A Twist Of Fate
September, 2006 Entries

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(09/17/06 - 8:30 AM)
I got a disturbing piece of mail today from my insurance company, American Family. We have our home, automobiles, life insurance, umbrella and identity theft with these good folks. I originally setup camp with this company because I knew the agent. I didn't worry so much about price as accountability.

My previous insurance carriers were State Farm, who cancelled me due to my mom's towing issues and my brother's less-than-savory driving record, due to what later turned out to be an errant CLU report linked to the wrong social security number. To this day, I still am disallowed by signed document from driving any of my famlies vehicles. When I called to talk to the agent about the mix up, I was told by his assistant that he was out for heart surgery, and would not be available for some time. Her curt, indignant advice, "I guess you'd better find a new insurance company, hadn't you?" And so I did.

Farmer's was next, and when we had an issue, instead of working with it each time I called, the agent kept handing it off to his sixteen-year old assistant and disappearing. Yep, why wouldn't I stay with such service-oriented companies?

Which brings us back to American Family. Shortly after enacting all of this insurance, my agent (more power to him, he deserved it) was heavily promoted into the home office, and his exceedingly numerous and valuable accounts were handed over on a silver platter to a virtual newcomer. And his accounts were substantial.

So, we've been pretty much incommunicado, paying our bills not only on time, but often a year in advance (I'm weird, so sue me.) Imagine my surprise, then, when in the mail today, I get formal notification that prior to my policies being renewed in November, American Family will be ordering consumer reports, third party reports and credit reports to "...determine the price that I am charged for my insurance."

Would you like an anal swab to? Do I get a kiss when you're done? What the hell is this all about? What conceivable reason could they have to violate my personal privacy, without my permission, and how does it affect what I will be charged? If I'm a deadbeat, will they dump me? If I'm rich, will they jack up my rates, figuring I'm good for an extra Hamilton or pair of Lincoln's now and again?

Can someone please explain this to me? And while you're at it, can you recommend a new insurance carrier - one you know and trust? One who doesn't mind people who quietly pay their bills in advance and require no accomodation and maintenance whatsoever? Because, apparently, my company is tired of my timeliness, tired of my accomodating manner - and this is the way they're telling me? Is anyone out there taking this lying down?

(09/20/06 - 5:30 PM)
I bought Wanda a new washer and dryer for our anniversary (normally, this would get a guy in trouble, but my wife is keen, so it didn't.) I was amazed at how far something as mundane as laundry technology has come. I mean, I even wanted to do laundry when I saw these things in action. Integrated spindle and motor? No belt? 900 RPM's? 65% reduction in water usage? 40% power reduction? Are you serious?

Not to mention it's like a technicolor rainbow every time anything happens. There's more buttons on these things than a Victorian bodice. All I think is lacking is a place to put a DVD and maybe a popcorn maker.

(09/19/06 - 11:35 PM)
My assistant called in late to work today. Her reason? Her dog crawled up into bed with her this morning, laid his head in her lap, and proceeded to throw up. Not a bad enough morning, you say? Alright - so, she went in the bathroom to get something to clean it up and she proceeded to drop a full bottle of acetone (yep - the real stuff) on the floor where the cap summarily broke, and the aforementioned contents of the bottle began to spread rapidly across the floor, taking a good portion of the finish with it. Try topping that one next time you have to explain to the boss why you were late.

(09/17/06 - 8:30 AM)
Dear Dead Horse:

Meet this stick again.

Love & Kisses,

Okay, so I bitched about Elf. I figured, I'll give Starz™ another shot. I mean, it's a FreeView weekend, there MUST be a good movie on somewhere, right? Nope. Let's run em' down:

  • Deuce Bigelow: European Gigolo:
    The first one, I actually liked. The second one was just shameless coat-tail riding that went nowhere, except where the first one had already (okay, and Amsterdam.)
  • Flightplan:
    Panic Room on a plane - now with kidnapping! Way to expand your horizons, Ms. Foster! I want my 104 minutes back please.
  • Derailed:
    Think Payback (a decent film) meets Matchstick Men (one of my all-time favorite books, authored by Eric Garcia) and you pretty much get the picture. Oh, yeah, except that it was nearly as hard to watch as Monster (or Wonderland, as Wanda suggested.)

(09/16/06 - 9:37 PM)
Bought me a Shop Vac.

(09/15/06 - 9:30 PM)
So, I'm at work today, and I hear my assistant take a call. I never intentionally eavesdrop, but I caught wind of some weird back and forth that piqued my curiosity. I mean, I've been around enough to usually know what kind of call it is (vendor, customer, annoying salesperson, heavy breather etc.) and this one didn't fit any of these categories.

So, my assistant finally hangs up, sighs, and says, "Ugh. That was my mom." Now, a little background here - my assistant's mother watches her three-month old child during the weekdays, as she is currently seeking a new position after being unexpectedly let go from her prior employment.

"Uh-oh," I said, wondering where this was going. To be fair, her phone calls from family are never ordinary. Just the other day, in fact, she received one from her husband, who hadn't liked something about the reception on the television. So, in true man fashion, he had proceeded to remove wires and reconnect boxes to try and fix it. She went around and around with him, eventually telling him to leave it until she got home - she was at work, and this was not what she considered an important call. Anyway, onward...

"Yeah, she wanted to know if I had taken lunch yet", she said. Then she added, "Because if I hadn't, she wanted me to go with her to the liquor store so that she wouldn't have to take my daughter in by herself."

And you thought the calls that you got at work were pointless and weird.

(09/14/06 - 11:30 PM)
We've got the Starz™ FreeView weekend thingee going on right now, and I figured, "Hey, I haven't seen a movie in a while, so I'll see what's on - what the hell."

Bad idea.

Now, for those of you who know me well, you know that rarely do I actually sit through a film. Even more rarely do I find a film that I will watch more than once. Truth be told, I expect nothing short of an absolute epihpany before I am completely satisfied by a film.

So, I found a film I hadn't seen that everyone and their brother had said was "Sooooo funny". The film? Elf, starring Will Farrell.

I have this to say about said film: It was one of the most cliche, vacillating between over-acted and under-acted, trite, un-funny films that has ever graced the various humors contained in my ocular cavities. It was not funny. It was not cute. It was not even remotely amusing. And shame on Bob Newhart for coming within fifty miles of this bomb. And Ed Asner as Santa? I'd sooner have put RuPaul in this role - (s)he might have done a better job.

My final question was this: why in the world does anyone like this movie? Especially enough to rave about it? (If you like it, don't be offended, just explain why to me, will ya?)

(09/10/06 - 10:30 AM)
I'm going to be lazy today. Ready?

It's raining. I need to buy a Shop Vac. I was supposed to have gone to purchase one one-and-one-half hours ago, but I needed to update this because I have been lazy. I am wearing pants. My cat is furry. I like cake.

See you next time!

(09/09/06 - 3:45 PM)
We have new neighbors! These neighbors replace the Vicodin™ addicted, chain smoking, creep-around-the-side-of-the-house-with-a-towel-on-her-head-while-on-the-phone-so-her-now-ex-husband-couldn't-see girl and the neighbor guy who liked to watch his kids hit balls against our house. And - get this - we actually like them! Hooray!

(09/08/06 - 9:45 PM)
Click Here If Your Name Is Pete Or Ed!

(09/07/06 - 11:45 PM)
So, I turned on the television tonight to kill a few odd minutes. A&E was on, and the show in progress was called "Most Evil". It was a show about how remorseless the human psyche can be, and about people who best reflected that truth. In this instance, they had neighborly folks who got a rush eviscerating people while alive, and friendly fellows who thought child molestation wasn't such a bad idea. Now, I only read the summary in the digital guide, and got about two minutes into an interview with a guy who graphically explained how he would gut people like a fish, when the show went to a pre-commercial bumper.

Okay, remember the topic of the show - this is important.

So the bumper begins, and I am cheerfully informed that the program that I am watching is being brought to me by the United Methodist Church. Then I am shown how keen they are in the form of a commercial involving a kite and a little boy.

Are you kidding me?

(09/06/06 - 10:32 PM)
The perfect way to get your children to save money

(09/02/06 - 11:45 PM)
We got in from Savannah last night after driving for seventeen hours straight, which does not come highly recommended, in case you might be wondering.

The East Bay Inn - Savannah, Georgia

The accomodations were great (see photo above), and we had a lovely room complete with living area overlooking the historical river district. The only down side was that the parking situation was out of control, but to their credit they had made many concessions at our B&B to accomodate that to the very best of their ability.

We stayed in the "haunted" room, apparently. The ghost's name was "Mr. Charlie", but since neither Wanda nor I believe in that sort of thing, we didn't let it get to us. We figure, if we see a ghost, then we might change our mind - but, until then...

But there was another sort of haunting in the form of a room journal. It was there for the good folks who had stayed in the room before us to impart their thoughts about their trip, their advice, etc. While informative, it brought to light a much more real set of ghosts in our midst - namely, the escapades of lovin' of all the former occupants. Apparently, Savannah not only makes you want to go all the way, but it also makes you want to go all the way and talk about it in a public forum for complete strangers to read and then mull over as they spray Lysol™ all over every surface in the room. These ghosts, I could certainly have done without. I mean, why do I care if Dale from Houston brought out the frisky in his wife Eileen time after time after time after time? Whatever happened to not kissing and telling?

The food down there was alternately good and adequate depending on where you ate. We did eat the single most expensive meal of our life at a landmark restaurant called "The Old Pink House" which, it also turns out, was the best meal of my life next to my wife's homemade lasagna.

The squares of the town and the architecture were mind-boggling, though I was surprised at how much the genteel city exhibited a somewhat seamy underbelly at the most unexpected moments.

We got to tour the Mercer house, famous for being the home of Jim Williams, of "Midnight In The Garden Of Good And Evil" fame. (It's a great book by John Berendt and though tough to follow I think it worth the read. It was also made into a major motion picture by Clint Eastwood, starring Kevin Spacey.) I was rather astonished that they did everything to laud Mr. Williams for his accomplishments (and rightly so), but acted as though his deviant lifestyle and his having murder his assistant in cold blood were mere ugly rumors that they would not dignify. History is just that - history. And I think it unfair to take the good and ignore the bad.

Overall, the trip was well worth taking, though I don't know that I'd have reason to rush back anytime soon, having seen what I had come to see.

Funny stories from the trip? Not many, but one stands out. Each night, our Inn hosted a two-hour gathering in the front reception area for cordials and snacks with the other guests. It seemed that each guest was uniquely endowed with a bizarre, yet strangely pronounced mannerism that was absolutely crazy (like the developer from Atlanta who inhaled loudly after each funny statement, or the assistant district attorney who snorted when she laughed, or the lady from Florida who mashed her lips together and cocked her head everytime a rhetorical statement came from her mouth - and a great many did.) But the funniest of all was the middle manager for Publix supermarkets that we met. She came down and said her husband was sleeping off his last buffet - apparently his mission on this trip was to find and decimate as many buffets as he possibly could - regardless of what other, better fare might be available in a culinary melting pot like Savannah - if it didn't have an all-you-can-eat buffet, he wasn't interested, his wife informed us.

So, we sat for a while and talked, and then a cute British couple came down, and began lauding the snacks that had been placed out for us. The supermarket manager, after little coaxing from the British chippie, decided, to partake, and as she got up to do so said, "I'll try a few, but I do have to watch my girlish figure."

So, let me set the stage for you. We are all gathered in one area of the reception room, seated in chairs and sofas around a large coffee table, and this woman's rear end could have applied for statehood. So, she got up, and on her maneuvering her way back in to her seat, she proceeds to utilize the middle-posterior portion of that girlish figure much like a wrecking ball to knock over everyone's glasses of wine like some demented bowler. Girlish figure indeed.

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