four-wheelers around his house, has dirt in his yard, has more cars parked in said yard than your average mega-mart and owns a lawn care service to boot, though you'd never know it) who is a disgruntled individual who hates everything.

I think I liked it better when I didn't know all of this stuff.

(10/10/08 - 10:46 PM)
This is a quote that I ran across a few months back. With the economy tanking, I've devised a new marketing campaign at work that revolves around this quote from former President Calvin Coolidge:

"Nothing in the world can take the place of Persistence.
Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent.
Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb.
Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts.
Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent.
The slogan 'Press On' has solved and always will solve the problems of the human race.

So far, one customer has already commented on the originality of the marketing e-mail that we sent out. Time will tell if this strategy will work, but I have a hunch that my customers haven't met the likes of us in the machining world before.

In fact, I'm counting on it. >Cross Fingers<

(10/09/08 - 11:36 PM)
My wife and I finished watching the anime series "Witch Hunter Robin" tonight, and I was a bit disappointed. The series had a TON of clever premises that could have made for some great and interesting storylines. Instead, however, we were presented with what felt like a four-block radius of world for the characters to inhabit, a skeleton crew of characters who never fully fleshed out, and hokey storylines that could have been made far superior by performing only the most simple or mundane tweaks. ANYTHING could have been done to make this series a superstar. Yet, instead, we just got b-movie.

Oh well, on to the next one...

(10/08/08 - 11:42 PM)
When, oh when, will investment advisors make up their minds? First it was 'buy and hold' with stocks. Nope - this doesn't work anymore in this day and age of companies being eaten alive or being the subjects of hostile takeovers, mismanagement, or bankruptcy. So, we were told to invest in IRA's, 401k's and mutual funds. These would be the ticket to a prosperous retirement. Really?

See, here's my problem: If I was retired right now I would be screwed because of all the money I've lost. To put it in perspective, I've now lost a skosh under $20k. This loss is SO egregious, that I've not only lost ALL of the profit that I have made since I began investing years ago, I've actually lost some of the money that I put in as well.

And what advice does my financial advisor have to offer? Why, put more money in now of course! Yep, when the markets' down, that's the time to buy in!

I used to agree. But here's what I know for certain: my cash assets are still there, and are still making me money. It's a pittance, I'll grant you. But it's still tangible and turning a profit. And my real estate assets are doing the same, only faring a bit better because they're relatively desirable properties.

I may have to rethink retiring at all...

(10/07/08 - 10:12 PM)
I watched out my patio door today as a cat invaded my back yard. This summer, we've had a HUGE problem with chipmonks. They've burrowed under both my front AND back yard, and now have a network of tunnels that would make the Viet Cong envious.

We've tried to dissuade them humanely by using clumps of cat fur placed strategically at the entrances of their burrows, but to no avail. And I just can't kill the little guys. But I was hoping for hawks and owls to come hang out at any moment.

So, when I saw this cat, I crossed my fingers and hoped that he was stalking something entirely un-avian in nature. Within ten seconds, he had pounced and in his mouth I saw a struggling, fully mature chipmonk. I breathed a sigh of relief. The cat would eat, the chipmonk would serve a purpose, and I hadn't had to kill it.

It was sad to watch, but it felt right.

Mr. Kitty - come back anytime.

(10/06/08 - 11:36 PM)

"Lesbian Nazi hookers abducted by aliens and forced into weight loss programs - on the next 'Town Talk'!"

- Weird Al Yankovic - "U.H.F."

(10/05/08 - 10:08 AM)
Before she left for church this morning, my wife and I were talking. She mentioned in passing that one of the primary members within her congregation would not be there for the next three weeks. Curious, I asked why.

She told me that he would be out of town, visiting friends and family down south. I thought that it was odd for him to be gone for so long, so I asked about it.

My wife explained that, at 83, his heart was failing him. He had already had a valve replacement that was ten years past its expiration date, and she felt that he was most likely making a final trip to see his family and friends and to say his good-byes for one final time.

I began to imagine what that must be like: to face one's own mortality in such a direct way. Having just had a birthday, I am keenly aware of how fleeting and precious a human life truly is. In fact, I have confronted the inevitable fact of my own mortality since the age of fifteen when I almost froze to death. And all it does is scare me.

So, here is a man who is 83; who has cheated death more than once and who has already lost his wife to it. And yet, he has the presence of mind to recognize his situation, and to accept it. I suppose that his religious fervor is somewhat helpful in this regard, but I don't have that luxury. While I do believe in God, I don't necessarily believe in the traditional concepts of Heaven and Hell. Rather, I view the Bible as something more metaphorical than literal. I believe it is high-concept thinking that was termed in a way that was palatable to the average man and woman. So, my expectations of the after-life are somewhat up in the air. It's a rather paradoxical viewpoint, I know. But I am compelled by something that I cannot quantify or explain to believe that God exists.

The biggest problem with this belief is that, like most religious beliefs, it is impossible to prove. Religion, in most or all of its forms, relies on blind faith and intuition. Yet I am still compelled.

Of course, for me, this then raises further, more complex paradoxical questions (as I've mentioned before, I'm sure) about the origins of God, the Universe itself, and the fundamental building blocks of life. It's one of those things that quickly makes my brain go 'PLINK!', as I think I have a tendancy to over-analyze the situation more than your average religious believer. Especially when I couple it with what little I know (or understand, for that matter) about Quantum Physics, Quantum Mechanics, the Universe itself (and its size, to boot), and Religion as I was raised to know and understand it.

It's no wonder people turn away from the Church establishment in this day and age (or even in prior days and ages) - no one can make up their mind what is true and correct; the Bible is open to either wide interpretation or strict to-the-letter demands for obedience to its' written word, depending on who you ask (or when.)

The thing that clinches 'Religion' for me, is that fact that even after all of this I still feel compelled to believe in God. Having been raised a Catholic (and having summarily become disenchanted with its various teachings and interpretations - as well as its checkered history) I struggled to come to grips with my religious nature.

I even tried to attend church with my wife. While the fellowship was certainly something to be admired, I was compelled to stop attending when I felt that my experience did not agree with the experiences of others around me. So much so, that I became uncomfortable with their experiences as I was attempting to have mine. I felt like an outsider, and it felt disingenuous. So, I disengaged from the religious establishment, much to the chagrin of my Boss - a fervent believer that the W.E.L.S. Lutherans are the only one and truly correct religion. And man, does he let you know about it. Which is good, I suppose - he's doing what he believes is right, and more power to him for adhering to his religious convictions regardless of the outcome.

Yet, again and again, I have seen religious groups who 'rub people the wrong way' by trying to impose their beliefs on others. Their explaination for this is that the individuals who they are trying to minister to are not interested in God. I fundamentally disagree. It's my personal belief that in order for some individuals - such as myself - to experience God, it has to be done in a personally meaningful way. Just because a certain method works for you or your group, does not mean that it is for everyone. Yet, many religions attest to the fact that in order to experience God 'correctly', one must follow their system of beliefs to the letter. The problem with this is that this system is based on interpretation of the Bible - HUMAN interpretation.

The argument here - typically, in my experience - is that the human interpretation is divinely inspired, and is therefore correct. I just can't agree with that, based on the fact that there are ump-teen different religious groups, sects, factions, and sub-factions all across the globe. In the words of Albert Einstein, "God does not play dice." In this context, I belive that for each of these religions and interpretations to have been divinely inspired, God would have to be a schizophrenic Deity who can never find his car keys.

It's my estimation that the act of belief is what is divinely inspired. The fact that all of these religions (for the most part) all come back to a fundamental (though admittedly different) creation 'myth', while worshipping and acknowledging the fact that creation occured, and that someone is to thank for that seems a fairly powerful testament to the existance of God. This - and this alone - is what I feel the fundamentals of religion boil down to.

So, I live my life as I believe God would wish me to. Each day, I marvel at the amazing, awe inspiring, and elegantly designed things, places and people around me. I despair at the evils that are perpetrated by others, and I hope that somehow I can make the lives of others better in some meaningful way. I consider the infinite possibilities of who God is, and what there is to learn about the environment that he has placed me in. This is my religious experience. I am my own church; I am a congregation of one, and I am spiritually fulfilled. I talk to God with regularity and I humbly ask for divine guidance in my life, and in the life of others around me in need. And if I didn't feel like some divine entity were on the other end, somehow, then I don't believe I would do this.

This is what I have been compelled to do. According to others, it is wrong and will lead to eternal damnation. I disagree - and I hope God does too. Because I have alot of questions for him, and an infinite amount of curiosity and wonder.

(10/04/08 - 11:06 PM)
Went to work this morning, then came home and mowed the lawn. I am now officially 34.

My Mother and brother and his wife all came over and bought me dinner, which was very nice of them. My mother called seventy minutes before she planned on arriving to let me know that she would be late, because she was going to get lost. Her home, I pointed out, is only about thirty-five to forty minutes from mine, but she said that that didn't matter - she was forecasting her getting lost, even though it's pretty much a straight shot here.

And she was late. I think if anyone needs a GPS for Christmas, it's my Mom. >Make note on Christmas list<

(10/03/08 - 10:36 PM)
Today marks a milestone in my life. Today is the tenth anniversary of my marriage to my amazing wife, Wanda. I can't think of a more perfect woman for me, and there isn't a day that goes by that I don't appreciate her presence in my life.

Yeah - she's that keen.

(10/02/08 - 10:48 PM)
Never ask a kindergartner if they want to play Pinochle - you won't like the results.

(10/01/08 - 11:18 PM)


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