A Twist Of Fate
September, 2007 Entries
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(09/30/07 - 9:55 AM)
Welcome to Sunday! I'm going to do stuff around the house today. My house - not Mom's. I can officially say that as of last night, her house is done and on the market. Moreover, she managed to get Cleo Bankord to be her agent. Cleo is someone that I admire a great deal, as she seems to be the epitome of success. She works hard, and as such she has reached the pinnacle of her field. I can't think of a better realtor for Mom to have, especially with her inexperience buying and selling real estate.

The house itself looks more amazing than I ever remember it looking, and it's sad that Mom has to move because everyone in her neighborhood is either neglecting their home, or killing one another - or both. Worse, she just got her 2007 assessment, and for the very first time her home's value dropped - by five thousand dollars no less. The estimated reason from learned sources? Everyone around her, for the most part, has allowed their little, cutie-muffin homes to turn into insta-hovels. Sad, sad, sad. And the timing couldn't be worse.

On the whole, her house should still sell quickly. It's a damn nice house with new everything, that's clean from basement to attic, and looks almost like new construction in some aspects. We're all pulling for you, Mom.

(09/29/07 - 11:32 PM)
Today was one of those days where the stars align, and everything just comes together. Normally, I have some beef or another against my employees (singular or plural). Mostly, I'm just venting and I like the lot of them just fine (well, except for Mr. Phillips Screwdriver.) But today... today was almost weird.

My guys work hard - some more than others, but they all try. Today, I had almost a full crew of guys. Okay, working on a Saturday isn't a big deal per se. What is a big deal is when they have fulfilled not only their straight time hours, but also their promised overtime hours and yet they still come in on Saturday because they can see on their own how badly I need help to get things done. I was STUNNED to see a crew of ten guys in on a Saturday for most of the day without prompting. For the first time in I don't know how long, I feel like we're a team - like I'm managing the right way, and they're responding in the right way. Maybe it was the doughnuts and good coffee that I got up at 4:30 in the morning to bring them last week that brought it all together. I wanted them to see that I was willing to do whatever it took to show them that they were appreciated. I'll be damned, I think it actually worked.

So, for one shining day, I wish to countermand all of the bitching that I normally do. Today, you guys were the kind of team that I dream about. Thank you, one and all, for a job well done. Especially to my Webb operator - you've come a long way from the guy who used to frustrate the hell out of me, and I acknowledge that I was wrong. Keep up the good work.

(09/28/07 - 10:21 PM)
It is now officially too chilly to eat on Chipotle's outside patio in the evenings. I'll miss those Friday nights lounging on their patio, hanging out with my wife and unwinding from another day of torment at my job. Winter might just as well get on with it, as my one bit of outdoor fun has now been spoiled.

(09/27/07 - 10:56 PM)
Terry Pratchett's new book "Making Money" came out today, and for the first time since I can't remember when, I can't read one of his new novels right away (I always make time for Terry.) This is going to make me nuts. Terry - I'm sorry!

(09/26/07 - 11:47 PM)
Mr. Phillips Screwdriver has yet another new bad habit! Let's review the others to get you back up to speed before we mention this one. Ready? He:
- Talks over you, whether you're talking or not. If you don't stop, he just keeps getting louder until you do.
- Farts while talking to you (he's standing, I'm seated, and he's leaning over me.)
- Clears his throat EXTREMELY loudly without warning, regardless of the situation.
- Tells you without reservation why everyone and everything else that is not him, or of him, is stupid.

And now: He coughs on me without covering his mouth! Yay!

(09/25/07 - 11:13 PM)
Well, after four phone calls, a complaint to the FCC and the BBB, my wife managed to get DirecTV to give our $500.00 back from when we closed our account. Apparently, we weren't the only ones having this problem, so I will say this: Complain, complain, complain. If they don't meet their stated criteria the FIRST time, I encourage you to get online and complain to the BBB and FCC IMMEDIATELY. Only this will stop this Goliath company in the end from treating their customers as outlets for their financial debauchery.

(09/24/07 - 11:54 PM)

"Do, or do not - there is no try"


(09/23/07 - 10:12 PM)
Josh Ritter's new album "The Historical Conquests of Josh Ritter" is another bullseye in what is fast becoming a brilliant career in relative obscurity. Oh man, why can't this guy catch a break? He's an amazing songwriter - we're talking Bob Dylan good, here - and his singing style, while a bit raw at times, is sensational in its own way, nonetheless. I encourage you to purchase or download any or all of his albums. Start with "Four Songs Live" - it's inexpensive, full of energy, and will have you hooked in minutes. Get to know this artist, and I promise you that you won't be disappointed.

The big songs:
- "Kathleen" (The live version is better, I think)
- "Snow is Gone" (Again, with the live version)
- "To The Dogs Or Whoever"
- "Golden Age Of Radio (Again, with the live version)
- "You Don't Make It Easy Babe"
- "Me & Jiggs"
- "You've Got The Moon"

(09/22/07 - 11:58 PM)
Never bet the Fett man.

(09/12/07 - 10:27 PM)
Remember when I mentioned the unpleasantness we were experiencing with our new provider of power and gas? *(Refer To June 16th Entry For Context) We got hit with another round of stupid today, courtesy of them.

To be more specific, it showed that I had a delinquent account - AGAIN - and that I owed a buttload of money. Puzzled, my wife called and was told that they were splitting the system in two - power and gas - and that credit balances were only being aplied to one or the other. So while I had a monster credit balance, it was now only applied to one or the other, making it seem like I hadn't paid the other one in months, and showing a major delinquency. Brilliant!

Time spent on phone fixing stupid with former company over years and years of service: 0

Time spent on phone with new company in the past four months: 30 minutes.

Not having to make bullshit calls to inept service providers (I'm looking at you too, State Farm & Countrywide Mortgage - who both keep sending me letters to get me back, which exhibits clearly their levels of retardation): Priceless

(09/11/07 - 11:33 PM)
If your tires wear down as you drive upon them, and a bajillion people are having the same problem, where in the hell does all that rubber go?

(09/10/07 - 11:17 PM)
I have a bizarre adoration with knowing the roots of modern day sayings that when thought about for more than two seconds make no sense to those speaking them: "Just Joshing", "Okay" and so forth.

Yet in all my reading and collecting of this worthless knowledge, I found one tonight that I had no prior notion of: the term "Paying through the nose." Turns out, it doesn't mean Vegasing quarters through your nasal cavities in a manner that even the most stalwart of octogenarian chain-smokers would be leery of.

It seems that back in old Norway (goooooo Whitefish!), Wodin had his own day. Thor and Freya were notably pissed, but Loki was cool with it. Anyway, on Wodin's day it was customary for farmers in the outlying areas to make a sacrifice of some sort to Wodin. Problem was, some of these farmers were dirt poor (we'll leave that one for another day.) So, if a farmer could not pay, his nose was cut in lieu of his sacrifice to Wodin - for that year, anyway.

For you see, while getting one's nose cut really sucks, it actually could get worse. If aforementioned farmer could not get his manure together by the turn of the next year on Wodin's day, he was in trouble. The head sacrifice collector would come around, see he had no sacrifice and, worse, see that he couldn't slit his nose because that smarmy son of a bitch Lothar, who did the rounds last year, had gotten to said farmer already (no wonder Glücken left him.) But aside from that, no worries! When this happened, they just burned down his entire farm as a sacrifice to Wodin. Yeah, good times.

So the term "paying through the nose" quite literally applies to settling a debt that by all rights should not exist with an entity who also does not exist. And you thought the IRS was evil.

(09/09/07 - 11:34 PM)

"When you come to a fork in the road - take it!"

-Yogi Berra

(09/08/07 - 11:11 PM)
I received a letter in the mail the other day. It was from a "company" (read - shyster or group of shysters) called "Illinois Deed Provider, Inc." The letter said:

"Our records, obtained from public information, show that property deed document number such-and-such recorded on December 11th, 2002 indicates that your ownership interest in the property located at (my address).

At the time that you purchased your property, a deed was prepared that shows the title was transferred to you. This deed was recorded by the Winnebago County Recorder.

The U.S. Government Federal Citizen Information Center website recommends that property owners should have official or certified copies of their deed. If you don't already have this important document, you may obatin one now. This document provides evidence that your property was transferred to you.

To obtain a Certified Copy of your Deed, complete the order form below and return it in the enclosed postage paid envelope with your payment of $79.50 which includes location, retrieval, postage and handling or fill in the credit card information below and either mail or fax your order to 800-682-1707.

Due to the large number of transactions, this will be your only notice of our service.

All orders will be handled promptly."

Now, let me translate this for you:

"Dear Dipshit:

We heard that you might be stupid enough to believe that someone gave you keys to a house without actually giving you the house. We know that a Title Search was done, and Title Insurance was issued to guarantee clear title in the event of an oversight, but we're hoping you're too stupid to know what the hell that means. Further, some backwater website of the U.S. Government that no one has ever heard of, and that is probably run by some Oedipal, twenty-something, 7-year-plan near-miss college graduate, recommends between bong hits and "Family Guy" reruns that you not only should not shove copious numbers of crayons in your rectum, but also says that a Deed for your house ain't a bad idea either.

Since you're stupid, we thought that we'd try and let you buy something from us that is essentially free to anyone who knows how to walk down to their local County Recorders office. We hope that you will be scared shitless that someone duped you into believing that all that money you're paying every month in mortage principal and interest is really going into the pocket of some super-villian somewhere, as he twirls his pencil thin moustache and waits for a train to run some broad over. As such, we hope to spend three minutes pulling this document at the Recorders office (location & retrieval), putting it in an envelope and mailing it to you (postage and handling.)

Due to the large number of stupid automatons out there who are easily scared by this shit, we might take a while getting back to you. We also won't be contacting you again, as these scam letters don't mail themselves, and if you aren't scared shitless by the first one, chances are you're on to us and we won't be able to syphon a red cent out of your intellectually superior ass.

We really hope you're stupid enough to send us a check or money order, but you're credit card number, sent blindly, would be a super, balls-out bonus.

Seriously, we hope to shit this works. Send money!"

I encourage each and every one of you to do what I did: send the postage-paid envelope back - empty. Hit em' where it hurts. Their pocketbooks. Bunch of fear-mongering low-lifes.

(09/07/07 - 10:15 PM)
High-Definition television is my new crack (okay, to be fair, I never actually took a shine to crack, but the analogy works.) When I ordered my new system, I made sure that I got not one - but two - high-definition receivers. Why? What possible reason could I have for doing so? Well, you see - I knew that somewhere down the line I would probably succumb and purchase a smaller HDTV for my bedroom. Today was that day. Good Lord, I have no willpower. But damn - does my bedroom television look super-sweet.

(09/06/07 - 9:18 PM)
"The Masada Scroll" by Paul Block is one of those aside books that one picks up because it seems topically interesting and looks as though it might be a potentially nice aside from all of the mainstream authors one is used to. While not as big a surprise as "Blowback", it was still a decent read in its own right. That being said, it was not exactly my cup of tea, either.

For this book, think "The DaVinci Code", but with heavy Christian undertones. This book went out of its way to maintain reverence (which I can appreciate), but with that reverence came almost a preachy quality.

If you enjoy Christian fiction, you might actually like this book. Otherwise, it could go either way. This book centers around the long-debated existance of what is known, in Christian circles, as the "Q" or "Quelle" document - a single first-hand Gospel that was the derivitive prototype for the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke & John. It's theme centers around the discovery of such a document, it's secret keepers over the millenia, the Catholic-exild group who wishes to stop its dissemination and the authors story presented in a firsthand, flashback format.

(09/04/07 - 11:17 PM)
For days now, we have been trying to contact our primary vendor of flat-grinding services. It's a small, one man, business run by a super nice guy named Andy. Andy works himself stupid, and is always willing to go the extra mile for you, or collapse after an 80-hour week trying.

Which made our not being able to get ahold of him all the more perplexing.

But I guess if I won a quarter-million dollars in the lottery, I might celebrate a little too. Just a little, though.

(09/03/07 - 9:18 PM)
"Spook Country" is William Gibson's long awaited new novel. While not a bad novel, per se, it is certainly not among his strongest work either. The story flows, but not like a raging river (as a good story ought to, in my opinion), but rather like a lazy stream on a hot summers day: meandering with an end in mind, but no hurry to arrive there.

The story has the usual coalescence of storylines, but it feels somehow incomplete. Further, the first forty pages or so feel as though they must be scrutinized, so that no important point will be missed while a massive data-collection period is occuring (think Perez-Revert's "Queen Of The South".)

I'm not wholly disappointed - it's still Gibson, after all. I'm just not intrigued.

(09/02/07 - 08:21 PM)
Got a few more things done at Mom's today, and things finally feel like they're coming to a point of finality - though there is still much to be done. Sorry to me, and the couple o' blog-o-philes out there for the long span of neglect.

(09/01/07 - 10:37 PM)
I have a newfound respect for individuals in the roofing profession. I spent ten and one-half grueling hours in the blazing sun, without the slightest hint of a breeze removing three layers of well-placed shingles, only to re-roof the entire structure and clean up before the day was out.

I have had some grueling days in my life, but this one is definately in the top three. I would sooner have removed a major organ with a corkscrew than do this, had I known what I was in for.

Funnier still, I had mentioned to Paul (the guy I was roofing with, and the dude clearly in charge of a project I was not equipped to head up by any stretch of the imagination) that I wondered how long it would be before some curious neighbor asked us to do their roof.

The answer? About two hours - for the first one. The first guy wanted us to do his garage. The second guy was more cautious. I had seen him watching us throughout the course of the day, and figured that we must be more interesting that whatever was on the television. At about two o'clock, he asked me if we were independant or were with a company. He mentioned that he had watched us, and we seemed to do good work, and would we possibly quote re-shingling his house and garage?

I couldn't think of higher flattery than that, so we must have done something right. My hat's off to Paul - proving once again what a talent he is (oh, and did I mention, he also turned down a plumbing job?)

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