Tuesday, December 29, 2009

2010: the year of the job

Next week should prove to be very interesting at work. That's when all of the worker furloughs and pay cuts kick in. We get to be part of that limbo where the company doesn't have to worry about unemployment payments while we worry about paying our bills. Just before we all left for the Christmas shutdown of the plant, the usual talk about family holiday trips were often coupled with words such as "employment office" and "resume recommendation". But I can say that we have a job ... mostly.

Usually, good companies are concerned about their financial health with employees being a big part of that health equation. To prevent any unexpected monetary upheaval, these companies will invest in "key man insurance". If their key person gets run over by the proverbial beer truck, the business doesn't suffer too badly. "Sorry to hear about Bob. Oh, by the way, we're a million dollars richer."

And then there is my company where the motto seems to be "employees: a necessary evil." Should a key person leave, oh well. That's another salary they don't have to pay and someone else will be blessed with the work of that vacated job in addition to their own.

2010 will be an interesting year, indeed!

Saturday, December 12, 2009

An Aerial Wedding

Once upon a time, two TV antennas met on a rooftop. They knew they were met for each other because they were on the same wavelength. So naturally they fell in love. It didn't take much for the boy antenna to coax the girl into marrying him. She agreed and they sent out wedding invitations over the air waves.

On the day of the ceremony, the boy wore his best bow tie arrangement. While the wedding ceremony was stiff and boring, their reception was excellent.

My DIY Project

Some health conscious people jump out of bed and touch their toes. I used to roll out of bed and count my mine until it got too difficult to lean forward without falling over. Oh sure, I could add some weight loss supplements to my diet but that would interfere with my do-it-yourself project. Right now when I sit down, I have an instant place to put my dinner plate. A few more pounds and I have a cup holder too.

Wednesday, December 09, 2009


With our recent cut in pay at work, everyone is looking for some quick and easy way to fill in the gaps. Since jobs are not plentiful in our area, one friend is now working hard to get his VA disability increased to 100%. Another friend near retirement believes she can get social security disability and quit all the nonsense at work.

I feel bad that they are hoping to take advantage of government system in order to survive. Then again, they have given a lot to the government and the company, only to be treated like garbage. It's depressing to think that those who created various messes are able to make everyone else pay for those mistakes.

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

knit one, job two

Last Friday, we received news at work that our pay had been cut and some employees would only be allowed to work 3 or 4 days a week. Fortunately, I had put a much needed car wash for my ride in my already stretched budget.

Yes, after getting our great news, I debated about foregoing the car cleaning. But my baby needed a bath. And I needed to look around one of my favorite stores - circuit city.

When I arrived at the wash, I discovered that the circuit city next door had closed. In its place was a sewing and knitting store. Just not the same. I used to meander amongst the thousands of shiny electronics gadgets that I would never buy while my sweet ride got a wash. This time, I meandered among yarn and needles and old women discussing the best stitch to use. It was almost like being in hell. But I made the best of it. I asked for a job application. A job is a job. Those bills aren't going to pay themselves. And I am such a knit-wit in any case ...

Monday, November 16, 2009

What's the Difference between a Cougar and a Leopard

It is a great time to be a young man in your twenties. Down in panama city florida, the ratio of rich women in their forties and fifties far out pace the number of desirable, boyish bachelors.

But this is Florida. Lots of old people about. For those of us men in our 40s and 50s, we get to watch and laugh as these cougars go after their prey. Funnier still is watching those young men realize that there is a difference between a cougar and a leopard --- liver spots. And no amount of money is going to hide those ...

It was one of those days...

As a boss, he was overwhelming as he sat behind a huge oak desk that had once been a proud forest. Now, this shiny assemblage of lumber put an extremely aggressive man of business at an intimidating distance from anyone who had the unfortunate task of sitting in front of him. He was the kind of terrifying person that not only tapped his desk out of impatience but had also tapped his desk with a few large, extravagant Grohe faucets. No one knows what pricey liquid would pour such unusual desk pieces. The fear was more about one of the faucet being used as a weapon should you not have the answers that this frightening man would demand.

But I wasn't worried. I knew about his darkest secret. I knew about his overpowering weakness .... small, cute, fuzzy bunnies! At our meeting, I left nothing to chance. I wore the pink, plushy bunny bathroom slippers with my fuzzy, business black rabbit suit complete with a hare-raising wig. He looked sternly at me and asked, "So you think you can work for me?!" I answered defiantly, "I'm game." So he shot me...

Sunday, November 08, 2009

the Fourth Energy Source

There are four states of matter: liquid, solid, gas and plasma. In our ever vigilant quest to control nature, our species has done a great job making the first three into cheap, readily available energy sources. Plasma has been a little trickier to have at the home level. You need the nuclear heat of a sun and some way of containing the plasma so you and your neighbors don't become a crispy critters. But soon, some genius will invent safe plasma mounts for home use. And you'll be able to tell who has this energy source in their home. "Remember the Johnson's? Well, they really glow now."

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

pink belly

Not all of my friends can be considered potential PHD graduates of Ivy League schools. One friend proved this while trying to solve a pool diving problem. He enjoys jumping from the top of a slide that towers over his swimming pool. The problem is that the crowd-pleasing belly flops from 10 feet up cause him a very painful pink belly condition. He blames the water for being too hard to give way as he crash on to its moist surface. His solution? He poured a few gallons of water softener into his pool. I don't think it worked because on his next dive, he bounced a couple of times on top of water before finally sinking in a pool of pain and curses...

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Funny Word

We have some funny words in our language. Well, it's more how they are used that makes them laughable. For example, as I watch TV last night, the latest election results kept interrupting otherwise good shows. Then one of the talking heads made the comment that voters had enfranchised a certain city with the right to take more of everyone's money for the construction of a statue of some hometown hero who died a couple of centuries ago.

I looked up en⋅fran⋅chise. One definition is "to endow a city, constituency, etc. with municipal or parliamentary rights." Ok, so far, so good. Part two of the definition is "to set free; liberate, as from slavery."

The last time I checked, slavery meant working hard only to surrender the fruits of your labor to someone else. So, a majority of the voters managed to enfranchise their government while disenfranchising the rest of their fellow citizens. Sadly, this happened in America. And to think we're worried about the Taliban taking our freedoms away...

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Don't kiss this guy!

Just in time for Halloween: Sean Murphy of Lansing, Michigan stuffed 16 Madagascar hissing cockroaches in his mouth, thereby breaking the Guinness world record. Of course, any cockroach will hiss given the right amount of butter, heat, and a good frying pan. Sadly, no one gave Sean a congratulatory slap on the back during this news-making event --- I for one, would have paid good money see Mr. Murphy set the record for accidentally swallowing the most cockroaches.

And so, here is the video... the 'roach clip if you will (sometime words and phrases come together so well that I need 'term insurance' in case someone gets over punned by emotions ....)

Sunday, October 18, 2009

SEMA 2009

The scramble is on! In couple of weeks, the annual Specialty Equipment Market Association (SEMA) show in Las Vegas takes place. Every year, my company has a booth to show off our latest and greatest car and truck accessories. The sad part is watching our technicians work feverishly to do and undo change requests from the marketing department who doesn't have an idea of the amount of work it takes to meet their demands. This year we have even less technical staff than ever. But this doesn't stop our marketing gang from wanting to build the Giza pyramid in less than two weeks and without spending a penny.

As important as this show is, my company rarely sends a engineer along to scope out the latest technological offers. All we get are the complaints that we not doing enough to come up with new gadgets. And that's unfair. Just because the adult film awards are going on at the same time and in the same building, that doesn't mean we wouldn't come up, that is, derive new ideas. People just might end up enjoying our accessories and their drive a little more than they should.

Today I noticed

Today I noticed that when you shorten an automobile, you get a "Smart car". But when you shorten a bus, it becomes "special" ...

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Blogging downturn?

Over the past couple of years, I have not pursued the art of continually making my blogs popular to the Internet readership. Somehow, the demands of keeping my day job and caring for a couple of other families has pretty much erased 'free time' to pursue my desires. As a result, my blogs have slipped in readership. I suppose I could submit my sites to several of the free directory services that have popped up now. Or I could wait until that day when everything can take care of itself and I can get back to my own self interests. Some day perhaps ...

Friday, October 09, 2009

Medical Travel

A few years ago, NPR did a series on the high cost of medical practices in America. One piece that caught my attention was on medical travel --- people traveling to another country, getting their surgery taken care of in a safe, sterile hospital and end up spending less money than what what they would have getting things done at home with their insurance deductibles. Several Asian countries are actually setting facilities to handle this influx of demand from Americans. AND they -- the doctors, the hospitals, the care givers --- are making profits. How they can do this with efficiencies that revival the DMV, with the costs and red-tape that best any Amereican government agency, and without the nanny-state regulations we have here?

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Yes, I have medical insurance ... I think

After today's medical insurance meeting at work, I'm not sure if the name of our insurer is Cigna or "Make sure". We were told to make sure that our doctors were in such-and-such network, and make sure they follow certain procedures in filing claims and make sure they only used certain services. Apparently, two doctors can have the same equipment, use the same medical diagnostic process, prescribe the same diet supplements and charge the same amount for their services; but if one doesn't put the right number on the bill, you as the insured will have to pay for this little accounting difference.

Why aren't Insurance companies making this easier for their customers? Because they make more money if you're tricked into paying the bill.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

The Revenge of Nature

One guy had gone so environmentally green that he built his house into the side of a hill. He dug out a good amount of the dirt and had placed huge rocks that had been cut into shapes of furniture, bathroom and kitchens fixtures. Unfortunately he didn't take into account how moist the earth was. You might be surprised how quickly a natural stone bathroom sinks into the wet mud of a hill. Just another example of how, no matter how 'green' you want to be, you can't take nature for granite.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

How To Burn Fat

If you are a hard core vegetarian, you probably should not read any further. If you looking to learn how to burn fat as a weight loss method, again, you should not read any further. BUT, if you are looking for a tasty and enjoyable way to burn fat, it is simple. Grab the thickest, juicy steak you can find and slowly roast it over an open fire. You'll find that the fire does a wonderful job at sculpting any those unsightly bulges of fat deposits and leaves behind a succulent morsel that may do little to help your diet. But, hey, my method is a lot more fun, isn't it!

Saturday, September 05, 2009

Today's Audio Quality

Contrary to popular opinion, I got my start in electronics several decades after the likes of Tesla and Edison. Yes, we have come a long way. And yet there has been a slight degradation in how music is being reproduced.

A few decades ago, you could have your music played through smooth sounding tube amplifiers or through cheap, transistor-based devices --- cheap winning that choice as it often does. Over the years, digitized sound has become even cheaper and can do a much better job matching playback quality to sound's real-life origin (which is kind of like saying that a McDonald's hamburger is almost as good as one made by a world-class chef). So now, I am pretty much accustom to the digital tinniness of our modern day systems ... meaning that I no longer feel the need to drive a pencil in my ear when listening to a CD or MP3 player.

And then yesterday, it happened. A friend of mine showed me his new car radio. A few years ago, Samsung made a limited number of car radios that had vacuum tubed amplifiers. My friend was able to purchase one from someone in Japan. By purchase, I should say "pay ransom" judging by what he had to spend. In any case, when this good friend of mine played some music through his newly enhanced radio, it was amazing --- the heavens opened up, small children dried their tears, there was peace in the Middle East and life was good for those brief minutes. Even though my hearing has diminished somewhat since those good old days, I could still hear those warm lows and crisp highs that today's audio systems can't quite recreate. This was a case where 'cheap' did not win. And yes, I wept.

My friend often participates in the car audio competitions that go on throughout the area. I have no doubt is that he is going to win in a big way at next week's event. I expect there will be lots of tears from the awesome experience of the listerners as well.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Commercial Mixin'

AT&T keeps advertising how great their rollover minutes option is. What happens if you put your dog on the plan?

This all started when I watched a Purina dog food commercial that followed an AT&T cell phone ad. I wondered what would happen if you put your dog on your cell phone plan. Would he sniff the phone to check his pee-mail? Would AT&T allow unlimited bark messages? If you had a two year contact and the dog ran away never to be seen again, could you complain about your dog-gone phone plan? And then the rollover minutes came to mind ...

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Good Old Days

Yeah, yeah, everyone goes on about how great it is to live in these modern times. But what did they do in the olden days that was so bad? For example, they didn't have the best wrinkle creams but they did have the rack. A couple of good stretches and those wrinkles were gone. Diet pills? When you're having to graze next to old Bessie, dieting was the least of your worries. What about mindless hours spent playing video games? Back then, they didn't have to simulate the fun of being chased by villains and evil monsters. People got to do it for real! Watch out there, Grandma, there's no reset!

Yeah, the good old days were great ... unless you had to live during them.

How Tell If You're Getting Old

There are a few signs I've been noticing that we can use to tell if you (certainly, not me) are getting older than you care to admit. For example, you stop your acne treatments and begin anti-wrinkle ones. Your body begins to get shorter and your stories get longer. You suck in your gut and your ankles swell. Not that any of this is happening to me. Oh no. Just making some observations ...

Monday, August 17, 2009

Business in the Automotive world

My company is tightly tied to the automotive industry. When the recession hit in November of last year, it didn't just slap my company silly, it body-slammed us through the economic mat! But we've noticed that things are turning around these past couple of months. While people aren't buying new cars, they are adding car accessories to their rides. We've had a several large orders for our cameras and cruises ... at least, this is what our sales guys keep saying. "If only we had those parts in stock, we could have sold a billion dollars this month." Why they can't sell everything that we've built up in inventory is beyond me. So we just keep building what we're told to build and hope that the business up-tick will reach us ... in spite of the sales guys.

Tuesday, August 04, 2009

need to change professions?

:: sigh :: Extremely rough day at work. Maybe I need a different job, something that I still profit at even when I make a mistake --- like being a weatherman. Or perhaps I could open up shop as a veterinarian / taxidermist. "Sorry about Fluffy. Say, for $59.95 you can have him back in the cutest of poses..."

Protect Yourself

Today's self-defense weapon of choice is not a concealed gun. You can't use that if you're trying to protect yourself from police officers who step over the line. You can't even use such a potent weapon on inconsiderate neighbors who think your property and sleeping hours are under their control. No, these days you have to go high-tech --- camcorders and the services of a good lawyer are the only thing left to a civilized man in an uncivilized world. Just make sure you swing that camcorder from the hip and forcefully upperwards. The lawyer will help you get off on a plea of insanity...

Cheap, Fast, Good --- pick any two

So my aging faucet in the bathroom has developed a small leak. Just enough so that in the morning, a puddle of water has formed along the outer edge of the sink. It pools along the lip which keeps the water from cascading down the side of bathroom enclosure ... until you unexceptionably put your early morning hand into it.

The faucet is so old that the screw to get to the internal washer has rusted out. Since I'm not rich enough to buy one of the $100 Price Pfister faucets, I've come up with another cheap solution. Cheaper and quicker, in fact, than buying and installing a $5 Wal-Mart special spigots. That's right. I cut off 6 inch piece of string --- about $0.0001 worth ---, laid it along side of the faucet and into the sink. Now, the slowly leaking water wicks along to it's final destination. And I am free to continue to be as cheap as a politician spending his own money.

Monday, July 27, 2009

To The Moon

I keep hearing discouraging stories about our lack of presence on the moon. Some blame the shortage of money and desire to mount expensive science expeditions. Others fault the extremely high start-up costs that prevent otherwise profitable mining operations on our shiny, celestial neighbor.

I think we could have quick and populated presence on the moon. It takes a simple realization of our heavenly orb for what it is: the best weight loss supplement known to man ... and woman. Just think, with a couple of day's journey, you could go from weighing 300 pounds to 50! All motion suddenly becomes effortless. No more shortness of breath and knee joint aches! An earthly fat farm could easily become an popular weight-loss lunar colony. And would you want leave your new found "slimness"? I don't think so, thus our permanent presence on the moon.

Of course, there would be restrictions. Some people would not be allowed, like supermodels who would suddenly becomes lighter than a newborn baby. All we need is for one of them to develop hiccups. Soon they would be bouncing off into space, crashing into arriving rockets. It might be fine as a pay-for-view event but we're trying to be serious here.

Oh sure, by now, a few of you are thinking, "With all those people, the gravitational attraction between the Earth and Moon will increase! Won't the Moon eventually crash into the Earth?" To you naysayers, let me say this, "How do you think we plan to move Mars closer to the Sun?" After all, the Moon is just a stepping buffet to the stars.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Maybe The Future is OK

My girlfriend's daughter is a talented young woman. She handles Color Guard performances with the grace of a ballerina. Her officiating duties as an officer in the Future Farmers of Amercia would rival the skills of diplomats in the United Nations. Recently, she didn't even let her lack of piano lessons dissuade her from buying a book of sheet music from the movie "Twilight" and begin practicing the songs on her cousin's borrowed electronic piano.

If she is a representative of our youth -- those quietly conquering their fears, the ones who don't have the need to be in everyone's face, the ones who have decided to take responsibility for their actions instead of blaming everyone else -- then perhaps our future is going to be a good one.

all that glitters

At one time, I thought that going through divorce is like having an amputation -- you survive but there is less of you. And then, I seemed have found someone who makes up for that 'less of me'. For the better part of this decade (and she has definitely been the better part), I've been dating the most wonderful, caring, loving woman imaginable. Sure, she would love it if I showered her in certified diamonds and the uncertified ones. But, she is interested in how we complete each other more than raw, expensive minerals. I would even give her the pricey plutonium if that would make her happy but I much prefer the natural glow that she has whenever I'm around her. My life may have suffered an amputation but I seemed to have grow into something much, much better!

Fixing Firefox 3.5

Have you recently be excited about the new and shiny Firefox 3.5 and found yourself unable to resist the chance to upgrade? Me too! Now do you find yourself plagued by "Server Not Found" messages when you go to your favorite sites? Me too. So after after a couple days of frustrating searches which included constant "server not found" results, I've found a link which may help us:
Cannot connect after upgrading Firefox

Let me know if it works for you.....

Saturday, July 04, 2009

Exercising ... sort of

At one time, I was doing everything I could to stay in shape. But then that half century mark hit me and I thought "Should I keep exercising? After all, no pain, no pain." So I compromised and kept up my sit ups by placing the remote control between my feet. All was well until my monthly "Men's Health" magazine had an excellent, guilt-ladened article on being extremely fit by using Kettlebells --- you know, using a heavy object with handle to bend and lift and twist your muscles into positions that you gave up in your 30s --- the female equivalent of a purse. I think the article was sponsored by Bengay cream and Aleve pain killers and the story did a great job making me consider some drastic changes in my life. First, I devised my own kettlebells by freezing mugs of beer. If you don't think you'll contort to save that melting drop of heavenly nectar, then you're just not thirsty enough for your health. Secondly, I canceled my "Men's Health" subscription. I feel much better now!

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Another Nail in the Business Coffin, Another Straw on the Camel's Back

Yesterday's managers meeting was long and arduous. The highlight came as my boss and the CFO announced the new sick leave policy for us salaried folk. Before, if we had a dental appointment or the like, we knew it would be made up by all of the unpaid time that we worked. Now, that hour spent with the dear ol' doc is to be paid by deducting 4 hours out of our yearly allowance of 24 sick leave hours.

Ok, I understand that the powers-that-be want a policy in place to use against abusers of the system --- of which there are none. Still, it was the comments that our overlords made during the Q&A session. Since we are salaried, not only are we expected to put 8 hours a day but, if the work load demands 18 hours a day, then so be it --- with no compensation.

The quality manager brought up how we often don't take all of our vacation time because of the demands of work. At year's end, we lose that time. Our benevolent Overlords respond with what amounts to be "too bad."

Some of us come at 7 am to take advantage of the calm before the work load hits the fan at 8 am and leave no earlier than 4 pm. But NO! Such effective work practices are no longer allowed. Everyone is to adhere to an 8 to 5 schedule!

Sometimes I wonder how happy management would be if we had enthusiastically smiling cardboard displays of ourselves in our dim cubicles -- obediently silent and at our desks 24 hours a day. Who cares if work gets done! It's all about attitude and not being out of the plant.

Anyway, our morale takes yet another dip, the overburden camel takes the burden of yet another ridiculous straw, the business coffin gets another nail -- when the economy turns around and jobs begin popping up like wild flowers in the spring, will there be any questions about the mass exodus from our company?

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Dogs vs Cats

As I worked at my computer, I learned an important lesson today on the differences between dogs and cats. A dog will lay besides you as you work, a cat will lay on your work -- so much for that report. I can't wait until we get my daughter's cat neutered and declawed. I will have no problem living with a furry pillow that does nothing else but eat and sleep.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Diet and Exercise

I've been thinking about expanding my writing exercises to include things like diet pill reviews. Not your ordinary type of reviews. After all, who am I to arouse your false hopes --- that's what the first four hours of a diet are for. My posts would less productive, such as "This colorful little pill goes well with rich brown gravy and a large cut of beef." Or, "This little number should be served with a fine red wine ... several glasses, in fact." Or even, "This tasty tablet will perfectly complement a balance meal, provided that balance meal is a turkey drumstick in each hand."

I don't know when I'll start with these little diddies. Hopefully, the weight won't be too long ...

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Bore Me ... Please

All-righty then, may I have a round of applause from everyone who hates clapping? I thought so. Lately, my days seem to be filled with contradictions and hypocrisies. Like those employers who preach how government should rewarding good businesses while those same employers deny their workers the rewards of their hard work. Like restaurants demanding your satisfaction for a $100 meal of a 1 ounce steak. Like companies promoting benefits of a product such as ephedra sinica while it's no longer available. But I guess without such constant brain-jarring events in our daily lives, life would be boring. You know, boring can be nice at times ....

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

Under-Size Me

Have you watched the movie "Super Size Me"? It's about one man who not only eats McDonald's food for a month but gorges himself on it. At the end of the movie, he's overweight, experiencing chest pains and bad health. Gee, I wonder why.

I'm waiting for part 2, "Under Size Me". In this equally idiotic sequel, our brainless filmmaker consumes vast quantities of appetite suppressants for a month. At the end of the movie, he and his absurdities have either disappear or he becomes a super model because of his bizarre twiggy beauty that some models have --- one of the train wreck appearances that you can't stop looking at. Anyway, I'll wait for the movie to come out on DVD ... the paper thin version.

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

New Milestone of Life

The talk of marriage between my girlfriend of 6 years and myself has progressed to an intense level lately. One of the main questions we are contemplating is whether we need to start looking at Wilmington NC real estate or move things to my location. It's not like it is just a simple union of her life and mine. We both have children in school and other obligations. I wish things would be easier ... but what would be the fun in that?

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Adding to the Fun Called "Life"

On top of the increased time-demanding adventures of work and the addition of my daughter and my future son-in-law into my home, I have began talking with my girlfriend of almost 7 years, the possibilities of intertwining our lives in marriage. Just talk right now. No surprising her with engagement rings, just talk.

From my understanding of women, just talking is like dangling the possibility of winning the lottery in front of someone. Fortunately, I am dating a very patient and understanding woman. I know she would say 'yes' in an instant. For my part, I have to admit that I've been practicing at drive-through's -- when they ask "Do you want fries with that?" I emphatically answer, "I DO!" Still, the union of our two very complicated lives will definitely take a very coordinated effort. Amazingly enough, she is the only woman I know that I could pull off such a feat with .... :)

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Peering Into Friends

My friend seemed rather nervous and upset yesterday as we talked during our break. It turned out that she is having a colonoscopy and an esophagogastroduodenoscopy on Monday. I couldn't help but ask if she was going to have two doctors at each end of her, trying to meet somewhere in her middle with their cameras. "What are they going to do?" I asked kidding around. "Wave at each other and say 'I see you' ?" That seemed to make her feel better. Then she talked about the industrial-strength colon cleaner outer that she had to take starting on Sunday. The way she described the medicine, it wasn't anything like a wimpy, over-the-counter Colonix. The stuff she had to take would strip the built-up grime off of old engines. So I suggested that she go sky diving naked afterwards. She could open her mouth really wide and become a human whistle. For some reason, that made her feel even better.


It is amazing how time flies when your job gets a stranglehold on your life. Yes, I should be happy that I'm not among the ranks of the unemployed. But I think my company is taking advantage of that fact.

So it has difficult to get some post into the blog-sphere. On the plus side, it has been a while since I mentioned weight loss pills. DARN IT! There goes that winning streak ...

Monday, May 11, 2009

Instrumental Learnings

I've learned to play several instruments as the years have gone past. Well, perhaps "play" isn't the exact word we should use. I've been beaten up by more than one drum set. Guitars seem to exist simply to string me along. And I only had to play piano once in order for Steinway himself to actually appear and rub his name off of the instrument. But, like they say, practice makes perfect ... reminders of why some people shouldn't play.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Tryin' to Blog again

Almost eight weeks of constant work with no days off has taken its toll. On here, I've found it difficult to complete any blogs post. The last was meant to be for Easter. "Three days ago, on Friday, I put the Pillsbury dough boy in the oven. I am happy to report that he has risen." I tried explaining that joke to my Hindu friend from India. But that was like trying to explain nuphedra reviews to the Amish.

My mind is mush and the day is only just beginning. :: sigh :: These posts aren't much better. Let's see what the future brings...

Friday, April 03, 2009

What are we thinking?

What is it that makes us accept hype as gossip and follow the herd into bitter disappointment. For example, a little while ago atro phex was all the rage as an incredible weight-management, energy pill. People bought in droves until reports that energetic weight loss was really rapid sprints to the bathroom for intense bouts of colon cleansing. Since atro phex is not the first bad diet pill, you would think people would know better by now. But no. First the bitter consequences, followed by "What was I thinking?!"

Same goes with recent government intervention against those evil business people. Sounds great! Down with the evil doers! Just forget the past and don't look behind the curtain of history at the root of some of business' evil practices. That's when little items like the following to will make you say, "What are we thinking?"

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Howie do it

When I first saw Howie Mandel, he was doing hilarious stand-up comedy. Then he had a great cartoon show that my children and I would watch on Saturday mornings. The past of couple years has found him doing an intense game show and a hidden camera show. And now he has moved into creating some humorous Sales ads on Youtube for They're the kind you would hope to see during Superbowl halftime. Although, judging from the content of some of the videos, you certainly won't see them on regular TV. Someone would have gotten their pants in bunch over a few of the cheekier innuendos. Thank goodness for the Internet.

I don't know what is next for Mr. Mandel. A podcast or two, a Facebook presence, wouldn't surprise me. But I'm looking forward to a few more entertaining videos.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Goods news at work.

After three years of no pay raises, my company is finally going to give the hourly workers a 5 cent per hour increase! You can imagine the joyful effect this will have on not quite fifty people. Management's momentous decision can only be possible because they helped ten other hourly employees avoid the anxiety of moving into a higher tax bracket ... by firing them. (If you're keeping score, that would be "Yearly Increase of Payroll": $7,500 to "Yearly Decrease to Payroll": $270,000. Company wins! Yay Team!)

With these continuing changes in the company, resumes and letter of recommendation are becoming required items of safety equipment as we work to protect our lives, limbs and bank accounts.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Rich And Thin

Someone once said you can never be too rich or too thin (perhaps a quote by an Ethiopian millionaire). While this may explain the surplus of supermodels, it may also explain the mindset of a lot of people that I work around. They tend to be rich in patience and good cheer, and anorexically thin in any undesirable qualities.

Someone also once said that you tend to become like the people you hang around. Perhaps I'm not hanging around them enough. Or maybe I just need to hang around the guy that keeps coming up with quotable sayings.

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Things Change When You Get Older

I'm 50. My body just isn't what it used to be. Today I realized that a tremendous sex drive means only that my girlfriend lives 130 miles away ...

Sunday, March 01, 2009

What Do You Buy For a SuperStar?

Sometimes I find myself thinking about questions that have ethical dilemmas. Just the other day, I found myself wondering about all of these professional athletes who are earning millions of dollars for being able to play with a ball or a stick. When it comes time for Christmas or their birthdays, what sort of presents do their friends and family buy them? Would it be an insult to spend the few measly dollars that you have on sports gifts for these overpaid entertainers? Would it be like buying a set of Wal-Mart's specially priced knives to give a world-class chef?

I'm sorry. I shouldn't pick on our highly paid athletes. But it's not like a multimillion dollar superstar is going to read this. They do know how to read, right?

Big Words From Such a Little Mind

Have you ever been around people who tend to make things sound much more complicated than they really are? It's as if they have a compelling need to take a simple term and turn it into a poly syllabic phrase. I have one such friend who suffers from this affliction. Actually, he has the affliction, the rest of us suffer.

He works as an exterminator. Instead of saying that you step on a bug to kill it, he refers to the action as applying "spontaneous compression" so that the bug dies from "vertical planar syndrome". The other day, he had an assignment at the Campbell Soup factory down the road. You can imagine how all the dried grains and vegetables tend to attract an insect or two. Instead of telling me that he was putting Indian meal moth traps around the plant, he said he was installing "Native-American-dinner-butterfly hunting gear". I guess he thought this was funny because most of the workers at factory claim lineage to Lumbee tribe. I'm thinking that if he tells any of them what he is installing, he is soon to be informed of how "factually unencumbered" and "non-cerebrally gifted" he is. No doubt the more expressive members of the group are sure to help him become "metabolically inactive". All I can say is that he just bugs me...

Friday, February 27, 2009

What Housing Problem?

You wouldn't know that there is a economic problem with housing in my area. With military bases being consolidated into Fort Bragg, construction around here has been busier than beavers working on their version of the Hoover dam. Not only are there more houses and condos (and a lot less trees and open fields) but I'm beginning to see a proliferation of extended stay hotels. You can't miss them with their truck-sized TV screen atop a 20 foot pole and blindingly blaring their latest rental special. "One bedroom apartment with kitchen and living room for $199 a week" I hope that includes a bathroom or at least a very large bucket. The price is better than a hotel stay but it still seems rather expensive. I just wish that those TV screens would show other channels.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Children Are Not Pawns in Divorce

Last week's vacation went relatively well. My daughter and her fiancé and I had a great time together. The only disturbing part was when my ex violated our divorce decree and hid my 16 year old son in another state so that we couldn't speak with each other. When I returned my daughter and future son-in-law back to their home this past weekend, there was my ex --- all smiling and of good cheer like the person of ill repute that she is. My son was upset because of our missed time together. When he and I were finally alone with each other, he confided that he wants to move away from her more than ever. Sadly, he doesn't think he could handle his mother's drama while waiting for the courts allowed his move. At this point, he seriously considering waiting out the next 13 months until he was 18 and then able to escape to my home. I can only support him in whatever way he needs me to.

What my ex doesn't seem to get is that she has now completely lost the respect of her children. What little love for her that they have left is being further whittled away by her continued selfish actions. I hope she realizes this soon and it torments her for the rest of her life.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Why is it never easy when dealing with crazy people?

It was simple. My son wanted to visit next week during his school's winter break. I was more than ready to have him here in the safety of my home. Earlier this week, my ex agreed. This morning, she called and said that her lawyer advised that my son not be allowed to leave the state. WTF? This has never been a problem before. The only difference now is that, at 16, he's wised up to his mother's craziness and wants to escape to me. My son has always known that he could live with me. But she has her ways ... deceptive, manipulative, craft, evil. She had me in her clutches for 25 years until I finally realized that there is a difference between being a gentleman and being a door mat. My son has matured to the point of knowing "how much of a mother she isn't" to him. His words. My ex treats my son as nothing more than a meal ticket of child support. He lives in a filthy trailer while she's gone for 3 weeks a month driving a truck --- she prefers this to earning a living with her engineering degree.

So a couple of weeks ago, he dropped the bomb that he wants to live with me in a clean home, with a loving parent who will be there daily for and with him. This has driven her crazier ever since.

The sad part is not that she doesn't want him in a better environment. She doesn't want to lose the yearly $14,000 that she receives but rarely spends on him. It's no wonder that she can afford a lawyer while I make do on 2/3 of my income left to cover my life and her divorce debts. Divorce can be so much fun!

Ahhhh, but this little drama couldn't have continued without the mind games from her evil lawyer. How else can you make money if you don't sow seeds of doom and gloom and paranoia? With the droning of a cult member, that's all my ex would say this morning, "My lawyer advised.... No, I can't talk about it. My lawyer advised."

Fine. The divorce decree states that my son can visit without restriction. My lawyer says that I can enlist the aid of the sheriff. I have told my ex when and where I will be to pick up my son. If he isn't there, I will file a report as more evidence of an unfit mother. And she wonders why our two adult children have no respect for her...

Sunday, February 08, 2009

Watch What You Hear

Everyone at work seems to becoming more and more pessimistic about our new owners. The other day, a fellow co-worker and I were having an informal chat about a test cabinet design. Another co-worker walked by and heard us saying something about industrial knobs. He automatically assumed that it was a derogatory slam on upper management and was more than ready to give us his supporting thoughts.

I guess this is how we are all handling the stress of cutbacks and firings. We have no way of knowing who's next in this business game of employee Russian roulette. And our bosses aren't saying much. So lately we are finding it easier to exchange tales of bitterness with each other at the first chance. It may relieve a little anger but I can't see how these continued verbal outbursts are going to help the company in the long run ...

Saturday, February 07, 2009

That Parking Ticket Might Not Be What You Think It Is

Drivers in Grand Forks, North Dakota, have recently been finding official-looking tickets on their windshields. These fake tickets instruct the driver to view pictures of the violation at a specific web site. Unfortunately, hackers who run this despicable site cause a virus to install itself on to the victim's computer.

It's getting harder to know who to trust any more. If you can't count on your ever vigilant meter maid to harass you honestly, who can you trust any more?

Create Your Own Discount

My bathroom is a need of some work. But as I shopped at Lowe's and Home Depot, I couldn't find anything cheap enough for my budget. So I've devised a plan to create some discount bath fixtures at these shopping warehouses. Tell me what you think.

How about sitting on one of the display toilets with your pants about your ankles until one of the sales associates walks by. Surely you and I could get a price break if we ask for some toilet paper and a discount on the slightly used toilet. Or, we could borrow pail from the hardware section and fill it full of water from the garden section. Then with a scrub brush purloined from the bath section, we can proceed to bathe in one of those luxurious tubs until the manager kicks us out the store. And what are they going to do with the bathtub is personalized with our dirt? I smell price cut ... among other things.

Anyone else have other ideas?

Thursday, February 05, 2009

Watch This!

Pssst! Hey buddy! Can I ... tock ... to you for a few minutes? You look like the kind of guy who might be interested in a couple of Nooka watches.

Now hold on! I'm not trying to ... tick ... you off! But if you're like me, there's never enough time. Yeah, I know --- unless you're serving it.

Ok, OK. I know time is relative. I know that the length of a minute depends on which side of the bathroom door you're on. No, I'm not trying to get philosophical here. I just want to make a sale.

Of course, you have to admit that time is a great teacher. Sadly, it kills all of its pupils but that's life.

What's that? Sure, time is a great healer. But have you noticed that it's a lousy beautician?

Anyway, what do you say? How about a new watch? How about one with the old-style analog hands? I understand that the days of the digital watch are numbered... Oh Yeah? Same to you, Bub!

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

The Power of Memories

I have been having several nostalgic dreams lately of when my children were young. We used to visit the Outer Banks of North Carolina every fall -- the rates were low, the crowds were sparse, and the turtles were hatching. One of the Society for the protection of turtles would set up an event for young children to lead hatching turtles back to the ocean. My children loved participating in that event every year.

As for me, besides sharing in my children's fun of helping defenseless creatures, I would enjoy running along the edge of the tide at sunset. There's nothing quite like the salty fragrance in your nose, the warm water lapping at your toes as you raced by, the sparkle of the setting sun dancing on your frolicking children, the adrenaline rush of a good life pushing you to run faster and faster until it was as if you were gliding across the top of the ocean. Eventually I would be breathing so hard that I had to stop. But I stopped with an enormous smile on my face and an even larger sense that all was right with the world and my family.

A lot has changed since then. The other night, that memory of my beach runs came back as a dream. Only this time, my gasps for air awoken me. For the next few minutes, it was as if I could not breathe deep enough. It's as though my ex has done everything in her power to make sure that my children and I can't get enough of each other anymore. But my children are about to give her an unexpected turn in that battle...

Saturday, January 31, 2009

How Can A Worker Protect Themselves From A Bad Employee?

There seems to be insurance for almost any disaster imaginable. But I wonder if there is a policy that employees can take out on their companies, a policy that would pay out in cases of mismanagement, greed or acts of incompetency by their employers. No doubt such a service would be expensive. But when the insurance agency evaluates the company for this form of business insurance, the employee will get an idea of how stable their employers really are. It would be a great rating system that is visible to all, unlike those mysterious financial statements that troubled employers tend to keep hidden from their workers.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Thoughts On Clerkless Checkout Lines

Is there any good reason to use the self checkout lines at the stores? You would think that the store would give you a discount when they don't have to pay an employee to check out your shopping items. But, no!

So the only advantage I can find in using a clerk-less register is when you buy items that you rather nobody else know about. For us older guys, that's usually hair dye, Beano, diet pills, alcohol and the latest copy of Maxim magazine. Is there anything worse than that condescending look from some judgmental cashier as she scans your precious purchases? Yes, there is!

If the register has problems identifying an item, you're back to those embarrassing pages for price checks ... which is what happened to me when I went to pick up feminine hygiene products for my girlfriend. As a clerk gave me a smirk while reaching for her malicious microphone, I said, "I'm sorry. I picked up the wrong thing. I thought I had got 'Break Pads for Men'." She stopped in mid-grab and her smirk changed to a quizzical expression. So I added, "You know that product for men that has the motto 'When skid marks aren't just for the road.'" Sometimes stunned bafflement is all you need to quickly pay for your purchases and leave. Unfortunately my girlfriend wasn't impressed when I arrived home with an unpadded grocery bill.

Friday, January 23, 2009

REcover verses reCOVER

I can follow directions. If they're clear, I can usually reach the goal of those informative steps.

Yesterday, I slipped one of those "Freezer Queen" family entrees into the microwave and set the timer for the prescribed minutes. After the microwave dinged, I salivated (my appliance has me well trained) and read the next instruction, "peel back film, stir and recover."

For a few seconds, I had a senior moment. Recover? Recover from what? Then I had a slap-of-the-forehead moment. Oh! "Put the film back over the meal" recover. Duh!

So I began tugging on the film that was attached to the container with what must have been surgical glue. Finally, with a pull that would have made King Arthur proud, the film snapped away from its death grip on the container, flinging hot, boiling gravy (there's hot, then boiling, then hot boiling, just under a tad less than nuclear) on my hand, arm, and face. After shouting something that translates to "Golly Gee, that was hot!", I quickly dashed to the sink for a bath in freezing water ... and recovered.

I was right the first time.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Battle of the Hot Water

My water heater works very well for the care and maintenance of a single guy. But my family is about to increase four fold in a few months. While I'll boil some water for their cups of coffee, I'm not interested in boiling pots of water for everyone's bath.

So off to the local hardware store I went. There, I was greeted by an overly eager sales rep who also a solder from Fort Bragg's tank command. Today he was working part time to make end's meet for his family.

Let me tell you this was not your average sales guy --- everything was in terms of his military job. "Now, sir, you need something that will attack your cold water as quickly and as forcefully as possible. Just like a unstoppable tank, it has to soundly defeat its objective. Now, here's a water heater that reminds me of a Panther tank -- sleek, German engineering, persistent until the job is done. Of course, I prefer American-made myself. This one here is like the Sherman tank of the industry -- attacks on the coldness of water until it is absolutely boiling with fury! It's truly deadly" Deadly? I'm hoping that he was referring to germs and not my delicate skin.

And so his spiel went on for 30 minutes as he tried to storm the heights of my resolve not to buy anything just yet. I understand the need for a sale. But I'm a simple man. I just wanted learn about what is available to warm the gentle water quietly flowing through the pipes in my humble home ... not kill it. A tankless water heater will do just fine.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Another Marketing Idea Goes To The Dogs

You're probably aware of the fashionable practice that removes part of a Doberman Pinscher's tail when it's a puppy. I guess this is to give the dog its vicious, tough-guy look when it reaches full maturity. If there's nothing to wag, you can't tell if the dog is happy to see you as a friend or as a snack.

My friend views this practice as animal mutilation and has decided to do something about it. He wants to open a chain of businesses from coast to coast that specialize in reattaching tails on Doberman Pinschers. My dog-loving friend plans to do this operation at cost and believes his wholesale retail franchises will be very successful. We'll see. I've taken a few business courses on retailing. I don't think this is what they meant, doggone it.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Step 102: How Not To Run A Business

A nuclear explosion takes place when the most insignificant of particles creates an escalating chain reaction that quickly becomes an OMG BOOM! Of course, by the time you think of the acronym OMG, the boom has already reduced you to more insignificant particles.

So this past Monday, yet another employee (insignificant in the eyes of the powers-that-be) turned in her notice and unintentionally started what may become a nuclear explosion within our company. I'll give you time to read my post about her actions. Okay, done? Well then, let me post about the today's next action in this chain of disastrous business decisions as our Director of human resources showed herself to be Catbert's role model.

She strolled about the plant handing out her restrictive policy (highly approved by the CFO and Pres) on employee vacation time. What she didn't expect were the angry questions and comments as she went from production cell to production cell. She might as well have been poking a large bear with a stick. She reacted to one employee who has been there 37 years by asking sarcastically, "Do you really believe that you deserve 20 days off a year?" After years of simmering employee frustration over greedy business policies, you can imagine how this attitude by our wonderful HR and the impromptu rule change has pushed the workers to a boiling point. Shortly after she finished her walk through the plant, we received notice that there would be an employee meeting about the new vacation protocol and "other important matters".

Our guess at this moment is that "other important matters" means stopping 401(k) matching or, to appease the natives who are now considering a sitdown strike, pay raises that are six years overdue. We'll find out tomorrow if this chain reaction destroys what could have been a great company.

Jan. 8th: Update

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

Children As A Mirror

I have often heard that children tend to be small versions of their parents. I think I proved that axiom when I was in the mall the other day.

In between two toy kiosks, I watched a spoiled little girl dressed in the latest catimini fashion throw a tremendous tantrum about not being able to buy a toy. Just a few feet away stood her mother dressed in a similar outfit and yelling at the child about not being able to go shopping at the jewelry store because of her child's tantrum. I'm not sure which was more embarrassing -- the whining child, her screaming mother, or me yelling at them to shut up.