Tuesday, November 27, 2007

i've gone back and forth on this...

There is a guy who was laid off at my company. We're not in a money crunch or anything right now, but they use periodic lay-offs as a way to trim fat and dead weight, and the weight doesn't get any deader than this guy.
He spent a great deal of time on his cell phone with his, either wife or mother, or wife-mother. There was a lot of yelling, "But, I LOVE you!" and loud conversations that revealed relationship parts that really ought to be kept at home.
When I say he spent a lot of time on the phone, that really doesn't paint an appropriate picture. With no hyperbole at all, he spent every second he wasn't directly occupied by work, on the phone. In the hallway, in the stairway, in the elevator, the cafeteria, the coffee room, the smoking area outside, his car driving in, the bathroom stall... Seriously.
After I worked with him for a period of time, he moved into a customer facing position. I'm sure he was not able to stop the phone talking.
Beyond the phone talking, he was a dope-dork. It was clear that it wasn't going to work out. The only question was, how long was he going to last?

Well he didn't last long. On his last day, he wrote a farewell missive to his compatriots... Sorry for the language. I'm getting into the feeling of the letter he wrote. It is the most overwrought mess of trying too hard I have ever read.
He was not the type to burn his bridges. Sometimes, when you write a good bye letter, you end up burning them, but this dude was trying miserably to create bridges where ones had never been.
Obviously I am not dumb enough to use his name, but I am going to share with you most of his letter. Remember, I didn't write this crap.
Check it out:

To a great team of guys,

It is with a somewhat somber heart that I write this letter. I want
to thank each and everyone of you for the friendship, learning,
laughing, and teamwork. I have thoroughly enjoyed working with ya'll
getting to know some of you. I know that if (manager) could have kept us he
would have. He truly is one of the best managers I have ever had the
distinction of working with. I thank you from the bottom of my heart
(manager), you truly were a guiding example of an in tune, involved, and
shining manager.
(Holy crap what an opening! Is your dinner coming up yet?)

Manager: You are a man amongst men. (He really SAID THAT!) I have had in my lifetime, as short as it may be, a few occasions to find a boss with whom I not only
worked for but enjoyed working for, and who took an interest, truly,
in what I desired as well. I know it is not something you would have
chosen. I understand that these things happen in the course of life
and companies. Thank you for the bits of knowledge and insight you
passed on in the time I was with you. Know that you are an incredible
person and boss. Also know that I thank you for the opportunity and
taking me into a team that is so deep and letting me make my
contributions. (Good CHRIST! I hope he rented some scuba gear for his trip up that guy's ass.)

Some other guy: I definitely will miss you as you are a great person I have
enjoyed learning from you, working alongside you. Keep up the killer
work your efforts are definitely making waves. Keep working on the
classes outside of (company). And know that you made a tremendous impact on
me whether you know it or not. (Please know it whether you know it or not. Also please know that I know not the mysteries of this thing they call "the comma".)

Some other, other guy: I will always enjoy the time spent with you talking and learning the (business aspect) side of things. Especially lunches or
just chatting about work or not. (What?)

In closing please do not be strangers. Just as (manager) had an open door
policy. I have an open door policy as well. (See? The comma thing throws him off. Also, I am sure the rest of the team is infinitely comforted by your open door policy. As long as it isn't the door to the stall you are in while you are talking to your wife-mother.) I really hope ya'll
continue to do well as I know you can and do strive to do. My
personal email will be enclosed. Many, many thanks for your time.
Even more thank you for your camaraderie, friendship,(companionship, acquaintance, buddy-ness...) and help.

He's a poor thing and I really shouldn't be making fun of him, but come on, I mean, what was I gonna do?

here's some more crap for y'all...

First off, it gives me great personal pleasure to welcome Stove into the open, flappy-triceps-ed arms of the Oprah Book Club!
Stove has taken a soul-searing walk down The Road.
You go, boy. You go.

I wrote the above because he bitched at me about already knowing some of the stories I've presented. Who am I? Asimov?

In other news, I was walking into Dunkin' Donuts the other day. It was raining and everything was gray. Perhaps due to the weather, I was already in less than cheerful spirits.
I passed a pick up truck. I looked into its bed and the contents struck me with a profound sadness. There was an old computer monitor lying on it's screen, a yellow blanket, rolls of Christmas wrapping paper in a large bundle, and a beat up pair of crutches. All soaked with rain.
I thought, "This must be modern day Bob Cratchit's truck, only it looks like Scrooge didn't listen to the ghosts."
It was sad in a despondent way, not in an outrageous way. Like, if there was a puppy or something in the bed, I could have gotten pissed off at the guy. This was much more pitiful.
It reminded me of something I had seen earlier in the week, though I won't say where I saw it. Some guy bought some woman flowers, roses, to attempt to make up for what he had done wrong. The roses were sitting on a counter, completely disregarded.
I was sad for the woman because I knew that flowers were so much not nearly enough to fix what was broken and I was sad for the man who did not seem to realize or know what to do about it.
Here's the deal. If you buy your wife or whatever flowers and she says, "Screw you!" and throws them in the garbage or stomps up and down on them, then there's still something there. If she cares enough to get that mad, you're not done yet. You're drowning, but you might find a branch.
If, however, she calmly places the flowers aside on a counter and doesn't even blink at them, you're under the ice. Don't fight it. Suck the water into your lungs and get gone.

I'm actually in a pretty good mood.

Monday, November 26, 2007

another bar story...

This one starts in a bar, anyway.
Last week I made reference to "Planes, Trains and Automobiles" which I consider to be the only real Thanksgiving movie. Now, I will share with you the only real Thanksgiving story I have to share.

A number of years ago, before my life was better, I spent a quiet Thanksgiving evening with my sister. We had a nice enough time, but when the festivities were done, there was nothing else to do. I think she was going out with friends or something.
Also, everyone else I knew at the time was out of town or otherwise engaged in some way. I had a lot of nothing to do and was looking to kill some time while I made myself tired enough to go to sleep.
Having time and nothing to do often got me in trouble back then.

I went to find a bar in Providence to watch some football with a crazy crowd of people watching football which there was not at all. All the bars were very quiet and very nearly empty. For some reason, I was surprised by this.
I found one with similarly sad, life-lacking people. There was football on the television, so it was good enough.
I bellied up to the bar. At least I think I bellied up. I don't do much upping of any kind toward bars so my bellying technique might have needed some polish. No one seemed to mind.
At the time, my hair was dyed white-blond.
I was drinking soda water and lime while watching a game that nearly held my attention. I felt, more than saw, someone standing next to me and looked over to see a 40-ish woman with hair a similar color to mine own.
She sat at the stool next to me and ordered a white wine. She then made a big show of how she couldn't open her purse to pay for it.
I was feeling the good Thanksgiving vibes we all fall prey to now and again. I said I would pay for her drink and she was very grateful. She sat down and we started to talk.
The first thing we talked about was how we had the same color hair. It was very deep. The conversation, not the color.
She was the kind of person who looked good unless you really looked. When I say good, I mean both in appearance and in value to society.
She had the disturbing habit of looking at Lord Sloth, Overlord of the Seventh Dimension of Hell, who apparently always stood just behind my left shoulder, when she was talking to me.
When I was talking to her, she could hold eye contact for approximately 4 seconds, then she would look at Lord Sloth again.
The conversation quickly lead to deaths in her family, her poor health and the fact that her daughter had not spoken to her in several years.
At one point, I believe she made reference to being Marilyn Monroe's either make-up artist or Doppelgänger.
With my years of experience in mental health, I quickly deduced that she was slightly wonky.
Although she was slightly wonky, and her story doubled back and frequently contradicted itself, there was clearly a deep level of sadness in her and it was clearer that she was very lonely.
Who wants to be wonky AND very lonely on Thanksgiving? I thought it would be good to do something nice for her.
I asked if she had eaten and she said that she had not. I took her to Via Via, which is right off Thayer Street in Providence. This is a great place for pizza. They have lovely, fresh toppings, including nice, whole slices of tomato, which I enjoy.
We ordered us up a pie, with nice, whole slices of tomato, and a couple of Diet Cokes, then sat down.
We continued to speak about her horrible life, until the pizza was complete. As I was being all gallant, I went and fetched the pizza while she sat and continued to placidly sip Diet Coke.
I put the pizza down and she lost her mind. She looked at the pizza and freaked the freak out.
"TOMATOES!!? TOMATOES!!? TOMATOES!!?", she said in a way that caused me to gawk.
She began to grab tomato slices and frisbee them around the room. Slices stuck to the walls and the windows and narrowly missed other patrons.
"Tomatoes.", she said to me in a very reasonable tone.
She then picked up the pizza, walked to the counter and heaved it over at the scared looking fellows behind, while screaming, "My BOYFRIEND does not like TOMATOES on his PIZZA!!"
I was frantically pantomiming the fact that I was not her boyfriend to who ever might care, though no one seemed to.
I somehow corralled her back into my car. Why I did this is a mystery. I could have just bailed, but I felt responsible for her. Bleagh.
We drove away and I asked her where she was staying and that I would bring her there. She said, "Aren't I staying at your house?"

When I stopped silently screaming/laughing, I said, "No. No. No you're not going to my house."
She noticed my daughter's child seat in the backseat and her toys that were thrown around. She asked me if I was a f***ing pedophile and suggested I ignite and visit Lord Sloth in the Seventh Dimension of Hell.
And that was about all the loony I could take for one Thanksgiving. I pulled up to a curb, reached past her, opened her door and said, "Get out."
She started crying again and apologized, but the gallant meter was on E. I stared at her until she got out of the car.
I pulled away and the acceleration of the car slammed the door shut in a way that I thought would be quite dramatic, then immediately felt like a heel.

The moral of this story? Don't ever try be compassionate, ever.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

a story came up at lunch yesterday...

I'm not sure what conversation brought this story to the front of my mind. I guess it doesn't matter. But as it came up yesterday and is still fresh in my mind, I will share it with you.
I don't know if you've picked up on this or not, but I tend to share certain embarrassing things I've done, or am thinking of doing, or said, or thought or whatever, fairly readily. I love it. I think I'm mostly a dork-o and have endless fun pointing out the silliness of me.
I love pointing out silliness in general, true, but I don't avoid myself as a target I imagine is my point.
This story, while quite funny, is very embarrassing to me. Much more so, as I have matured or something, than it was before. I used to be able to tell it with no problem. Yesterday, at lunch, I actually considered not telling it. I almost never shy away from sharing a humorous story, but yesterday I almost did.

Those of you who don't like to read long stories might wanna bail now. Those of you who do, hunker down.

I don't drink. I believe I've made it clear before, but maybe you missed it. I've been drunk I think 3 times. I've never had a hangover. I've never been told the following day after a night of craziness about some exploit with a lampshade while exposing myself that I just don't remember. I've never had that thing from "comedy" movies where you wake up next to some scary chick you can't recall getting into bed and doing LORD KNOWS what with.
I've had years long relationships with scary chicks... Never mind. Not now.
I am always the sober one. I'm always the one who is going to make the more informed decisions and drive and tell you what an ass you were last night. That's my job and I'm quite happy with it.
What I am not happy with, is the fact that I cannot ever use, "I was drunk." as an excuse for stupidly dopeass behavior.
I have to take responsibility for every decision I make. My only excuse is "I am not that smart." It kinda sucks. I sure could use the drunk-y card to pull once in a while.
This situation is one where I would like to have been able to use it.
The end of the summer after 9-11, so five years ago... Is that right? Was it really only five years ago? My life has taken some MASSIVE steps towards improvement in a short time. Yikes.
My friend's parents had a summer home in one of the Carolinas. North or South, I can't remember. Probably North. Let's say North.
They were selling their summer home in North Carolina as they didn't use it enough. My friend asked me and a couple of other guys to head down with him to close the house up to fully prepare it for sale.
As I was not working at the time, and had not been for some time, I was looking for ANYTHING to do, so I quickly agreed.
We went down and had a most excellent couple of days. While down there, someone made a massive batch of chili. Pounds and pounds of it. One night we all ate until we were sick, but there was still an enormous bowl of it left over.
In the morning, this friend said that he was going to eat all of the leftover chili. I bet him that he could not possibly. He made a counter bet. Not only would he eat all the chili in the bowl, but he would enjoy a lovely Twinkie immediately after.
I took the bet. He ate all the chili. But he did not eat the Twinkie. He didn't eat much of anything for a long time, in fact, and was frequently vacant from our sight and ,thankfully, sense of smell.
This was a trip of bets. A trip of gambling. We played a lot of poker. I was on one of those tears that make you think you should hop a plane to Vegas, right now.
Every card I needed came to me. I was pulling insane hands out of the air and was destroying everyone.
I took all the money they were willing to give me. No one wanted to play with me anymore, but I still wanted to play. Duh.
I offered this. Instead of playing for money, why don't we play for immunity? The person who won the next hand would have the ability to do ANYTHING they wanted, be as STUPID as they could, sleep with WHOEVER they wanted (who would sleep with them) and no one could say anything, EVER. No one could tell on them. No one could give them a hard time. Everything they did from the moment after the game until the time we got home, would be, forever, secret.
I'm sure I didn't use language with as much gravity as the above, but that was the point.
We all agreed and sacrificed a goat to seal the pact. The goat was made out of the Twinkies chili-boy couldn't eat.
Ooh. The tension.
I won the hand with something just impossible like I had a royal flush and everyone else was playing with CVS coupons.
Everyone laughed when I won because it would be wasted on me. I didn't drink and rarely did anything I would want to keep a secret. Oh, ho, ho. What a ridiculous turn of events!
Ah well, we said, let's continue our trip knowing Swarvey will never need what he just won! HA! HA, HAHAH!!
Our plan was to finish with the house and drive back up the coast to spend some time in NYC. It was still kind of a weird place to go, even a year after 9-11.
As we were driving into the city, another friend of mine looked at the lights they had once had in place commemorating the spots where the towers had stood. He looked out the window with childlike awe and amazement, followed the path of the massive beams of light into the sky and said, "Did they make those beams of light so they would be as high as the towers were?"
I told him, yes. Didn't he know the towers were 10,000 stories tall?
We went to Hogs and Heifers. This is a kind of famous dive bar in the meat packing district. It's the bar the movie and subsequent chain of knock-off bars Coyote Ugly was based on. (There is actually some question on which bar really opened first. I don't care at all.) Chick bartenders dancing on the bar and yelling stuff. It's quite the spectacle. It gets insanely crowded. There is a small pool table in the back, but unless it's noon on a Tuesday, don't try to really play.
We were there at peak time on a Friday or Saturday night and were of course trying to play, when all of a sudden... We caught the attention of some LADIES. Oh yeah.

Disclaimer- This next bit involves some level of physical intimacy betwixt me and someone who is not Jenn.

I was speaking to someone who proclaimed themselves to be a "hardcore" lesbian. She said she had not been with a man in seven years and was interested only in the company of other female types. She said she had been drinking a bit. She said that even though she was a "hardcore" lesbian, she was attracted to me.
Up until I just wrote that, I always saw it as a massive compliment. Now that I read it, I wonder if I should.
In any case, she was a slightly (perhaps more than) drunk, mostly (in my memory) attractive "hardcore" lesbian (she said) who had taken up the hobby of chewing enthusiastically on my neck for a long period of time.
She asked me if I wanted to go into the bathroom with her as she was looking to expand the focus of this hobby.

Okay. So. Here's a picture of the door to the only bathroom in the place:

At the top of the door you see, strategically placed to be about eye-level with average height men, a sign. A yellow sign. It's hard to miss.
I know you can't read it from the picture, but the sign reads:

For future reference, here is a picture with a man standing next to one of Hogs and Heifers bouncers:

She lead me into the bathroom and as I was not at all drunk, that sign, and the signs immediate implications to me, hit me in the face. But I still went into the bathroom.
There was enough time for some more neck chewing and frantic grasping at my fly (I'll let you decide for yourself who the grasper was) when the bouncer from the above picture began pounding on the bathroom door with enough force to change the molecular composition of the iron hinges so that they began to look like a bowl of petunias who said, "Oh no. Not again."
After I shook the Beeblebrox out of my eyes, I timidly opened the door and was instantly grabbed by a hand the size of ten or fifteen hands and thrown out the back door of the establishment where I sat waiting for my friends to run to my rescue immediately which they just totally did not do at all.
They figured if I was dumb enough to get thrown out, I deserved to sit outside by myself for a while. I had no good argument to counter with and I hate that.
When the finally came out, they squinted into the sunshine to allow their eyes to adjust, then looked at me and said, "HOLY EXPLETIVES!!"
With all the enthusiastic neck chewing, I ended up with two rather massive hickeys on either side of my neck. Like, they went from my shoulders to my ears massive. They were instantly recognizable, by anyone within 50 feet of me, as being big, giant, hickeys on both sides of my neck.
So, while I had won total immunity to do whatever stupid thing I wanted to with no fear of interpersonal consequences, I had done a thing with immediately recognizable physical evidence that I could not hide.

I would like to have been able to use the "I was drunk." card.

and I can't get voice over work...

Was listening to the radio this morning when a commercial came on for a new SUPER station in Boston. This voice over guy was talking about the SUPER station's SUPER new line up and, in particular, how they now have Chappelle's Show which they would be showing paired up with Reno 911.
Except he pronounced the word Chappelle, when saying both Chappelle's Show and Dave Chappelle, with a hard CH sound. He did it five times in the spot.

There are two ending jokes to this post. Pick your favorite.

1. At a diner later, voice over guy was heard asking for a bag of ships with his sandwish. Apparently all of the CH concepts baffle him.

2. The call letters for the new station are WGED.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

undisputable proof of global warming...

Al Gore called me last night and asked me if I was watching the same DVD he was. I said, "Those aren't PILLOWS!!", and we both shared a good laugh.
Of course we were watching the only real Thanksgiving movie in existence, "Planes, Trains and Automobiles".
We kept the line open and made interesting and funny comments to each other at appropriate times and were generally having a good time.
Then, when Neal and Del are on the back of Owen's truck, riding to Stu-Stubbville from Witchita, Neal asks Del what he thinks the temperature is. Del, responds... "One."


Think about it.

Tomorrow is the day before Thanksgiving. The weather forecast for Kansas tomorrow says that it will be, prepare yourself for this as it is quite shocking, 33 degrees. TODAY, RIGHT NOW, it is 48 degrees.

Planes, Trains and Automobiles was released in 1987. 20 years ago. In those twenty years, the temperature in Kansas has risen more than 30 degrees!!
By the time the movie reaches it's 50th anniversary, it will be 315 degrees in Kansas for Thanksgiving!
I hope you've all got good air conditioning because 315 degrees is way, wicked, hot.

Undisputable. Go ahead. Try to un-undispute it.

Monday, November 19, 2007

oh people...

I was doing some shopping this weekend with Jenn and Hayley and ran across a couple of interesting fellows.
The first fellow was at the back of the Home Goods store with his lady, looking at furniture. This was one of those couples who appear to have gone out of their way to look almost exactly alike. They were both slightly chubby, with houndstooth, knee-length jackets, skateboarder sneakers and frayed jeans. I think they were kinda upper-middle-class, like someone from a John Hughes movie, but they were pretending to be disadvantaged. Their jeans, while frayed, were very specifically and evenly frayed. They both looked like they were wearing poor-thing costumes.
Also, they both had the same Peter Brady 1976 haircut. Weird.
Why do I think they were pretending to be disadvantaged? The fellow saw himself as a writer, and everyone knows writers have hard lives. Why do I think the fellow saw himself as a writer? Because he was looking at random pieces of furniture with his lady and proclaiming, into a hand held tape recorder, seriously, "There is a story here! This bureau , imagine if when you opened the drawers, you saw the answers to the questions you had in your mind. Like, you want to find your keys, and you open the drawer and there is a map to your keys..."
"Why wouldn't your keys just be in the drawer?", his lady offered helpfully.
"Where is that drama in that?", he countered.
Again I was fascinated about what some strangers who are none of my business were talking about, and I followed them as long as I could, to get more of this wacko conversation, because I see myself as a writer and they were a mighty fine chest of drawers.

Later in the day, I was in Walgreen's. I grabbed whatever stuff I needed and made my way to the cash register with a quarter of a million other people. The dude in front of me in line had on the most excellent hat in the Universe.
It was one of these:

But, it's width was that of a large pizza box. I cannot find an image anywhere that even comes close. It was massive and hilarious and neither the guy nor his wife seemed to have any idea about either it's massiveness or it's hilariousness.
He was asking the cashier lady about some item or other that was supposed to be on sale, but of which there were no more. I didn't catch the item, but I bet it had something to do with either leather hat care, or headaches.
The cashier lady told him that the manager had only put so many of the item out, and that she didn't know why and didn't know where he was to ask him if he was going to put any more out.
He responded, "Erroneous.", in a tone of voice that said, "Ah. What are you gonna do, right?"
This made my eyes cross slightly, but the cashier took little notice, she only said, "Yeah."

I can't think of what word he might have been thinking he was using when he used that word totally wrongly with the wronglyest inflection and subtext of meaning he could put on it.
If you have an idea what word he was thinking of, let me know.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

stuff and things...

I saw a commercial this evening where a guy in cool sunglasses stands at the top of the Empire State Building, squinting coolly into the setting, or rising, sun. He suddenly leaps off the top of the building and plummets, head first and flaming, into the concrete below, to explode on impact into thousands of little quicksilver spheres.
The spheres come together in the street and coalesce into the form of a Hummer with the guy in cool sunglasses behind the wheel.
The guy drops the Hummer into gear and drives up the face of the Empire State Building to continue squinting coolly into the either setting or rising sun.
I was about to hop on a bus to New York because it looked like a good time, when I noticed small print at the bottom of the screen telling me that this was only a "Dramatization" and informing me "Do Not Attempt".
Thank God for the small print at the bottom of commercials.

In other news...

China today recalled the toy reproduction of Marvin the Martian's Uranium Q-36 Explosive Space Modulator, because it is actually not a reproduction at all.
A spokesperson for China stated, "Don't play with that toy! No!! Whole world go BOOM!"

In other news...

It was confirmed today that I am the "most buff" of all the men on staff with me at my job. This is very similar to being told that you are the "most attractive" of all the Ernest Borgnine look-alikes.

Those are the things I am telling you today.

That's my sign-off. You like it? I say it to myself in my Walter Conkite voice.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

my promise

I went around to various places looking for the second generation Zune. Mach 2 takes all the good things and makes them better and fixes all the bad things, of Mach 1.
Last night I dropped off my first gen at the Best Buy, who was still very cool about the return. I asked the Best Buy dude if they were getting the 2nd gens in tomorrow (today). He said, yes, they were. They even had a demo unit to play with, but it wasn't charged quite yet.
I said, no prob. I'll come back tomorrow.
He said, "Yes. Do so. You will be able to buy your new thing then! Yay!"
Today, at the Best Buy, the other people who are not the dude from yesterday, told me they didn't know what I was talking about, that they had no such thing as an 80Gig 2nd generation Zune and had in fact never heard of a 80Gig 2nd generation Zune. They asked if, perhaps, I was referring to the 8Gig 2nd generation flash Zune. Hmm? Was that what I meant? Hmm? Perhaps?
I may be deranged and obviously have a bit of a obsession issue, but I know when a thing exists and when it does not.
But then they looked on their computer and still didn't find it, so I was like, oh, well then, if you looked on your COMPUTER... I wasn't expecting that. I'll go away ashamed now.
I won't go into the details, but I will tell you that I went to many places and that none of them had them. One guy in another Best Buy told me he had a whole box of them, but that he was not able to sell them. They were being sent back...
I asked where they were being sent back to, but I think he must have Normalized me, because I don't recall to where he said.
I got one. That's all you need to know.

Here's the promise. I am done writing about MP3 players. That's not the promise, though it's the truth. The promise is this:
If I am displeased in any way with this new Zune, if I am tempted to bring it back, I will construct a pendulum type device to which I will attach my Doc Marten. I will set it up so when I pull on a rope, the shoe swings towards me and connects with my shnutts.
I promise, I will kick myself in the shnutts.
Not only will I kick myself in the shnutts, I will record the video and share it with you all.

There is no EQ on the Zune...

Where's my hammer?

Just in case.

Monday, November 12, 2007

fred claus

Fred Claus only made 19 million dollars this weekend. Analysts can't figure out why it made so little, as so much went into the budget for writing and the obviously impressive cast.
Maybe you should allow a little more distance from Halloween before you release your Christmas movie, ya friggin' dorks.

Friday, November 9, 2007

i'm looking to kick you swarvey...

I would like, very much, to get in the ol' Delorian and go back in time just a couple of weeks. I would like to go back in time just long enough to stop myself before going into the Best Buy to buy the iPod touch.
As I spoke on with Steve last night, I've entered into an ever expanding reverb loop of suck.
The suck is coupling upon itself. It is like an giant onion of suck with many layers of suck beneath each one which I expose. Like and onion, it makes me cry.
I gave up on the touch. Okay. But, I really, really liked the album art. I wanted to have album art on my Creative Zen. The version of firmware I was running did not allow for changes to album art. I needed to update the firmware and also, because Creative Media Manager runs it in the background, Windows Media Player. No problem. I update both and begin to make updates to album art.
As I mentioned previously, the Zen can only display this art at the size of a small postage stamp or perhaps a single piece of Life cereal. It's underwhelming.
I thought, it was not worth taking the time to do it and put off the continuation of the massive project of updating the art.
Yesterday was the first time I was going to listen to it in the car since the update. As I'm driving along I notice that the sound is not exactly what I was accustomed to. It always had excellent sound. No distortion. Nice warmth. Good volume and fairly deep EQ settings.
Now, not so much. But I can't figure out why.
I blow it off, get home, change, then take it to the gym. I always used it at the gym. I had discovered the sweet spot for volume. The Zen's volume goes from 1 to 25. I thought it should go to 26, just so it was a little louder. In any case, I had found that volume level 19 was perfect. Loud enough so I didn't have to hear the dopey things people say to each other at the gym. "This weight it heavy." But not so loud as to cause bleeding. Very nice.
Gone. 19 is gone. I had the volume all the way to 25 and it was not as loud as 19 had been before.
Not only that, but it had a bad habit of freezing if I scrolled through music too fast. The fix for this had always been, allow any song to play for 4 seconds before switching to the next song. It is not a reasonable fix and Mark said he would have smashed it for not allowing him to switch, switch, switch, switch. The update to the software was supposed to stabilize this issue.
It did not. Not only was the volumed ganked, but it froze when I switched too fast anyway.
When I got home I looked up issues with the version of code and found that Creative, being mindful of my inability to be able to care for myself, enacted the European Volume Cap. Apparently, everyone in Europe is blowing their heads up, so they have laws in place allowing iPods and such to not be any louder than a kitten purring.
I can't roll the code back and I cannot find a hack for it and it keeps freezing and it does not display album art in the way I want.
If I had never bought the touch, I never would have realized how much I liked album art and never would have messed with the Zen. It still froze, but I had come to terms with that.

So. What to do? I know! I run back to Best Buy, whip out my Best Buy gift card again and buy a Zune! Nice screen, good sound quality. Got good reviews. Just aggravated people because it was marketed as a social, let's all share our music all the time, device, but it really wasn't.
I don't care about that. I don't want it for WiFi music sharing with some hippy. I want my music presented with good quality at a reasonable volume and a nice screen that shows album art at a decent size. For those things, the Zune looked like the way to go.
I bought it. Not expensive. 199 for 30gig. Pretty good. It looks a little clunky and it slightly bigger than my Zen, but album art is presented nicely and the whole screen looks nice and good. Not as good as the touch, but very few things are.
It seemed like a good compromise and I felt myself pulling out of the suck spiral.

But no. This particular suck spiral is quite strong.
Allow me to explain. The Zune is a Microsoft device. My PC is running Windows XP. A logical person would think you could just slap a USB cable on the Zune and onto the PC and POOF! connection. Apparently there were no logical people around when they designed the software.
My PC will not recognize the device. The driver WILL NOT INSTALL. I've been through the FAQs and troubleshooting guides on Microsoft and have not been able to get my PC to see the frigging thing.
Manual install of driver.
Uninstall and reinstall of device.
Uninstall and reinstall of the Zune software.
Install on another login.
Different USB ports.
Total uninstall with removal of all temp files.
More time on the internet, more FAQs.
Nothing. Device manager sees it as a generic USB device and Zune software does not see one connected at all.
The various FAQs have suggested returning it or getting a new cable for it. I will return it first and see what happens.

If I happen into a wormhole at the Best Buy and stumble across myself from two weeks ago, I am going to give myself such a kick in the shnutts.

Thursday, November 8, 2007

to the food cookery guy...

You will notice, food cookery guy, that I did not refer to you as a "chef". I did not refer to you as a "short order cook", either. I was going to use these terms, but representatives from both the "chef" and the "short order cook" unions happened to be looking over my shoulder when I wrote this. It's an amazing, almost unbelievable coincidence, I know, but there it is.
They told me that if I were to refer to you in any way that could be associated with their groups, they would sic Gordon Ramsey on me and I just don't have the energy for another round with him.
Grant me an aside... Gordon Ramsey is 38 years old. Ask him. He says it all the time. The show has been on in both America and the UK for some time, but he's still saying he's 38.
I'm 38. 38 does not look like this:

Look at the crags and valleys in this guys face. He might be 38 if he spent every second of his 38 years in the Gobi desert being trampled by yaks.


Food cookery guy, I ordered 5 egg whites. 5 egg whites. Tasteless and bland sources of protein. Why would I do that? Hmm? Why just the whites? Why not the whole tasty egg? Hmm? Did you wonder about that at all?
Maybe, and I'm going way out on a limb here, maybe it's because I'm somewhat concerned about my cholesterol. Maybe.
If I am concerned enough about my cholesterol to order only the WHITES of some EGGS, why in the blue, fancy F***, would you deliver to me THIS???

You can see I scooped out a little divot in my, once innocent, egg whites. I scooped out this divot to allow a pooling space for the seven pounds of butter you cooked my egg whites in.
Did it not occur to you at all that cooking egg whites in seven pounds of butter then pouring melted butter on them negates the effect of consuming egg whites? If I ordered a nice grilled chicken breast, would you serve it in a bowl of mayonnaise? How about some lean turkey meat grilled up and served with the entire contents of a pig chopped up and blended into a greasy jam? Mmmm. Sounds good, doesn't it?
McFly? Hello, McFly??

Speaking of McFly. Biff Tannen was on House the other night. Whew. He looked better dressed as Griff's grandfather.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

i renounced the iFlock last night...

Hmm... That title sounds like a euphemism of some kind. Or maybe my brain is wired to hear euphemisms where there are none.
Some nameless stand-up comic back in the day had a bit that sort of talked about this tendency. He said that men could make anything sound sexual, even if it made no sense.
One guy says to the other, "Hey. I had to change a tire last night." The other guys says, "Oh! Lookit her! I'd like to change HER tire! Oh yeah!" Or something like that. I'd love to give the guy credit, but I don't know who he is. You'd think, with writing like that, he'd be a household name.
In any case. I brought the iPod touch back to Best Buy last night. I had had enough. It is pretty and shiny and nifty and neat-o, but ultimately disappointing. WiFi was touch and go under the best circumstances. The best circumstances being standing in front of an unlocked wireless router with two other wireless computers showing solid signal. It kind of ebbed and flowed. Like the internal radio was responding to the random flapping of a butterfly's wing somewhere in Nebraska.
I had jailbreak-ed it, because I wanted to be able to play cool games on it. Even jailbrake-ed, there are no nifty games. There are a lot of applications out there, but what I saw was sub-craptastic.
Finally, and I've discovered this is an issue with iPods, at least in my experience, the headphone jack output to headphone jack input on my car stereo presented inconsistant sound quality. Listening to it with headphones was fine, listening to it in the above config was not. Sound was all over the place. Even with the volume leveling feature engaged, I was constantly adjusting the volume on either the stereo or the iPod, frequently both.
So while it was pretty and shiny and nifty and neat-o, it was not 400 dollars worth of any of those adjectives.
I guess there is a pretty rampant market for them though, because when I brought it back, one of the customer service girls said, "Really!? You want to return it!? Is it broken? Should I run and get you another one right away so you're not without it for too long?"
I said, "No. It's not broken. It works fine. I just don't like it."
She said, "Really!?!"
I have to say, even though Best Buy can annoy me like a shark tooth in my sneaker, they were very cool about it.
While the return was in process, one of the other girls behind the counter was playing with it. She looked at it for a little while because she said she hadn't seen one or played with one before. Er... Euphemism sense tingling... Sorry. After she had fondled it (heh) for a little while, she said, "Wow. It's pretty and neat, but it looks like it would kind of be a pain in the ass."
I was amazed at how true the sentiment was, but couldn't help wondering how much longer she would be employed by the Best Buy.
One thing I learned from my brief jaunt into the iWorld is that I really like album art. More that anything, I dug seeing the album displayed on that big screen in nice lovely color. That is very cool and I will miss it. My next MP3 player, when I actually HAVE to buy one, will have the ability to display album art nicely.
I say nicely, because my Creative Zen Vision:M displays album art.
However, at the size of a postage stamp. A smallish postage stamp. It's not the same.

In other news, Dog the Bounty Hunter is insane. On Sean Hannity last night, he stated that until a couple of days ago, he didn't know the N-Word offended anyone and that he equated himself with a black woman.
Tyra Banks he is not.
A&E Television is probably going to take his show off the air. I think Dog has a workman's comp suit he can bring against them, though. I think the black vapor that Dog appears in at the beginning of every show is toxic and is deteriorating his brains.
I always said I wished I could appear in a black cloud of smoke like Dog does, but not at the expense of all common sense and intelligence and ability to say anything anyone is ever going to believe EVER.

Monday, November 5, 2007

things from this morning...

There was a lot of 5-0 on the road this morning. It looked like a heavy-drinking holiday, or the end of the month, get up to date on quotas situation.
It isn't either, so I don't know why there were so many police out, but there they were.
I was driving at the perfectly legal ten miles over the speeding limit. Everyone knows this is a legal surpassing of the legal limit.
I was driving my daughter to school when we passed a somewhat hidden law officer car. We went another 1/4 of a mile, and the car pulled out onto the road.
My daughter has never been with me getting a ticket, she's never experienced it before, so I wanted to give her a heads up.
I said, "I think we're going to get a ticket..."
She immediately launched up to her knees in her seat and started peering out the back window of our car in a way that I can only assume, were I the policeman behind me, looked highly suspicious. It would certainly get me looking at the car if I wasn't already.
Turns out, the officer was pulling someone else over.
I said, "Well, that's good. We really weren't speeding much at all. I would have been surprised if..."
"What do you mean WE?", she said. "I'M not driving. Only YOU are driving. I'm just the passenger."
I kinda got the feeling she would have turned me over to the gestapo if our life situation was different.

In other news, again bathroom related, I was at the urinal in an empty bathroom earlier. This is a bathroom with a lone urinal, and two stalls.
As I said, the bathroom was empty. I was using the urinal.
Another bloke entered the bathroom and apparently almost didn't notice me at the urinal. He was behind me, so I couldn't see, but it sounded like he was walking towards me and had to suddenly jerk to a stop when he saw someone in front of him.
That, by itself, is odd because I was using the necessary sniffs and coughs we use to let someone coming into the bathroom know they are not alone.
But the odd doesn't end there. Clearly he wanted to use the urinal a lot because, even though there were two perfectly empty stalls available to him, he stood behind me and waited for me to finish.
He wasn't directly behind me, like, rubbing my shoulder or anything, but still...
Go use the other facility type, please?

Sunday, November 4, 2007

keep gelflings out of america...

Jenn and I went to dinner the other night and we had a Gelfling as our waitress. I know I’m going to get labeled as a racist for saying this, but I hate it when it happens. I mean, for customer service of any kind, they don’t have the right tools or abilities.
Have you ever noticed in a face-to-face interaction with them that their lips don’t really match the words that are coming out of their heads. If you tune out the words you are hearing, the mouth movements they’re making should only form the sounds, “Muuh. Mah, muhmuh, muuh, muh, mah.” It’s unsettling. Couple that with their weird little faces and doll-ish body formality and live customer relations jobs should be discounted for them completely.
They should not do telephone support of any kind, either. That lilting, sing-song, and breathy way they speak? It goes through my head like a soft, rose-colored ice pick. I asked Jenn what that accent they had was. She said she believed it was the speech pattern of a benign and gentle race who promote kindness and tolerance.
To hell with that. This is America. You come to America you learn how to speak American. Damn it.
So, without the skills to successfully complete any of the above job types, why would you go into waitressing, for god’s sake? Those inadequacies alone should be enough to keep you from trying to wait tables, but that’s not nearly the end of their failings.
I made reference to the unsettling nature of their faces when they speak. If only that were the end of it. I know all of you reading are good people, and you probably try to not notice these things, but really take a look at the next Gelfling you’re around. Watch what they do.
We were on the second level of this restaurant. You had to go up a little flight of stairs to get to it. When our waitress would step onto the stairs to make her way up to us, invisible, almost invisible, strings would appear on all of her joints. These strings went up, up, up into the air… to what? I don’t know and I’m sure I don’t want to know.
When it was time for her to go down the stairs, she didn’t climb them down, no. Little pink wings sprouted from her back and she glided down them.
How have we, as a society, become so politically correct as to allow this to go on without saying anything? How do we allow it and pretend not to notice?
When she came back with our food, I knew what was coming next. They have no manual dexterity really at all, when you watch closely. They trick you. It looks like they’re accomplishing something, and somehow, if you lose focus, they do accomplish what they’re trying to do. But you can’t SEE them actually do it.
What am I talking about? This waitress is a perfect example. When she delivered our food, she put it all on the table with what appeared to be an almost random, not-quite-flailing of her arms. I never saw her actually pick anything up. She just kind of pushed it around with her floppy hands.
I blinked. When I looked down at the table, everything was where it was supposed to be. Creepy.
I decided to push the issue. I know they have no finger articulation. I know it. I don’t know how they get through the day or tie their shoes, but I know they can’t move their digits.
I asked the waitress, Kira, or something, to open the bottle of ketchup for me.
Yes! Her face took on what I like to call, Gelfling face number 3. The one where the eyes get wide, the eyebrows go way up, and the mouth opens like this, “Aahhhhh.”
Strings appear, she jumps up and runs away.
I have a good laugh, but Jenn looks at me disapprovingly.
Hey. Another thing you have to be able to do if you’re going to come to America is open a bottle of ketchup.
So dinner progresses and it’s fine. Then, I run out of Diet Coke. I need tasty beverage to wash down my burger... Wait, I’m crossing my movie references… Er…
I like soda.
She’s taking a really long time to come back, and when she finally does, she looks all haggard and drawn. Great. She’s selling her everlasting essence on the side. Filthy Gelfling! Naughty Gelfling! HATEFUL GELFLING!

We pay the bill, get on our Landstrider and head home.

Friday, November 2, 2007

halloween and stuff...

This post could have been titled with something that referenced that damned iPod touch, because its been taking up most of my free bandwidth and a great deal of my bandwidth which has already been assigned to a process.
But, if I start focusing all my non-blogging to it, it will have truly won.
So even though I am clearly talking about it right now, I'm gonna stop.
In a minute.
Album art. Kill me.
I've been spending all my time finding and assigning album art to my music. Why? Why am I doing it? I never cared before.
Because of the nifty flip through your albums interface of the touch. If you don't assign album art AND in a way iTunes likes, the flip through interface is not just worthless, it is angering.
Angering like if you were trying to have an important conversation with someone half in a coma. That blank stare of blankness you'd get. It feels like that. Like you wanna slap it for looking at you like that. Futile stare of incomprehention.
Its so bad that when I was talking to steve about it, I described the place holder useless graphic it uses when there is no or it doesn't recognize the album art as a dopey square with a frustrating question mark looking at you with frustrating, questioning stupidness.
My mind made that up, though. Its actually little happy stupid frustrating music notes of questioning stupidness. Much better.
But we are not talking about the iPod touch or the hours of time I have spent not having fun with it while updating album art.

This post is about Halloween and trick or treating.
I went with Hayley and some friends. Kids are lightweights now. They carry little plastic pumpkin heads to capture treats and are tired and done in just over an hour.
I used to carry a pillow case and didn't stop until I almost couldn't carry the damned thing.
The candy would be gone in two weeks.
Last year, Hayley still had some at Easter.
There were some kids being DRIVEN to houses. Gah. Shame on everyone in that minivan. Shame, shame indeed.
There was one kid in our group who will be suplicating on the floor of a casino pit boss's office some day. He clearly felt he should stop and kept saying so, but then he would say, "Just one more house. One more. Then I can get even. One more. Then I'm out."
As far as I know, he is still out there. I dig his dedication to candy, but I worry for hm.
He was almost the kid I would have labeled the Halloween king, until I saw the kid with the real pumpkin on his head. He had carved an upside-down jack-o-lanternb and was wearing it as a mask. I saw him a number of times and he always had it on. That's hard core. The inside of a pumpkin is moist and stinky.
You mean it if you're wearing one on your head.
You rock kid.

See? Not about the iPod at all.
I'm okay.