A Twist Of Fate
October, 2010 Entries
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(10/31/10 - 8:45 AM)
"Just because you can't, doesn't mean you shouldn't try. And just because you shouldn't, doesn't mean you can't." - Me

(Apparently, my morning will be frought with profundity.)

(10/30/10 - 5:16 PM)
Woke up fairly early this morning. Apparently, the older I get the earlier I fall asleep, unbidden, and the earlier I, therefore, wake up.

It's not necessarily a bad thing, I suppose.

Went to work, and found not a whole lot that required my attention, so I wasn't there long today.

Stopped at the local mini-box store on my way home to buy some more cologne, and spent ten minutes standing at the counter, as the two employees on the floor chatted behind the main register at the front.

I'm so glad to see that retail is not dead.

Came home, and decided to give the new "Starcraft II: Wings Of Liberty" game a go. My friend, Tyler (see, Tyler - I do mention you in my blog, dammit) bought this for my birthday, and it was one I had considered buying for myself anyway, so it all worked out peachy.

The game uses what has essentially become the standard interfaces (although slightly different from game to game) for real-time strategies. Which is good, because it takes minimal effort to pick up the next fun thing, rather than having to re-learn a massive set of commands and keystrokes (I'm looking at you, Mech Warrior).

The game is, at it's essence, a spaced-up version of real-time strategy. Something I haven't tinkered with since the advent of "Alpha Centauri", but RTS's are witout question my favorite types of games.

I played one scenario, which I found to be more a practice in getting warmed up for the real deal, and then decided to take advantage of the sunshine flowing into my living room and read.

I poured a small glass of The Balvanie Doublewood scotch over ice, and began reading William Gibson's latest, "Zero History" which seems to pick up where one of his series left off. The names all sound familiar but - to be honest - with everything I read, it's actually fairly tough to just jump back into a previous story arc when all these years (and other reads) have occured.

But hey - I'm trying.

(10/29/10 - 4:48 PM)
Thank goodness this week is over. It was beyond rough, and frought with illnesses. The upside is we pushed so much product out the door that we finally have some space to breathe again. It was starting to feel more like a warehouse than a machine shop. Specifically because we have one customer who we need to ship to in bulk, rather than incremental shipments. This means we need to maximize output on each shipment, and we've certainly managed to achieve that.

Looking forward to getting through our workflow bottleneck in the near term, so I can start saying 'yes' again to our customers who are unfamiliar with me using the terms, 'can't' and 'no'.

At least our business has continued to see a progressive uptick in work. The longer it lasts, the more confidence I have that we may FINALLY be through this ugly recession.

(10/27/10 - 11:06 PM)
Finished reading "House of Leaves" by Mark Z. Danielewski. It was recommended by my friend, Jeff. Had it been a 100 page novel, it would have been extremely elegant and compelling. The fact that it is, in fact, 670 pages long makes that point moot.

The first-person narrative reminded me a great deal of Douglas Coupland's "Generational" novels; & Jack Kerouac's "On The Road".

The third-person storyline reminded me a great deal of William Gibson's "Pattern Recognition".

What really sets this book apart is the level of depth and the detail of the falsehood that is this story. Further, the tactile presence of the book itself was something sensual. The BT binding under the heavy jacket, the patterns, puzzles, and hints throughout made this less a book, and more a readable puzzle of intrigue.

That being said, I think the author did himself somewhat of a disservice in making so many asides during the 'flow' of the novel - what little of that there was.

The premise is simple, the horror is elegant, and the individual personalities of the main characters are palpable.

I can recommend this book, but it's not for the average reader. It's something only a voracious reader with an open mind will take something away from, and there is a very limited audience for something so daring and, at the same time, slightly less than mundane.

(10/24/10 - 9:57 PM)
Finished Douglas Preston & Lincoln Child's laters offering in the Pendergast series, "Cemetery Dance".

I was pleasantly surprised to find that after their somewhat disappointing previous foray, this book once more found the mark that I expect from this team of talented authors.

While certainly not the best in the series, it certainly wasn't the worst. And the death of Bill Smithback was a shock, to say the least, as he's been one of the primary vehicles for them all along.

(10/23/10 - 3:20 PM)
Woke up at five this morning. Yeah, I'm surprised too. But, I fell asleep at nine last night, so it's not all that odd.

Worked on the Media library until eight. Went to work until ten, and then went to my Dad's friends' house to work on his computer.

Got home a little after noon, and worked on the media library some more.

Read in the early afternoon, and finished Douglas Preston & Lincoln Child's latest offering, "Cemetery Dance". It was pretty good, on the whole. Not their best work, but certainly not their worst.

I also FINALLY found a copy of a hard to find book of Preston's ("Ribbons Of Time") after a 5-year search. It was published as a side project by a University, and it was the final book in his arsenal that I was missing in first edition/first printing.

So, I've effectively laid yet another author's efforts to rest. On to the next one: Finishing Haruki Murakami's works. I'm one step closer with this weeks acquisition of "The Elephant Vanishes", a book I've been looking for in the condition I wanted on and off for some time now. I'm still doubting that I"m going to spring for "Aeroplane" though. It's cost-prohibitive, and it's not in a format that I really want to keep around. Plus, I'd probably find a way to wreck it.

I'm about to begin a book that was recommended by a friend of mine called "House Of Leaves". Apparently, it has a cult following, but it was a book I had not heard of.

I scared up a signed, first edition/first printing online. After seeing the book, however, I must admit that I'm far more than intrigued. The endpapers are strewn from top to bottom with hexadecimal number sets. The printing and publication information is intentionally misleading (the first time I've seen this obvious obfuscation) and the book is intended to make the reader believe that it was written in pieces by a now dead individual, and only later pieced together after his bizarre death. So, we'll see how it goes.

(10/22/10 - 7:26 PM)
Work has been insane. We shipped out over 2 tons of product today, and I can't recall another single day in our companies' history when we moved so much product in one day. It was phenomenal.

It should mark next week being far less intimidating, but you just never know.

The work keeps rolling in as fast as it's going out, so the overtime is still in full-tilt. Which is good, because I finally feel useful again.

(10/19/10 - 6:18 PM)
Back pain is still on and off. The pills still help, but they no longer carry the punch that they once did. Probably because I'm becoming accustomed to them.

At least they still take the edge off, somewhat.

(10/17/10 - 9:33 AM)
Slow morning working on the media library, but a couple of high-notes.

The first is, my brother has just put together a free, four-song cover EP using his new pedal steel guitar. He covers some of his favorite indie songs, so if you're into indie - or just curious - check it out!

An Echo Forged In Age
Rise The Hands Of Reason: "An Echo Forged In Age"

Also, two of my friends - Abbey & Nick - are now officially engaged. I can't think of two people who I could totally see together more than them. Which is probably why I planted the seed that they date one another all those years ago.

This is the first romantic meddeling that I've done that has led to engagement.

I should have been one of those Jewish matchmakers.

(10/16/10 - 2:14 PM)
Went to work for a bit this morning. We're still busy as ever, and the guys & gals continue to pump out a plethora of quality work.

The orders are still coming in as fast as they're going out, so the workload remains constant.

Popped over to Dad's to install some software for him, and then home to work on the media library.

(10/15/10 - 7:22 PM)
Pain has been in check today for the first time this week.

I got a flu shot at the pharmacy, while waiting for my turn in the prescription line. I did it on a whim - the nurse was there with no one present at the moment, and I could see the line was in no hurry to move.

I've never gotten one before, so we'll see what happens.

After coming home, I got ambitious, and cautiously raked some leaves for about 45 minutes as I burned them. When the pile got too high for the pit, I called it quits before I did any serious damage.

Being careful seemed to be the trick though, as I felt fine after the fact.

Still hoping for a speedy recovery, but it seems like it's a long time coming.

(10/14/10 - 9:01 PM)
Oh, dear readers, you are in for a rare treat today!

Preeeeeeesenting... Mr. - Phillips - Screwdriver!

>Crowd Goes Wild Here<

Mr. Phillips Screwdriver pops into my office way before he's supposed to come to work.

I'm surprised, but I figure he needs something. Cleverly, I ask, "What may I do for you?"

He goes on to explain that he has taken his pet to the Animal Hospital up the road. It takes him another full minute before he divulges that it is a cat.

He then spends the next two minutes on a monologue about the following:

Cats' food should have real meat in it. The first two ingredients should be meat. If they aren't, it isn't any good for the cat. Because you don't see farm cats eating grain, do you? Of course not - they eat meat. Specifically rats, mice, and other things, which is why farmers' keep them around.

Well that explains that! I had no idea!

He goes on to let me know that cats have always been meat eaters. They're hunters, you see, so they eat meat. And they only eat meat.

An abrupt subject change on his part leads to the next bullet in the monologue:

Did you know that you should never use creams on animals for any kind of worm treatment or prevention? You should only use pills. Because, you see, creams can evaporate, or come off over time. Because cats are oily.

He then explains that this is why when he gets ringworm, he won't use ointments - because he himself is quite oily. His wife, on the other hand, is a very dry person.

His oiliness, in fact, is what leads him to get fungal infections on his arms. When his dog goes outside, and then comes in and lays on his arms, you see, his oils pick up all the fungus.

And did I know that athletes foot is also a fungus?

At this, he puts up his foot to explain and show me that athletes foot is a fungus that can get in between the toes especially. It's not a disease at all, but a fungus. And was I sure I knew that?

So, after another minute or so being >ahem< 'educated' about fungal infections, a line begins to form behind him. But he's not done, so it doesn't matter.

He then decides that he doesn't know me as well as he ought to, and asks whether I have any animals. As I say yes, and try to say 'a cat', he talks over me:

"What have you got? A dog? Cat? Bird?"

I let him list all the animals he's going to list before I see my opening and blurt out cat.

This proves to be a mistake, as he then begins re-iterating point one: cats eat meat. Followed by him asking what specific ingredients are in the food I feed mine.

I say I don't specifically know, and this apparently was Mr. P.S. speak for: "I haven't heard a word you said, and I might kill my cat tonight if you don't re-re-iterate everything you've said regarding felines."

Which, of course, he promptly does with the proper amount of scorn for:

° Me, as a foolish cat owner
° The cat food industry in general
° Know-nothing vetrinarians
° The 1986 Chicago Cubs
° Rue McLanahan

He finally gets distracted by one of the employees behind him, and in true Mr. P.S. fashion, stops mid-sentence to persue a topic more interesting to him.

I thank God, the Saints, and anyone else who will listen as I beat a hasty retreat.

I did learn something valuable from the entire - uh, interaction: He think's I'm waaaaaaay dumber than I am.

I'm talking like a drooling vegetable, apparently.

(10/13/10 - 8:24 PM)
Miranda Lambert has one of the most amazing voices I've ever heard.

I just stumbled onto her "Kerosene" album as the iTunes 'Unrated' playlist was rolling, and was reminded how incredible her pitch, tone, and strength really is. It's fairly rare, and it's something special to listen to.

(10/12/10 - 10:16 PM)
For some reason, I was reflecting on all of my near-misses last night. I came to the realization that, were it a hundred years earlier, I would have been dead at a very early age indeed.

Interesting ways in which I've come within seconds of dying, or should have died without the assistance of modern medicine:

° Drowning
° Freezing To Death
° Choking
° Pneumonia
° Burst Appendix
° Insane Driving

Also a (bad) joke forged by me, just for you:

A comedian was on stage and began a segment about frozen treats. In the audience, a man leaned over to his wife and said, "Oh great - he's doing his popsicle schtick."

Thank you, and good night!

(10/11/10 - 8:44 PM)

This is just hilarious.

(10/10/10 - 11:27 AM)
The pain this week has been up and down. I have moments where I think everything is fine, and 'why am I on medication again?', only to be reminded moments later that all is not joyous in Mudville.

This week marked the peak of our companies' workload. Specifically, we now have more work on the books than we have in the fifteen years the company has been in business. We've managed to hire some new, top-notch machinists, and thus far they're living up to - if not exeeding - expectations.

We've been fortunate to have several good months in a row, and overtime is once more back in full force. Which makes me happy, because I'm just not programmed for 40-hour weeks.

Someone stole a good amount of solid steel scrap metal from one of our bins over the weekend, which was a little annoying. Fortunately, it's not worth a ton of money, but the principal dictates that I be irritated. And, frankly, I am.

Wanda and I wrapped up season 2 of Fringe and it continues down the road to television legend. With the exception of killing off Leonard Nimoy's character (what the heck was THAT about?) who I had begun to grow fond of, I can honestly say that I am craving season three's imminent release in the near term.

The leaves have begun to fall, and I've noticed an inordinate number of box elder bugs this season. They're everywhere. And I mean EVERYWHERE, everywhere.

Wanda and I spent the better part of yesterday on a hunt for a replacement soap dish, and were woefully disappointed at our lack of success.

Went to work for a bit yesterday morning as well, and moved a great deal of product along. I also got to meet (finally, after a week) our new, part-time sawman. He was in for the morning, and he seems to be settling in nicely. It's great having extra help in the evenings in that department, because there's just not enough hours in a standard day for our regular sawman to be succesful - there's just too much work to be done.

Discovered, quite by accident, "Nick & Norah's Infinite Playlist" a movie that I actually like. If you know me well, then you know that that's a rare event.

Aside from being a well-done film, I think it spoke to a younger self in a way that I hadn't considered in a long time. It brought back memories of crazy nights, eating in diners and visiting with friends until the sun came up.

Oh, to be young again. And have hair, for that matter.

Nothing spectacular to report, other than that. So - until next week!

(10/03/10 - 11:34 AM)
Finally starting to feel the edge slowly coming to a more moderate level with regard to the pain in my body.

The meds made all the difference. Oh, and there's a story there!

My meds were, in fact, supposed to be re-upped, and added to even. It seems as though my prescription refill request was acknowledged. BUT, my pharmacy experienced a nation-wide outage on their network for just under a half hour. During that time, my doctor's office returned the go-aheads on the prescriptions, but the pharmacy never got them.

When I called the doctor Monday morning, the nurse was aghast that I had been 'suffering' since Saturday morning with no medication. She got the situation straightened out, and a prescription anti-inflammatory had been added to the mix of pills I was already on.

So, the worst Monday on record was eventually made bearable at around 4:30 PM when I got some drugs in me.

Which was good, because I didn't think I could make it much longer, and remain sane.

This week also brought a fantastic photo from my friend Adam: It's Glenn Danzig, BTW - click here to see it!

Work has been insane this week, as we continue to land some sizeable projects. We now have more work in-house than (I believe) we have ever had in the history of the business.

How great is that?

Today also marks twelve wonderful years of being married to my amazing wife, Wanda. Every day is something special, and I always look forward to the next one. It's strange how compatible we are, and it's a priviledge to be in her life.

My friend Tyler is in the process of moving to a larger home, in the subdivision across the road from ours (he lived around the corner from me, up until now.)

I had promised to help him move, but with my back and sciatic nerve being what it is, all I could manage was hanging new curtain rods, installing new showerheads, and building and installing a vanity unit. At least it was something, I suppose.

I had also promised him the use of my appliance dolly, as well as my regular one. Unfortunately, one of the tubeless tires on the regular one had gone flat and broken a seal.

I spend nearly an hour trying every trick in the book to get it to inflate - even one my Dad turned me on to - but to no avail.

Instead, I ended up borrowing my Dad's for him, so it all ended fine.

I also spent about an hour yesterday morning converting my Dad's e-mail from one provider to another through a piece of software that I had never used before on a Vista system. Luckily, I know enough to be dangerous, and managed to figure it out, much to his delight.

Tomorrow I will be 36, and I can honestly say that I'm scared to death that I've done too little, too late to plan for my retirement. Had the past two years been as robust as the last ten or so, I might not be in this boat, but these past two years have had a severe financial impact on my ability to squirrel away money for retirement.

So, it looks like I might end up as a door greeter somewhere after all.

Next week at work promises new things, in the form of a new employee on days. He seems like a pretty laid back and likeable guy with a sense of humor, so he should fit right in.

Wanda made me Lasagna for my birthday (awesome), and I can't wait to get into that tonight. Her lasagna is nothing short of amazing.

What else?

Oh! There's been a red fox in the field next to our machine shop in the past two weeks. I have yet to see it, but I've heard several reports of it coming from the small wooded area to the north, finding a juicy chimpmonk, and returning from whence it came on more than one occasion.

That's one foxy lunch!

My Dad, ironically, mentioned that he had seen one as well out in his back yard recently. And since he lives only about a half-mile from the shop, it appears that the fox population in the area is doing well.

Hopefully next week I'll feel well enough to do daily entries again, but this once-a-week thing isn't all bad either. The downside is that I know there are stories and recollections going undocumented that I will probably regret later when I'm old and reading this for posterity.

So, to my future, door-greeter, self, I apologize now. Now get over it.

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