Friday, September 30, 2011

The Genius GM Recovery

     Ummm...okay.  We need to have a talk about General Motors, specifically the fact that I have been seeing an awfully large number of very new GM vehicles with a burned out headlight.  If you have a 2008 Chevy Silverado that you paid like $40,000 for, you should have headlights that last longer than three years.  I know that GM has probably been trying to cut some corners in order to both pay its government bailout back as well as its gigantic executive salaries, but light bulbs?  That doesn't make sense.  I know that a couple of dollars on a million trucks makes an awful lot of money, but ask Ford about how well that worked when they tried it with the Pinto.
      The reason that it works too is because it is a vicious headlight circle.  See, you buy the hideous looking truck (I am using that as an example, I have seen lots and lots of mid-2000's GM vehicles with the same symptoms) for way too much money even though you are never going to tow anything and it gets way too shitty of gas mileage to make it worth toting your family around, and pretty soon your headlight goes out.  You are pididdle.    One headlight, like a Wallflowers song.  People are hitting the roofs of their cars as you drive by.  That is because GM has used a cut-rate light bulb in your giant fucking truck.  So you go out and get a new one, a light bulb that Gm has approved.  And that one will burn out pre-maturely as well.  And so it goes.  It is a vicious cycle that has brought General Motors back to promenence.  And it is genius.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Gotta Have It

    I was unable to go home from the Worldwide Headquarters to have lunch today, which would not be such a big problem except that I had sort of expected to go home for lunch so I hadn't brought anything with me.  What that reduced me to was eating the lunches that the Unpaid Interns had left in the fridge, but once those were gone I was left scrounging around the office and eating what I could find in my desk.
     I was able to get my hands on the following things: the remains of some mixed nuts, which consisted of all peanuts and less than you get in one of those little airline packets, a container of the cheapest easy mac that money can buy, although it was pretty delicious, and a snack-sized bag of BBQ potato chips.  This was fine.  I am pretty sure that there was no real nutrition to be had in any of those things other than a little protein in the nuts, but man did they make me want a Coke something furious.
     Now I am not here stumping for Coke, okay?  I will drink Pepsi or RC Cola or whatever, but when it comes down to it I am a Coke person.  And certain foods just make me want a Coke.  Peanuts is one.  Coke goes great with peanuts.  Chips is another one, especailly Doritos.  That is what we are talking about here today.  Not Coke vs. Pepsi - if you are a Pepsi devotee then more power to you.  We are talking about when one thing just makes you crave another thing something fierce.
     My mom is that way sometimes, and the specific example that I can think of is that she always says that a fish fry makes her want a beer.  It must pass down to her son, except in different ways, because it happens to me a lot more than just the Coke thing. For instance, I when I eat pizza or pasta I crave milk which  seems very nonsensical to most people.  But that is just the way it is.  That is the craving that I get.  And I bet you get some cravings too.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Breaking Bad

     Is it a bad sign when things go well and you are a little worried that you might have messed something up?  Yeah, you're right, probably not.  But what about when you think that EVERY time something goes the way it should?  That can't be a good thing.
     I once asked Mike-a-licious if I could borrow a piece of equipment from him, and he let me borrow it.  Well, I broke it - as often happens when I use things - and when I told him it was broken and I was working to repair it he said "When you asked to borrow that, I wondered I should let you, because everything you use always breaks."  And that is pretty much true.  I have this sort of mixture of bad luck and a limited knowledge of the laws of physics and slightly more physical strength than I realize that tends to lead to things being broken.  It is not like I am trying to break things, they just sort of do when I use them.  Maybe I use all sorts of things in ways that they aren't supposed to be used, or maybe because I have this nasty tendency to have to do things that many people don't have to, I just don't know.  But it happens to me all the time.
     So yesterday, when I went to help my mom with some chores, they all went really smoothly.  Usually each of the chores we were looking to perform take a fairly large amount of messing around and undoing and redoing to get completed, and they are a large pain the ass.  But not this time.  First try on each chore, with very little messing around.  And that sort of scared me.  In this case, I wasn't scared that we hadn't done them right, but things were going so well I kept getting scared that the next thing was going to be awful.  Like, with each thing going well karma was going to smack me down double on the next chore.  That was my real fear.  But that never came down and happened.  So now I am running extra scared that the next thing I am going to touch is going to blow up in my face, kind of like someone who does something bad and doesn't get in trouble for it, then they are always waiting for the other shoe to drop.  I am constantly wondering when my other shoe is going to drop.
    So I guess that is what my life has been reduced to...waiting for bad things to happen.  Uncool.  No wait, seriously uncool.  That is no way to live through your life.  But that is just the way it is.  And it is broken.  Or at least it will be once I get my hands on it.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Automatic for the People

     I have a couple of R.E.M. compact discs packed away in my box of compact discs in the garage, and I have a couple of more bought from iTunes on my home computer, and I have never turned R.E.M. off of the radio.  That being said, I haven't felt the desire to listen to any of their music for a long time, yet I feel a distict sadness now that they are breaking up.
     That's right, Company, the band that you never knew was still together is breaking up after 30-something years making music.  From the day that they came on stage for the first time for a friend's birthday party at a converted Episcopal church in Athens, Georgia, to when they leave their chairs in the studio after putting finishing touches on their final compilation album Part Lies, Part Heart, Part Truth, Part Garbage 1982-2011 (long fucking title, isn't it?), the band that was formed with "never any grand plan behind any of it" as frontman Michael Stipe once said will go down in history as being the only band to ever share a sound with R.E.M.
R.E.M. released Accelerate in 2008,
and I bet neither of us have it.
     I think.  I could be wrong, but I have never experienced another band with a sound like theirs, and I have never really read about a band that fit the mold.  For sure there have been lots of musicians who have been influenced by them, but R.E.M. always took pains to just do what they want to do, and they never seemed to give a thought to what other people were doing or wanted them to do.  That was kind of refreshing because at a time when everyone was whining about something and wearing flannel, or dancing like the they were between skits on In Living Color, R.E.M. stuck out like a sort thumb.  And that was a good thing because it never seemed like they were trying to be different, they were just trying to be themselves.
     I think that one of the reasons why I am feeling a little deflated about the breakup of R.E.M. - although it feels more like a retirement than a breakup once you think about it - is because they were popular as I went through my formative years of middle and high school.  And as such, I had an incident and moment that has always sort of connected me to the band.  Wanna hear about it?  Okay, but I am warning you it is not a very good story and it makes me seem like a whiny emo bitch.
      And I suppose that is because I was at the time.  I was in college, and I just wasn't feeling right about something.  I don't know what happened to lead me to do this, but something was askew in my head or my heart or my mind and I was driving across town and "What's the Frequency, Kenneth?" came on my CD.  It just felt right, and it just sounded so good in my ear going into my brain, that I drove around for hours listening to that song on repeat.  Just over and over and over.  Wasting gas, listening to R.E.M. on repeat and just not being available.  And I felt better when it was all said and done.  I don't know why, but I did.  It was the right song and the right situation for my mood, and I don't think I will ever forget that night.  I think I was a sophomore when that happened.
    So there is my R.E.M. moment, and my R.E.M. connection.  And I am sad to see them go, but I am happy that they are doing so on their own terms.  Just like when they were making music.  So I wish them the best of luck in whatever they do.  I am sure Michael Stipe will continue to show up all sorts of charity events looking like he is deathly ill because he is pale and has no hair, and I am sure that they will reunite for the right reasons when the time is right, or even just to jam for jamming's sake.  A fitting end to a great band.  We will miss you R.E.M.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

I've Got My Finger on the Pulse

   If you tune into the Big Dave and Company Podcast this morning, you are going to hear a story from Mike-a-licious about an encounter that he had with a guy in the street.  I am not going to give a lot of details but I WILL say that in this encounter the guy gave him the finger and he responded with more than just a gesture.  And that is how it should be.
    Too many of us - myself included - have been hiding behind the middle finger (or similar gesture if you are overseas) for far too long.  We have this nasty tendency to throw it around so much that in all actuality it really isn't worth anything anymore.  And that is a shame, because it should be.  That is supposedly one of the worst gestures that we can make, and we have a nasty tendency to make it all the time.
    Even more egregious is the fact that we tend to hide behind the gesture because we are too pansy to actually say anything.  By making a simple gesture from the safety of a great distance, or maybe from inside of a car, we can instigate situations with the relative certainty that we won't have to deal with any consequences.  And that is wrong.  Dead wrong.  When Mike-a-licious responded personally to the gesture on the street, he was doing the exact opposite of that the maker wanted.  He wanted to have the opinion without the consequences, and in the end he got the bull by the horns.
   So I am going to begin responding in some way, shape, or form.  Not every time because I am not going to chase a trucker down across seventeen states to have it out with him, but I am going to respond when the situation warrants it, and I am not going to hide behind the finger either.  If I can't say it and approach the offender, I am just going to let it go.  Because I want to practice what I preach.  So that is that, and I hope you are with me.  Then we can make sure that the finger really means something again, and that it is only used the way it is intended, not as a thing to hide behind.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Counterproductive

     I know that you tend to look up to me all the time, Company, and you see me as a sort of ultimate being of greatness, but I have weaknesses and problems with my life.  So I am hoping that you won't think less of me when I tell you that I have the gout.  I know, that is traditionally an old person's disease (P.S. there is an advertisement for the game "Operation" game where the guy on the board is talking and he is voiced by Jerry Stiller - strange; I don't have ADD or anything though) but I have it even though I am a young an dynamic media mogul.  Since the gout is traditionally caused by high levels of uric adic in the system and it is also freaking painful when it flares up, I sat up and took notice of a commercial that appeared recently about a medication that works to reduce levels of uric acid in the system.
     It is actually the second gout-related medical commercial that I have seen recently on TV, and I don't know if it is because the baby boomers are coming into what no one likes to call "the gout years" or what the hell is going on, or if there has just been a burst of sudden gout-related research coming to fruition, but there have been a couple on TV and suddenly gout is cool and sexy.  Okay it isn't, but whatever.  Back to the lecture at hand.
      In the commercial - the one for the pill that lowers your uric adic levels - they spit out some of the usual side effects, and they were farcical as usual, but in this case I was a little bit appalled.  There are usually a rash of side effects that are a little bit retarded, things like headache and detached corneas or things like that, and then there is always the two that I don't understand how they go together (that was not even close to being gramatically correct) - diarreha and constipation.  I am not sure how the same thing can give you both.  But this particular drug had some strange ones that just went so far beyond.  First of all, they trot out this thing about there were a number of heart attacks during the drug trials but that there was no evidence that they were linked to the drug.  Ummm...yeah there is.  They all happened during the drug trial, and unless they did the drug trial while people were undergoing stress tests I am sure that the drug had something to do with it.  Now, I have never had a heart attack before, but I understand that they hurt a lot and can kill you if you have them, so I am thinking that maybe I will just stick to the gout.
     Then, they throw this one out:  When beginning the drug it can cause a flare up of the gout.  And they stick in that gout flare-ups are a side effect.  Wait, what?  That is fucking retarded.  Let me give you just a little bit of history behind the gout, or at least a quick and dirty sentence about how it works.  If you have high uric acid levels you can get the gout, and once you have the gout you always have it, but sometimes flares up in terribly painful episodes.  So the idea is that this drug keeps your uric acid down so you don't have episodes.  Yet episodes are a sid effect of the medicine.  WHAT THE FUCK'S WITH THAT?  So the drug you are taking has the side effect of causing THE THING YOU ARE TRYING TO PREVENT!  That is the most idiotic thing that I have ever seen.  Or heard of even.  Dumb.  How the hell did that pass the FDA?  Did solving the Federal budget involve firing everyone at the Food and Drug Administration?  Do they just green light everything now?  Because I can't see the reason that anyone would pass this for public consumption, because - again - a side effect of the drug is that it causes the thing that it is supposed to prevent. That makes absolutely no sense to me, and if it makes sense to you then I think you might need to be hit over the head with a two by four.  That's right, I spelled it out.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Stinky Linkys

     I don't know if you have noticed this lately, Company, but everything in this world seems to be linked together.  For instance, your car is linked to thirteen satellites that are in geo-synchronous orbit which are linked to your phone which is linked to the lights in your house, a homing device that always tells you where your kids are, and your Facebook page.  So I started thinking about some things that really, I don't want linked up with one another.

1.)  My alarm clock and the sprinkler system in the Worldwide Headquarters.  I don't care if they are supposed to be linked up so that the fire suppression is turned off when I am awake, something will certainly go wrong and I will wake up when the super-pressurized fire-retardant foam hits me in the face, or when all the oxygen is sucked out of the room if I ever spring for that Halon system the building inspector is always nagging me about.

2.)  The friendly local Subway restaurant and my cell phone.  I know that ordering ahead is a wonderful and efficient thing to be able to do, and I know that since some people have lost the ability to communicate with people and can only communicate with their smart phone these days, but I still don't want Subway on my phone.  When I know that I am going to Subway I usually go through about six of my standards when I am thinking about what I want, and then I pick something else once I am in the store.  If I have to pick ahead of time I guarantee you that I am not going to get what I actually want.


3.)  The traffic light on the corner and scoreboard at the baseball stadium.  I know, you are thinking to yourself "What the fuck, why would those two things be hooked up with one another?" but I bet you were asking yourself the same question about your phone and your car about three years ago.  So let's pretend that some hotshot young traffic engineer gets the idea that the traffic lights should be hooked into the stadium so that they can change lanes and lights to facilitate traffic flow away from the stadium as the game ends.  Fine idea in spirit, but pretty soon Johnny Ballplayer is throwing a no-hitter, all the lights are red, and I can't get anywhere that I want to go.  Then the guy with all the stolen bases comes up on the screen and I have to floor it to make all the greens.  I just can't handle it, and I think that it will cause premature wear and tear to my vehicle.

4.)  My computer at work and my cell phone.  Unless my cell phone is paid for by my work, I don't want those assholes being able to get their claws into me while I am at home.  It gets awfully easy awfully quick to be sitting on the lanai and get a call for work and "Oh it is no big deal, let me just e-mail that to you real quick" and pretty soon you are working from home without getting paid for it.  Nope.  The Founding Fathers got it all wrong, okay?  Separation of church and state?  Not in my book.  How about separation of work and home?  That is my bag.  Keep your work desktop off my smart phone.


5.)  My remote control and my super smart neighbor's brain.  Yeah, I don't want to be watching C-SPAN all damn day long, and I don't want to have to be reading the Spanish subtitles just because I can.  I want shows with beer, chicks, and an extra explosion or two.  Nothing that will stimulate the brain stem in any way, shape or form.  That is why I have my remote permanently attached to my hand.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Bikers?

     So, there is a big motorcycle ride going on in my area, in which people who own motorcycles (in addition to BMW SUV's) and fancy themselves bikers, as well as some people who are true and bona-fide bikers, drive up from their cities and suburbs and just waste gas tooling around and getting drunk and somehow they give money to charity.  But anyway, I have been seeing them all over the place at the bars and restaurants and around town and going down the highway and I have noticed that a lot of them have three wheels.  I don't know why all these people are buying the three-wheeled versions, like if they want to think they are badass but they are afraid of getting hurt on three wheels, or maybe they have a lot of stuff they feel they need to carry or what, but all these people are buying these "trikes" and hanging around with all these bikers and Harley riders and whatnot.  But that leads me to pose this question:  If you are riding something with three wheels are you still a biker?
If you ride this you are not a biker, end of story.
     Don't worry about considering that questions because I am going to tell you the only correct answer: No.  You are not a biker.  You are a triker.  I don't care if you are wearing all the leather and Harley-Davidson gear and walking and talking like one, you are not a biker.  I know what you are going to say..."If it looks like a duck, and quacks like a duck, then it's probably a duck."  And that is a great colloquial saying - you might even be able to consider it a proverb - but the thing is that not all proverbs are always right.  You might look like a biker, and you might talk like a biker, but if you walk out of the Shell and help your ladyfriend onto something with three wheels, well then you are not a biker my friend.  You are a triker if anything, but I would contend that you are actually a blatant poser.  And if I were a real biker - on two wheels and always concerned that I am going to hit a patch of oil or get run over by a car driver who didn't see me, I would just be angry at you and your giant, three-wheeled, bright yellow, motorcycle-wanna-be whatever it is.
     So there you go.  That is it.  You can be proud to be a triker, and be excited to be driving around as a triker, and that is fine.  Be proud of what you are.  But don't try to pass yourself off as a biker when you have three wheels on your vehicle.  That is just how it has to be.  Sorry.

Friday, September 16, 2011

An Open Letter to The Company RE: Your Personal Safety

Dear Company,
     You are not going to get hit by a satellite next week.  I just wanted you to know that.  I know that you have been watching the news and they have been pegging the odds at 1 in 3200, and that those odds are better than your odds of getting struck by lightning or winning the lottery or getting wedgie from your boss, and I know that they are better than the odds that Vegas is giving the Maryland Terrepins of winning the BCS Championship, but I don't care.  I feel pretty confident that not you, I, or any of the Unpaid Interns are going to get hit by a satellite anytime soon.
     It just doesn't happen, okay?  Most of the world is covered by water - with tiny little ships floating in it - and a lot of the rest of land area is covered by uninhabited desert or ice or mountains or permafrost or whatever.  In fact, over 99.999999999999% of the surface of the Earth consists of places in which you are not standing, and so the odds of you being where that rogue satellite comes down in really pretty small.  Well, they say that there will most likely be 26 parts of the satellite that survive re-entry and that increases the odds I suppose, but I still think it is pretty unlikely that you will be standing in one of those 26 spots when that thing comes down.
Mir - none of which has ever fell on you.
     This has happened before, Company, with results that will seem awfully familiar come the end of next week.  Most of the time satellites are sent into what is called a "graveyard orbit" out somewhere where they won't get in the way, but sometimes something happens.  In 2009 two satellites collided as they were tooling around up there, and the wort that anyone experienced was sonic booms over parts of the US.  When the Russians were done with Mir they brought it down in the South Pacific, although not quite in the part of the South Pacific they wanted to bring it down in.  A Russian nuclear-powered satellite called Cosmos-954 fell to Earth uninvited in 1978 and landed in the uninhabitated Canadian north, or maybe Winnipeg...they seem too similar.  Just kidding, it was the Canadian north, and although it dropped some nuclear nastiness it didn't manage to hit a single person, or even moose.  Or even a vole.  Skylab fell to Earth uncontrolled one year later and fell on the Nullarbor Plain, which is a place that you've never ever heard of.  It is in Western Australia and while no one was injured or hit, the local government DID fine the United States $400 for littering.  Like any good American, however, they refused to pay for over 30 years.
      So as you can see, even when satellites fall to Earth and hit the land, they usually hit unoccupied land.  A piece of rocket insulation hit a lady in Tulsa once, but that is about it.  And there have been WAY fewer than 3200 pieces of space trash that have survived re-entry, so since she has been hit already, we need a lot of stuff to fall before we are due to have someone get hit again.  So settle down.  Don't let ABC, NBC, or anything with multiple capital letters to let you get all worried and hang around indoors.  Just go out.  Because you aren't going to get hit by any satellites.  Okay?

Yours,
- Big Dave

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Hair Today, Hair Tomorrow

     I understand that if you were to walk in the door, the good folks down at Bob's House of Wigs will tell you that your hair won't last forever.  They will tell you that one day you will be enjoying a bowl of rocky road at your kitchen table and you wife will walk by, run her hands through your hair, and casually comment that you are balding, and that it will be all downhill from there.  It is their job to make sure that you know that you will need a wig at some point in the future, and they will be happy to take a down payment on a low-interest plan to pay for that hair piece ahead of time.  Because - they will remind you over and over - that hair isn't going to be there forever.
I just washed the floor and there it fucking is!
     Well I couldn't disagree more, because even if the hair on you head won't be there forever, the hair in your bathroom always will be.  That's right Company, we are talking about the hair in your bathroom, and you know it is there.  Behind the toilet, on the counter, all over the walls and floor.  I just cleaned the bathroom at the Worldwide Headquarters and I can tell you that it is a pain in the ass.  I have always had problems with the shit and I just can't figure out how to make it go away.
        I am serious, how do you get rid of it?  I ran the vacuum for quite a long time in the bathroom before I went to clean the floor, and there was still hair all over the damn place.  The room is small, so I usually do the floor with a rag, and with every swipe there was more hair on the white tile floor.  I had just vacuumed, and I couldn't see any when I was about to start.  So what's the deal with that?  I suppose it was coming off the rag that I was using, but where did that hair come from?  And why wouldn't it stick to the rag?  What is the solution for me?
      Maybe there isn't a solution for me.  Maybe everyone has this same problem that I am having and they just have figured out how to deal with it.  Maybe they aren't whiny little bitches like I seem to be.  Or maybe there is some cleaning secret that I just don't know about, and I want some answers.  Oh wait, scratch that.  I just want the hair to go away.  Isn't that the saying...hair today, gone tomorrow?

Monday, September 12, 2011

Ad Senseory Overload

     If you have ever watched the show Mad Men on Showtime or HBO or whatever network it is on, then you have seen the inside of the world of advertising when it was at its height of glamour and sophitication and extreme coolness.  If you have ever seen Bewitched before then you have seen the family friendly version of it.  That was an exciting time, when where were lots of people getting into new homes for the first time, television was really taking off pretty hardcore, and there just seemed to be a lot of people willing to buy things, and willing to be sold on things in exciting new ways.  I don't know what the world of advertising is like today, at least behind the scenes, but I can't imagine that it is all that exciting.  But what I do know is a lot about the world of advertising from a seat in the gallery, and what I have come to tell everyone here today is that it needs to stop.
     I don't even pay attention to advertisements anymore.  Really.  Once in a while one will get a hold of my senses and sort of stick, and I might even write about it here, but most of the time I just don't notice it or I do and it makes me angry.  Like when the friendly local town down the road sold advertising space in their public stadium - ON THE FIELD ITSELF - in order to finance their improvements.  That to me seemed tacky, even though it is done in stadiums all around the world.  Or when teams sell space on their uniforms.  That bugs me.  I wanted to look at a website today and I had to sit through a 30 second commercial.  That pissed me off a little bit.  I was seriously annoyed.  But for the most part they are just part of the scenery, because they are everywhere.  Billboards on buildings or the side of the road.  Fliers in my mailbox.  On the side of busses.  In my bank statement.  I even have to watch video messages while I take a wizz.  There just aren't a whole lot of places where one can look an not see an advertisement.
     It is to the point where that just might be the easiest way to make a splash these days: buy up all the billboards along a stretch of highway and keep them blank, then have a billboard at the end for your product.  I assure you that more people will notice.  I always notice when someone brings a television show or special to me without interruption.  Stick a commercial for the sponsor at the front and the back and be done with it.  We will notice.  Use you imagination, but not to think of more places that I am going to have to see ads.  That is not the key.  The time has come when less most certainly is more.  So just chill out with the ads for a while.  I assure you we will all take notice.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

September Eleventh in History

    I was walking into the Worldwide Headquarters on Friday and I was confronted with a bit of an unusual scene.  There were two ladder trucks from local friendly fire departments with their ladders extended way up in the air, and there was a gigantic American flag strung between them.  On the ground there was a podium and sound system set up near the front entrance, and there were all sorts of folding chairs set up all around.  All of this equipment was set up in order to have a September Eleventh remembrance ceremony, and it got me to thinking about the status of this momentous event on the tenth anniversary of its occurrence.
     The question that popped into my head on that cool late-summer morning was as follows: Will we still commemorating this event ten, twenty, thirty years into the future?  I reflected on the fact that we were doing this because we were still somewhat fresh from this horrific event, and that for most of the people who would be filling those seats in just a couple of hours that was the biggest historic event in their lifetime, at least so far.  Much like the bombing of Pearl Harbor was the singular major event of our grandparents' generation, or the moon landing was the major even of our parents'.  But do we still honor those events today?  How does the 9/11 bombings stack up?
     I suppose that the most obvious comparison would be with the attack on Pearl Harbor. That occurred seventy years ago this upcoming December, and while there are still many memorials to the War that Pearl Harbor began (at least officially for us) there aren't a ton around the country to the event itself.  There is still a ceremony every year on the top of the remains of the USS Arizona, which is sinking, to commemorate the event.  But I think that it gets smaller and smaller every year as the survivors die off.  Is that the fate of the 9/11 ceremonies?  I know that they happen all around the country and I wonder how long they will survive.  I wonder how many chairs will be set up in front of the Worldwide Headquarters in another ten years - there are about two dozen sitting out there right now.  What about twenty, thirty, fifty years from now?  Those are the thoughts that are in my head as I think about this day, and the anniversary that is coming up.  Not of the past, which is certainly important, but of the people who died and were so brave in response, and of the future and how we will remember it.  Make sure to take a couple of minutes to remember it today.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Camping?

     So, as I type this, Company, I am camping.  Sort of.  There is a really strange fusion between the creature comforts and styles of home and "roughing it" that is going on right now that would make a lot of old timers and purists shake their heads in shame, and it is not in the way that you think.
     First of all, let me go ahead and dispel the obvious.  If you are like me, and you read that first paragraph, the first thing that springs to mind is probably something like this:

where they owners might be roughing it because they can't fit their SUV in the car slot and the TV is only a 42" model.  We are not engaged in some sort of strange mix like this, but we still have a strange mix going on.
      We are in tents, which is the classic idea of camping.  Granted, they are newer tents with shock cord poles and the whole nine yards, but it is not out fault that we weren't buying tents in the 40s.  There is a propane camp stove, and coolers for our food.  But that is about as far as we go towards roughing it.
      First of all, the van is parked about ten feet away from where I am sitting.  Secondly, we are fully plugged in.  I woke up this morning and found an iPad and iPone charging in between my Baby Doll and I.  That is not roughing it, really, since there is a cord coming into the tent.  There is also WiFi, some pretty advanced WiFi because it keeps track of you and it only gives you an 8-hour window from when you log on to use it in a 24 hour period.  And they can restrict speed and usage if you are downloading a ton, which means I am going to have to be real careful about downloading all that midget porn.  Oh, and it is strong, because the map says the hotspot is way across the campground but I have five bars like I was a Cingular customer or something.  There is also water spigots everywhere, like more than one per campsite, so if I turned them all on we would probably have some sort of flood.

There we are.  I am the good looking guy at the front.
      And it is not rustic in any way, shape, or form.  It is a campground.  There are about eleventy billion sites wedged into like a five acre area, and they are all gravel made for RV's.  Nice stone fire rings are in each site.  There are three heated pools, and a store with an attached game room where I can play pinball and shoot pool if I want to.  I went before and was talking about the strength of the WiFi hotspot and I wanted to say that it was by the theater, that's right there is a theater and last night they were showing Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Squeakquel with Jason Lee, to whom I have to apologize because from afar in the dark last night I thought he was Steve Carrell.       So that is that.  We are in tents with propane and coolers, but we fully plugged in.  I am on a laptop that was generously provided by Gigabyte Systems for all my travel blogging needs.  With great signal and it is plugged in.  But now everybody is starting to wake up, so I suppose that it is time to get back to camping.  Our unique 21st Century version of it anyway.

Thursday, September 08, 2011

Check It Out

     I had a sort of flashback the other day as I was writing out some bills - the type of flashback that people have in movies when they are having a heart attack or get hit be a car or something, and they are lying on the pavement trying to summon the will to carry on.  It was there, right before my eyes plain as day, and it had to do with my checkbook.
      I am not sure what prompted my vision, if it was the fact that I was writing out my bills (late, too by the way) and I scratched out the series of lines and loops that qualifies as my signature, or if it was the lady at the big box retailer in line in front of me on Senior Day who wanted to get a rain check on eight plastic storage containers and had to double...triple...quadruple check that she was going to be able to get the Senior Day discount AND sale price when she came in to get more and who then proceeded to write a check for her purchases and was so slow and pokey that all four people in line behind me got served by another checker while I was waiting for her because I was next in line and didn't want to bolt and have to go stand at the back of a new one.  It was one of those things that prompted my flashback.
      I flashed back in my mind to the time when I got my first checkbook and started writing checks in earnest.  Back then, it seemed like the coolest thing.  I actually remember taking it super seriously at first, and actually spending time contemplating how I was going to fill them out, thinking hard about how I was going to write the date (almost always in full - today would be written September 8, 2011), how I was going to sign it (very illegibly) and all that stuff.  It was one of the ultimate signs of adulthood, and I was stoked.  I didn't even write a whole lot of checks, and I still don't.  But I was still super stoked.
      The surprising thing is that - for as excited as I was all that time ago, and as "seriously" as I took having a checkbook back then - that I have never balanced my checkbook like a good boy.  Nope, never.  And I will admit that it has gotten me in trouble a time or two, but not often.  I would love to be able to sit here and pawn the blame off on the fact that we live in a computer age and that my account balance is available with just a click on the Internet, but I didn't balance my checkbook even before online banking became the norm.  I always have a sort of running total in my mind and I just go through life.  Scary, isn't it?  But it seems to work for me.
     I do not use my checkbook for a whole lot anymore, other than to pay bills.  And to be truthful I never used it for much more than that anyway.  I do, however, plan to continue to pay by bills by check.  I like that method because it forces me to sit down and confront my bills each month, so I am sort of forced to look at what is going on.  Plus, by actually physically writing out the check I tend to remember it more, and it helps with that mental balancing I talked about earlier.  I am also still true to all those decisions that I made as to how I was going to fill out all the lines on that most adult of things to have - a checkbook.

Wednesday, September 07, 2011

Post Fail

No post today, Company, due to some mechanical failures at the Worldwide Headquarters, but we haven't forgotten about you so look for some freash new stuff tomorrow.  Have a great night!

Monday, September 05, 2011

Labor Day

    Holy shit everyone, it is Labor Day already.  It is the traditional end to summer and all you asshole kids should be back to school or just about to be back to school.  This is the day when we get together to celebrate all the gains that the workers have made for us and done for us over the years.  So enjoy your extra day off - I know we are - and hook up that last summer barbeque.  Before we know it the trees will be dropping their leaves and all will be covered in white.  So enjoy the day while you can.  Happy Labor Day everyone!

Sunday, September 04, 2011

No Phone

    I have worked in the service industry for a long time, Company, and as such I have developed a set of rules by which to abide, because somewhere along the way when I was entering the service industry I began to take notice of what pissed me off as a customer, and I made the effort to not do those things to anyone else.  And one of the rules that places the highest - one of the things that makes me more angry than anything at a store, office, etc - is that a customer in person should always come before the customer on the phone.
     Oh yeah, and everyone does this, and I hate it.  A guy did it to me the other day, and I was so angered by it that I am going to name the store.  I was at a Verizon store.  Actually, I was at a Verizon-authorized retailer, not a corporate store.  But I was still there, and I was trying to pay a bill.  This was the second time that I had tried to pay this bill, and it actually took me two more attempts to get it paid (which is a whole different story..I have never met a company that made it so hard for me to give them money, except of course for the electric company if you remember that one), but this one was thwarted by a clerk who would rather spend fifteen minutes on the phone talking some woman through how to call customer service than actually helping me, who had walked into the store.
     I have come to feel that people who walk into the store, office, etc should always come first because they actually took the time to get off their ass, get in their K-car, and tool on down to wherever to talk face to face.  I know that a lot of them do it because they feel more comfortable face to face, or that they communicate better face to face, but it doesn't matter the reason why.  What matters is that they put forth a lot more effort than the person on the phone did because they actually came to see me, and so they should always, ALWAYS come first.
Don't you dare fucking pick that up...
     For some reason, however, we have this thing about the telephone, this sort of half-fear/half-addiction/half-fascination, which you math majors will notice adds up to one and a half, which is appropriate because we are into the telephone just that much.  The hardware clerk could be up on a ladder, getting down a garden claw and bottle of Draino acid and sixty-one sheetf of plywood for a customer who actually came into the store, and they will drop everything, sprint across the store, leap the counter like a gazelle, dive through the air like a football player trying to score the game winning touchdown in the AFC championship game and grab the phone just because some lady out on Sycamore St wants to know how much for a 25 ft long extension cord.  Well no, I just won't have it, and I just won't accept it. 
     Now I can hear all of you telephone lovers and telephone apologists out there saying "Well it makes good sense, because you can help more people in less time by answering the phone because those are going to be short, easy questions."  Well how about I take the middle finger I am flipping you off with and jam it up your nose so you get a sort of back alley lobotomy because you don't deserve to be able to think anymore.  That could not be farther from the truth.  Because you don't know.  You just don't.  Sure there is a pretty good chance that it is something simple that someone is calling about, in which case it would work out just great.  "How much does the permit cost to open a hair salon?"  Then boom, they can get their answer and everyone can move on.  It works great in that situation.  But there is an equally good chance that the person calling could want step-by-step instructions how to erect a ship in a bottle, and so the clerk will spend 27 minutes on the phone explaining something to someone who was too lazy to get off their ass and come that could be explained in like 6 seconds in person.  Meanwhile the 80-year-old meter maid in her little cart is outside giving me 9 tickets because the time has run out in the meter while I was waiting for the asshole clerk to answer the questions of a bunch of lazy bitches on the phone.
     Sorry, I get a little worked up.  So as you can see I am not a fan of the whole "putting the phone first" philosophy, and I won't do it.  That is why there is voice mail on almost every phone in America today.  If they want to know so bad they will leave a message, and if they leave a message I will call them back.  That is how business works.  Or at least how it should work.  So put down the fucking phone guy...