Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Putting the "toy" in Toyota?

Being the conspiracy theorist I am, I had a couple thoughts. I KNOW Barack Obama is far and beyond the worst president in American history. I KNOW the corrupt power of the current Democrat party leaders see no limits on abuses. I KNOW that the people in power in our government will go to almost ANY length to prove themselves correct and needed disregarding any morality or decency. I know this to be true. They have proven it again and again.

Do you suppose the Toyota recall is staged? I mean, what better way to PROVE that labor unions are the best way to be employed than to layoff non-union laborers from 6 automotive manufacturing plants and leave them without the extra benefits union employees get? What better way to PROVE we need Obamacare than have these workers lose medical benefits when unemployed because they don't have the big, wet, loving arms of Obamacare to keep them safe? What better way for General Motors and Chrysler Corp. to poach top Toyota workers at a reduced rate of pay? What better way to jump start a destroyed U.S. auto market (including government owned General Motors and Chrysler Corp.) than by eliminating the biggest competition (and thus MAYBE selling a bunch of GM's and Dodges)? What better way to imply that union run auto manufacturing companies make less mistakes and turn out higher quality products? What better way to PROVE that the automotive bailouts were a "great" idea? What better way to sway a sinking public opinion of the Democratic party's recently passed legislation than forcing a success out of it at Toyota's expense?

This really would not be very far fetched for this current administration. The Obama administration has been one of lies, empty promises, distorted truths, blame placing, and failure. The Obama administration truly has nothing to lose and everything to gain in this scenario.

What would stop them from doing this? Toyota IS acting as recommended by the United States government.

One thing should be said about Toyota. They stated that the "faulty" gas pedals were made by a U.S. company. They named the company. They left it at that. They are a class act for not jumping right into the finger-pointing that we have become so used to these days. It is refreshing.

Who knows? Maybe it is just me. Maybe I need to be more believing. Maybe Obama can give me some "hope" rather than just "change" from my dollars. Then again, maybe I just don't trust people that say one thing and do another.

Conan O'Brien's Haiti...

I read this news story today. I suppose it is good for me to read things that motivate me.

I quote:

"Two weeks after President Obama announced an initial $100 million for Haiti earthquake relief, U.S. government spending on the disaster has nearly quadrupled to $379 million, the U.S. Agency for International Development announced Wednesday. That's about $1.25 each from everyone in the United States."

Why is the United States is under fire from critics around the globe for our attempted assistance to others? I mean, we give quite a bit even in our own time of need. Our own economy is in the toilet and we cannot feed many of our own people. We cannot employ over 10% of our own people. We are in financial peril. But, we are still giving.

Our $100 million contribution to Haiti was very generous all things considered. I think our money is still worth more than their money is, so in conversion I think it is a tremendous sum. In the past I think our donations for any country in trouble have been very generous and I think we will continue to be the world leader in helping out others. With all of what we have given, we are sitting with $379 million donated. Not chump change when we are broke as a country. I am not that fired up about being a taxpayer and having to pay back this money we gave communist Haiti plus the extra money for interest, but I am willing to do so if it really helps those poor people in their time of need.

The only time our donations become and insult on a global scale is when we gave a talk show host almost half of the amount we gave to the 8 million people of Haiti to not be on television anymore. This is pathetic. I am not saying that our broke country should have given more. I am saying the initial $100 million is a lot of money to give. I am saying $45 million is a ridiculous amount of money to pay a talk show host to quit doing his show. Keep in mind that both our relief money for Haiti and Conan O'Brien's NBC contract payoff money are funded with your tax dollars (General Electric owns 80% of NBC. So maybe not all of Conan's money came directly from our taxes, but a good portion certainly did).

If the United States can afford to pay $45 million to Conan to not be on television, what can we truly afford to give to the people of Haiti? We as Americans (using the math in the article) each gave $1.25 to the people of Haiti with our 379 million dollars of donations. Initially we each gave $.33 with the first $100 million donated to Haiti. When we gave Conan O'Brien $45 million to get out of his NBC contract each person in the United States paid $.15. It would seem to the rest of the world that with our original donation, Conan O'Brien is almost half as important as all the people of Haiti.

For your information, our government gave General Electric $340 million in bailout/stimulus money last year. So, in the world's eyes, GE is only $39 million less important than the 8 million people of Haiti. I think in both scenarios we have just about as good of a chance in getting repaid. We have almost zero chance.

Until we get our heads out of the dirt and get real about wasteful spending in our own country, we cannot expect the other nations of the world to take us seriously. What is more important to you? One big business, a talk show host, or 8 million lives?

Monday, January 25, 2010

I am sick.

I am sick now. I know I am always busy talking shit about how tough I am and how I never ever get sick, but I am sick now. I remember cocking off about a week ago about how strong my immune system is. I remember thinking about a month ago that I hadn't been sick since 2008 so my daily vitamin regimen must be very effective. Well, it isn't. I am sick. This sucks. This is horrible.

I go to work sick, because unlike anyone in their right mind, I am self employed and I would have to hire a replacement for myself. Being the tightwad I am, I don't hire a replacement. I just tough it out.

I always have this ridiculous idea in my head when I wake up in the morning that once I get up and get moving, I will feel much better. Then, when I don't feel any better I regret it. I talk myself into a 9:30-10 AM coffee break and rest and that does usually make me feel better until I start working again. Then, I feel like crap. I bide my time until lunch. I overeat figuring that "you need to feed a cold." Then, as the day wears on, I am sick with a bloated belly feeling like crap all afternoon. Eventually after what seems like an eternity, 4:30-5 PM rolls around and I convince myself that I will feel MUCH better when I get home. Then again, after what seems to be a very long time, 6 PM shows up and I can finally leave. It is a long, lame day.

I have observed that although some days I am not overly ambitious as it is, on sick days I am REALLY lazy. I have found this to be true. I truly don't care about your car. I don't care what is wrong with it and I probably lack the mental capacity to fix it even if I wanted to. I don't want to answer your phone calls. I don't want to quote a million services out for you that you will likely not have me perform, anyway. I really more or less want to be left alone. So, am I better coming into work and being a prick and losing sales? Or, should I hire somebody to be a prick for me and still lose sales? Hmm. It is a tough call.

I am a big baby when it comes to being sick, too. Not that I expect anybody to do anything for me, but rather that I don't want to see anyone. I don't want to talk to anyone. I don't care about chit chat. I don't want to answer questions about how I am feeling and yes, I do already know that I look like shit. Whew! I am glad that's out of the way.

I was thinking to myself this morning that if medical doctors spent less time trying to figure out how to give monkeys a four hour erection and spend more time researching viral strains, maybe this whole concept of "I have a cold" would be a thing of the past.

Seriously, look at the money that is wasted in this country. For example, Conan O'Brien got $45 million to leave NBC. That could have been $45 million for viral research. That could have been 45 million one dollar cold cures. That could have been a building, a lab, and a few scientists for quite a few years. Do you think that some doctor some where could come up with an effective cold solution for less than $45 million? I think so.

I was a Conan fan, but now I have 45 million reasons to not like him anymore. Do you know where that money came from that paid Conan? NBC is owned 80% by General Electric. General Electric got $340 million of stimulus/bailout money that they have NOT paid back. Thanks, GE. Bang up job in money management.

So, our taxes paid Conan and kept me sick.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

The seizure of our time...

While I can appreciate any of you sticking up for the Democrats, I do implore you to take a look at what they are doing right now. Well, I guess I think you should be looking at what they have been doing for the past year.

I think right now in this country if you are a backer of ANY political party you better get current with what they are doing for you. I think you should become educated about their platform on current issues before you spend any time telling others how great they are. It is tough to tell people how a political group is fighting for your beliefs when in reality, they really aren't. Along with this, you pronounce yourself a fool when you speak to others that are educated about current politics and blindly stick up for a group that no longer expresses the ideas you cherish.

It is a great, difficult thing to have a set of beliefs to live by. It is an even more difficult thing to stick by them when they are not a popular set of beliefs. It takes great courage and even greater moxie to tote unpopular beliefs when they are criticized. It is a respectable thing. But, I don't think the core beliefs of the Democrat party are represented in the government any longer.

The Obama administration doesn't deserve our respect. They don't deserve our applause. Mr. Obama is quite a good public speaker and a showman, but he has lied directly to the American public time and time again. From his claim to broadcast healthcare legislation on C-Span to his promise that 90% of the jobs created with his "stimulus" package would be in the private sector (needed for the bill's passing) his presidency has been one of lies. How about his criticism of the presence of lobbyists in the Bush administration, then his administration followed it by appointing even more. He criticized Bush for his budget and promised to end deficit spending, but then when elected he quadrupled the deficit and is asking for trillions more. The list goes on and on.

Before you blame this on somebody else (Obama is GREAT at this) realize that nobody was at the reigns of this country other than the president you elected when this all happened. You are a fool to continue to support him when he lies right to your face. You are a fool to not be a critic of his performance.

There are people out there that want to make this all about race and that is maybe closer to the truth than any of us would like to think. On one side of the coin there are people that don't want Obama to succeed solely because he is black. These people don't care if he is the best man for the job or not, they just want him to fail because of the color of his skin. These people are racist and assume that if you are a supporter of Obama, you don't agree with what white America stands for. Maybe these people endorse Harry Reid's "negro" comments. I am sure this is true.

On the other side of the coin there are people that desperately want Obama to succeed only because he is black. These people also don't care if he is even remotely good at the job, because they will back him solely based on the color of his skin. They desperately want him to succeed because of the the color of his skin. Even if his ideas are poor ideas, if you don't like them, then you are a racist. This is racism just the same. It becomes a popularity contest with these people and they are so sensitive to his race that if you are of the opinion that he is doing a poor job, they INSIST that you are a racist. I also know this to be true.

Most Americans that don't support him don't fall into either of these categories, but sometimes get labeled as such. Keep in mind, for the most part we ALL want him to succeed. Keep in mind that he works for us.

Mr. Obama works for you and I. It isn't the other way around. He does not DESERVE anything he hasn't earned. He does not deserve your respect and support. He needs to EARN your respect and support. But, he is truly his OWN worst enemy.

He gained your trust when he was campaigning, didn't he? He offered a palate of hope. A chance for a change. A promise of smaller government, less debt, more money for everyone and a decent paying job for every American worker. Lies. Lies. Lies. He even had control of the House and Senate to push his programs that were going to help us out. He has had a YEAR of control of the government but has gone back on his stances and failed to accomplish anything other than divide America further and spend us into unbelievable debt. You should consider how he has failed the American people in almost every claim or promise during his campaign. It is too bad in actual job performance, he is a failure. Sooner or later, he will have to face facts and admit that it is NOT Bush's fault.

If you like to be lied to, he is your man. If you like a politician to not take any responsibility for ANY action he created or failed to stop, he is your man. If you like you childrens' children's money being spent without any concrete signs of a better life for us or them, stick with Obama. If you like a government that wants to charge you a fee to be a citizen of this country (Obamacare), keep following him. Most of all, if you like somebody that says one thing but does almost exactly the other and spends all of our money either way, keep singin' "Go Obama!"

If you would like freedom in this country, you should look somewhere else. If you like small government and financial responsibility (personally and for business), you should look elsewhere. If you want to endorse a politician that actually does what they say they will do, Obama is not for you. I don't know who is. It seems in this day and age almost all the politicians are self serving and corrupt. But, when they write in the history books about this time in our country it is our time. Let's make our time a time to remember and not a time of more government corruption and lies.

Don't be naive. You can't afford to be. I can't afford to be. America can't afford to be. Your kids can't afford for you to be.

A letter to myself...

This is a letter to my other personality. It is a part of myself, but sometimes it really pisses me off.

It seems that no matter what conclusions I made in this life, you don't agree. I guess maybe you don't always disagree as much as you find it impossible to just say that you agree and let the matter drop. You can never seem to get words like that out of your mouth in a sentence. It just doesn't happen. Not ever. It seems to be an impossibility. It used to be that I found it very inspirational and motivating to try to see things from your point of view. It was always a good education for me. It was a way to expand my mind. It forced me to think outside of my own feelings more than ever. Things aren't much different now other than I am beginning to think the only reason you have a descending opinion is solely to not agree with me. I am tired and would perhaps once like you to agree. I would like you to agree with sincerity, not just to quiet me up. I think you are scared that if you agree, you will lose yourself. Do you think I find satisfaction in your concession? Do you seriously think that if you were to just be a partner to me that way that I would be stealing your identity? Would it really be stealing anyway? Or, is it just evolution? Maturity?

I can't help that I think those 17 year old kids that murdered three people in cold blood should get the death penalty. If human life means so little to them that they would kill people in their own neighborhood to rob enough money to get their car out of impound, I think they should be killed. I am sorry that I am pissed about this. I am sorry that I think they could have tried to earn some money and be responsible young adults versus kill others for monetary gain. I am sorry I don't think they should the rest of their lives in jail. I wonder what the victims' families would do in a consequence free environment? You know what they would do. They would kill them. If they killed my brother, sister, mother, father or daughter I know I would want them to die. Perhaps even by my hand.

When I speak of the problems that we are faced with in this world, I don't do it to pleasure myself. I wasn't sitting around and thinking that it would be in my best interest to preach to you about something in which I know we don't agree. It never crosses my mind that I am bored and I should probably start a fight. I hate politics and politicians. I used to spend my life with a total lack of interest in politics. I don't know why God threw this shit in front of me now, but there has to be something good coming out of my concern. I wonder if my worry is in vain? I wonder if this fighting in my head is all in vain? I hope there is more to it, because I really struggle when I try to shut it off.

I am a person of business. I know that the way the government is spending money that we will all pay dearly down the line. Our kids' kids will be paying for it. I don't mean to go on and on about this, but I am scared for my daughter. I am scared for all of our future generations. The way this government is currently operating, the movie "Idiocracy" is not very far from accurate. I will never like the far left wing people in government any more than I like the far right. Both sides seem to be very close minded and inconsiderate of others. I will not ever like either of those sides.

It is good to want to help out your fellow humans. It is admirable. There is just one thing, though. Don't ask me to do it the same way you do. Don't ask me to do it as much as you do. Don't try to force me to do it if I am unwilling. If you want to help out, God bless you. But, figure out a way to pay for it before you start. Don't create a bunch of debt then attempt to guilt trip me into paying for it. I help people as much as I can. I don't need my hand forced. The government is now currently attempting to force my hand. I will resist. I promise.

Do you really want to help? If you truly want to help, sell everything you own and donate the money. Volunteer your time full time. Give up on this material life and go for a life of service. Make a real difference. Make a serious difference. Do not preach to me about how I should become more involved. Do not preach to me about my excess and how I can afford to give up some more. It is easy to tell somebody else how much they can give away when you aren't giving anything up to do it. Do not claim to want to help out your fellow human but make it only on terms that are easy, neat and clean. If you choose to make things easy, don't preach to me about your righteousness. I have two eyes, two ears, and a mind of my own. I don't need you to tell me how wonderful you are. I know. I am very perceptive. I see you all the time. I see you everyday. I live you. There is nothing you can tell me about yourself that I haven't already perceived and decided for myself.

I manage okay for being a single dad with a single income. I know that what I have is good enough. I know that despite the boatload of debt I took over from my ex-wife, I still do okay. I calculated it today and I figured I have only about another 7 years before I have my ex-marriage paid off. To you this is no big deal. To you this is just another negative thing from my former life. To me, this is victory. I may not have the nicest things in the world, but they are good enough for me. My mattress may have come from Menard's and not a mall store, but I can still sleep on it. My sheets might have been on clearance, but my head still rests on them just the same. My house may not be modeled or remodeled in the latest trends, but it is clean. It is mine. It is good enough for me. It is better than the one I grew up in, and that place was still our home. I never shared your dreams of the perfect house on the hill with the 2.5 kids, dog, and the lake home. I muddled my way through that part of my life drunk half of the time and not giving a fuck all of the time. Now, this is what I have instead of what you dream for. In all fairness, you weren't here until just now, so why should you even have a say? If you want new name brand designer shit, you buy it. On second thought, don't buy it. Don't bring it into my life. The name on the tag proves nothing to me. Maybe one of these days something I have will be good enough. Maybe.

This life is a life of solitude. It is what it is. I cannot shape it. I cannot change it. It is within but yet beyond my control. It is the tip on my fingers, but always a bit out of reach. It is America with big government control. It is the crushing of my dreams, but you just keep sticking up for it.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Flamingo is a man's shade of pink...

Disclaimer: I do not vouch that this story is true. This is the way I heard it.

I bought another car a couple days ago. I really didn't need another car, but I bought one just the same. This is sick and stupid with the economy the way it is, but for some reason or another, I can't seem to resist. I suppose my automotive addiction could be likened to a woman buying many, many pairs of shoes, except my cars take up a lot more garage space. I do think it is very interesting that most cars have a story. This is especially true with older cars. This is my new cars' story.

My new car is a 1959 Ford Thunderbird. It was built by Detriot's finest in the fall of 1958 and it was covered in a special order Lincoln paint color that is called Flamingo Pink. Along with the pink lower body, it has a Colonial White top. The interior is black and white. The carpeting, door panels, and center console are black, and the inserts in the seats and doors are white. It has a 352 CI V8 FE series Ford engine with a cast iron Cruise-O-Matic 3 speed automatic transmission. It is wearing some white white wall tires for shoes. It is a beautiful thing.

At the time I knew the man that owned the car, but I didn't know him well (now he and I are great friends). He worked in our local hardware store, and I think I originally went to his place to find out about a carb, some parts, or something. I don't remember exactly what.

In his garage at the time, there were quite a few beautiful old cars. There was a 1967 Plymouth Satellite. It was dark green and boasted 440 cubic inch power. It was mean. There was a 1957 Ford 2 door hardtop. It was red and white and looked like it was fresh of the ad from the Ford Motor Company in 1957. There was a 1959 Ford sedan. It was green and white and he a non running inline six. It was a project. There were shelves and shelves of amazingly neatly organized carbs, nuts, bolts, hubcaps, and all sorts of other parts. The boxes were all labeled. Everything had its place. There was a handmade shop sign that boasted "Quality, Honesty, and Integrity...We Don't Fuck Around." For a sixteen year old kid that was into cars, this was a mystical, fabulous place. Aside from all of the other pleasantries, there was a pink Thunderbird in the corner.

I don't know anything about this car prior to me seeing it in approximately 1990. I remember seeing this car back when I was just a dumb, young kid (I am an old, dumb kid now). I instantly fell in lust with it. I remember wondering why in the world he had a pink car, but I never really had the courage to ask. I was just happy to be there in the proverbial Mecca that was his garage surrounded by the nicest old cars I had ever seen. I knew the pink was a strange color for him to have, but I dared not embarrass myself by asking the story behind it and risk getting ejected. I knew then that the pearly looking pink color was probably not the most manly color in the world, but it was elegant and the style of the body of the Thunderbird allowed that color to be forgiven. It was a good looking ride.

This is the story I heard about the car. The previous owner bought this car as a bit of a fixer upper. It wasn't in bad shape by any means, but it did need to have a face lift here and there. The paint was in nice shape and it was pink. The interior needed some freshening. So, he sent the car out and had a new black and white interior put into it. He put new wide whitewall tires on it. He repaired the brakes. He brought it back to his house to fix a couple other minor things on it before gifting it to his girlfriend at the time. Sounds like a sweet gift.

As I was told, he never got a chance to give it to her. Before he got the car finished and ready for her, she was involved in a car accident and died. And then, the car sat. Just as her time had passed on, so did the time for the car. As he mourned her, the car sat in its own state of silent respect. Later on, he stored it more permanently. He blocked it up in his shed and there it has sat for the better part of twenty years. He took it out and drove it around briefly in 2001, he said. Other than that, it hasn't moved much at all.

Now, it is mine. The previous owner ran down a short list of things that need attention on the old girl. It has a headlight bulb socket that needs repair. It needs a new bezel for the truck keyhole. The dash pad has a few cracks in it. He said it needs a rebuild kit for the carburetor. Then, he said he has a different carb for it. Then, he said he will rebuild me a different carb for it. He told me that I should switch intake manifold from the stock steel one when I fix the intake gasket that is leaking on it. He said he has an aftermarket Weiand intake manifold for it. I asked where he got his hands on that. He said "You gave it to me 20 years ago. Don't you remember?"

Nope, I don't remember. Wow. Is it possible that I actually gave old car parts away twenty years ago? Am I really that old?

I am excited about this latest old car venture. I am happy to have a little history with this fine fifty one year old example of Detriot innovation. It is exciting to own yet another piece of American history from back in the time when cars were exciting to own. It was a time when all the cars from every manufacturer were rolling works of art. It is a good thing.

Maybe, just maybe I can create a story or two of my own in it. I am glad my friend trusts me with a car he has such a history with and I knows that I won't taint it. Maybe I can teach my daughter about a little piece of America. I just hope the curse of the girlfriend was a one time thing.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

A couple quick thoughts...

When I started doing some writing, I didn't really know how to begin. Although I have written down a few different things now, I still feel the same every time.

There seems to be no decent way to begin this. I had thought of multiple different approach scenarios, but no matter what method of introduction I was contemplating, I really truly was feeling like an addict/alcoholic at an AA meeting. Or, I guess, maybe I am feeling more as if I am at a somewhat embarrassing orientation ritual for a cause or company that I am either not so sure of or not so proud of. I am feeling a little nervous with my palms moist. I have my crappy paper name tag on. My name on that tag is spelled incorrectly and written crooked on the tag so no matter how you adjust it, either my name or "Hello my name is" doesn't look right. Whichever way you want to look at it, I am nervous either way. I am sorry if I am slouching in my chair despite my mother always telling me to sit up straight. Although I intend to appear confident and studious on the outside, on the inside I am laying on the floor in the closet in the fetal position with my thumb in my mouth and my favorite "safe" blanket in my grasp. Hmm. Is this almost an analogy of me in day to day life? Naw. Anyway, here it is. Or, perhaps, here I am. Enjoy. Criticize. Whatever.

I was watching the Discovery channel and a couple other channels the other night (I flip around. I have ADHD. Sorry.) for a couple hours and I am fully disgusted. I saw not 1, not 2, not 3, but 8 commercials for the Chevy Traverse or the GM Terrain. Normally this would mean very little to me especially since these are not vehicles I am remotely interested in purchasing. This time though, I got thinking about it. I was paying attention for a change.

General Motors had 8 commercials in a little over two hours. Ford had only 1 commercial that I saw. Toyota had 1 commercial I saw. So, just so you and I are on the same page here, General Motors had 8 commercials with our bailout money while the two other car companies represented that operate on their own dollar were only able to afford one each. In my jaded view of the world this means that if you have to pay personally (as a company) for advertising and are certain that the law of diminishing returns could be in full effect and you realize after a recent attempted intervention by our government in your industry, you limp in with one ad. If you are operating on money that the people of this fine country have paid and it is likely you can never repay anyway, you buy as much advertising as you can since apparently to General Motors if you are losing money, you can make it up with volume. Nice, right? This pisses me off.

Am I the only one that really is affected very, very little by advertising? I was thinking about this the other night. I think the only way advertising really gains my attention at all is if it is for a new product. But, after I see a commercial once, I don't think I really need to see it again. If there is something I am interested in after seeing the commercial, I usually check it out online. The world wide web really has information about everything on it and all of this information is right there at our fingertips just waiting for our absorption any time of day or night. I really don't think repeated commercials about the product do much for me other than waste my time and irritate me. I was thinking of the commercial for "Bing" (it is a new search engine) and how true it is that we get bombarded with information we don't necessarily want or need almost no matter what we do in this world. It is sad in a way. The advertising elicits emotions either way.

I almost feel bad for some of these companies that are spending huge bucks trying to convince us that we need their "fabulous" products despite our lack of interest in them. I feel almost prideful about some of the other products that I do purchase. I feel almost proud to buy them if they have a good commercial. But, I don't think their presentations of their products really persuade me to buy them. I either like the products or I don't. I don't think I will buy anything just because Mike Rowe or Michael Jordan says it is super, and I respect both of these gentlemen quite a lot. I am not a celebrity and I really don't think their lives relate to mine in many ways at all.

I suppose all of this advertising is necessary to market their products in this competitive world market. One thing that seems strange to me and I am sure it is strange to generations older than mine is that just a few years ago almost none of this existed. I grew up in a time of newspapers, AM/FM radios, and network television that we didn't even watch every day. Where we have gotten now as a society as far as advertising goes in absolutely astounding for such a short time. Now we can get ads for new products delivered constantly to us on our mobile phones while we are in a meeting or on our mobile phone with somebody else. We can surf the internet for any answer for almost any question from almost anywhere in our world. I suppose with this many opportunities, a company would be foolish to not capitalize on many of them. But, their multiple repetitive ads won't sway me. Or, will they? I guess maybe I am a sucker for ads, too. (sighs)

Monday, January 11, 2010

Not all red socks are from Boston...

There has been many challenges in this life. Some of them spring up ahead of you and need to be dealt with by necessity. Other challenges exist of our own creation. This is a quick story about the later.

In my college days, as brief as they were, I got into a bit of mischief. I went to college for only one year before I decided that I had wasted enough time and money pursuing something that I wasn't very interested in. I lived on campus in the dormitory of a school that will remain unnamed.

Being the naive farm kid that I was (and still am), it took me a little while to become used to the concept of community living. For instance, I wasn't used to the clanking around of others during the night. I wasn't used to sharing a sink to shave or a shower to wash in. At my parent's house, I had a whole floor to myself. So, this concept of "living with others" wasn't very appealing, and was very foreign to me.

One thing in particular that was troubling was laundry. I knew how to do my own laundry, but I didn't have much practice at it since my beautiful mother took care of that stuff for me. Sorry, but I was very, very spoiled (God bless you, mom!). It never really occurred to me upon moving out that this would be a task that I would have to do on a regular basis.

When I moved into the dorm and got settled, it took me about a week before I was re-wearing and spot cleaning my clothes. I needed to wash some clothes. Lame.

I had used a coin operated wash machine before, but I had no idea how long it would take to run a cycle of clothes. I figured it had to be around an hour or so. I had an Economics class at 7:30 AM (I know, nothing like Economics to wake you up, right?). I would put a load in at 7:20, go to class, and then I would switch the load to the dryer at 8:35 after my first class and before my second class at 9:00AM. Neat. Clean. Simple.

I did this with pretty sound success for a month or so. Then, one day, I came back from Economics and my clothes were laying on the floor. Apparently somebody else could wait no longer for me to get back (like 10 minutes), pulled my clothes out of the washing machine, and threw them on the floor. I mean, I don't think my clothes leaped from the washing machine by themselves. Whoever the culprit was, they didn't put my clothes into a basket. They didn't put my clothes on top of the dryer. They put them on the floor. On the dusty, dirty floor. On the community floor. On the icky, dusty, dirty community floor. My clothes were sitting there on the floor in a puddle of water. Gross.

Their clothes were still in the washer and the washer was in the first stage of washing so this event had occurred very recently. Somebody else had decided to use the dryer (I am not sure where they got wet clothes, but I think they were from another floor), so both the washer and dryer were full.

There I sat. What was I supposed to do with a load of wet clothes and no means to dry them? Although I was a little bit pissed, I didn't really do anything other than grab my basket and throw my wet clothes in and take them back to my room. Once I had them safely in my room, I draped them over my loft to let them begin to dry. I figured I would have time to fully dry them later, and I had to get to class. I wanted to wait around to see who else was doing laundry, but class called and I didn't want to be late.

The day wore on. I went to my classes and stopped back to the dorm in between each class to try to dry my clothes, but the dryer was full all day. For the afternoon, it was full of clothes that somebody left in it, but either way, it was full and I wasn't about to throw other people's clothes on the floor despite what was done to mine.

I was done with my last class around 4:30 PM, and the dryer was still busy. My clothes were pretty much dry from hanging by then, so I moved them from the loft into the closet. I was done, I guess. I asked around to somehow try to find out who the person was that pitched my wet clothes on to the floor. By now, I wasn't really upset at all. I was just going to tell them that I am back from class at 8:30, so I would appreciate it if they wouldn't do that again. Fair enough, yes?

It took a couple days for me to find out who it was that ejected my clothes from the washing machine. I asked him about the details of the situation and he turned beet red and said he had no idea the clothes were mine. He said he was sorry. He said he was doing his laundry on a different floor (where he lived) and somebody did the same thing to him and he was pissed so he took it out on me. It was only an emergency that he got his clothes done, he said, because he had a job interview and he had nothing to wear. He said he needed his clothes clean and dry by 10 AM. He apologized again and I told him not to worry about it. I told him next time, though, I would have my clothes out by 8:30, so if he could just wait 10 minutes, I would appreciate it. Problem solved. Or, so I thought.

A week or so passed, and I was getting down to re-wearing and spot cleaning again, so I decided to wash some clothes. I got up around 7:10, loaded the washing machine at 7:20 and headed to class. I went to my Economics class and dropped by the dorm between classes to switch my laundry. What did I find? Again, my clothes were wet laying on the floor. I left my basket there in case somebody decided that it was more important for them to wash their clothes than it was me. But, my clothes weren't in it. My basket was gone. Either it grew legs, or the person that dumped my clothes took my basket as well.

Needless to say, this didn't sit very well. To say I was pissed off would be putting it lightly. I stormed directly to the room where the villain from the last incident lived. He wasn't there. I waited around, but he didn't show up. I caught up with him later in the day (I was still very angry) and asked him about it. He said he had no idea what I was talking about. He said it wasn't him. I asked him to ask around because this was the last time my clothes were going to end up on the floor. I was pissed. I got my clothes dried in my room again.

About a week later, I walked into a conversation in a friend's room. They were talking about doing laundry and how this guy they know and his jock friends were messing around with people for fun. They were pretty sure that nobody could pin anything to them. They didn't really care if somebody could. They were sure that nobody would stand up to them, anyway. It was a big joke to them. Nice gag. Original.

This would not do at all. As they say, two can play at this game. I guess they also say that paybacks are a bitch. I started researching them. I started paying attention. I got these guys' class schedules. I started paying attention to their time habits. I started building my course of vengeance.

I went to the local mall's dollar store and bought bundles and bundles of red socks. You know, just cheap, plain, red socks. I had my weapons. I knew their schedule. My plan was set.

I waited until one of them put a load of light colors in the washing machine. I waited until they left. Then, I struck with a red finger of revenge. I switched the wash water to hot and threw in a red sock. Then, I waited patiently until the cycle was almost over, and pulled the rebellious red sock back out. I switched the water setting back to cold. Mysterious. Sneaky.

To make things better yet, I slipped the spent red socks into the garbage cans in their rooms. Or, by the doors of their rooms. Or, in their foyers. Somewhere that wasn't too obvious, but wasn't too hidden, either. Somewhere where somebody else could walk by and casually see it.

One of them would find a sock in the other one's room and then that person became "caught red handed." This erupted all sorts of arguments and fighting between this group of wanna-be pranksters. Each of them were sure it was one of the other ones doing this to them. Each time a planted sock was found, it only reinforced their suspicions. They were a suspicious bunch that trusted not one inside their group. Every one of them was a suspect to the rest of the group. Every one of them was being watched by the rest of the group. They were paranoid.

Later on, I started just leaving the socks in the load. Who cared anyway? I did this quite a few times. In the next couple weeks I watched a transformation take place. They were all turning pink. The group was livid. They started doing their laundry on different floors. I followed them. I accidentally pinkened some other people's clothes, but with the red socks slipped into the pranksters' rooms or garbage cans, they took the heat for it. Slowly but surely most residents' light clothes began to become pink. Their dress shirts were pink. Their socks were pink. Their jeans even had a pink hue. Everything from white towels to their school logo shirts were all tinted pink.

The pranksters tried to watch their laundry loads more closely to prevent further pinkening, but it took only seconds to slip in a sock and they were so busy trying to blame one another that they paid little attention to me.

One of the most challenging things I have ever done it to keep a straight face when they asked me about it. I never took any blame since they never could pin any of it on me. I never told anyone and I never revealed that I had any hand in any of this. My vengeance was a private matter.

They say that revenge is a dish best served cold. I think in this case, it is a dish that is best served hot and with a red sock.

Friday, January 8, 2010

AT&T and a CB radio that runs XP...

My journey each day is a perilous one it seems. Each and every day I am faced with troubles and problems that need to be handled with the most delicate of care. Being the pure diplomat that I am, this comes naturally for me. But, that isn't what this story is about. This story is about something else. Sort of.

About 2 1/2 years ago I was in the midst of a somewhat bitter divorce. Sparing you details, during that time I shut off my cable, phone, and pretty much anything else that wasn't necessary in my house to try to save myself some money for legal bills and other expenses. I also wasn't very certain about my permanence at this residence, so I saw no sense in spending more than I needed to. I suppose that annoyed my ex, too. She was living here at the time. I suppose she may have been a titch upset that these things were working one day and shut off the next. But, as sweet as that was, that wasn't the true motivation behind it. I needed to save a couple bucks every month, and turning off the frills was a great way.

I lived in my house with little or nothing to do in the evening for a month or two and I was pretty bored. I had friends, but few people want to go and hang out in the middle of a divorce. I didn't really feel like doing much at the time other than enjoying a little solitude. But, I got bored. I went into my office at work one evening and was goofing off on the internet for a while and I looked to see about how much my wireless phone bill was going to be for the month. On the front page at was a special promotion boldly proclaiming cheap, reliable, fast internet service that was bundled with your mobile phone service. I read about it and it almost sounded too good to be true.

There was an initial start up fee and equipment cost of about $150. After that was bought, it added about $39 per month to my mobile phone bill for unlimited service. There was a 2 year service agreement with a free 30 day trial period. It sounded really fair. It sounded like fun to have the mobility of wireless internet. To be completely honest, the more I read about it, the more impressed I was. It seemed like a great deal.

The next morning I called customer service at AT&T to talk to a real live person and ask them if what I read the prior night was true. The woman on the phone was very pleasant and she assured me that what I read was indeed true. I could have fully portable internet with speeds faster than the DSL I had on my land line previously at home. I asked how reliable it was. She told me that they never have reliability trouble with it. I asked how good the service would be in my area. She told me that my area has perfect service. She told me that she uses the same wireless service herself and she really likes it (she lived in Atlanta, BTW).

Without further ado I ordered it. Charge me up. Plug me in. Bring it on.

I waited for 4 days more or less foaming at the mouth by the mailbox for it to arrive. Then it came [trumpets and fanfare in background]. I tore open and box and inside is what looked like half of a graham cracker covered in circuits. I raced into my office where my laptop was waiting. I put it in. I fired it up. My laptop found the card. My laptop was searching for the network. Searching. Searching. Nothing happened. Hmm. I looked in the box and found the install CD. I wondered if their wireless card may only work with their software? Hmm. I installed AT&T's proprietary software. I rebooted. Then, nothing happened. I moved my laptop toward the window thinking I could get a cleaner signal. It made no difference. I moved it outside into my pickup. No change. What was I doing wrong?

I called customer support and the gentleman attempted to help me by running me through all sorts of tests [Most of which I already tried. I think some of the tests were solely to kill time and piss me off]. The computer knew the card was there. The software was functioning properly. The card could not find the signal of the network. I was on the phone with this technician for over an hour. We could not get it to connect. He told me to wait until the following day and leave the computer turned on because maybe it needs to find the network and update. I was irritated, but agreed.

The next day I got to work and one of the first things I did was check on the laptop to see if it was connected yet. It was not. I called customer support again. This time, a woman answered and she was very pleasant. She wanted us to do some tests. These were the same tests I told her that me and the other technician had done the night before. She said that it didn't matter because the card was searching for the network and she needed to know why it wasn't working and that this should only take a couple minutes.

After about one more hour on the phone, she decided that the card I received in the mail must be faulty. She told me to send it back to AT&T, and when they receive it, they will test it and send me out another card. Or, she said, she can send a card right away, but she would have to charge me for both cards until they get the returned card back. I opted to sent it back and wait for the new card since my enthusiasm for this project was beginning to dim a little. Well, a lot.

Six days later another box came in the mail and inside was a new card. I raced into my office ready to tackle the world one byte at a time. I fired up my laptop. I installed the software (again). I inserted the card. Windows found the card. And then, nothing happened. It couldn't find the network. Bloody hell. Nothing happened at all. There was no change. I moved to the window with my laptop. Nothing happened. Again.

I called customer support again trying desperately to mask my sarcastic rage. On the phone this time was a nice man. I quizzed him about what I could possibly be doing wrong. He wanted to do some tests but assured me that the test would only take a couple minutes. So, again (although I was protesting), I did an hour of tests. Still it refused to connect. He said maybe it needs to find the network and that I should leave my laptop turned on until tomorrow and see if it finds the network. I reluctantly agreed.

The next morning, I got into my office and popped open the screen on my laptop. By now my expectations were substantially lower. I hoped for a found but then lost internet connection. I hoped for a failed download. I hoped to have some blip of activity. I hoped for an error. I hoped for a hard drive failure. I hoped for fly shit on the screen. Something. Anything. Again, there was nothing. Zip. Zero. Nada. Still searching. Searching. Searching.

I called customer support. A nice fellow answered. He told me he would like to run some tests. I told him I was really not in the mood for tests anymore. I told him that I was all tested out. He expressed his sincere apology, but informed me that he could not make the card function per design without these tests. I said nothing. He suggested that maybe the building I was in was blocking the signal or causing interference. He suggested I consider getting an external antenna for the wireless card.

I thought about it for a second and wondered if he could be right. I mean, I had moved my laptop towards the window and outside to my truck, but maybe I didn't wait long enough. Could this be the problem? I asked the nice fellow where I could get this mystical "antenna." He said that they didn't sell them since the manufacturer didn't recommend them for the card I had. He said "If it were mine, I would ebay it." I thought to myself "Damn right. I WILL ebay it." So I looked online. I found an antenna. I was $40 with free shipping and had boasted a great signal boost. I looked the brand up online and it seemed to be a decent brand. So, I ordered it.

Eleven days later my antenna arrived. It looked to be something that was purchased at Fleet Farm. It had a magnetic base and a 24" whip. I had about 30 feet of cable attached to it. I was in disbelief that this crude antenna could be a solution to any sort of problem. It looked like it should be bolted either to the roof of a semi tractor or the to the mirror of a mid-seventies Dodge van. Well, it is worth a shot, I thought. I trampled into my office. I grabbed my laptop. I hooked it up. I waited. I began to laugh. I began to laugh hysterically. I looked at my laptop and realized that I just turned a sophisticated electronic device into something that looks like a one foot square CB radio that runs Windows XP. I drip of sweat had formed at my brow. And then, it had signal. It showed signal! [Trumpets and fanfare in background!] I waited a second. I tried to surf. But, nothing happened. It showed signal. It showed that it was connected, but it wouldn't load a page. I had nothing but a white screen.

I called customer support. I told then all about my problems. The wonderful woman I spoke with on the phone told me that if I am using an antenna and it isn't a manufacturer's antenna that I could void the warranty of the wireless card. I told her it was an antenna that was manufactured by the same company that built the wireless card so it should be fine. She told me I must be mistaken, because the company does not make an antenna for that card. Shit. Busted. I panicked like a deer in headlights and hung up on her.

I called customer support back and this time a guy answered. I told him about what had happened so far [omitting that I was using an antenna] and he extended his most sincere apology for my trouble. He told me he needed to run some tests, but that the tests would only take a few minutes. I thought "Here we go again." One hour later, I was done with the tests. Still, it didn't work. He suggested I leave my computer on overnight in case the card needs more time to find the network and update. So, I did, figuring that since I showed some signal now, maybe he was right this time.

The next day, I got up to work and looked at my laptop. I showed signal, but nothing looked like it changed. I tried to use the internet, but it didn't work. I was staring at a white, blank screen since the page wouldn't load. By now, my patience was at its end. I called customer support again and this time I wanted to get a return authorization for the card. I was done. I had enough. I was at the end. The gentleman on the phone was very patient with me despite my hostility. He said we needed to run a couple tests quick and make sure something wasn't wrong with the configuration of the card. I refused. I said I want to send this thing back because it doesn't work. I told him my whole story of frustration and failure. I told him that I told there was no internet worth this much aggravation. I told him a lot of things.

After a couple minutes of offering me his most sincere apologies, he paused. He asked "Is your address 750 Dutch Lake Drive?" I said "Yes." He said "Is that in Howard Lake?" I said "Yes." He said "Minnesota?" I said "Yes, why?" He said "Well, that is an area that has been reported as what we like to call a 'bubble.'" I asked "What is a bubble?" He said "A 'bubble' is an area that has little or no connectivity with our network." He continued "I am surprised that whoever sold you the card didn't mention it. You won't be able to connect there very well or at all. Is the computer at your house?" I answered "Yes." He asked "Is there any way to move the computer either 400 yards south or 600 yards north?" I told him that I didn't think so. I informed him that I was sad to report that I couldn't move my fucking house either A: Into the goddamn lake or B: Onto the middle of the fucking highway to make his signal better.

He said that he could understand why I was upset and that he didn't understand why the person who sold me the card hadn't made me aware of this problem at my location. I told him that my home address is on the bill. My home address is on the fucking account. Funny how NOBODY there noticed it after hours and hours on the phone and multiple calls and still with no service. He said he would send out a postage paid label for the card's return. He said he would cancel the service. He apologized again. I hung up still furious, but glad it was over.

Four days later an envelope came from AT&T. Inside was a postage paid label that I promptly stuck onto the box. Later that day I went into town and stopped by the post office to mail the box. I felt a wave of relief as I dropped the box off. Here in this box was a thing that caused me endless anger and discontent for almost a month, and now it is gone. Whew.

A few weeks past and I got bill in the mail from AT&T. There were charges on my bill for wireless "Connect" card. I thought it must be an oversight, but I called customer service anyway. The woman I got on the phone was courteous enough, but she was firm in stating that I signed a contract for service. I argued that I never got my card to work at all. She said "Mr. Miller, I am looking at your usage right here. You used this device. It connected to our network." I told her maybe it transferred some data, but it never worked like I was told it would. She asked what I meant. She asked if I meant that it didn't work at all, or did it just not work well? I told her it looked as if it was connected, but I couldn't load pages with it. She asked if I told a customer support representative about this issue.

[White knuckles. Fists clenched.] I told her that I had spent HOURS on the phone with customer service [as my blood pressure goes to 200 and my gums are bleeding from me gritting my teeth]. She said "Then why didn't you cancel this within your 30 day trial period?" I asked her what she meant. She read off the terms of my agreement. I told her I was well aware of the terms in regard to the 30 day free trial, but I cancelled my service before thirty days. She argued that I didn't. She said "I have it right here in front of me. It's 32 days." I told her that was impossible. I said I counted off the days when I cancelled and I know I had a few days to spare after my last call to cancel, and at that time I sent the card back. She said that my service didn't officially cancel until they received the wireless card back and verify that it wasn't damaged. She said she wasn't authorized to cancel this account when it was past its 30 days trial. She said I could opt for early termination of my service plan, but that would cost $275.

So, to make a long story less long, after spending another hour on the phone and talking with her supervisor's supervisor, my account was credited. My service was cancelled. My life was restored to normal in regards to internet service.

All in all I think I could say my experience with AT&T's wireless internet service was pretty good, as long as you know that when I say "pretty good" that I mean that they are liars, cheats, thieves, and morons. They lack knowledge about their products and services, and they are stupid beyond all help. They are useless beyond all description, and I hope they contract something itchy and rashy that there is no salve or treatment for yet.

If you know somebody looking for a good used wireless internet card antenna, I have one. But seriously, I don't. I may have taken a portion of my aggression out on the one I had. But that is a different story.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

My boss is a dink.

Working all the time really sucks, but it has its perks. I am self employed (as some of you know) and my regular work week is 57 hours. When I say 57 hours, I mean 57 hours of being at work, answering the phone, working and the like. I don't have much drive time to get to and from work, so the 57 hours is actual hours "on the job." Aside from this, I am on call 24/7/365 for a different business I own. In our slow economy, I am working now more than I ever have and drawing much less of a wage. This is all okay to me though (as if I have a choice). Since the removal of the blood sucking woman I married back in 1996 (READ:$$$$$) from my life in the year of our Lord 2007, I can live on much, much less and still have more than ever.

Without further ado, here are a few quick reasons that working all the time is a good thing:

1. You don't need to worry about spending money on ANYTHING since almost every store everywhere is closed between 11 PM and 4 AM when you aren't at work. Thank God the grocery store is open 24 hours a day. Wait. It would probably be better for my waistline if it wasn't.

2. In today's job market what used to be "HA HA! You have to work the weekend and I don't!" has become "I wish I had a job...any job." You will no longer be jealous of your friends and their time off of work, because you will still be able to afford to live, while they will be cashing in their food stamps and unemployment checks for lottery tickets since they are laid off.

3. We are older than dirt. We are our parents age. We are the same age that when we looked to our parents and thought "Wow...they are old. I wonder what it would be like to be that old?!?" What the else is there to do, anyway? It's not like we are going to an all night rave anymore. Are we planning a trip to the bar until 2 AM and then to the strip club until 5 AM? Yeah, that isn't going to happen. I mean, what's a wild night now? Starting a movie after the 9 o'clock news? Having a cup of coffee after 6 PM? Come on...if we weren't at work we would be sleeping anyway. Don't kid yourself.

4. We have kids. I know the 10 seconds of ecstasy was all well worth it, but if we really want to get them and us ahead in this day and age, we need to keep working to accomplish it. If we don't, we won't be able to afford to purchase a second home when they won't move out of our home [when they are 35]. Then, we will be forced to live with them forever. [shudders]

5. Not unlike old(er) people bitching about walking uphill [both ways] 7.5 miles to school carrying their 5 brothers and sisters through a blizzard when it was -70 degrees outside, working weekends is a great thing to complain about. Keep in mind, most of our parents didn't. Because they didn't, our parents scrimped and saved money to buy stuff and saving money is a concept that we refuse to adopt. Many of our families were single income, and those that weren't, many of our parents never worked weekends. Mine did, but I know many others that didn't. But, in today's world, it is a good idea.

6. You are never lonely at work. Usually no matter what you do, there is somebody at work who annoys the piss out of you. If not that, there is somebody that makes you very angry. They are a thorn in your side when they are there, and you are happy when they are gone. So, you can't be lonely because it is a great relief to have them leave [CRAVING loneliness], and when they are at work, you aren't alone anyway [sick, I know].

7. It is a great crash course in internet shopping. Personally, after my 11 hour day, I really don't feel like cleaning up and venturing back out into the cold like a pilgrimage across the wasteland scavenging for provisions. I support my local businesses as much as I can, but much of my gift shopping is from Target online.

8. You have zero desire to purchase "useless" items. You will never know just how nice that new garbage can and matching towel rack would look in your bathroom. You never make it to the store to find out, and if you do ever get to the store, you are in such a hurry (to get back so you can go to work or sleep) that you don't bother noticing it sitting there on the shelf anyway. Also, all things look somewhat the same color under artificial light. After spending 57 hours of your week in artificial light, perhaps your gaze is a bit dulled.

9. It trims down your friend list. If you have no time to get out and meet new people, the potential for additional Christmas cards, birthdays, weddings and parties is greatly reduced. This is a plus in most scenarios. Do you remember your new friends that are moving next year after their wedding this year and need a trailer and a guy with a strong back to help? I don't. I pissed them off really badly last year, so I am off the hook. For them to call me to ask for help now looks as if they are only being friendly to get some free labor (of which I would probably not have time for anyway..I have to work that weekend, I am sure). I don't know how things are for you, but I routinely piss off at least 5-6 people a year so badly that they don't want to ever talk to me again. Given this fact, it stands to reason that in a few years, I will be sending out no Christmas cards at all. Wait. I am already there.

10. You don't feel guilty about not exercising much. There are few things like a 11 hour a day manual labor job that help burn about 5000 calories a day. When you are done working, you are usually so tired that you don't have the energy to drive to the gym, let alone actually do something if you got there. I recommend sitting down in a comfortable chair post work. In using this diagram, I am able to remove all of my guilt about not running on the treadmill because I am almost instantly asleep.

SEE?!? Working all the time is GOOD!....I guess...[sighs].

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

The young engineer and his red shirt.

Seeing my daughter in her age of 12 reminds me of my youth. It also brings to light that her youth is quite a bit different than mine was.

If we (me or my 2 brothers or 2 sisters) got hurt when I was young, there was no calling of ambulances or rushed trips to the hospital. We had our wounds cleaned out with good old stinging rubbing alcohol, and them we got a bandaid. Or 2. Or 3. Or a wad of gauze and some tape.

I remember hauling hay wagons from the field to the barn and back again with the tractor when I was 12ish or so years old. This was a task I really wanted to do and driving the tractor on the road was still a privilege. When you are young and on the farm, you always want to be a bigger kid and be operating bigger equipment. At my young age, this hauling wagons task was a good task. It was a prideful task. It felt important.

Being the young engineer that I was, I had the brilliant idea to tie a twine string around the clasp of the hitch pin so when I had to unhook the wagon, I could just stop, reach back, and pull the rope and the hitch pin slid out of the draw bar (releasing the wagon). I still had to get on and off the tractor to hook up the wagon each load, but unhooking was a piece of cake. I used this new patent almost all day without issue until the last few loads. I dropped the third to last wagon at the barn and headed back out to the field with just the empty tractor since we were almost done and we needed all of the wagons back at the barn to uload them. I was driving along and all of the sudden POW! Something struck me in the head. All I saw was blood.

Upon initial inspection, I realized a couple different things. One thing was that although my rope-to-pin patent seemed brilliant, it had a dangerous flaw. If you didn't have a load on, the hitch pin swung freely around the rear of the tractor. So, if it is swinging around freely and hits a rear tire when the tractor is driving in road gear, what happens? (ponder ponder?) The pin launched off of the rear wheel at full extension of the twine string, made a arc in the air, and in finishing its rapid forward motion, connected with my forehead. It would seem it was almost impossible for me to use a better length of rope than I did to aid in injury.

One other thing I realized was that fact that head wounds bleed fast and generously and they can appear as if they are a lot worse than they really are.

Yet another thing I realized is that I wasn't sure how badly I was hurt and I wasn't sure I would be able to get home without help. So, I turned around and covered my left eye since I thought that was where most of the bleeding was coming from and I wanted to apply pressure to the wound.

I drove back home more or less on auto pilot. I walked up to the house and my mother was there and she saw me more or less bathed in my own blood by this time. She had glint of slight panic, but snapped out of it quickly. Then, without a falter, she dragged me into the house, pulled the good ol' alcohol out of the medicine cabinet, shoved my head into the sink, and doused me with it (to my dismay). I secretly thought to myself that the likelihood of me getting the rest of the day off was very high until she looked at the gash on my head. She muttered something barely audible. Then, she reached into the medicine cabinet for the second time. I couldn't see what she was doing since as a result of my twisting and fussing I had been reminded not-so-politely that it would be in my best interest to hold still. I felt a painful pinch near the wound, and then fingernails poking my forehead. She released her grip on me, and walked out of the bathroom.

I turned my head up and looked into the mirror. It was about a 2 inch cut. But, my beautiful Polish mother had pinched the skin shut and taped it. I the whole area was bright red, bleeding and it felt as if it had it's own pulse. Within a couple seconds my mother returned with a clean shirt for me so I could go back out and unload hay.

She told me to quit wasting time and get the hay hauled and unloaded. She told me I really wasn't hurt that bad and we would look at it again later. I stood there in shock of what just happened. My bubble was burst. My dream of having the rest of the day off was all but vanished. All I had to show for it was dry, menthol hair from the remnants of the alcohol, crusty, dried blood on my pants and neck, and a pounding headache. I wondered why she got me a clean shirt. I suppose she thought the neighbors might get concerned if I drove by smothered in blood?

I don't know. I guess times have changed?

(Rolls eyes)

I started this sometime in May of 2008. It is perhaps a bit jumbled, but so am I.

Are granola bars really good for you? I mean, I try to eat healthy. I had 14 of them today. Should be like "extra credit."

On the same note, when somebody says "eat as much fruit as you want" they obviously haven't been to the grocery store lately. I need to start smoking again to get myself off of my $10/day pineapple habit....I can't help it...they are sweet and delicious...

When people make the "seven years for dogs is one year for humans" statement I think they need to take into account the person's state of mind. What is longer? One year as a billionaire, single, on a beach somewhere drinking fruity drinks and having "sexy time" with random hotties at your leisure, or one year driving your Dodge pickup around Nebraska with your Polish (Don't jump my shit, I'm Polish...I just know how we are) spouse, 7 kids and possibly a dog? The earlier sounds like a great weekend. The later sounds pretty damn long life. Poor dogs.

Have you ever actually seen a kid get a Happy Meal and be so very happy with the food that they smiled? Maybe they should call in the Happy Because of a Toy Meal. They surely aren't smiling about the "delicious" burger.


Check this out:

Main Entry:
..ˈblȯg, ˈbläg..
short for Weblog
: a Web site that contains an online personal journal with reflections, comments, and often hyperlinks provided by the writer can't possibly seriously tell me that the word "weblog" was too damn long to type so we had to shorten it up? Seriously?!? Taking two letters off because it's too damn long is like being pissed that the Eggo company doesn't send somebody inside the waffle box to push down the button on the toaster for you.


Zima bottles if full and capped will violently explode without warning after about ten minutes in the campfire. I don't know if beer bottles do or not. Screw that. You throw your beer in the fire. I'm drinking mine.

Is it just me, or is there no really "tart" part of a Pop Tart? More like sugary jelly in there.

On a related note, I suppose there really isn't much of a "pop" part, either. I know the toaster weakly tries to eject them post heat-wiring them hot, but it isn't quite like pouring milk on Rice Crispies, is it?

My new pet peeve is your and you're. I know I am certainly not perfect, but keep it in mind. If I use poor grammar, bitch at me PLEASE! Let's help each other out if we can, now that we have all been out of school since...well..pretty much the beginning of time. Let's not look illiterate.

Truth in advertising? How many pro baseball players chew "Big League Chew?" I thought they liked tobacco, not a bag of poorly flavored, chalky gum...

At least the Mythbusters busted the myth about tattoos and MRI's. Whew!

I have been dating myself a lot in the last few weeks. Not dating myself like getting myself drunk and trying to get laid...with myself. More like, "I have known my friend Beth for 29 years." Scary. I am old.

On the dating myself note, I suppose that would be the peak of sexual frustration...when you won't even put out for yourself.


My horoscope today said: Any issues that pop up around the house today won't be terribly dramatic, but they do require your undivided attention. They represent a real change you need to make in your self. If there is a conflict over cleanliness, perhaps you need to get rid of the clutter in the emotional parts of your life? Throwing out garbage doesn't only refer to potato peels, old newspapers, and egg shells! Your negative feelings and self-doubt may need to get tossed to the curb, too!

Great. First I fell guilty about my house being I am getting guilt tripped by the stars for my mental house being messy. Is it just me, or is this just another wad of nameless faceless crap? Or, is it? Just what I need...more to worry about..


I never believed for a second that Cole Trickle could bounce off the wall at Daytona Raceway passing on the high side and not lose speed. If you did, I'm sorry. I didn't. It's impossible.

If you have ever heard the farming phrase "Knee high by the 4th of July" this may actually be the first year in about 35 that the adage rings true. If you don't know what it means, it is referring to the height of the corn stalks being to your knees by July 4. If they are this height it is supposed to be a decent year. Due to all the spring moisture and with the cold, wet forecasts we are still getting, hopefully the corn will be planted by the 4th of July. The last many years it has been shoulder height by or above by July 4. I used to farm, and I planted my damn roses too early and it looks like a couple of them are gonna croak. Bring on the sun, anytime.

It is rumored in the south that smoking doesn't cause cancer, that it is the chemicals on vegetables. Have we gotten so far off path in our society that we feel the need to continually point fingers? I wish nobody any disrespect, but people die. The smoking/tobacco use link has been proven again and again. When I quit smoking it wasn't the known health risks/problems that motivated me to quit. It was money. If there is some link between vegetables and cancer thank God I only eat pineapples in excess. I suppose that will be the next thing...


It is amazing that any of us are alive. I am referring to those of us that are children of the 60's and 70's or older.

We grew up without bottled water, infant car seats, and seat belt use.

We got left in the car when it was 100 degrees out, or we were left home home alone since 10 years old because we were responsible enough and our parents knew it.

I don't know about you, but I starting driving at 12 (farmer, ya know). I rode standing or sitting in the back of pickup trucks for MILES and didn't die. It was completely normal to see people riding in the back of trucks and they were alive, too.

I rode my bike without a helmet. I rode the ultra safe 3 wheeler without a helmet. I rode a motorcycle without a helmet. We skateboarded, and roller skated without a helmet.

We drank milk and a lot of it. If it gave us the shits, we just planned our day around our milk drinking a bit. (As a side note, I suppose I should be all correct and sensitive and consider replacing "the shits" with diarrhea, but I won't.)

We ate copious amounts of ice cream, even before bed and we still remained thin. But, when it was light outside, we were outside playing until the sunset and many times after.

We caught fireflies...well I did at least. I wonder how many kids these days even know what one looks like? Or if you say firefly to them they are thinking of the cell phone?

We went into the woods as kids and got covered in mosquito bites, spider bites, and wood ticks while we picked wild blackberries. Strangely enough, we never got West Nile, malaria, Lyme disease, flesh eating bacteria, or really anything that killed, maimed, or poisoned us. We still walked back to the house. We ate the wild berries right off the vine while we were picking them and we still lived.

We ate what our parents made for us for meals. There wasn't a menu. It didn't matter if we liked it or not, we ate it or we ate nothing. I could have sworn cabbage rolls were going to kill me, yet still it never became an "Eye Team" investigation.

On that note, we ate school lunch whether we liked it or not because it was also eat what they made or eat nothing.

If we acted out in public we might get scolded a bit, then maybe "the look," then we might get spanked if we kept it up. Still, my parents never went to jail...thank God. What the fuck is "time out?" The only "time outs" I knew growing up was when one of my siblings knocked me unconscious.

I have never seen any nutrition facts on McDonald's McGriddles sandwiches...thank God. I am sure they would become something else I can't eat. Maybe they cause

Is it just me or did orange/cherry slice candy taste WAY better about 25-30 years ago?

When did black jelly beans become so disgusting tasting? After too many Jagermeister weekends?

Speaking of beans, when did I start to like baked beans?

I sat in shock tonight. I took my 10 year old (she's 12 to the library to pick up the books she ordered online (by!? she's 10!). Anyway, we got home and she sat in my chair in the living room and read until supper. I mean, TV off, silence. Her and her book. She read for about 2 hours. Then, after supper she read for another hour before shower/bed. There may be hope for this generation yet..either that or I am the most boring dad..ever.

My daughter and I went to Target the other day and she wanted to get some trading cards (Pokemon, Yugi or some other of this new fangled crap). They were $2.95 a pack. I remember buying baseball cards for a nickel a pack. I told her this and the little smart ass says "Yeah Dad, but that was like 30 years ago..." I started to get mad and realized she is right. Dammit.

Why is it that no matter what is going on in my life, no matter how upset I am, regardless of circumstance, an hour in the hot tub cures it?

I was fooled when watching "Mad Max" as a youngster. I thought a person COULD turn off a roots type blower with a pneumatic 2 speed switch. Damn you Australians!

Is Jello really made of horse hooves? I watched a farrier work this past summer. Horse hooves are pretty icky. They smell REALLY badly, too. I am not so sure I want to eat that.

Taco Bell's "make a run for the border" slogan has become a regular part of our culture. You can tell almost anyone that you had to make a run for the border and they will know you went to Taco Bell. Do you suppose in Mexico that the "make a run for the border" slogan is used by McDonald's? Or maybe an employment company?

This is really just an observation. Since I live alone now, I have noticed that it takes me about 2 months to fill the wastebasket in the master bathroom. When my ex was here, I emptied it weekly or bi weekly at the longest. Oh, the beauty of the small things.

I watched Batman Begins last night. It is a decent movie, but I don't think the title is very good. I am not so sure Batman is real. How could he begin? What is it he's beginning to do?

I realized today how strange the things we buy are. My sister bought 21 bags of dirt today. Dirt. In bags. It was dirt. It was dirt in a bag. Dirt. She bought dirt. I am speechless.


I came to the realization last week that I am comfortable enough in my masculinity to buy a red phone. I have had black RAZRs forever and mine finally took a dump last week. I was looking on ebay for a new one since I am WAY too cheap to buy one from AT&T. Then, I saw KRZRs. Kick ass! Stereo blue tooth and an MP3 player...but red. Oh! Oh! Oh! There are the black ones...but they are $55 more. Okay, I'm not gay, but I like red better would too, for $55.

Have you ever had so much coffee that a task as simple as thinking causes you to sweat?

They should make granola bar flavored Hot Pockets. Just because.

I have always been a fan of Carmex for my cracked, dry lips. I was in Target the other day and saw Cherry Carmex. Hmm. Cherry. I bought a 3 pack. It sounded like a good idea. Well, my lips are fine, but it cracks the corners on my mouth like you read about. I looked on the package and it doesn't say anything about the corners of your mouth, only your lips. My bad. I think they insert very, very small razor blades in Carmex that slash the corners of your mouth.

On the same note, why do they flavor lip balm in the first place? To encourage kids to eat it? Isn't is much like putting flavor in glue?

Can anyone decipher what the difference is between Diet Cherry Coke and Coke Cherry Zero? Neither of them have sugar or calories and both of them are cherry flavored. "I ain't drinking that Zero shit, because it has too many calories." Zero. Hence "Zero." "I ain't drinking that Diet Cherry shit, it has too many calories." Zero. "Diet."


I have started biking regularly since I quit smoking. Now, there are a few things I have learned about biking recently.

1. I cannot afford to buy what everybody else considers to be a "decent" bike. This I do not understand. I don't think I need 37 speeds and a 1.5lb titanium frame and ultra narrow tires with little or no rolling coefficient. Correct me if I am wrong, but isn't the whole idea of biking to get a workout? So, I would think that my $75 steel frame Target mountain bike with the wide tires and huge rolling coefficient would give me a quicker workout. So, while you are riding 40 miles, I will ride 10. Have a fun day, dumb ass.

2. I will never wear a speedo/spandex. Girls, you look hot in this. Please keep up the good work. Guys...what is the matter with you? In the realm of genitals, you have what some folks would refer to as an "outie." Well, at least I hope you do. We don't want to see your "frank and beans" or the goddamn outline of them. Nothing. Next time, maybe leave that garment at home or give it to your wife/girlfriend (we love seeing her in it.). Do us all a favor, okay? Besides, do you know how many turkeys they had to kill to make those shorts? Lots.

3. Helmets. I think they have their time and place (when you are 6 years old and using training wheels...maybe). Maybe they are justified if you ride through automobile traffic all the time. Well, as long as nobody recognizes you. I appreciate your concern for your safety. I am not that concerned about my safety to wear one. It is bad enough with the round, half moon styled helmets. Who the hell invented the Alien Vs. Predator helmets? You are not the Predator (read:invisible) when you put one on. We can still see you. We don't want to spandex boy, but we can.

4. I am getting the impression that fuel costs haven't risen enough to justify serious biking. From what I have seen, to buy a "good" bike, helmet, bags, and spandex you can easily spend enough money to buy a hell of a nice car. And fuel for it. Forever.


I notice I have been feeling like crap for the past few days. My body has been achy and painy. There must be something to acupuncture, cause I sat in the whirlpool tonight and had a jet in a spot in my back that made my arm itch and my leg tickle. I guess the ancient Chinese were on to something...

I found pictures of myself from 4 years ago in my garage this afternoon. Talk about motivation to keep biking...

I was I could get objective reviews on my facial hair. Not that it is a big deal or anything, but everyone I talk to tells me the opposite of the person before. My sisters: One says it is really cool and it makes me older. Keep it. The other sister says it makes me look 10 years younger and to shave that shit off. My friend Amy says keep it. Wendi says shave it. The list goes on and on. What is a fella to do?

I was scared shitless this morning when I walked outside. There was a giant orange orb in the sky. It seemed to be producing heat. Thankfully, after an hour or so, it became overcast and hazy again like normal. False alarm, I guess...

I listened to my mother (as boys should) and put jars of coffee grounds all over my house to absorb the smoke smell from when I used to smoke in here. I am not sure if it is going to work , but I want a cup of coffee ALL the time, now....

Speaking of coffee...I was in grocery store the other day and was looking to buy some more coffee. I grabbed a bag of usual kind and as I turned, I saw a huge display of Folgers. Hmm. Wonder if it is worth trying? I dug through the display and found a container of "Black Silk." Hmm... It's cheaper than my little bag of coffee and it is HUGE. So, anyway, I bought it. How bad can it be, right? I made some this morning. It is really very bad.....

I have decided that if I am to ever get a pet again that I am getting a sloth. If it ever tried to run away, you would have weeks and maybe even months to catch it.

I realized today that you don't need to be a detective to be a dick.

I got called handsome this morning. I asked the gal if she meant that since I am single, I must use my hand some? She had no response.

They say when you get older, time goes faster. Is this true because we are all busier, or just more senile and since our old ass bodies are slowing down, time seems to pass faster?

I think I may be senile. I was contemplating getting a dog today. I love dogs, but not the kind that I have to take care of. Hmm...makes no sense.

I realized today that one of three things has happened in my life:

A: I have a huge ego.

B: Many of the people I meet are fucktards.

C: Both.


I bought a 12 pack of Diet Rite Pure Zero Cherry on Weds last week for $2. Thank you, Diet Rite. This is the cheapest, best tasting diet soda I have ever had. Now, please deliver some to a store closer to me so I don't have to spend $35 on gas to save $2 per 12 pack.

I have changed my mind, or Coke and Pepsi have heard my complaints about their diet pop and reformulated (yeah..right). Diet Pepsi MAX and Vault Zero are the goddamn bomb. Tasty and calorie free! .

I bought a treadmill the other day to try to keep in shape over the winter (Lord knows I need it). I have come to the harsh realization that running 3 miles is WAY harder than biking 10 miles. I thought I was in good shape, but put me at 7.5 mph on the treadmill, and I am out of breath in about a half of a mile. I suppose the term "work out" has the word "work" right in it, doesn't it? I need to find a way to "play out" or "screw out" or something that sounds like a little more fun...

Speaking of running...when doctors tell you have a place in your knee where the muscle is torn from the bone and will not ever heal without surgery, and maybe not even then, they might be telling then truth. Even after losing 40 lbs and buying good running shoes, running still messes my knee up big time. I don't notice, though, until much later because it never hurts until you stop moving...

Too bad cigarettes are bad for you. I miss them. I am not going to start smoking again by any means (I am WAY too stubborn for that), but I sure do miss them. I read the other day that if you smoked for more than a year, the craving will last the rest of your life. Boo. Hiss.

I bought another car the other day. It is a 1979 Lincoln Town Car. I thought it was super cheap and has very, very low miles. I see why they were selling it cheap...96 miles, 8.7 gallons of gas...hmmm. I thought that must have been impossible because there is NO WAY it gets that bad of milage, so I checked the next tank...106 miles, 16.8 gallons gas....dammit. IT'S GETTING WORSE! AAAAHHHHHHHH!!!!! Oh well, thanks to all of you Hybrid/Metro drivers out there. I appreciate the extra gas.