The Blogging Affairs Desk

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Burning Down the House

We have a fireplace.

It’s the first place I’ve ever lived in with a fireplace as an adult.  When I was a kid, living in New Hampshire, we had this enormous fireplace where my father threatened to toss my toys into if I didn’t pick up after myself.  I remember many winter nights with a roaring fire, mom and dad on the couch with a drink each, and me on the rug in front of the fire with my plastic green army men that my father would in turn step on the next morning, cursing and pitching each one into the fireplace to meet a melty-end.

Now that I’m an adult, I’ve craved a fireplace.  There’s something awesome about a giant flame in your living room that you can watch.  Put on any tv show, any at all, and it won’t compare to a good, well-built fire in your fireplace.  Hell, I can’t even put the tv on and have a fire at the same time.  I think it’s disrespectful to the fire gods.

So last night I had a fire going.  Ang suggested it actually, because it’s been bitterly cold around here lately.  I had some wood and some materials to burn, so fuck it, let’s have a fire.

Ang was in the kitchen making a stew and I started to load up the fireplace.  If you’ve never built a fire in a fireplace, let me break it down for you:  You need to start a base of crumpled newspapers.  Take one sheet of old newspaper and crumple into into a loose ball.  You can’t crumple it into a tight ball because oxygen won’t get inside the material and allow it to burn fully.  Instead you’ll just get little burning balls of material that won’t spread the fire.

So after you’ve crumpled up a dozen or so balls of newspaper you then set up your wood base.  Small pieces of scrap wood work best, because they’ll catch easier than say a whole log.  A log requires a lot of heat to burn through, otherwise the fire will patter out long before the log is fully engulfed and have a chance to provide you with a lasting fire.  Scrap wood will burn quick and through, generating that log heat.

After you get a good small fire going, with lots of red and orange flames, add one log at a time.  A log should be about 12 to 16 inches in length, maybe 4 to 6 inches in diameter.  Wait til the first log catches and add another.  With two logs burning, you should have enough flame to last you about an hour.  Add logs as appropriate, never letting the fire burn down to just embers.

Oh, and an important tip: make sure your flume is open BEFORE you do any of this.

But it wasn’t the flume I forgot to open last night as I started my fire.  It was the materials I was burning.

It’s somewhat bad practice to burn anything other than wood and paper in the fireplace, however I’ve burnt boxes from Xmas and last night a shoe box that was taking up room in my closet.  I had built up my fire with too much material to begin with, starting with that newspaper base and then some chunked up portions of plywood that we had once used to stiffen up our bed when we couldn’t fit the boxspring in our old apartment.  I had used three sections of this chopped up plywood to make a small A-frame in the fireplace, with the paper underneath everything and the shoebox under the two pieces making the “roof” of the A-frame.

Obviously everything caught, and burnt fast.  Before I knew it, flames were licking out of the metal screen and onto the hearth.  Thankfully we don’t have a mantle.

Ang, becoming concerned with the amount of smoke and brightness of the fire took one look at the fireplace and immediately bailed out of the house.  The smoke detector started to go off which led the dog to freak out.  Meanwhile, I started to fill up the smallest fucking measuring cup we own with water to help knock down the flames.

After about five attempts with the measuring cup and a scorched finger later, the materials in the fireplace were soaking in about an inch of water, crackling, pitching embers out of the flume.  I waved the smoke away from the smoke detector and Ang came back in.

If I could see through the smoke, I’m sure I would’ve seen Ang giving me that look that every wife spends hours a day perfecting; that “you know you fucked up, right?” look.

I cleared my throat, eyes burning a bit, finger tip throbbing.  “Uh, I’m gonna go do those dishes…”

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February 6, 2010 Posted by | Blogging Couple, Gay Shit I Know Too Much About, Getting Older, The Great Indoors | , , | 1 Comment

TidBits: Snowed In Edition

On Friend Requests:

I have this guy I used to be best friends with growing up.  In high school we sadly parted ways.  He went with one crowd and I another – that shit is real elementary, it happens to everyone.

I literally hadn’t heard jackshit from this kid in close to almost ten years, and suddenly, as soon as I turned my Facebook account back on, I get a friend request from him.

I know what you’re thinking, or perhaps even saying to yourself:  “Who cares?”  I care.  That shit fucked me up a few different ways because one, I like to keep my “friends” on Facebook to a minimum; it keeps the News Feed clear of unneccesary crap as well as limits the amount of information about me that gets out there.  The other reason why the friend request was bothersome was because it was nothing more than just the request.  No attached note or message saying “hey what’s up, I’d love to reconnect, we had good times” or anything.  Nothing asking me about what I’m doing now-a-days, just a blank “add me” button to stare at.

I was friends with this guy for like… five or six years.  And by “friends” I mean basically sleeping over at each other’s houses every other night.  We were inseparable, we did everything and went everywhere together.  When he slipped on a patch of ice and broke his ankle as a kid, it was I who ran and got help.  And he couldn’t take two seconds to pound out one sentence to go with his request?

Maybe it’s just me.  Maybe I have a high expectation for people, or maybe I’m just a prick, but either way he should’ve/could’ve asked how I was doing in the very least.  No, what he was doing was just trying to inflate his Facebook “Friends” numbers and turn around and shit all over my News Feed.  And I ain’t havin’ that.

So I took the intiative and sent him a message telling him how I felt (by now I had received two of the same request, I had ignored the first one a few days ago) about his seemingly ambivalent approach towards me.  I was a real ball breaker, with the hopes that he won’t bother sending me another request.

Does it make me an asshole, yes.  But at the same time it saves me from two days of awkward conversations that peter out into me inevitably deleting him.  I’m just trying to save myself time and aggravation.

On Televised Violence:

I’ve been keeping half an eye turned towards Mtv’s Jersey Shore (read my review at the IRdC here), and was recently informed by my wife that a female character nicknamed (presumably by her pimp) ‘Snookie’ was physically assaulted at a bar after running her mouth – and it was caught on tape.

Of course I had to watch the footage.

If you haven’t seen the web-only footage (Mtv won’t air it, more on that in a sec), basically the diminutive skank with a love of trucker hats is standing on a bar stool and calling out some asshole who keeps stealing her and her friend’s pre-paid shots of booze.  She goes on a five minute long, insult-laden tirade on this guy, putting her hands in his face and coming within inches of assaulting him first.  The guy has enough and cracks her in the face with a straight punch.  He then (kinda) hustles out of the bar while a small army of guidos (kinda) chase him outside, where he’s met by the local constabulary.

Do I condone what happened to Snookie?  No.  Do I think she kinda asked for it?  …Maybe.

Either way, Mtv had decided that on it’s televised episode, they wouldn’t show the actual punch.  Instead, they black out the screen but give you the audio.  The audio consists of shit-talking abruptly silenced by the sound of a handclap, followed by a chorus of “ooooh”s, followed by a bunch of bleeped out cursing.  The shot comes back in with the assailant in retreat and Snookie on her side, crumpled up like a bumper after a head-on collision.

My beef is this:  Mtv won’t show a random stranger, who happens to be a dude, striking a female he didn’t know, in a public place that served alcohol.  They will however, show a promo for their other ultra-trashy reality television program “Teen Mom” where one of the teen mothers backs her baby’s daddy into a corner and slaps the shit out of him in anger.

And I’m not talking about like, one slap here.  I’m talking about taking this dude (who’s admittedly bigger than her) by the throat, slamming him into a corner, striking his chest multiple times, and then cracking him across his jowls.  Mtv has no problem airing this, let alone using it in the commercial for the next episode.

It’s a double standard.

I think it’s far worse to show domestic violence than just regular, standard violence.  I think it’s also a bad idea to show violence of any kind that’s centered around rearing a child, on a show that’s decidedly marketed towards teenage women, oppose to “Jersey Shore”‘s demographic which is conceivably slightly older in age.

Hey Mtv:  Just because it’s chick-on-dude violence doesn’t mean it’s ok to show it.  Just because the guy’s bigger than the girl doesn’t make it ok either.  That young woman on the show (Amber is her name, I watched a few eps this morning…) is psychologically unbalanced and dangerous.  You have untold amounts of footage of her crying in her car, on the phone, and in public places.  What makes you think it’s ok to air footage of her acting out in violence towards the father of her child?

It’s bad enough that there’s a stigma out there that men can’t be abused by their partners, but please don’t add to it and make it seem like it’s “normal” because it’s not.  Hundreds, maybe thousands of men take physical abuse from their spouses or girl/boyfriends in silence, because they’re afraid no one will understand them.  It’s a real problem.

So next time, how about you run that same stupid PSA text from that episode of “Jersey Shore” over the next episode of “Teen Mom” ?  It’d make up for running those Kid Rock videos back in 2002.

On The Holidays:

I wish Xmas was over with already.  I have all the gifts wrapped, trees up, lights are plugged in and I’m broke.  I’m really broke.

After paying all the bills and getting the last minute items shipped out, my bank account is tapped and it’s still like, ten days before my next paycheck.  I’m thankful that I’m on vacation for the next few weeks, because I’m not even certain that I’d be able to afford to put gas in my truck right now to make the commute.

I’m exaggerating obviously, but money’s tight, and that’s no joke.  The Holidays are rough on people for different reasons; maybe you’re broke, so broke you can’t afford gifts for Xmas, maybe you’re away from family, maybe you’ve lost people this time of year?  For all the joy the tv says that this time of year is supposed to bring, there’s a lot of long faces in the crowd.

It seems too, that The Holidays get longer and longer every year.  And I’m not talking like, they start decorating the stores earlier, I’m talking about how I seem to be ready for them earlier and earlier each year.  This lends itself to me sitting in front of the tv, watching the days tick by.  When I was a kid, this would be because I couldn’t wait for Xmas to get there, because the tree would be surrounded in a wall of wrapped boxes.  As I’m an adult, it’s because I’m just ready for all this shit to be over with – I’m waiting for the day AFTER Xmas, where I can wipe my brow, look at my bank account and sigh in a little relief.

Thank god Google’s been kicking ass in the stock market, that’s all I’m gonna say.

December 20, 2009 Posted by | Corporate America Hates You, Getting Older, Smells Like Children, The Great Indoors, Why Am I Watching This? | , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Fuck Comcast 2

After spending literally an entire afternoon on the phone between Comcast and their third party contracted E911 people, I finally got our landline set up.

To put it another way, I spent roughly 6 hours attempting to outfit our new apartment with a technology that’s been around since 1880-something, can be replicated with two soup cans and a string, all to save myself 30 dollars.

Yeah, I’d have killed myself too.

The drama starts here:  I fucking hate Comcast.  If you’re fortunate enough to live in an area where you have another cable/internet/phone provider, good for you- you don’t know the levels of aggravation myself and nearly 5 million other Comcast subscribers are subjected to nearly every day.

By talking to my neighbors and co-workers, all of which HAVE to be Comcast subscribers (we do have the option for DirectTv and Fios – Verizon’s DSL service, but Comcast is the only service available on Cape Cod that provides high-speed internet access through coaxial cable) our experiences are shared; frustratingly confusing and hard to navigate automated menus when calling into customer support, inattentive customer support reps with a habit of buck-passing the customer once they realize there’s it’s not their department’s problem, tech service that usually leaves things more messed up than before they showed up, etc.

“It’s like dealing with a company manned by 14 year olds,” spoke a co-worker who also has felt the strain of having to deal with Comcast.  “I’ve had them for five years, and no matter what, they’ll fuck something up as soon as I call them,” he explained.

All I wanted to do was set up a landline at our apartment.  Because of some sort of geographic anomaly, we can’t get cell service where we just moved to, so we need a dedicated phone line that works.  Ang is on the job hunt again and it makes things a little hard if potential employers can’t reach her by conventional means.  I work in a field that requires me to be “on-call” 24/7.   I pitched the idea to my bosses that I could be reached at home via email instead of by phone, but my bosses felt that the “old ways” were better.  So a phone line was what I got.

First I called Comcast’s shitty customer service hotline and was greeted by a pre-recorded message from Shaquille O’Neal and Ben Stein, two people who have probably the most annoying, mouth breathing voices on the planet, each welcoming and thanking me for calling Comcast.  After five minutes of verifying certain information, like the last four digits of my cell phone’s number and pressing a bunch of buttons to talk to a human being, I finally get a hold of someone in the phone department.

I explain my case and site how apprehensive I am about taking on the service, given my and Comcast’s track record/rocky relationship.  I tell them that I’ve had numerous experiences where I’ve received sub-par treatment on both ends of the service, both from the office folks I speak to on the phone and from the techs in the field (I made sure I brought up the fact that the last tech that came out to do our cable/internet install completely fucked up our internet).  I shrewdly asked if there was any way to get a better deal on the price of adding a phone line.

“Well,” this woman starts.  “Right now you’re paying 120 dollars a month for just cable and internet, adding the phone service will bring you to 140 and change.  You’d be paying 20 dollars more a month for a 40 dollar a month service,”

“A phone line is a 40 dollar a month service?”  I hear my father’s voice coming out of my mouth.

“Yes sir,”

“Says who?”  I ask.  There’s a pause.

“Well, says Comcast, sir.”

So according to Comcast, they’re going to charge me 40 dollars a month for a technology that’s widely available ANYWHERE.  They say they’re going to “save” me 20 dollars a month if I bundle the cable and internet together with a dedicated phone line.  How the hell is a phone line 40 dollars a month?

I asked this, in polite terms.

“Well sir, you get unlimited long distance in the domestic US and Canada,” great, so I’m going to be paying for “unlimited” long distance that I’ll never use (I plan on prank calling Canada at least twice a week now -ed).

Granted I have one parent in Maine and another in Florida, I talk to them mostly from my cell phone, which I’d do from work if I really needed to chat with them.  Mom uses email just as extensively as I do, and 9/10s the time that’s how we communicate.  My father, still uses a phone for most of his communication, but even then, I call him once every two weeks for a 30 minute phone call from my cell phone.

“Ok, so, what if I don’t want unlimited long distance?”  I ask.  The woman seems baffled by this.

“Well, you could opt for the local only service, but that’s only going to cover you for your own town; any calls made outside of ________ will cost you 5 cents a minute.”

“Ok, that’s fine,” I say.  I really only need the device to receive in-coming calls, and really, what’s 5 cents a minute if Ang needs to reach me to tell me to bring home milk?  She starts to back pedal.

“Sir, um, it can get costly…”

“Do you think it’ll run me more than 40 dollars a month?”  I ask.  She corrects me and tells me that I’d only be paying 20 dollars a month, on top of my cable and internet.  “Ok, well do you think it’ll run me more than 20 bucks a month?”

“I don’t know sir.  But we’d have to send out a technician to set up the phone system in your house for that service, and since it’s an analog install, we’d have to charge you a technician’s fee, which is by the hour.”

“What’s the tech fee?”

“Twenty-five dollars an hour,” Jesus!

In the end, I opted for a self-install with their stupid unlimited long distance.  I don’t see myself carrying on like the babbling idiots in the commercials for Comcast’s unlimited long distance plan; some woman jabbering into a phone as she walks around her house.  I see an old, battered table top model from Kmart sitting on the counter, receiver tethered to its base by some tangled plastic chord.  I see the thing ringing once or twice a month, maybe.  Ang and I have already discussed that we’re not handing out this number to anyone other than my work, her work, and select few other people.

So with the little phone modem thing on order, and committing myself to paying out the ass for something I hopefully won’t need in the foreseeable future, I get a voice mail about an hour later.

“Mr. N, we’re from Comcast and we see you have an order in for our dedicated phone line service,” says the cheery foreign call center worker.  “We need you to call in and activate the device for E911 service before we can ship it out to you.  Please call us back at 1-800….”

Ok, not unreasonable, but I’m just curious as to why the woman whom I spoke to on the phone earlier couldn’t have handled this when I ordered the goddamn thing.  Plus I have to listen to the message again because the person who left the message sputtered out the number to call so quickly in a mushy-mouth way, that it’s hard to hear.

What I find out is that the number given is the central Comcast customer service number.  Awesome.

Back to navigating around Shaq and Ben Stein’s voices, back to another maze of automated options.  I finally get a hold of someone and explain the message I got.  They seem just as baffled by it as I was.

“Well sir,” some black college kid says, “let me put you on hold so I can figure out what’s going on here… did they give you a confirmation number?”  And they did, and given my past experiences with Comcast, I know to write this number down.  If you ever have the unfortunate experience of dealing with Comcast, WRITE DOWN YOUR CONFIRMATION NUMBERS!  Believe me, it’s the only way you’ll get anything done in a timely manner.  I was once on hold for 35 minutes just so the fucking idiot on the other end of the phone could look something up for me.  I nearly bled out from my wrist wounds.

So he comes back from putting me on hold and instructs me to call an 866 number that will take me through an automated process in setting up the E911 system.  I balk.

Being a cop in my former life, I know all about the E911 service.  It was introduced pretty extensively right at the end of the last decade by local police so that if you should call 911, and not be able to talk into the phone (sick and dying, hostage taking, etc) they can instantly see where you’re calling from.

Yes, it’s exactly like Caller ID, and half the time it doesn’t work or will fault and send out a signal to the police station if there’s a power surge, causing the cops to show up unexpectedly at your front door.  This is highly problematic if it’s Geisha Night.

So I ask if it’s necessary that I go through this step.  The gentleman I speak with says that not only is the E911 service an FCC regulation, but they can’t ship me the modem until I go through with the task of setting it up.

He assures me it takes less than 5 minutes and they only want to confirm my address.  He says it’s just pushing buttons on my phone and he’ll be happy to transfer me.

Sigh, ok, fine.

I sit on hold and here a few clicks.  I’m disconnected.  Apparently Leroy doesn’t know how to transfer calls.

If I had been holding a gun, I probably would’ve fired it into the ceiling by now.

I call back, hi Shaq, hi Ben; I know the number combination to navigate back to a human being by heart now (2-1-2-2-4-0).  I get a different service rep on the line now and explain the situation, AGAIN, asking if I can just get the number to the place I need to call to set this shit up.

“I’d be happy to transfer you,”

NO NO NO NO….. just the number please.

I get it, hang up.  My brow is drenched in sweat.

I call and get some fucking mish-mash of instructions that I guess are for technicians and not for an average Joe like myself to hear.  I’m confused so I just start picking options blindly, including mashing the ‘0’ key to talk to an operator.

“Sorry, we cannot provide that service at this time,” says the computer.

I finally wade through a bunch of bullshit and get to an option that will let me speak to a human.  I excitedly press the button.

I get some bored sounding housewife who starts reading through a script, prompting me to say “yes” in certain fields.  I stop her, and start to ask a question about the install, because I was unsure if I was pressing the right options and if she could confirm what I had done and make changes if something was really fucked up.

This of course takes her for a loop.

She stutters, there’s a long “uhhhh”

Long story short, I was worried that I might have tied my cell phone number to the account as well, which could result in me not being able to make calls with my cell, which is kinda a big deal to me.  I ask if she can go back in there and see if I tethered the two numbers inadvertently.

“Uh, I can’t do that, I’m not authorized.  I’m going to have to send this back to Comcast and have a service rep remove that information for you,” wait what?

“No no, no, its fine, don’t worry about it, let’s just move forward with this, and if it’s a big deal, I’ll deal with Comcast later,” I say.

“I’m sorry sir, but I can’t go forward with this install, if there’s a chance we could be cutting off 911 services from a cell phone it’s a big deal.”

“But I don’t think I screwed up that bad, let’s just get this over with so I can get my fancy modem and we’ll all just have a great day after that,”

“I’m sorry, I can’t, hold please,” and the line cuts out.  Suddenly there’s Shaq and Ben Stein again.  Motherfucker.

I hang up.  At this point I’m so mad that I nearly want to chop a tree down with my bare hands.

I wish I weren’t so dependent on Comcast for everything – like some sort of battered wife with no one else to turn to, so she keeps going back to the abuse.  I could opt for DirectTv but if we can’t even get cell service, what makes me think I’ll be able to get a satellite feed where we’re at?  We’re literally surrounded by trees and lobster gear.  There’s Verizon, but I don’t want to use DSL, and from what I understand the service isn’t that great either.

Then I read this article in the NYT this morning. 

I got half a chub.

In short, this guy and his hot wife dropped about five bones on a Mac Mini, a wireless mouse, keyboard and some extra cables and gave their cable company the fucking heave-ho.  They get all their television and movies through the computer and internet connection, circumventing the cable company (except for the internet access, which by itself is roughly 40 bucks a month.

He justifies the largely one time expense as being a cure-all to subscribing to a cable company for 140 bucks a month with not much to show for it except for a bunch of unwatched channels.

He gets the shows he wants and pipes in his Netflix feed seamlessly over WiFi.

It’s a little something to get used to, he explains in the article, but well worth it.  He ends up freeing about 1600 dollars a year.

Though, I’m sure he’s not stuck in a hole in the middle of the woods with no cell reception, either.  Another problem, this option isn’t really viable for sports enthusiasts who have to watch the game.  The writer’s solution:  Head to the bar.

This option echoes conversations regarding cable television (and subsequently its service) for years:  why is the customer paying out the ass for a bunch of shit he doesn’t need?  On one of my old blogs, I suggested that cable companies perhaps start custom-tailoring customer’s channel options, allowing the customer to purchase unlimited access to whatever and however many channels they wanted, for a low price, say, a dollar a channel, 5 dollars for a premium channel like HBO.  Being that local channels are all digital now this idea is even more advantageous to the cable companies, because it’s nearly guaranteed that people will want at least the local channels, plus grab up a few of the other channels too (for me it’d be Discovery, Vh1, NatGeo, AMC and Food Network, plus the locals).

But using the internet to get around the cable company is a do-able plan with the right materials, anyway.  Ang is by far a bigger proponent to watching television online, as she watches a few of her favorite shows (Dexter, Desperate Housewives, Family Guy) on sites like SideReel.com and Hulu.  As for myself, I’m more into purchasing stand alone episodes of my favorite programs (American Dad, 24, Sunny) on iTunes.  My argument is that there’s better picture quality, though sidereel – which is largely ad-free oppose to Hulu – isn’t bad, it’s just smaller.  Either way, even a season’s pass to one of my favorite shows on iTunes will run me maybe 40 bucks, which is a fraction of the cost of my cable bill.

In the end, I called back the third party E911 service number and followed the fully automated maze without talking to a human and without entering my cell phone’s number.  I completed the process in just fewer than 15 confusing minutes.

I let about a half an hour go by and I called back Comcast.  I got through to a service rep and asked if he could confirm that the device is now being shipped since I completed my end of the deal with the third party service.  The rep on the phone said that the unit was shipped earlier this afternoon and I should be getting it at my office’s address by Tuesday.

I breathed out.  Ok.

Hell, maybe the next place we move to, we’ll just cut out tv, cable and internet all together.  …I know, big talk, right?

December 12, 2009 Posted by | Corporate America Hates You, Getting Older, Living in an Insane Asylum, People I Hate, The Great Indoors | , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

350 Million People CAN be wrong….

So I restarted my Facebook account over the weekend, but only out of necessity.  You see, when we moved into our new digs, we neglected to check our cell phones to see what kind of reception we would be getting with the place until after we signed all the paper work and checks, etc.

Turns out, we’re lucky to get one bar, by the windows.  Usually it’s no bars or the dreaded ‘no signal’.  However, both those options are better than “searching….” being displayed, because while ‘searching’ for a signal, your phone traditionally uses more battery power, as it tries to boost it’s internal antenna to grab a signal it thinks is just out of its reach.

We’ve been getting by just on internet alone.  Thankfully having wifi enabled phones allows us to connect to our internet connection at home, so our iPhones aren’t just expensive paper weights that I drop 175 bucks on a month.

The problem becomes when one of us is home and the other is out and about running errands or working.  There’s no way to make a phone call or send a text to the person who’s away because there’s no cell reception.  We found this out relatively quickly on one of our first nights at the new apt when I ran out to the store to get milk, and Ang wanted me to pick up Nilla Wafers and paper towels as well.

Without ‘Push’ notification, email on the iPhone only updates every 15 minutes, meaning I could’ve gone to the store and came back in the amount of time it would’ve taken me to get the message if I wasn’t constantly refreshing my gmail (Apple offers MobileMe, which for a subscription price of 100 bucks a year, you get Push and Cloud features)

There’s the option of getting a traditional landline, an option I’m still giving deep consideration to.  My job somewhat dictates that I be accessible at all hours, and if I don’t have a working phone, it’s an issue.  My company actually provides free (1980s era) cell phones to employees who don’t have or can’t afford a cell phone, they’re that serious.

The problem with a landline is that it’s going to cost an arm and a leg down the line.  Comcast (our cable and internet monopoly provider) offers a deal where if you get cable, internet and a phone line you only pay like 100 bucks a month, oppose to just having cable and internet (like we do) and paying 110-120 bucks a month (like we do).

The rub is that after 6 months, Comcast jacks the price of the service up to 140 clams, leaving you either with the option to get rid of something, or pay out the ass.

I spoke with the installation tech who hooked up our cable and internet at the new apartment about the offer and this is what he said:

Call and speak to a customer service rep,” he suggested while speaking in an Irish brogue.  “They can sometimes set up deals with customers, like extended contacts for a certain price per month, that sort of thing,”

“But, what if I don’t want to pay the corporation, … maybe I’d rather just deal with the man on the street?”  I hinted.  He grinned a gnarled grin that only someone with a knowledge of the British Isles could love and brushed off the obvious attempted bribe.

Sorry, it’s not the same as it used to be, where we could just program the box to give you free HBO or Pay-Per-View, it’s all monitored and regulated by dispatchers now, sorry.  But seriously, give them a call, and see if they’ll work with you.  They’re more inclined to make a deal, because it’s money in their pocket in the long run,” and he has a point.

Though, he did fuck up the install, requiring me to call Comcast later that night from the end of the driveway.  While some phone jockey gave me instructions on rebooting our modem and changing out the signal to our wifi, I had to place my phone in the dirt and run back and forth from our apartment to take the necessary steps in ensuring our computers had proper internet connection.  So what does he know, really?

The next option we briefly explored was using Skype, the Voice Over Internet Protocol service that let’s people video chat for free around the world.

Skype would’ve been a great fix-it option if it weren’t for the fact you need wifi to make it work.  Due to AT&T’s business practices, apps and services like Skype can’t make calls on the infamously bogged down 3G Network.  Calling out from home would be no problem, since there’s wifi there; it would be making calls to home where we’d need to find a hotspot someplace.

I found this out while at work all weekend, where I desperately ran around my office’s property in the dead of night with my phone out in front of me, trying to locate the strongest unlocked wifi signal from the surrounding houses so I could steal some bandwidth and call my wife.

Hint:  If your wireless network is named ‘linksys’, I’m pretty sure it’s being abused by some dude parked out front of your house right now with a laptop full of porn.

So, tired of emailing back and forth, which in this day-n-age without Push Notification is similar to communicating by message in a bottle, Ang suggested I open the dusty crypt that held my old Facebook account, reactivate it, and use the chat on there.

The Facebook iPhone App isn’t bad, and I don’t have a real beef with it.  Its minimalist, like how Facebook used to be, easy to navigate and its chat feature is similar to the iPhone’s SMS/MMS screen.

It was a gut wrenching decision, honestly, because I wanted to leave Facebook behind me.  I’m 28 years old, and in my humble opinion, I’m in the waning years of online social networking.  I use Twitter extensively, because there’s no real bells or whistles to it; I post something that’s on my mind, or post a link to this blog, and let it ride from there.

With Facebook, there’s too much required involvement.  I have to ‘poke’ back everyone that pokes me, even if I don’t want to.  Someone’s bound to send me some virtual gift that I sure as hell don’t want, but will have to comment on, lest I look like a fucking Scrooge.

There are too many people for me to keep in touch with as ‘friends’ only because they’re associated with people I interact with.  I don’t want to get status updates (and subsequently the notifications regarding a status I commented on from people I don’t even know) from the wife of a guy I work with, because she decided to ‘friend’  me after raiding her husband’s friend’s list and wanted to pad her own numbers.

I can’t reject her request, because then I’ll hear about it from the guy:

“Dude, be friends with my wife,” I don’t even know her name!  I just have the unsolicited knowledge that you two like to ‘do it’ doggystyle!

And speaking of  the people I work with,  I’d like to keep most of them at an arm’s reach distance.  I can’t unfriend them, because again, I’ll fucking hear about it in real life.

And that’s really the point: when I got rid of Facebook, the biggest reason of all was to reduce the amount of ridiculous , unnecessary drama that was bleeding into my life.  With anyone with a set of ovaries who posted on my wall, I’d be grilled by my wife and her Spetznas-like interrogation tactics.

Have you ever been waterboarded while trying to make pancakes for breakfast?  It sucks.

But wanting to be able to at least text with my wife meant more to me than dealing with Facebook and the bullshit associated with it.  Fuck it, I thought, who cares?

Within 24 hours I was back to checking my News Feed every twenty minutes.

Fuck you Facebook.  Fuck you.

December 8, 2009 Posted by | Around The Office, Blogging Couple, Corporate America Hates You, Getting Older, Gonzo Journalism, Living in an Insane Asylum, People I Hate, People I Love, The Great Indoors | , , , , | 2 Comments

When Taking The ‘Lord’ in ‘Landlord’ Too Far

The short relationship with our current landlord has been best described as tumultuous, and at worst, described as whatever it is the Koreans, both North and South, have been dealing with since the DMZ went into effect.

We’ll get into that in a minute.  First a primer on a short list of landlords I’ve had to deal with since leaving the nest.  My first landlord when I moved into my first real-deal apartment in the Clinton neighborhood of Brooklyn was a squat Indian man who seemed to never really be around, which was fine.  The building was in good shape, and despite the smell of curry and foot fish coming from two doors down.  After the situation at that rent kind of fell apart, I moved on to a basement “studio” in Flushing, Queens.

I was on my own, and for a thousand bucks a month I was given a 700 ft sq hole in the ground with slats for windows which some sun would filter through on exceptionally sunny days, which were few and far between in January.  After living there for about two months I get a phone call from my sketchy Russian landlord while working at my office late one night.

“J,” he starts with a stereotypically rich Russian accent.  “You are not expecting no one, yes?”  He had called my cell phone, so I was ducked down low in my chair behind a closed door.

“No, why?”  I whispered.

“You are not at apartment?”

“No, I’m at work,” he then goes on to tell me that, after two months of cashing my rent checks, he’s not REALLY the landlord.  He assures me that the apartment belongs to his brother who moved back to Russia a few weeks ago, and that he, like a good brother, is watching it for him.

But because he isn’t registered with whoever in the city of New York, someone ratted him out, and the NYPD were going to drop by and throw me on my ass, because NYC has no “Squatter’s Rights” laws.

Awesome.  This also came on the heels of finding my girlfriend of three years cheating on me.

He half-heartedly offered to set me up at his home, in a furnished basement for fifty dollars less a month.  I passed, and packed up my belongings into the back of my S10 and moved back home to Maine with mom and dad.

Mom and dad basically became my new landlords when they purchased an apartment building next door to where I grew up.  I instantly moved into the vacant apartment which became my home for about a year.

This proved to be problematic; while working on the apartment, patching holes, etc, my dad gave me a hand-held radio to communicate with him, should I need a specific tool or supplies.  The radio stayed with me and for a while it was fun.  Mom would radio me to tell me she cooked an extra helping of turkey dinner, dad would chirp me if there was something interesting on television.

One night I had over a girl I knew from high school.  As I was about to “lay it down” as the kids say, there came a squawk from my bedroom.  The radio had been left on.

“J?”  The voice of my mother echoed through the apartment like the ghost of crushed erections.  “There’s a car parked in your driveway… do you know who that is?”

Can you imagine what it’s like to have a handful of damp lunch meat, and then have it suddenly turn to dried beef jerky?  That’s what that was like.

Soon after I took the job I have now, and met my wife.  We’ve lived in interesting places since, however we seem to always be at odds with our landlord.

This would lead us to now.

Our current landlord is an ancient cunt of a woman who is more miserly than charitable on any day of the week.  Her first offense was trying to dupe an extra month’s rent from us after I spent money out of my own pocket to fix up the shabby apartment we were moving into.  This was after her and I agreed that I would give her the first month’s rent on the spot, followed by “last month’s rent” on the first of the next month, as long as I was able to fix the place up at my own pace and have access to the apartment.

After scraping, painting, cleaning and buying a lot of new furniture, the place seemed to be habitable.  Then the landlord, this twisted demon of a person, came at my wife like “oh are you two living here now?”

“Uh, yeah,” my wife replied.

“Oh, well I’ll need a deposit then,” said the bitch.  Needless to say I put a stop to that.

Fast forward after having a summer and fall where we did our best to try to stay out of each other’s way – we find out that the bitch is selling the building for ten times more than it’s actually worth, yet people are still dropping by in droves to look at it.

On one particular evening, when Ang, the dog and myself were coming back from Shaw’s we find an older couple standing on our front stoop.  They were checking out the property by looking through the windows, being sketchy and condescending.  I dropped my bags and approached as if I was about to knock both of their heads together like coconuts from behind.

“Can I help you?”  I say.  The man in the couple turns with a fatherly smile but it’s his wife who chimes in that their interested in the place, and would we be so kind to let them look around?

Bullshit!  We were polite to an extent, telling them that we had guests coming over and were getting ready to make dinner.  But the balls on these people to just show up out of left field and EXPECT to be shown around the property?  At dinner time?!  What the fuck!  Balls!

It took a minute or two for the people to get the hint, but they eventually left amidst us standing there with arm loads of groceries and our dog freaking the fuck out.  A day later, we get a letter pinned to our door from the Realtor in charge of the property.

In short, the letter said that she wanted to show the apartment on Sunday.  Sunday.  God’s day of rest, football, recovery day, etc.  It was also the day after my 28th birthday, so I was planning on being a total wreck and certainly not going to be cleaning the apartment from top to bottom for some snooty assholes to come in and judge me on how I live my life.

No, fuck that.

So I call and tell her, the Realtor, that’s it’s highly unacceptable to expect me to be ok with a Sunday showing.  She was firm but accommodating, stating that she had a business to run too, and that she’d give 24 hours notice to a showing to work around scheduling.  At the same time, I let slip, that we were looking for someplace else to move into, something more stable.

That’s when she turned around the sales pitch on me.

She told me there was a two bedroom a town over for 900 a month, cheaper than what we were living in now.  She said she’d set up a meeting with her realtor buddy that deals with rents.  And like that, I was sold.

Though, the last thing I want to is move during the holidays, which would just about deplete my holiday spending money.

November 3, 2009 Posted by | Corporate America Hates You, Getting Older, Living in an Insane Asylum, People I Hate, The Great Indoors | , , , , | 1 Comment

My Life Without Facebook

If you follow me on Twitter you might have read a post recently that read something like “I just dragged my #FB account into the middle of a dusty street, put a snub nose revolver against its head, and pulled the trigger.”  That would signify me getting rid of Facebook from my life.

It had been a long road I had walked to get to that decision, and it didn’t come lightly.  The factors for me kicking that account over the side were many: it took too much of my time, privacy concerns with posted content, and more importantly the trouble Facebook seemed to get me into.

My wife and I used to get into so many arguments on Facebook over stupid shit like “what did you mean by that posting?” if one of us posted something on another’s wall (a public forum that anyone can read, in case you’re one of the few who have no clue who Facebook works).  It’s not worth the hassle.

Plus, early on at my job I took some heat for some things posted on my Facebook page.  Apparently, my boss at the time didn’t have enough to do, so he decided to snoop through people’s online accounts (this was admittedly before I realized I could set security settings and block anonymous access).  He found some pictures and content he didn’t agree with and made it a workplace issue.  While I disagree with his intrusion, it’s my own fault for putting stuff out there I don’t want certain people to come across.

Plus, Facebook’s interface was becoming more and more bogged down.  I wrote an article a while back about the bloated corpse that is Facebook, and little has changed since.  When I tried to upload my photos from my wife and I’s honeymoon in Niagara Falls, Facebook took the load (maybe 50-something pics) but then turned around and told me there was a failure of some sort.

I knew it wasn’t on my end, because FB has done this to me in the past on many occasions.  But that was the last straw; I was through dealing with this corporate ballsack and it’s creepy cyberstalking.

I posted a status at about 11am telling people I was going to smoke my FB account by 1600, and if they wanted to stay in touch, follow me on Twitter.  I reposted the same status a few more times during the day, and at 1603, after getting my wedding pictures and a few other choice pics off of Facebook, I nuked the account.

For those of you who never got rid of a social networking account, there’s an awkward Q&A that follows.  When I tossed my Myspace profile into the garbage can in 2007 there was a series of little questions you could answer yes and no to, such as “were you overwhelmed by the amount of mail you got regarding your Myspace account?” and “Did you ever fear that your content was being sold?”  Facebook was no different, even adding little explanations to attempt to assuage your fears.  When I selected “Privacy Concerns (I had more than one reason but FB only allows for one option to be picked)” a little window popped up plaintively giving some tired excuse about how FB’s new Terms of Service does blah blah blah to ensure your privacy online.  That’s great for FB, but what about some other dickbag who can hack in and take whatever information they want?  Not that I keep anything so sacred on my old FB page but still.  It’s a case of too little too late.

Besides, I’m older than FB’s targeted demographic now.  FB caters more towards the 17-24 year old market, where kids can share their interests via “fan-ing” a particular page.  Like Reeboks?  There’s a fan page for it.  How about Sharks?  Yup, check it out.

I was primarily using FB to help promote this blog, but when I really thought about it, FB promotions were futile.  I had a total of 40-something friends, half of which already followed me on Twitter, the other half weren’t really interested in my articles anyway.  It was just more work to post updates to both FB AND Twitter, and have them be different.  And due to Twitter’s minimalist design, I can be a little more free about who I promote to, oppose to having to individually edit myself based on whomever’s reading my FB posts.

In the end, it just made more sense to get rid of FB.

However, some weren’t pleased with my departure.

“How the hell can I stalk you now!” Lamented my wife.  “How will I know when some random bitch posts something on your wall?!”

However, in the last 24 hours since I left FB I feel freer, life seems a little less complicated.  Sure I have knee jerk reactions to checking out what’s going on with people, as I wait in a queue for the ATM, but that’s fading rather quickly.  No, the freedom’s totally worth it.

October 18, 2009 Posted by | Around The Office, Corporate America Hates You, Getting Older, Not Enough Time, Shameless Self Promotion, The Great Indoors | , , , , | 1 Comment

Fat Fucks

Recently I was someplace, maybe I was in my truck or in Ang’s car, and saw what appeared to be two medium sized dogs fighting inside a pair of oversized sweat pants.  These pants were making their way slowly down the street, as the dog on the left seemed to be getting the upper hand on the dog to the right, and then the tables would turn, and the dog on the right would over take the dog on the left.
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Then I realized that I was not watching two medium-sized dogs fighting while trapped in a pair of sweats; I was watching a morbidly obese woman saunter down the thoroughfare, presumably towards her next feeding.

I gagged a little, yeah.

You don’t have to watch the news or hear the health warnings to realize that our country is literally crumbling under its own weight for the last thirty sum-odd years.  Obesity has been the plague of our nation the way starvation plagues Somalia, and economical instability plagues Russia.  Every country has its problems and I assume that being a nation of rollie-pollie’s sure as hell beats a nation run by tribal war lords.

It used to be that girth was a sign of wealth; the fatter you were the more money you had to spend on luxuries such as food and drink.  Look at King Henry Tudor, he weighed in at over 400lbs by the time he died of a collapsed lung and gout.  Sure, some of his weight came from sustaining a jousting injury, but back then, what did you do if you were stuck in bed all day besides eat huge turkey legs and fuck the shit out of virgin maids?henry_viii

Our country, despite its rocky fiscal 2008, has been living high off the hog since World War 2, and it shows.  Progressively, every generation since the Greatest Generation, has gotten a little bit fatter.  I don’t have numbers to support this, but be rest assured its likely true.  Why?  Because Grampy Hank didn’t have a fucking Xbox waiting for him at home every day after school.  He had a little something called “Chores.”

Kids today (as I shake my fist from my porch) are not nearly as physically active as anyone who’s 25 or older today were.  This is largely due to school budgets chopping after school sports and the advent of social internet media.  Instead of going down to the park to hang out, chase girls, climb on shit, kids as young as 11 or 12 are going right home from school, logging on to their Myspaces, Facebooks, and Twitters, and doing what kids for generations have been doing after school – gossiping with their friends about school bullshit, minus the healthy dosages of Vitamin D and the basic physical activity of simply loitering.
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It’s a shitty state of affairs when while watching Sunday afternoon football I see an ad urging kids to play outdoors for a minimum of 60 minutes a day.  Holy Hot Fuck.

Ang and I are not planning on having kids, but let’s say we were – I’d absolutely refuse to allow my children to come home from school and log on to a glowing screen.  Fuck that.  Unless that kid has a project or paper due the next day, his ass is changing out of his “school clothes” into his “play clothes” and running around the yard, street, vacant lot, whatever until dinner’s ready, which will consist of steamed vegetables,  chicken, rice and protein shakes for everyone.

And this brings up my next topic:  The Fat Tax.

You might’ve heard of the Fat Tax or “Sins Tax” in passing recently, but the idea is hardly new.  The Fat Tax would increase the amount of money individual consumers would be paying on sugary foods or foods deemed to have little-to-no nutritional value.

To say I’m for this tax would be obvious, although I can see its drawbacks plainly.  First, who the hell is in favor of a tax on ANYTHING, especially in our slowly recovering economy.  Secondly, it’s widely known that the biggest purchasers of “bad-for-you-foods” are people in the lowest income brackets.  Why?  Because like an addictive drug, you craft your ware to be cheap and addictive to keep uneducated people and their spending dollars from straying away; you set your hooks deep with flavorful concoctions manufactured and sold at little cost.

Why do you think McDonald’s has a dollar menu?  You can feed a family of four dinner tonight for as little as fifteen dollars.fat-kits-eating-mcdonalds

Not to knock McDonald’s, as I’m a shareholder; I know its hypocrisy, however I want to make money on the backs of the dumb and poor too.

Another argument against the Fat Tax is that “good food” is also “expensive food.”  This line of reasoning isn’t baseless, as anyone who wanders into a Whole Foods will tell you.  You want organically grown brussel sprouts?  That’ll be 1.99 a lb, oppose to the “regular” sprouts, which are .99 cents a pound.

“What the hell is the difference?”  I asked my wife one day while grocery shopping.

“The organic ones don’t use harmful pesticides,” she explained.  Oh, but, … I mean, if we wash these spouts in the sink after we buy them, aren’t they just as good?

I didn’t bother asking that question, but to me it seems clear:  There’s already a “tax” on good-for-you foods, why not tax the bad-for-you-foods too?

Soda is a big one.  I heard a proposal the other day that suggested a penny an ounce tax on sugary-sodas, meaning, that 20 ouncer you get out of the machine at lunch time would cost you twenty cents more.  It might not seem like a big deal, hell, what’s an extra quarter going into the machine going to cost you, that’s less than a postage stamp.  But think of it over time, and think of it on a macro scale, where out of 265 million US Citizens, over 85% of us consume sugary beverages every day, multiple times a day.

Right next to kicking fast food, kicking soda was the worst.  When I committed to my diet and weight loss plan at the beginning of the year I immediately took notice of the withdrawal symptoms I was having as little as 48 hours without a carbonated caffeine drink.  I was irritable, sweaty, panicked, shaky and dry-mouthed.  No matter how much water I would drink, I was still thirsty.

But I got through it, and after about two weeks I could care less about soda.  Now if I split a Coke with Ang… a real Coke, mind you… I can feel my teeth buzz, dare I say, throb from the high sugar concentration.  I can’t believe I used to pound a 12 pack or more a day of that stuff.
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Let’s go back to that fat woman I described a little while ago:  No one gets that big, America, no one.  Sure, some people are just big people, whether it’s genetics or glandular diseases or by some means that can’t be controlled.  Hell, my Uncle David weighs in at over 300lbs, however, he’s also 6’7 and built like a bank vault door.

No, that woman walking down the street in the shock-loaded elastic waist sweats, with the visible dark stain running down the middle of her back because she was exerting herself beyond her normal means by having to move her vast body a short distance, did that shit to herself.  She’s likely poor, under educated, and had parents that didn’t care about her enough to prepare her a home-cooked meal once in a while.  Instead she never learned to take care of herself and figured that why should I learn to cook when the fine people at McDonalds (ticker: MCD) will cook for me, and it’s only pennies a day…

With the likelihood that government provided health care will go national it’s unlikely that she’s even insurable with a private company, so as a tax payer I’m going to be paying for the eventual quadruple by-pass surgery she’ll require to jumpstart her car battery-sized-and-colored heart sooner or later, plus the inevitable fee the fire department will charge for knocking down a wall to her apartment to extract her via crane and sling.

Tax it, tax Coca-Cola, McDonalds, Dunkin Donuts, Lays Potato Chips, anything delicious and would cause a reasonable person to vegetate on the couch in front of an episode of “Two and a Half Men” and stuff their faces uncontrollably for hours on end.  But turn around and give tax break incentives to those of us who are spending money on joining a gym (tax incentives would work like a Subway Card, Jared:  You’d have to get the card punched by a gym employee min. once a week, and turn that card in with your tax paper work) or buying healthier foods.  Make smoking cessation programs tax-free or put tax credit incentives on those as well.  Consider it a rebate on the cost of the program if completed successfully.story2

How about age restrictions on fast food?  Or how about just not letting them stay open 24/7?  Unless you work third shift as a cab driver, why the hell are you going to Taco Bell at 4 am when Last Call was three and a half hours ago?

Ride a bike to and from work more than once a week for a month?  You get a government issued gas card for 50 bucks.

The point I’m trying to make is, yeah, tax the shit we don’t need, but how about throwing a bone to those of us who have already been keeping a healthy lifestyle?  Positive reinforcement works just as good as negative.

September 23, 2009 Posted by | Corporate America Hates You, Gay Shit I Know Too Much About, Getting Older, Out and About, Shameless Self Promotion, Smells Like Children, The Great Indoors, Those Crazy Politicians | , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Sign #13 That You’re Officially An Adult…

As you age there are tattletales that let you know you’ve officially crossed the threshold into adulthood.  Some of these are fussing about health insurance, buying a mattress and a sudden natural avoidance of retailers playing music on their store’s overhead speakers so loud as to not being able to understand the mouth breathing acne-riddled teenage sales associate explain that their out of the size running shoe you’re looking for.adulthood-dvd-launch-drive-video-127

Another marker on the road towards inevitable death is the sudden onslaught of bodily pain.

As we get older our bodies tend to break down, because we as people have a tendency to use them every day.  We use our bodies in various ways depending on the types of people we are.  Some use our bodies for a certain purpose while others tend to let themselves waste away through means I couldn’t explain to you in less than a thousand words.  Regardless, as we put the necessary mileage on our bodies, things tend to not work so well as they did when we were younger.  I like to think of it as Death scratching his long withered finger down our backs to remind us that he’s right there, waiting.

Or at least that’s what it felt like the other night.

Roughly twice, maybe thricely a year I throw my back out, and it’s fucking painful.  My back, particularly my lower back, has been my Achilles’ Heel since about high school.  Even as I write this, sitting at my office desk in front of the computer, my back is still achy, despite mine, and my wife’s best efforts.

It doesn’t help things that I was born with a fused vertebrae – my L12 and T1 or something or other are stuck together and have been since birth.  And apparently that’s somewhat normal (one out of every 8 or 9 people?), according to the quack chiropractor I saw half a dozen times during my senior year of high school.  How did I know he was a jackoff quack shaman?  The license plate on his Mercedes said ‘Thanks.”fused_sm

Regardless, he took X-Rays and pointed out that there was nothing chiropractic care could really do for me, since those two bones in my spine were stuck together.  What compounded things was that I had been somewhat injured at some point growing up, and I never allowed the muscles around my lower back to properly heal.  I can think of two possible incidents that occurred that could be these injuries, but I won’t get into them in this article.

Given that, there’s little I’ve ever really done to correct the problem of my lower back, and as I’ve been getting older, the pain that seems to come with my bi or tri annual bouts has only intensified over the years.  As a college kid, I’d catch a quick muscle spasm, wince, and then go on with my day being a little stiffer until my back decided to play along with the rest of my body and come to its senses.

However, the other night was especially rough, to the point that when my wife asked if I wanted to go to the ER, I actually considered it.  And did I mention that the ER was an hour’s drive away, and fucking terrible by western medical standards?worame1_233901s

I had been dealing with a sore back for a few days already when the Last Great Spasm took place on Tuesday night.  I’m not exactly sure on what exact event triggered it this time around, as I’d been doing a lot of heavy, awkward lifting over the last few weeks, leading up to the LGS.

Our dog Ivy has a hard enough time getting up from the floor let alone into the cab of my truck.  When she’s with me and we’re going for a drive, I’ll walk her over to the passenger side of my F150 and open the door for her.  She wiggles her hind quarters and looks up at me with a dumb grin almost to ask “hey, are you fucking kidding me?  Do I look like I can climb up there?  Have you seen me climb the steps up to the apartment?”

So I squat down, trying to keep my back straight, and scoop her up into my arms and lift her 50 lb body into the truck cab as she’s wiggling around and grunting with exuberance.  Doing this a handful of times over the previous weekend might’ve brought on the LGS.

I’m not blaming the dog, I’m just saying.

So fast forward to Tuesday night, where for the last day and a half I’d been walking around the apartment like fucking Frankenstein; a sour disposition, stiff legs and jerky movements – grunting and mumbling when I spoke, that sort of thing.  I’m sitting on the couch with Ang watching “Zoolander” of all things, when I see something on the floor off the side of the couch.

“Oh, that’s where that went,” ‘that’ being an old dog leash that the ferret’s had decided to hide on us a week or so back.  I leaned over the couch to grab it before one of the little furry bastards could re-hide it on us, when suddenly Ang shot me in the back.470_126937

At least that’s what it certainly felt like.  A hot shiv raced between my discs, its piss-and-shit-soaked tip severing my spinal nerves, shifting everything out of place, causing my entire body to lock up like I was running Windows Vista.

I yelled in agony, my outstretched arm turned into a statue’s claw, my eyes watered up, my tongue swelled, my throat closed.

“Ah, ah-ah-aahh…” I managed to say.  My wife popped up concerned, asking me what was wrong.  I think all I could do was point to my back and try to slide backwards into the couch.  As I did so, it felt like I was sitting on an electric fence.

She moved into medic-mode and secured me on the couch (not so secure that I couldn’t grab for my iPhone when she left the room) with my legs propped up.  She quizzed me about the yoga moves she showed me how to do to help with my back spasms the last time this happened a few months ago and frowned with disappointment when I answered “no” to “have you been doing them?”

Soon I was face down, head hanging miserably off the side of our bed, attempting to realign my spine.  Ang warmed up a heating pad, and sensing that something was wrong with daddy, Ivy came padding over and licked my face.

Pushing her away only emboldened her, as she then decided it would be a good idea to try to lift my head with her body.  She squatted under me and pushed her furry, shedding back against my face, so that the sticky dog spit I was covered in would collect her shedding blonde hair, giving me a patchy bearded look of a high school kid who’s just begun growing out his facial hair.

Ang took a video, of course.

September 4, 2009 Posted by | Getting Older, Shameless Self Promotion, The Great Indoors | , , , , , , | 1 Comment

The Post That Was Here Was Removed By The Author.

The Post that was here, all 2500 words of it, has been deleted by it’s author due to excessive descriptions of violence.  If you want to read it, shoot me a message, one way or another, and maybe I’ll email it to you.

August 21, 2009 Posted by | Gay Shit I Know Too Much About, Gonzo Journalism, Living in an Insane Asylum, Out and About, People I Hate, Shameless Self Promotion, The Great Indoors, Too Much Time | , | 1 Comment

@Recant: Tweet?

@Recant:  Tweet?

A while back I posted an article where I pretty much took a match and a can of gas to Twitter.  For those of you who somehow still haven’t heard of Twitter, it’s the “microblogging” website that allows it’s users to post “status updates” in 140 character increments that are broadcast around the web to all those who mindlessly “follow” you.  In turn, you “follow” other people’s “tweets” – what it’s called when you “Twitter” but no one calls it “Twittering” because that just sounds like something a gay would do.

I’ve been largely conflicted as of late about Twitter.  Initially I was a huge naysayer of the service mainly because I had no real need for it; I updated my status regularly on my Facebook page which in essence is the same thing that Twitter does, so I saw no need to be redundant, even though you can link the two together.

But then one night, Ang and I had a friend over for drinking and bullshitting around the living room and the subject of Twitter came up.  I, being two beers in, loudly and quickly made my opinions known that Twitter was crap, that it was “simple blogging” or something to that affect, as from Twitter we get the lovely term “Microblogging” as seen above.

My argument was that Twitter makes blogging easy, so easy in fact, that my mom can do it, not that she does, thank god.  My stance was largely based around the fact that I work my ass off to maintain my blog, put out fresh article ideas, and try to promote the shit out of my site.  Twitter pretty much opened the door even wider for Civilian Journalism – a market with an expanding waist line and no foreseeable over-saturation point in sight.

Which brought up my wife’s point:  During our discussion, it came to light that she had a Twitter account (I was actually shocked and maybe a little pissed), which she says she created in light of the political protests in Iran regarding the reelection of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.  The Iranian Government pretty much shut down cell phones and internet access across the country, but a few people were able to “Tweet” what was happening at ground zero, which made for invaluable journalism.

I had to admit that she had a point, that Twitter, in that case at least, served a purpose, oppose to allowing Ashton Kutcher to post pictures of Demi Moore in granny panties.

So fast forward a few weeks and with Twitter all over the news, everyone talking about the service, a million fucking Apps for the iPhone related to Twitter, it kind of dawned on me that I was fighting against the tide.

I could easily stay the course I am now and just try to ignore the inevitable; I could be the technology resistant North Korea of sorts and try to keep myself in the dark regarding Twitter’s presence in the world, or I could make it work for me.

I regularly will post a weekly update of this blog on my Facebook page complete with a primer, a picture I found on the web that somewhat ties together my general thesis, a funny caption, and tag all of my friends who I think might be interested in the article.  I try to keep it as non-intrusive/abrasive as possible by not establishing a link to the article but rather just writing out the web address telling people they can “read more” at my site.

But these little “notes” only reach maybe twenty people because of the security settings I have in place on my Facebook page (see also: Fort Knox).  So of the 20 people I ‘tag’ in the note, maybe two or three will wander over to my site and glance over the whole article.

By the way, these notes on Facebook are the only real advertising I can do for my site, aside from handing out flyers to people on the street.

With Twitter I can potentially raise my readership exponentially, as I use it as a catalyst for my own brand of advertising.  In the same sense that I blogsurf and leave a few thoughtful comments on some random guy’s blog (which tends to prove futile half the time because … well I’ll get into that in a minute) I can do the same on Twitter by “following” people and getting them to “follow” me in turn.  I can post links directly to freshly written articles and keep updates hot and fresh from my phone throughout the day without feeling like too big of a douche bag for flooding my friend’s News Feeds on Facebook.  With my Facebook only being about 40 people in size, I could grow my Twitter account to ten times the size, and see ten times the readership with little cost to any real friendships I have.

(We)B-logging (remember when it was still called that, circa like, 2000?) is becoming somewhat of a lost art on the internet anyway, as everyone a few years ago jumped on the bandwagon and soon the internet was a flood with people thinking they were special enough to post a few pictures of their cat and write a few half hearted articles in relation.  Soon they’d lose interest and move on to some other fad.  Now the tubes are messy with discarded blogs which lay in the middle of the road like a splattered squirrel.

In relation to blogsurfing, the waves, you could say, have died down to nothing.

Twitter seems to be the next logical step in order for me to get my name (and this site) out there.  I hate to admit when I’m wrong, and I hate to succumb to a fad so trendy, but to survive is to adapt.

You can follow me on Twitter at twitter.com/BADorg

August 17, 2009 Posted by | Corporate America Hates You, Gay Shit I Know Too Much About, Gonzo Journalism, Shameless Self Promotion, The Great Indoors, World Wide Events | , , , , , , , | 2 Comments