A Twist Of Fate
September, 2008 Entries
"Not Even Stefano DeMira Can Stifle Me!"

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(09/30/08 - 11:32 PM)
The countertops are in, and they are nothing short of stunning. We added a new stainless wastebasket, faucet and sink to the mix, and even our 'contractor special' cabinets look keen now. I'm just glad that my wife loves the results - it was her gift, after all.

We used a product called Cambria that is anti-microbial quartz and epoxy that has the look of true granite, right down to the intentional imperfections (something most brands do not have.) It's amazing what a change it makes over the contractor-special, badly 45° angle-jointed, stained countertops that we had before.

(09/29/08 - 11:11 PM)
"Ghost In The Shell: Stand Alone Complex" is possibly one of the single best pieces of television that I have ever viewed.

My wife and I have been working our way through the two seasons of it, and as we draw near the end it feels like we're watching an old friend die or a stained glass window about to be struck by a wrecking ball.

What I mean is that, when we are finished with it, it will no longer hold the magic of discovery that one experiences the first time through a series such as this. Sure it's still good, and sure we might even watch it again (I'd say count on it, actually) but it will never be as good as the first time. It's all rather bittersweet.

This series has everything: Characters with depth, intrigue, action, comic relief, artistic scenes, compelling dialogue... I could go on and on. It's simply a work of high art, and I will miss the magic when we're finished.

Having had the opportunity to experience it at least once, however, I can still say that I would be worse off had I not seen it.

(09/28/08 - 11:36 PM)
Heath tries humor: Take... uh... what number are we on? I forget... um... take Q!

A young monk joined a cloistered monestary in the mountains of Tibet. When he arrived, he was met by the Assistant Abbott, Huang Yu. Abbott Yu then introduced him to the Head Abbott, Lo Fung.

On his first day, he was meditating in a garden with the other monks when he noticed something strange. As the meditation progressed, some of the monks began to get up and wander out into the gardens. They would look over the flora, and carefully select specific blooms that were apparently to their liking. After they had several, they would then enter the Monastary and return moments later with a vessel for the flowers.

Returning to their meditation mats, they would begin to arrange the flowers.

Soon, the Assistant Abbott entered the garden and scolded the Monks for not taking their meditation more seriously. Shamed, the monks put aside their half-finished arrangements and returned to meditation. This went on for several months.

Then, one week, the Assistant Abbott went abroad to seek out a new supplier for Monk robe clasps. As meditations began, the young monk noted that not a one of his bretheren was seated. Rather, they were all in the garden, seeking perfect flowers.

Frustrated and confused, the young monk sought out the Head Abbott to ask about the peculiar phenomena.

"Head Abbott," he said, "I mean no disrespect, but why do you not stop the monks from neglecting their meditations? The Assistant Abbott is adamant about doing so, yet all week I have not seen you attempt to stop this shameful act. May I ask why?"

Upon hearing this, the Head Abbott looked dejected. "It is indeed, a paradox, my young brother. I do not understand the universal mechanics of the situation, but I have come to find that this is the only truth of the matter: Only Yu can prevent florist friars."

(09/27/08 - 11:02 PM)
I decided that after two successes with lights, I would get ambitious and try outlets. So, I decided to add three to a dedicated circuit that my father in law (an electrician, and my electrical Yoda) had been gracious enough to install for my wife and I a couple of years back for our second refrigerator and freezer.

I learned that you cannot have more than five outlets on a circuit AFTER I had decided that I would have five on the circuit - so that was just dumb luck. I also learned that you can daisy-chain OR pigtail outlets on a circuit - it's your choice!

So, after five hours of sweating like a corpulent yak in the Sahara, the moment of truth came. All of my conduit was in place, my wire runs were a work of art and... all the outlets worked.


I know it sounds dumb, but I love figuring things like this out for myself (with the guidance of my own personal electrical Yoda, of course.) And it feels pretty great when it all comes together and actually WORKS.

Next up: I think I'll add a new circuit for the right side of my basement to have outlets. But that's another weekend.

(09/26/08 - 11:36 PM)
I knew that the 'fruit' of the banana plant was really a component of the flower. What I did not know was that the banana plant was actually a grass. Who knew?

(09/25/08 - 11:33 PM)
It's been a slow week at work, which is highly unusual. In fact, we had one of our larger competitors from the north show up for the first time on our doorstep looking for work. That's never a good sign.

So, I called my boss back prematurely from his work on his other business up north to come down and look for work himself (he's in charge of outside sales.) The situation, while not dire, is at odds with the experiences of the nine months (and five years, for that matter) that had occured prior. I had heard a couple of months ago that the economy was hitting some other shops very hard, but up until this week I had been dumbfounded by these reports, as there appeared to be - to me - a glut of work still to be had.

And now, it appears to be gone. What worries me the most is that it all disappeared from my sight all at once, and from all my customers at once. This is extremely unusual, and probably does not bode well for the remainder of the year.

I hope that it's simply a cyclical thing. Specifically, at the ends of quarters, we find that work tapers off due to budgets drying up and preparing to reset for the upcoming new quarter. I think also that the election is having some bearing on this as well, compounding the problem as business owners everywhere hold their breath to see how the election shakes out.

I don't have high hopes for the rest of the year, however. I think we'll be okay, but I think the days of 'cherry picking' the work that we want are probably over for the moment. Now, we'll have to treat every opportunity as one that we cannot let slip away. Translation: We'll have to bid everything, and bid it more agressively to see the same - or near-same - volume of work that we have experienced throughout the year thus far. This ends up being more time consuming, as a great many opportunities are not good fits for what we offer. So, when a mediocre or bad fit comes along, a great deal of problem solving goes into finding a way to bid it - let alone to bid it agressively enough to obtain it. Other shops must be contacted, and often outside services that we would not normally employ must also be called upon.

So long, heyday!

(09/24/08 - 11:04 PM)
Went to my Mom's tonight after receiving a call that she had purchased a picture that was 'just a little too large for her car.' She had called me on Monday night, and I let her know that I wasn't free until tonight.

So, we met her at the store where the picture was waiting... and it was HUGE. It JUST fit into MY car (a Subaru Forester) with the seats folded down.

So, we took it back to her place. I then hung a blind, the picture, some other pictures, and two curtain rods. I don't think her home will ever really be 'finished', but I don't mind having an excuse to visit her once in a while.

(09/23/08 - 11:22 PM)
My wife and I knocked off of "Cowboy Bebop" after two discs when "Ghost In The Shell" arrived. This proved to be a good move, as this series is WAY better. We'll go back when it's done, but there's sixteen discs - so it might be a while.

(09/22/08 - 11:08 PM)
I received a print to quote for a customer today. The blueprints in the package had dates ranging from 1936 to 1941. This isn't all that unusual from this customer, but occasionally I get stumped on some of the materials that they are asking for the component to be made from. Case in point was a bushing from 1940. The bushing itself was an ultra-simple flanged bushing, but the material proved to be something that in 12 years I had not heard of nor seen before. The material required by the blueprint was simply labeled as "Durex", and there was a note on the print to purchase it from a long defunct GM brake parts division to be modified.

I had a bona-fide scaveger hunt on my hands.

I began by calling my local distributor of motion accessories, and they too had never heard of the product. I waited until that afternoon to contact them once more to check on their progress. When I called, I spoke with the gentleman who was assisting me, and he said that no one (not even the "greybeards", as we call the older employees who might remember these things from their youth) had ever heard of this stuff.

"I'll try Googling it," I said.

The guy on the phone started laughing. "Yeah," he said, "Do that. I already did, but... you know what? Why don't you try it now while I'm still on the phone."

Now, I knew something was up, but nothing prepared me for this. I Googled 'Durex'... and this is what I got:

Click Me

Clearly the product had shifted its purpose over the years. As he's laughing, and I'm now laughing, he says, "Did you see the sixth one down... 'The Pants Whisperer?'"

We never figured out what in the hell the material was, but we had a damn good time trying.

(09/21/08 - 10:16 AM)
In a world where CD's are super expensive, and one can purchase songs for .99 cents, there is one place where amazing deals can be found that perhaps is being overlooked. Amazon.com offers a 'used & new' aftermarket option on most items. This is where individuals go to sell their goods through Amazon, and often one can purchase a CD for about $2.00 (sometimes less), pay a couple bucks for shipping, and have a NEW, FULL CD for about four to five bucks. What's not to love? It's a better deal than .99 cents a song, and doesn't come with all the licensing and transfer strings attached (I like to take my music everywhere, and even five to seven license allowances aren't quite enough to cover all of my devices). Further, I can rip the discs into 128 (CD quality), 168, or 192+ quality at my discretion. And I can control the formatting of the data in the file as well.

Plus, if I get all nostalgic, I can even PLAY the CD. Do people still do that?

(09/20/08 - 11:18 PM)
Today my wife and I finished watching our first Anime series together. I had ordered the "Neon Genesis Evangelion" series on a whim one evening, as I had caught a few episodes on late night television and wondered what in the world it was all about.

As it turned out, my wife was interested in watching it, so we turned on the Japanese with English subtitles and began.

The story had all the makings of something epic, but the last two episodes brought all of our hopes crashing down. We were left - like many fans, I suspect - asking ourselves: "What did I just watch, again?" Nothing was wrapped up at all, and even more questions were raised. There is, however, a 'directors cut' disc included in the set for four of the final six episodes. My hunch - and hope - is that these episodes contain material that explains alot of the unanswered questions. We'll see.

Next up: "Cowboy Bebop". Who names these series?

(09/19/08 - 11:21 PM)
Ladies and Gentlemen! You've know him, you love him! We proudly present - back by popular demand - Mr. Phillips Screwdriver!

Yes indeedy, he's back!

Today, all of my forkilft drivers had left at around the 3:00 mark (they had all had a long week, come in early, and just wanted to go home. And I didn't blame them for actually going on time, for once.) At about 3:30, a semi pulled into one of our two driveways to pick up an LTL load. A moment later, a second semi pulled into our other driveway with a drop.

I hopped on the forklift (yee-haw!) and began to load the first semi. As I'm manipulating the load, and the driver is guiding me to where he wants it, I see him out of the corner of my eye. Like the harbinger of certain doom, he appeared. As the driver was attempting to guide my actions, Mr. Phillips Screwdriver begins to ask him questions. The driver attempts to be polite and answer him, as he's still guiding me. After a minute of this, I finally get the load settled and ready to shift and align on the truck. By now, the driver of the other semi has come my way to let me know that he's here (I've seen him, but he doesn't necessarily know this).

Now, I'm asking the driver of the first truck how he wants the load shifted, but he can't answer me, as Mr. Phillips Screwdriver is asking him question after question. After a few seconds of this, I finally ask, "Do you need something, Mr. Phillips Screwdriver?".

Without speaking (NOW he doesn't want to speak?!), he simply holds aloft a simple light bulb. He had come all the way outside to find a new lightbulb for his work light. Apparently, the world stands still when you don't have one of these. I grit my teeth, and calmly state that my assistant knows where they are, and that since I'm tied up would he be so good as to consult her on the matter?

Without a breath he says, "She sent me out here to you!"


So, I stop loading, I stop the forklift, and I get on my radio. I calmly ask my assistant to please (PLEASE!) get this man a light bulb so that his world will turn once more. I calmly tell her where they are, and then I send him on his way.

I finish loading the first truck, and as I'm driving toward the second truck, the other driver is shaking his head. He gets it.

I finish up outside, and then I come back in the office. I make mention of the fact that I can't believe what just transpired to my assistant and then I get another surprise.

She tells me that he came in to ask her for a lightbulb, and as she was thinking out loud where they were, he began walking away. She was still speaking to him as he exited the office, and came seeking me.

"So you DIDN'T send him to me?" I asked, incredulous.

"NO!", she says. "I know where the light bulbs are - I was just thinking out loud and getting up, and he just walked off.!"


(09/18/08 - 11:43 PM)
I was watching a comedian tonight as he described the difference between Baby Boomers and Generation X. He made a point that seemed extremely significant to me. He said:

"Where Baby Boomers related to one another with nostalgia for events that had happened to them, individually or collectively, Generation X relates to one another with snippets of pop cultural references only."

And I'll be damned, but he was right. He went on to cite major historical events from one camp, versus quotes and opinions on pop cultural television programs from the other.

It was eerie, and a little disappointing to realize that this is what my generation relies on to interact with one another. I suppose it's simply a sign of the time, but socialization in its purest form seems to be an ailing thing. And it may very well all but die as the Baby Boomers do.

At this rate, the next generation will convey what is relevant through split-second finger mime - or something equally inane, requiring little or no effort or interaction.

(09/17/08 - 11:08 PM)
"We've secretly replaced this blog entry with the rich, full taste of Folger's Crystals. Let's see if the readers notice..."

(09/16/08 - 11:46 PM)
My new lathe operator had a baby today. To be specific, his wife had the baby. He was exhausted, and did not come in to work. I can't say that I blame him.

I was speaking with one of my senior mill operators, who has worked with me for some time now, and he said, "Well, you know how it is."

"I know how what is?", I inquired.

"You know, when you have a new baby," he says.

"Uh... no. I don't.", I responded, now puzzled.

"I thought you had a kid?", came his reply.

"No," I say, "My wife and I can't have them."

"Really?," he says, "I thought you had one."

Apparently, my campaign to be anonymous in my personal life at work is working too well.

(09/15/08 - 11:36 PM)
Monday, Monday. I had the countertop measurements taken today. Apparently, we've come a long way from the time of tape measures and wood templates. The fellow brought a tripod, targets and a laser with him. He just moved the targets from point to point all over my existing countertops, and shot the laser at them between moves. The laptop computer attached to the laser then figured the tangential points between the shots, and voila - there was my countertop on the screen.


(09/14/08 - 10:48 AM)
Today is rainy - again. It's been raining for three straight days, and I can't even imagine how much has fallen at this point (and I'm too lazy to look it up at the moment. I'm guessing somewhere in the 5-7 inch range.)

So, today I think I will sleeve the new books, and read one.

Scott Lynch's "The Lies Of Locke Lamora" is the first (and highly acclaimed) novel in a seven-book series. SEVEN! Called "The Gentleman Bastard Cycle", I have no idea what to expect. But after Redick, this book is listed as being just as popular with readers of the fantasy genre. So far, the readers have been spot-on this year. We'll see on this one.

(09/13/08 - 11:06 PM)
Today one of my customers in town - a massive corporate empire - had an open house. I decided that it was probably a good idea to get some face time with our number two customer, so my wife and I went.

When we arrived, we were herded into a small staging area for a tour. We were met by a man of about six foot four and seventy five years of age or more who began speaking with us. This fellow had all the makings of a NASA engineer in the fifties including the pocket protector, the fancy pencils, the owlish gold wireframe glasses, the white shirt, black slacks and tie. I was instantly reminded of my Grandfather who was an engineer at Sundstrand, with the exception that this fellow was as skinny as a rail and seemed very fit. It turned out that he wasn't waiting to take a tour - he was waiting to guide one - the fellow worked here.

Of course, my natural tendancy toward curiosity took over - who was this interesting guy? I asked him what he did, and he began to explain what his company did. No, I said with a smile, what do YOU do here? Once more, he tried to tell me about the company. This time I stopped him short, saying that I knew full well what the company did, but what was his position within it?

Without speaking further, the gentleman pulled out his card. He was a Vice President of a division. I couldn't believe that he was leading a tour, and I certainly could not believe the lengths he went to to be modest about his position. It also turns out that he was once with Sundstrand as well, but in a different division.

I felt bad about being what could have been misconstrued as pushy or abrupt - I hope he did not take my actions as such.

I warmed to this guy immediately. I think it was mostly because he affected all of the traditional values that I longed to have back - pride in, and passion for, his work; modesty; professionalism and a warm and caring personality.

Someday, I aspire to be just like him. I think I'll write him a letter to thank him for his hospitality - what a great guy.

(09/12/08 - 10:38 PM)
One of my employees who is currently on the fence (actually, the only one at the moment) crashed one of our trucks today. It was all his fault. I went into damage control mode, and had three people working phones - towing company, insurance, getting another truck dispatched - in less than two minutes.

This individual has been seen in the past by friends of the company driving in a manner that was deemed to be unsafe, yet each time he seemed to have an excuse.

So, before he went home today, I simply took him aside. Without yelling, this is what I said:

"I'm glad that you're okay. I'm glad that the person who hit you is okay. I am not going to yell. Here's what I want from you. I want you to go home this weekend, and I want you to ask yourself some hard questions. And I want you to think. I want you to ask yourself, if you were me, would you allow you to continue working here? I also want you to think specifically about how many peoples' lives you disrupted today. And then I want you to think about the financial implications of each and every one of those lives. I want you to think about what this is going to cost the company in lost time, wages, insurance premiums and deductables and repairs. I want you to think about what the cost of your ticket, and the time the officer had to take to write it. I want you to think about the woman you involved in the accident, and how much time and money she will lose due to your actions. I want you to think about all of that, and then I want you to ask youself once more, how can I keep you here? What's my motivation?"

I don't hold out a great deal of hope. As I was speaking, he was already saying, "I know, I know". But I don't believe he does, because I don't believe that he's framed the situation as broadly as I just had to him.

We shall see.

(09/11/08 - 11:02 PM)
*(See 09/08/08 entry if you're confused about the entry below)

My Doctor said, "Don't eat scallops - whats the problem?"


Apparently, the only symptom I was missing - and the only one he was worried about - was whether my throat had constricted. It had not. So, he said that what I had was a gastrointestinal issue with something in scallops. A severe one, but only that nonetheless.

So, no more scallops. I would say that I miss them, but after two bouts of 'that', I have a hard-wired physical aversion at this point. The thought or smell of them will probably be enough to keep me from them for the rest of my life.

What he was worried about was my blood pressure and my high-strung level of anxiety. After assessing me, he put me on - big surprise - the same stuff I was on in 1998.

Dammit. I took myself OFF of that stuff after only a few months, because I didn't like the side effects. But this guy figured that we could tweak the dosage so that I got the benefits, without the side effects.

I reluctantly agreed.

I began taking the stuff, and something glaring occured. I felt human again. Literally gone were my tendencies toward panic, anxiety, hypertensiveness, and obsessive behavior. All gone. Just like that.

And suddenly, I remembered what it was like to be NORMAL.

I had no idea that I was so screwed up (or wound up, for that matter). The problem is, I get PAID for being that wound up. I get PAID for my ability to be abnormally productive and efficient. I hope that I don't lose my edge.

(09/10/08 - 10:16 PM)
I began coming into work one hour earlier last Thursday. The impetus for this new starting time was that during the one hour that my Expediting Manager was there prior to my arrival, he was unable to perform his intended task due to his being the first member of management through the door and therefore being presented with all the issues that required addressing that had been piling up since four AM. So, I agreed that I would extend my already long work day on the front end to accomodate this, as it isn't really his responsibility to address these issues.

I have watched with a keen eye to make certain that this is truly the source of the problem of our not getting parts out in the most timely fashion. After only seven days, I am beginning to disagree with this assessment. Especially today when I found him addressing an issue regarding a filing cabinet for some twenty minutes before I intervened out of sheer frustration and anger.

Time will tell.

(09/09/08 - 07:41 PM)
After being blown away by Rothfuss and Abercrombie, I began searching for the "next big thing" in new fantasy fiction. I found it.

Robert V.S. Redick's first installment in what promises to be an astounding trilogy is titled "The Red Wolf Conspiracy". This book has it all. Political intrigue, magic (in small doses, which helps it not to detract from the story), mystery, and all sorts of warring nations eager to have just a slightly larger slice of the pie that is the world of Alifros.

We follow the path of Pazel Pathkendle, a lowly tarboy on a ship as he struggles to so much as stay alive. By nothing more than sheer luck, he finds himself serving aboard the I.M.S. Chathrand - the last of a line of ancient ships made from long extinct materials by a trading family that was so secretive about the power these ships bewtowed upon them that they had all the artisans killed once the fleet was completed hundreds of years ago - so that none would know how to replicate them. Now, only one remains.

The ship is Captained by Nilius Rose, a man with a dark past and an even darker future. Among its passengers on this voyage are a former Admiral, his conniving wife, their personal bodygard who is far more than he seems and the Admiral's budding daughter, Thasha. Also among the smaller confines of the ship we find the Ixchel - or "crawlies" as they are disdainfully called - a dwindling clan of miniscule persons brought eons ago from portions of the world that only the mega-fleet could once reach, and now desperate for a final chance to return home.

This book is so intricate that it was, in the beginning, extremely hard to follow. I recommend that you commit large sums of time to it at a go, so as not to get lost. With that being said, it was an amazing read that any lover of superior fantasy (I'm looking at you Potter-nuts, Tolkienites, and recent Rothfuss converts) should not miss.

(09/08/08 - 11:26 PM)
You may recall that my wife and I seem to be plagued when we go on vacation. Thrown out backs, food poisoning, etc. In fact, just this spring we went to Asheville, NC and I received the solemn gift of food poisoning. Or so I thought.

Yesterday, I felt much as I had in Asheville, just prior to the onset of one of the worst evenings of my life. Over a fifteen minute span, it just got worse, and it became clear that what I didn't want to happen, my body was righteously for. Off to the bathroom I ran.

I was violently ill for hours. I was in so much agony, and so lightheaded that passing out and dying seemed like a pretty good idea. I could not breathe; could not see. What I could do was feel every agonized muscle in my body.

As I lay convulsing and panting on my bed for one of my brief four-minute respites, I made a joke to my wife. I said, "it's the same as last time - I ate a great dinner including scallops, and then this happens". I was joking in an offhand manner, specifically because I love the things, but hate the cost. Earlier that evening we had dined at a party thrown by her employers at their home. Each dinner portion was served with two scallops. And they were tasty.

As I finished my comment, my wife said something that probably, inevatably, saved my life. She said, "Maybe you're allergic."

I almost laughed, and then I thought, "Good Lord, I think she's dead on right. How did I not think of that?"

So, as I tried to remain conscious, I sent her off to the Internet. What she found was startling. Apparently, 1 in 25 good folks is, in fact, allergic to shellfish. Usually, hives and discomfort ensue, and the folks learn their lesson. On rare occasions, however, violent illness ensues, as well as a host of other symptoms (I had them ALL), and the possibility of anaphylactic shock and eventual unconsciousness and death ensue unless an epi-pen is used to treat this egregious ingestion of shellfish immediately. I believe that the words "time is of the essence" were involved - ALOT. And, when she told me this, I was about as near to unconscious as one can be. The convulsions were the only thing keeping me awake, and I had to fight with her not to call the ambulance.

In hindsight, that probably was not the smartest thing that I ever did. I finally passed out sometime around midnight, and awoke a while later in a haze, but still breathing (apparently, many folks pass out, and their lungs cease to function - followed by their whole body ceasing to function.) My wife knew this bit, but didn't want to worry me - so she just stayed with me and listened to me breathe for a goodly sum of time. If that isn't love, I don't know what is.

So, now I actually WANT to go to the doctor to find out what in the world I'm allergic to, exactly; to get something so I don't die if there's a next time.

I can't say that there's too many other times in my life when I have been so frightened, with the exception of nearly drowning as a small child, and nearly freezing to death as a teenager (shutdown extremeties, anyone?)

And to my wife, I say, "Thank you." I never would have figured this out without you. And comparing the two events, this most recent one was far more violent than the first. Who knows what a third may have brought?

(09/07/08 - 10:03 AM)
I spent part of yesterday "At Work". Well, okay - to be more specific, I DID go to work. But I also went to a countertop place. My wife wondered why in the world it took me so long to get home. It turns out that for our anniversary I had decided to get her some new countertops (so I can finally get the kitchen backsplash tiled as well.)

So, I set it up with the guy (whose brother I had worked with before on a previous install) to come while my wife was at church. We even went so far as to make certain he used a cell phone to call in case he had questions - so the caller ID didn't need to be erased. It was a perfect scheme... except... my wife sometimes doesn't make it to church. It's rare, but it happens. Today, it happened.

So, "Surprise dear!" - you're getting countertops.

>Sigh< - What a downer. I was crestfallen to say the least. I knew - KNEW - I should have scheduled it on a weekday. The problem was, we've been so astronimically busy at work, I've actually had to change my start time from 8:30 to 7:30. The really really bad news is that I STILL have to stay until five, making for a guaranteed 10-hour day when you throw in the time for the paid breaks that I don't take.

See where being self-centered gets you? Next time, I'll do what I know is a sure thing, and not gamble. I just feel like I let my wife down because of it.

(09/06/08 - 11:26 PM)
Tomorrow, we have been invited to a dinner party at the home of my wife's employers. On Thursday, we were informed that it was essentially a suit-and-tie affair. Which is an odd choice, in my opinion, as most of the folks who work in the office aren't black-tie sort of people. What an odd choice, indeed.

So, to avert disaster, when I arrived home from work today, I decided that I had better find something to wear. I knew in my heart that my suit-shirt would most likely not fit (I've gained 20 pounds since I was fitted for it) and I was correct.

So, I found a shirt that WOULD fit, but it doesn't look as spectacular as the one I WANTED to wear. Also, my vest doesn't fit so well anymore either.


I have galvanized myself that this is a reminder that I'm still too fat. As such, I have promised myself that I am going to get those twenty pounds banished to the nether regions of space and time (or Sheboygan) post-haste. The upside is that I haven't GAINED any weight since my body "Balanced Out" to this weight a couple of years ago. The downside is that - at my lowest - I was twenty pounds happier than I am now.

>Cue the 'Weird Al' "Fat" song...<

Yes. My shadow DOES weigh all of forty-two pounds. But not for long...

(09/05/08 - 11:08 PM)
Today at work, my Boss finally blew a gasket with my assistant's assistant. We've all been more than patient with this girl, who many lesser souls in the shop had dubbed "Dumby" based on their personally-limited experiences with her antics. Today, my Boss fired her.

This girl, while well meaning, could not follow a direction if you MapQuested it for her, and then put her in an auto-piloted vehicle. If presented with a scenario such as this, she would avail herself to either re-design the vehicle, jump out, or begin singing. If that sounds convoluted and strange, then we've pretty much summed up our experiences with her. It was just like that.

Today, my Boss just needed some things photocopied, and some things typed. He explained in succinct detail what he needed. It was simple. But when - an inordinate amount of time later - this girl presented him with the results, they were strange. For, you see, she had retyped the stuff that just needed copying (and spell check was a foreign country to her, for whatever reason) and she had failed to copy the things that needed copying correctly. When my now peeved Boss asked her why in the world she had re-typed the stuff he just needed copied, she replied that she just thought it would look better, and then she could choose a different font.

And then, she was out the door.

Ironically, we all breathed a collective sigh of relief. We had discussed this action on numerous occasions in the past, but had decided to address her behavior as one might a bridge - it was a means to an end, but once you've crossed a bridge, you don't take it with you. Hence, when we referred to her, we spoke in analogies of bridges so that she wouldn't pick up on it. This was my anology, and it just somehow stuck.

Today the bridge - like the ill-fated Tacoma Washington Narrows bridge - self-destructed.

But there was a hidden upside to this all. We had an ace up our sleeve. My wife had recently worked in the presence of a woman who worked for a differing law firm that shares space with hers. She had seen the woman's potential, and was shocked when she was terminated for "not learning litigation fast enough."

My wife NEVER refers anyone, but this woman was PERFECT for our needs. Four hours later, I hired her.

So, I can now look forward to NOT having to reprimand someone for filing vendors in customer files, filing quotes wherever she accidentally puts them (never to be seen again), filing anything, anywhere where it DOESN'T belong. I no longer have to worry about convoluted phone messages where "Pam from ABC Machine" turns out to be Gary, from Motion Industries (they're pretty close, right?) I no longer have to suffer silently as this woman blames everyone but herself.

And it feels like hope.

(09/04/08 - 10:23 PM)
The origin of the term "Redneck" does not mean what you might first guess. Usually, I hear that it "probably has to do with people being in the sun too long 'outside', hence sunburn on their neck." Good guess - totally wrong.

The term "redneck" finds its roots with Appalachian miners. Areas of Appalachia were without Union representation far longer than other areas of the country where Miners were concerned. As a show of solidarity, miners who were Union began to wear red kerchiefs or bandannas around their necks to indicate that they were Unionized. This was to let everyone - including their non-Unionized bretheren - know that "Hey! We're out here - you could be one of us!"

'Rednecks', as they became known, were a proud group. And the term was actually used in a positive light at its inception.

(09/03/08 - 09:34 PM)
N.M. Kelby's second book, "Whale Season" was an astounding surprise after having read her fourth book, "Murder At The Bad Girl's Bar & Grill" which was a resounding disappointment. NOW I understand how the likes of Hiaasen could even remotely laud this author. This book was good - good, not great.

It begins with a poker game on Christmas Eve. Leon is supposed to be with his girlfriend, but when a man claiming to be Jesus rolls into his less-than-savory used motor home lot looking for a friendly game of poker, he figures hey - who is he to refuse the son of God on his birthday?

Thus begins a strange, zany and oftentimes touching story about the intertwining of lives in a forgotten town in rural Florida. Lives that run the gamut from touchingly sad to outright scandalous. Oh, and the Mayor is attempting to figure out what kind of inner-dog he is - he has it narrowed down to a schnauzer and a pomeranian, but as we soon witness, he still has some serious soul-searching to do on this front.

The story is borderline psychotic, and reminds me a great deal of something Tim Dorsey would whip up on a laudnum-induced Tuesday afternoon.

This book I can recommend to followers of the flag of Floridian fiction. It's not the pinnacle of the craft, but if you need a quick fix, this book should fit the bill nicely.

(09/02/08 - 08:20 PM)
Finished Jonathan Kellerman's most recent novel, "Compulsion" (finally!) While not his most stellar offering, it was on the higher-end of the now nearly boilerplate offerings in the Alex Deleware series. I won't bore you with specifics (you're either reading him or you're not - so there's no point in 'roping someone in' for one stray novel that will be tough to follow without tons of backstory already under their belt.)

Suffice it to say, it was a decent read.

The End.

(09/01/08 - 12:47 PM)
Today, I finished a book that I long desired to read. And I was anything less than disappointed.

I finally got my hands on a cherry copy of Chuck Palahniuk's debut novel, "Fight Club", and got around to reading it. This book is something so original, so astounding and so outright scary that I can barely compartmentalize it with anything else I have read (I'll give you a few recommendations below, but they're as close as I can come). This book is so dark, so possible, and so well-written that I am nothing short of in awe of this mans' creative geinus. The book is complex in its simplicity - there is no other appropriate way to describe it.

For anyone who has seen the film (a movie I actually liked, which is unusual), it remained exceedingly true to the original work - which is something of a rarity.

The book surrounds our protagonist hero - and his antagonist friend whom he meets on a flight. We watch, intimately, as their lives each spiral out of control to the outside observer yet in different ways.

This self-induced destruction is what helps them to feel alive, and as they realize that they've hit on something primal; something that every man who works for a better coffee maker, rather than working as a means of survival to enjoy one more moment of precious life, can appreciate in ways that they never expected.

Fight Club is unceremoniously born, and from there the Club takes on a life of its own. We follow our protagonists' attempts to stop the madness that his counterpart-antagonist has begun, and we witness an epic struggle between evil and evil unfold.

I highly recommend this book to anyone who has a strong stomach, and I really can't say enough good things about it.

If you like this book, then you might also like:

  • "We Can Get Them For You Wholesale" - Neil Gaiman (Appears in "Angels & Visitations")
  • "Less Than Zero" - Bret Easton Ellis
  • "The Brave" - Gregory McDonald

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