Tuesday, October 31, 2006
Monsters can't mate because they've got Hollow-Weenies
Stupidity of the day: I have no idea where or how, but some critter has expired in or near the ventilation system, and thus when the heat is on the house becomes filled with the light, breezy aroma of tissue decay. (How very Halloween-ish!) I don't think it's coming from the intake because it doesn't smell at the blower and I cleaned the filter today; I haven't ventured under the house to see if something sought warmth and got trapped... which I should do because I recall my mother telling me one day during my first year of college that my family's house started taking on That Smell because six cats had gotten into the crawlspace under the house, and my father had to go under there to retrieve them postmortem. [BRB, going to check the crawlspace now, after dark with a flashlight in Gil Grissom style... sniff...] I'm pretty sure it's in the ductwork, it smells fine under the house. How the hell did something get into the presumably-sealed tubing?
Wednesday, October 25, 2006
More bridges to cross and crosses to bridge
I was forraging in the pantry the other day and found a box of chocolate fortune cookies. Not quite fresh but they never were. There were two I ate that made me think about whether I believe cookie fortunes and what this applies to. The two fortunes, phrased slightly differently, basically said to reconcile with a long-lost friend. I could not come up with anyone that I've become estranged with that I thought I should look up. A day or two later, I get a snailmail letter from my wife's best friend from high school asking about her whereabouts... seems that for longer than it should have been, Paige hasn't been responding to her letters and email (well, she hasn't read her email since 2003, that's why). The letter contained a stamped envelope, so she was serious about getting something back. I have no clear concept why Paige been silent to a few people for so long, other than the embarassment of having put off responding. It was the next day, while eating some more fortune cookies, that I came to the conclusion that I may have been eating cookies meant for my wife. By the way... Welcome to my blog, Connie!
I don't have anything particularly stupid to report which hasn't been mentioned in some fashion over the previous five entries, and those haven't gotten that much smarter as yet. I can however add that I sent an email to someone I considered worth the time of day (obliquely mentioned in "regular upright position" and "cried me a river") a week ago to tell of my dismissal, and there's been no response. I'm interpreting that as a lack of giving a shit about me, which is fine since that person spends more time grinding axes than burying hatchets. A friend told me recently that the opposite of love is not hate -- it's a total lack of interest. That's something I've never been able to cultivate but have often been the subject of, and in nearly four decades I've not figured out a way to not care; others are able to do it without a second thought, literally. The latest Laughter is the Spackle of the Soul update has been posted, and I'm planning a special Christmas-themed edition for December. Cheers until next time.
Thursday, October 19, 2006
Assorted stupidities to mix in with your popcorn
So I'm driving home from work the other day around 5 p.m. [foreshadowing?] and I can't get in the carpool lane because that designation doesn't change until 7 p.m. The traffic is sludgy. The "Check Engine" light has come on, as it does without a reason (then turns itself off sometime a hundred miles later). I look past the cars and notice there is a sign on the median that says "Speed Limit 60 - Strictly Enforced". And I'm thinking that this should mean people must speed the hell up already or risk a ticket! Okay, I know they really mean you're not supposed to go faster than that, which obviously is a moot point since getting to 45 miles per hour would be a big accomplishment, but a boy can dream. They have put similar signs, but with drawings of cop cars with red and blue lights, on the highway from my house to the main artery recently... which I find amusing because no one drives under 68 on that stretch. I think it's a "Big Brother Is Watching You" ruse to make people slow down of their own volition. (Psst: Not working.)
The true major honking stupidity of the week, and the month, is that when I walked into work on Wednesday, my birthday, my supervisor said the call center manager wanted to talk to me. I asked her if it was going to be a short meeting. Call center manager informs me that the corporate overlords didn't like how I handled a call from a confused idiot the day before (I don't remember the call well, but I do know that she and I both wished to speak to someone more intelligent) and ordered him to terminate my employment effective immediately. Oddly I didn't have any fight or spite, and figured someday he'd be giving me this same dialog someday after he padded his dossier some more; he got lucky and had the decision made for him. So I shook his hand, just because I knew it would make him uncomfortable for me to be cavalier about such a grave matter, told my supervisor "I guess that was a short meeting!", and assisted the two gentlemen who were packing up my desk into a box. Anyhow, once out of there I took a leisurely drive to the office of the agency that had gotten me the job (and I got a birthday card from them at the beginning of the month, and I hadn't worked for them in year!, so I knew they still cared about me), and found that they'd closed that location so I'd have to call them from home. I can't say I'm relieved or that I'm highly upset; I didn't necessarily like going to work because of the bureaucratic nonsense and telephonic rigamarole, but I had no plans of leaving either. I guess the timing for such an announcement worked to my advantage; I was in my usual birthday weird frame of mind, so this softened the blow. And this meant I got my birthday off afterall... not that this was of any use to me. When I'd arrived at my desk, there was a package in Sesame Street wrapping, with a yellow Post-It on it saying "You are the birthday!" [a reference to the "You are the Expert" club, the previously-mentioned mutual admiration society of which I am one of three members so far -- gotta wonder how THAT works out, if "the expert" got canned yet his sign stays up] and "open outside please". Once I got home I opened the box... Illiterate had given me a flask of Smirnov vodka. (You know I have never had a mixed drink in 39 years?) Oddly appropriate. He told me later that when he saw me being walked out he realized he should have given me a bigger bottle. Betcha had I opened it at my desk, I would have been walked out anyway.
(I'm fine, by the way. Job recommendations I haven't thought of are welcome.)
So today, Thursday the day after my birthday, my Kodak Z650 camera arrived by UPS. It's a pretty neat camera and I have plenty to learn. So below are the After photos I really intended to take during the bathroom remodel, resized to 25% of original. (Wish I could have gotten the Befores but...) The captions for them go like this:
1) The door from the window (dig the trim and handles!).
2) The window from the door (new towel rod, towels, and unfinished sill mosaic).
3) The new showerhead and curtain rod (with twelve sexy inches of hard flange).
4) The rest of the plumbing (and we need to change the chrome handles sometime).
5) Look down: The vanity and the toilet (oops, obscured by the shower curtain).
6) Look up: The medicine cabinet and lights (photographed off, for once).
Monday, October 16, 2006
douche baguette (why your bread is soggy)
Hello, people. I have good news: I have ordered a Kodak EasyShare Z650 camera from Costco. 6.1 megapixel, 10x optical zoom, decent price, and good online reviews got my attention. I will not look like the guy at right, but will act like him in short order. I really wanted to get a replacement Konica-Minolta Z6 (12x zoom, good not great reviews) but for some reason the price of a new Kodak Z650 is less than the price of a discontinued, or even a refurbished, KM Z6. With the money I'll save, I will invest in a can of MACE to keep those pesky folks who approach to ask what I'm taking pictures of at bay. If you think paparazzi are bad, believe me that the shutterbug kibbitzers are way more aggressive. I'm not sure when I'll be getting the new camera (at this writing I haven't received the shipping notice) but it will be after my birthday, which is fine since there's nothing to see. Speaking of my cold, it's now to the point that stuff is gummed up in the back of my throat, which makes for charmingly nasal talk and the occasional (and necessary) gooey hock.
Just got word that one of my former managers (pictured at right) is leaving the company. I wish him well in his endeavors to be an upstanding whigger. I didn't do much this weekend beside shop and wrestle with my sinuses; we planned to go to home shows in either Seattle or Tacoma (they both were the same day! what fun for the public and vendors!) but made no actual effort. The nearly-last two relevant details of the bathroom remodel -- I swear there are only three more! -- were accomplished last night: I put in the new brushed nickel toilet paper holder, which took a bit more work than it should have (but it's gonna stay up for the rest of the house's existance), and the sidesplash came in a few days ago so we picked that up and I mounted it last night. All that's left [heard that before?] is to use some spray texture on the bare spots on the walls (from the removal of fixtures or chunks of paint falling off the drywall through the years) and paint over it, and my wife's project of making a mosaic on the windowsill (she's got the pieces glued down, now needs to fill the gaps with grey grout), plus replacing the big chrome tap handles with something less large and more nickel-y.
I am now a member of the "You Are A Smartskull" club at work, a list of people who got perfect scores on a customer survey. (That's not the actual name, but it is quite similar and more vapid.) It has no benefits, one perk (an 8"x3" card), and doesn't seem to convince the Quality department that I do my job satisfactorily in the public's eye, and the photo of me on the wall with the recognision could have been made better by me not having a finger up my nose a second prior to the flash, plus I'm with Groucho Marx in that I wouldn't join any group that would have me as a member (admittedly I'd rather be in the Friar's Club, which he was invited to, instead of the Smartskulls), but what the hey, it was free and brings me 0.25 seconds' worth of accolade. They're still sending this department's calls elsewhere, leaving us with calls on stuff we don't do or have been punted to us by that undertrained lower level (and I haven't heard another word about them being prohibited from transferring to us), so life is good between instances of saying "I'm sorry to hear that; I can help you with that by getting you to the right people" [punch buttons and transfer]. There's just a bit more aggro in the air, possibly because the lower-level tech and customer service queues are more than 10 minutes but there's 2 minutes between calls here when they finally get transferred. The customers wait, talk to someone who passes them off, they wait, they talk to someone who can't fix the issue, they get passed again without as much wait, yet they phrase it as "I waited 20 minutes to get to you." That's nice, we'll have this fixed in two minutes if you weren't misdirected here...
Finally, to make reference to a Gilda Radner routine, how could the woman at right not know she smelled like a bucket of carp guts rotting in the sun?
Thursday, October 12, 2006
Cried me a river, trying to build a bridge, will get over it soon
Hmm, I don't seem to have anything particularly stupid other than my health and the various demotivations of my job. I turn 39 in one week, though I still look and act between 17 and 22. I have no idea where the time went but I'm pretty sure I was there for all of it. I may have even had fun part of that time, or could have had fun at other parts which are stuck in my "what if..." databank. I think one of those blog/email même things people should do is What 5 things would you take back if you could? Mine would be, in order of chronology not importance:
5) Early 1970's, age ~6: Would not have cut the wiring under the dash under my father's pickup. No idea why I did that, but I got my hide tanned.
4) Teenage years: Spent a few minutes feeling Terri's back and discovered she wasn't wearing a bra! Did not occur to me to feel the front, and she had the best pair in the entire school. Stupid, stupid!
3) Summer camp, 1983: I was engaged in this minutes-long soul-engaging embrace with Lynette on the last night, and Sandy came and stuck a letter saying "I think I love you" in my back pocket. What'd I do? Dropped everything to find Sandy. Those two lived in the same town so there could have been some rivalry. Life would have been very different had I chosen the fork I was already stepping toward.
2) Sporting event, 1985: Lit an M-80 at a rival school's front door, fuse went out when it got to the paper, attempted to light it again. I now believe in guardian angels because it didn't ever catch, and there was no way I could have avoided getting my hand and face blown off if it had. I still shudder at the thought!
1) A certain job a few years ago: I'd rather not go into clear detail because it sounds a hell of a lot worse than it actually was, but will summarize by saying that even when you think there's no one around for miles because you're in the middle of nowhere, it's a national holiday and a Sunday, and it's the middle of the night, you never know when someone will show up and have issues with what you're engaged in.
I don't regret much except the chances to do good I didn't take out of fear or ignorance... and the occasional instance where I was in the wrong by choice and had to pay the piper for it. It's all character-building, right? I have no plans of running for public office. :) Final thought, this ad which is a little bit too... intrusive for its subject matter.
Monday, October 09, 2006
Returned to my regular upright position
Today's stupidity comes from one Shirley Phelps-Roper, who is one of Fred Phelps' thirteen kids. I heard a radio interview with her on some radio station while browsing a Shell minimart for snacks, and right before the man and woman in the station brought her on they called her "bat-poop crazy". She came on (via phone) and left no doubt that she was indeed both the daughter of the man who claims God hates queers and America, and that she was out of her ever-loving gourd. Her claim is that the Amish children who were slaughtered deserved it, because this was God's will and that God is turning his back on the Amish because the Amish have turned its back on Him. (There I was in the chip & candy aisle of a Shell station, hoisting my jaw off the linoleum.) I was surprised that she didn't credit one nutcase who felt the need to harm innocents in an insular Christian community on gays, the occupation of Iraq, or any of the other God-hates-America stuff her dad ejaculates. She says that they're hypocrites because while they won't own a car they'll gladly be a passenger, won't get a phone but will happily borrow one when they need to call someone, and that being an inward-facing community goes opposite of Jesus' command to "go ye into all the world and preach my gospel"... that they're self-pious, not pious to the Lord. She spoke of the protests she would be conducting outside the girls' funerals. I have no [further] words of judgement to cast upon her, I'm just too floored in amazement by her point of view and actions. I already pity her for being the child of a latent homophobe, which she had no say in, but now I really feel bad for her for having been brainwashed by him into hating others while calling it an action of love.
There was one stupidity that I witnessed myself during my stay: a man decided it was time to check out of the material plane and plopped himself down in front of a MAX electric trolley, with a hundred witnesses and however many passengers right there. By the grace of God (wow, am I feeling spiritual today?) and the quick-wits of the driver, plus the fact that this was a few yards from a terminal so the vehicle was decellerating anyway (good choice of location to dive, dude), the man was not crushed or sliced, just jarred under the body of the trolley and was easily removed from underneath by the fire department, very much alive, and taken to the hospital. The article in the Oregonian the next morning didn't say whether he was "treated and released" or treated and detained for 72 hours, but I'm guessing it'd be the latter. Here's one of my photos; click for bigger.
I'm at work right now and stinging a little from a wee bit more unhappiness... I got my monthly review, and my quality score is STILL in the basement, despite all efforts. I'm hitting the script items more but they think I don't sound sincere enough. You mean I gotta be convincing? Do you teach soft-skills so I can meet your expectations? Also, it seems that rediculous concept of making teamwork scores have nothing to do with teamwork and be merely a duplication of the quality score (as said earlier, I do great on teamwork and not-so-great on quality) is going to stay, rather than be a test for September. This new system brought my score down to 2.3 cumulative average out of 5 (because a 4 in teamwork arbitrarily became a 1), and this fact is rather demotivating. The quality score, or some quantity of that, is my own doing, though they're now splitting hairs it seems, but screwing with the overall score by rendering one metric [that I'm good at] completely ersatz... that's really pretty stupid. But I shouldn't be surprised, management manufactures stupid.
Something not stupid: An electric car that gets 250 miles per charge and can go highway speed, available now. Check out Tesla Motors and be amazed.
Thursday, October 05, 2006
A hymn with two verses and a chorus
Useless trivia about me: I drive in a manner that would give driver's ed teachers a fit. I don't mean irratically, I mean that I use my right foot for the gas and my left foot for the brake. I drive an automatic so I have two pedals; I have two feet so I don't see why I can't use them both. People have said that it's bad for the brakes to drive with a foot on the gas and a foot on the brake; I point out that if they look at my feet, only one foot and pedal is in use at any time. People have said that this confuses you when you have to drive a manual. Not really, I don't often drive manuals but when I do I have no problem clutching with the left and braking/accellerating with the right... my hemispheres work fine. I don't believe this method of driving is particularly unique, but no one who has noticed my pedal procedure has said they know anyone else who does it.
Monday, October 02, 2006
"This car has three speeds, and the third is disappointment." -- Wolfgang @ VW
A happy note to offset some of the previous paragraph: We're still tweaking on our bathroom. I have ordered a new tub spout and in-wall toilet paper holder, both in brushed nickel -- and those turned out to be a little harder to find than you'd expect. A reminder to all to try Amazon.com for all your washroom needs. And then in IKEA last night we noticed the (apparently discontinued, I can't find the full series on their website!) LILLHOLMEN satin nickel set of bath accessories so bought a double towel rack, a toilet paper holder for use as a hand towel rack, and a shower rod -- ahh, not only does this rod match the room's style and metal scheme better, it was easier to install than the previous one and didn't chew up the paint (which we still haven't fixed). A reminder to all to try IKEA for all your washroom needs. Also, it was shop cleanup time so I put up a pegboard over the workbench in the shed and spent a couple hours going through the toolbox sorting tools from stray bits of may-need-someday effluvia, then sorting the fastening items which had accrued at the bottom of the box. If you would have told me five years ago I'd one day be sitting on the kitchen floor putting washers and U-shaped fencing nails in glass jars and separating the big nails from the little nails, the big bolts from the little bolts, the big screws from the medium screws from the small screws, I'd probably have looked you straight in the eye and said "and it's about damn time!"
Another improvement in my home is the vehicle seen here -- my lovely wife Paige has finally chosen a new vehicle, after many a test drive and plenty of reaseach: a 2006 Scion xA, which gets 31mpg city / 38mpg highway. [FuelEconomy.gov info] Sixteen original miles, eight of which she'd put on herself in test driving it days earlier. It wasn't a hard choice for me, having looked at the storage space and fuel economy. She was being wooed by a couple other vehicles which cost more but had lower mileage, and it turns out the final factor that influenced her decision was financing. We'd been given a certain amount of emphasis (read: pressure) by a couple dealers, and the second-to-last place we went ran a credit check which qualified us for seventeen percent financing... Not only no, but hell no. A used car would have been lower, and the pre-bankruptcy rate we paid on my 2002 Saturn was 0.9% -- Toyota (Scion's overlord) offered much better financing, 11.4% as-is or 9% if we bought the extended service plan for $18 more a month. (Scions have one of the shortest stock service plans on the market, 3 years / 36,000 miles, so doubling this was worth our while, with the perk being a 2% drop in the financing rate.) One thing I noticed when he showed us our credit report and the criteria sheet for deciding financing rates... we were two beacon score points from getting into the next tier, so technically had we waited until the end of the year we may have gotten 9% without buying the extended service contract. Oh well, at least we now know our credit score. :) I've driven it about a block so far. She woke up this morning wanting to return it because her back hurt, but happily she didn't (or couldn't) and I suggested the pain came from how she likes to stick her legs all the way out when she drives and the seat in this goes almost that length but not quite, and there is plenty of legroom in there, so she's just not used to the slight adjustment in position; I pull the seat forward when I drive despite having long legs, which drives her nuts. This morning she went to the dealer to the floor mats, the AM/FM/CD with external input (yaay, MP3 tunes!), and the 6-spoke wheels installed. Yes, we went to IKEA to inaugurate the beast but wound up not buying any boxed build-it-yourself furniture (or As Is furniture which isn't flat) that needed the extra trunk space.
Now for the trivial stupdities. #1 - When we were coming home with the new car around 10pm, I get out of my car and there's this young Caribbean woman wandering into my back driveway, asking if she can use our phone. She was supposed to go to someone's house who was in the middle of a domestic dispute so she wanted to know if everything was cool there yet. Er, sure. Soon we come to realize this chick is experiencing better living through chemistry. (Kids, stay off meth.) She's telling us about Jesus, she's talking about her car dealer license and her landscaping business and how computer keyboards are going to be obsolete when her offshore startup company gets into the game and... I got 50¢ out of the call, what the hell. So we escort her out the front door, still smiling as she yammers on, and then went out back to lock our vehicles up Just In Case. Two minutes later the doorbell rang a couple times and we decided we weren't going to answer it, figuring it was her again. About fifteen minutes later after the storm has passed I get online, and there's an email from my bud Wayne from the other side of the state, saying that he'll be over at 10pm. Uh, was that chime him? I replied to his mail to ask that, and he confirmed a couple hours later that it was indeed him whose visit we ignored -- and that he'd seen the woman "but didn't stick around to discuss things with her" -- so he understood why we didn't answer. Sorry, dude! // #2 - Previously seen on this channel, I mentioned we were bidding for new shifts at work, using this swell new online tool, and the results would be posted the following Tuesday. Last week we all sat waiting for the duration of the week, wondering where the results were. Finally they were made available on Friday, and -- many people including myself couldn't tell the difference. Other people got stuff they didn't bid on, thus confusion ensued. In my case, the only thing that changed was that my lunch and breaks moved 15 minutes in one direction or the other ("because Workforce Management can" is my belief). So this sort of nullifies my complaint earlier about how there was only one shift available duplicating the one I'm on now; two or three dozen people, including myself, are still on that shift despite all the hooplah. The only thing not in this publication of results, though, was whose teams we would be on, and at this rate I might speculate (since this was the stated goal by the Workforce Management folks) that we might not be changing teams afterall. Or me anyway. Unless they decide to screw with us, which would not come as a surprise because that's what they do. // #3 - I'm going to be visiting friends in Portland at the end of this week, and as yet one of them (one of my sister's classmates, used to live across town from me after I moved across the state, great guy but never take his word as gospel because he will lie about the most innocuous stuff) hasn't responded to instant messages, cell phone messages, and email asking whether we can hook up. Jeff M., you putz, I wanna see you this Friday! Hopefully he'll respond to me before the end of the week, he has no reason not to and every ability to. // #4 - Josh Blue, the winner of Last Comic Standing season 4, will be playing the Paramount Theatre in Seattle on December 1, and we wanna go see him. Little did we suspect tickets went on sale at the beginning of September. So when I finally got around to buying some online... 2nd balcony, row V. Everything closer than that has been sold. Grrr! // Not so stupid as an explanation of the photo above: A couple weeks ago we were at Lowe's and they were having a 75% off sidewalk sale, which included a small vanity with top for what worked out as $20. We jumped on that with both feet, we want to replace the too-big vanity with cheesy top that's in the other bathroom. So I put it in the familyroom to wait for the project to happen, and Cheddar walks in. He knows a sink when he sees one. And whoosh, into it he went. Paige and I just stood there dumbfounded. So that's why there's a vanity/sink without fixtures sitting in the library, and why the cat is already perched in that sink.