The Blogging Affairs Desk

When It’s Good, It’s Good, When It’s BAD, It’s Better…

Highway to Hell

If such a crayon existed called “Surprised” you could take it out of the box, stick it into that sharpener on the backside, and then color me with it once I found out that my commute didn’t make the top 75 Worst Commutes in America, according to The Daily Beast

Of course, anyone and everyone who commutes to and from work tends to think theirs is the worst commute imaginable.  That is, unless of course you either A) are flown by private jet everywhere you go, or B) move through a secret tunnel system, utilizing not-yet-known underground tube technology ala Dick Cheney.

It’s relative, is what I’m saying.

But my commute, in all honesty, is balls.  First, if you take a look at the list, there’s some real imaginable nightmares in the top few.  I’ve been on the Hollywood Freeway out in LA and I recognize a total clusterfuck when I see one, as well as the SE X’way just outside of Boston (one of two systems that got mentioned on the list which were from New England, the other being in RI).  Boston, famous for it’s ‘Big Dig’ from the 70s through the 90s, is well known to be a maze of on and off ramps, ever changing exit numbers, and confusing instructions for your exit mounted on overhead signage planted a mere 400 meters from the exit in question.

But the point I want to make here is that RT 6 on Cape Cod should’ve made this list of the top 75.  If you’ve never had the joy (read: bleeding face-feeling) of having to navigate the main artery of Cape Cod let me break it down for you:

There’s only three real ways to get from point A to B on Cape Cod: US RT 6, 6A (which is the old RT 6) and RT 28.  Route 6 is the traditional highway which in places splits into four lanes (two each way) but for the most part is two lanes (one each way) divided by some pithy plastic sticks.  Route 6 is so nicknamed “Suicide Alley” by the people who are forced to use it on a daily basis, because of the high average of fatalities found on it.  Read the local paper and you’ll see that at least once a day there’s a major crash in or around RT 6.

6A and 28 are clogged, serpentine alternatives lined with shops, stores and in the case of Dennisport, a small village along the southern mid-coast of Cape Cod; a dilapidated shantytown of boarded up stores and child molesters.  In the summers, these two routes are largely parking lot death traps as you’ll be cruising at 40 mph and be forced to slam on your breaks as the doofus with Jersey tags in front of you is stopping suddenly to pull into one of the ten thousand fried seafood and soft serve ice cream stands you’ll find littered up and down both routes.

Fall provides a slight reprieve from the summer time buffoonery of the Off-Codders and tourists who flood the main corridor trying to get to beaches and t shirt stores and otherwise clog up your commute.  However, like a stay of execution, the reprieve is short lived because when the foliage starts to change from the lush greens to the brake light red, traffic cone orange and construction worker vest yellow of the Fall season, the cars with the funny license plates return to make a ten minute drive across town into a half hour mind bender where thoughts from homicide to suicide race through a motorists head.

Winter is no picnic either, as Massachusetts as a whole refuses to salt their roadways, and instead use sand which contain fist-sized boulders within.  As you drive thirty or forty feet behind someone, expect to see cracks and pits in your windshield developing as rocks pelt your vehicle like small arms fire in the narrow streets of Baghdad.

Also, they don’t really “plow” on Cape.  They kinda “scrape” the top layer of shit off the roadways, leaving this packed bullshit snow over the roads which are completely impassable in anything less than four wheel drive/tank treads.

When the roads are clear, unless you’re driving really early in the morning (this is me, fortunately, on my way into my office) or really late at night, expect to be caught behind some nutsack holding the throttle steady at exactly five miles under the speed limit for the next twenty miles.  This ballbag will be utterly oblivious to the growing train of cars piloted by pissed off denizens of Cape Cod forming behind him/her, and will refuse to pull over to the side to let people by.  And forget waiting to pass them on a broken yellow line, as every opportunity to do so will be thwarted by on-coming traffic.

This, and the fact that drivers on Cape Cod have a habit of not paying attention to dick, is why I got rid of my motorcycle last Fall.

According to Google, I live 38 minutes from my office.  I suspect Google Maps gets that number assuming I’m doing about 50 mph and sprinkling in the occasional stop sign or red light.  In relation to this information, it’s not entirely inaccurate for this time of year.  Though, come summer time, I can expect my commute, mid-day (when I’d normally be coming home) to be triple to quadruple that amount of time, just based off of the congestion of traffic alone.  If there’s some asinine parade going on in town or the Fourth of July weekend, I can expect to get home faster if I hoof it.

And out of everyone at my office, I live third closest… we’ve got guys who travel from well over 100 miles away who work here.

January 22, 2010 Posted by | Living in an Insane Asylum, Out and About | , , , | 1 Comment

Sins of a Dog Owner

It’s Xmas morning when the following takes place:

It was roughly like 0930 and the wife and I had opened all our gifts, put coffee on, and were in this post-Xmas morning glow.  That kinda awe when you realize that the other person got you way too much awesome shit.  It was during this period when I decided it would be a good idea to take the dog for a quick walk.

The schedule we keep Ivy, our yellow lab, is in two parts:  She’ll get me up between 0600 and 0700 to be let out to pee and eat breakfast.  While this is going on, I’ll feed the ferrets and get my bearings.  I’ll work for a bit, either in my office or in front of the tv and usually by 0900-1000 she’ll want to go outside again to take a big shit.

Since living at our last place, I’ve neglected to put Ivy on a leash.  I hate leashes, I think they’re a pain in the ass.  Ivy isn’t the type of dog that ‘walks you’ instead of you walking her, but she does tend to dawdle at every piss-soaked piece of sidewalk between here and where ever we’re going, which sucks when it’s below 30 degrees outside.  Without the leash, I can keep walking forward (and keep warm) and she’ll usually catch up once I’ve gone maybe fifty feet ahead.

This is also ideal for when Ang and I go hiking.  Ivy can sniff whatever she wants and we can keep up our pace.  We seldom run into other dogs on the trails, but if we do, usually they’re unleashed too, and never does anything negative or “bad” happen.

So where we moved to, we’re a bit out of the way in a sleepy neighborhood at the end of a cul de sac.  We have a front yard and a long dirt driveway and 4/5s the time, Ivy’s really good about staying within those confines.  But lately, she’s taking her liberty too far.

I would let her out but stand by the door “just in case” she decided to follow a scent too far into the woods around our house.  Many times I’ve been putting on a sweater and slipping into my boat shoes after waiting for up to ten minutes by the door (which is my self-imposed time limit) to hear her jingling collar coming up the driveway through the darkness.  Where she went, who knows, but at least she came back.  This is definitely problematic.

So back to what I was talking about on Xmas morning.  I again, forgo a leash because I figure we’re gonna go out, come back, all within like ten minutes.  None of the few neighbors I have would likely be out and Ivy can run around in the snow drifts, do her dirty business, and we can get back to play with all the shit I got for Xmas within those ten minutes.

Of course when we get to the end of the driveway, the old miserable lonely cunt next door is out there with her 400 lb German Shepherd, a dog that needs to be groomed worse than Joaquin Phoenix’s face.

Obviously I don’t like the woman.  I’ve had minor interactions with her before and she’s awkward and annoying.  She’s preachy like an old spinster would be.  She keeps her equally long driveway entrance blocked by parking her Buick right at the end of it.  Her giant Shep is aggressive, but leashed.

So as we come around the bend in our driveway, of course Ivy see’s him.

She doesn’t have issues with other dogs, usually.  Usually she just ignores them.  But this other dog starts yanking on his leash and barking.  And being that I have Ivy off of a leash, I kinda trot up along side her to grab her collar in case she decides to go bluddy loony tunes all of a sudden.

I greet the woman with a hearty “merry xmas” and she says nothing.  Her dog is barking and freaking the fuck out.  I bring Ivy close so they can sniff each other in the hopes the dog relaxes and we can all move on.  Instead of saying “merry xmas” back or even “good morning” she says in this bitchy tone:  “Don’t you have a leash.”

Notice no “?”.  She spoke it like a comment or an order.  I try to play the role of a plaintive dog owner and instead of going into a big long thing about my personal belief’s regarding leashes, I just say “ah, yeah, but I couldn’t find it and she had to go,” and to this the woman says “you know, ___________ (our town) has leash laws, you could get fined and your dog could get taken away by animal control.”

That last bit, to me, sounded like a fucking threat.  I smile, wish her a merry xmas again, and pull Ivy away up the street so she can do her business, literally putting this miserable woman behind us.

The next thing is that Ivy typically doesn’t just shit “anywhere.”  She goes out of her way to find someplace where people typically won’t walk.  Although this might be on someone else’s property, it’s practically never on their front lawn or driveway, but more along the sides of the property, in a tree line or in some bushes.  I have no personal hang ups about this at all.

So as Ivy bounded into someone’s yard to sniff out a patch to poop on, this woman comes around the corner with her shepherd.  She’s looking at me, and then looks over at Ivy, who’s in a squatting position, right on this neighbor’s front lawn.  She couldn’t have picked a worse time to deviate from her normal pooping procedures.

I smile some dumb smile, shrugging my shoulders as if to say “what can you do” and fully prepare myself to get a tongue-lashing from this woman at best, and and at worse, the cops called on me.

“That’s not right,” she says to me.  I have to agree.  Ivy finishes, shakes, and comes trotting back to me.  We leave.

“You’re not going to pick it up?!”  She calls after us.

My number one sin as a dog owner is that I’m not a poop picker-upper.  We don’t live in a built up area, Ivy doesn’t shit where people would normally walk.  Even though this particular time she shat right in someone’s front lawn, there was snow covering every thing and the shit would be gone within 24 hours, I’m sure.  I’m not one of those people who carry little baggies with them where ever they go just to bend over and carry dog shit with them until they find a receptacle.  Sorry, I won’t do it.

If that makes me a bad dog owner, then fine, whatever.  But I’m not mistreating my dog, I’m mistreating the people who live around us, there’s a difference.  As someone once said: the more time I spend with my dog, the less I like people.

Or something like that.

December 29, 2009 Posted by | Out and About, People I Hate, Puppy Tales | , , , , , | 1 Comment

Fat Lil’ Fucker

Lately, I can’t really comment on health and fitness.  The holidays are rough even on the most ultra-religious Nazi fitness fanatic.  Every where you turn there’s home-baked this, chocolate-dipped that.  Hell, just the other night, Ang and I made like 50 M&M cookies to bring into my work (full disclosure, I didn’t know I was supposed to leave some behind, naturally, I got an earful of this all week).

So I haven’t exactly been on my game.  As I was wrapping up work this past week in anticipation of my holiday vacation, I wasn’t really able to get over to the gym as much, if at all.  I feel lethargic and weak.

To help combat this, however, Ang and I have been doing hikes out in Nickerson State Park, with loaded packs on our backs.  These aren’t grueling hikes up the sides of mountains by any means, but at least it’s SOMETHING.

***

So last night I was in the local Shaw’s, getting some quick stuff for a carb-y meal of chicken parm; chicken breasts, angel hair pasta, sauce, the whole bit.  I get to the check out and I’m standing behind this guy and his 12 year old kid.  At first glance this kid looks hypoglycemic, badly stretched skin, yellow in color, eyes are simply dark colored dots poked into the middle of his face.  There’s one of those little dividers between his dad’s groceries and what appears to be the kid’s own purchase:  a small mountain of candy.

I’m not talking about a couple snickers bars and a thing of M&Ms, I’m talking about the hardcore candy, that stuff in the red packaging that’s glistening in sugar: gummy worms, sour patch kids, swedish fish, etc.  The stuff goes for a dollar a pack I believe, and in the end, this kid was buying over 15 dollars worth of the stuff.

In the mix as well, a few packs of gum, you know, because he needs something to do with his mouth between stuffing handfuls of confectionary into it.

I looked at the dad, who was non-pulsed by the scenario.  And that scenario was this:  The kid probably managed to roll off of his fat ass long enough to clean his room, and daddy threw him a Jackson as a reward with the promise that he could spend it on whatever he wanted.  Obviously dad must’ve seen the inevitable purchase of weapons-grade candy, because he was cool as shit about the purchase.

Literally, as soon as he finished paying for a bunch of small groceries (which I would’ve loved to have seen) his kid stepped up and paid for the candy with his own wad of greasy ones.  I must’ve had a horrified look on my face because the cashier glanced at me, then the dad before taking the kid’s money.

I felt like I had to be a responsible adult.  I felt like I had to say something to this father, that he was allowing his kid to kill himself.  To me, this was no worse than allowing your kid to buy a 30 rack of Ice House and pound the whole case down before heading out to school.

How was the father allowing the kid to get this out of control? Where was the authority?  I mean, easily, had it been my little butterball and he started grabbing up bags of candy with his little Vienna Sausage fingers I would’ve slapped that shit out of his hands real quick.

“No!” I would’ve yelled.  “No fucking way, no, if that’s how you’re going to blow your wad, then obviously you don’t deserve this money,” and yoink, there goes his allowance.

The whole scenario was so outrageously irresponsible.  Giving a kid money, allowing him to make a poor purchasing decision with no immediate repercussions, as well as allowing the kid to consume easily 200 times his daily allotment of sugars in one sitting reminded me of how, as a nation don’t deserve a public health option.

How hard would it to have been to be the dad and be like “no, you’re not buying that” or even “ok, you can buy candy, but how about you pick one of those bags and put the rest back.”?

No, instead dad is setting his kid up for failure.  At this rate he’ll be a diabetic by 22, his teeth will have rotted out by 28, he’ll have complications from all his medical issues by 35, and likely be in the grave by 60.  And by the looks of things, this isn’t just a snapshot judgement; the kid probably weighed around 140 and couldn’t have even been in his teens yet.

***

Did I end up saying anything?  No.  I knew that it would just create trouble, an awkwardness in the Shaw’s that would likely get me banned for life.  I kept looking at the dad, the cashier, the kid and then down at my own food in utter disbelief.  At one point my mouth opened to be like “hey…” but I knew I’d be swinging at a bad pitch, so I just clamped it and watched father and son waddle off like two human peanut M&Ms.

As my wife said after I told her the whole story when I got home “James, there’s nothing you can do – you probably would’ve gotten punched out by the dad.  Think of it like this:  That kid will be dead in a few decades, and there will be more air for us to breathe.”

December 17, 2009 Posted by | Gay Shit I Know Too Much About, Getting Older, Out and About, People I Hate, Smells Like Children | , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

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

TidBits: Your Online Newspaper Sucks.

In this issue of TidBits I focus the topics on various online newspapers, oppose to being all over the road, like I usually am.  Enjoy:

 

Huffington Post: I was first introduced to HuffPo back during the 2008 elections, because they seemed to have a more indepth (and far more liberally slanted) reporting on the campaigns than the New York Times did.  This is because unlike The Times, HuffPo is a fucking tabloid.  A tabloid, not in the sense of layout, but a tabloid in the sense that everything they publish is utter garbage and a glorification of shock-media.

Go to their site and likely on the front page “above the fold” you’ll find some colorful headline, with shocking allegations/implications/ramifications.  I’m sure today, 20NOV09, it’ll be something like “OPRAH QUITS!” or “GOLDMAN SACHS QUITS!” You get the idea.  The only people that should be quitting Huffington Post though are us.  Really, stop reading this trash.

Below that, you’ll likely find a headline involving a mass shooting, police dash board video of a 1oo mph car crash, or kittens.

The only real redeeming aspect of Huffington Post is it’s ‘Entertainment’ section, where on occasion they’ll post NSFW photos of quasi-famous people from European magazines.  If not for this section, I’d never known that Lady GaGa has pancake titties.

That being said, the Entertainment Section is rife with even more shit I don’t care about, to wit: Amy Winehouse BACK in rehab.  Lindsay Lohan looks strung out and too-skinny.  Some European model is doing coke on a yacht in the Mediterranean.  Levi Johnston’s cock is out for everyone to see, etc etc.

The worst crime perpetrated by Huffington Post, by far, is it’s line up of guest bloggers.  It seems that anyone under the sun, myself likely included, can submit their blogs and they’ll run on HuffPo.  A lot of these blogs are maybe 400 words in length, baseless, whiny, complainy, and ultra liberal.  And when you sprinkle into the mix CELEBRITIES, well, hold me down Jethro, let me beat feet over and see what the likes of Meryl Streep, Alec Baldwin, and fucking-a-christ Fitty Cent have to say about topics including and not limited to: The Environment, television, and polar bears.

We all know that if you give a celebrity of any size caliber a mouth piece they will talk non-stop on subjects they know little about.  They will regurgitate talking points garnered at parties and shit they heard on Keith Olberman two nights ago.  They then turn around and fill up space on Huffington Post with the same shit, so that simple-minded office drones (like myself) stuck in front of a computer all day, will read that shit and puke it back up during a conversation with our spouses, co-workers and mistresses.

JUST BECAUSE GEORGE CLOONEY SAID SOMETHING, DOESN’T MEAN IT’S RIGHT!  He’s a handsome man, no doubt, but that doesn’t make him Jesus.

Slate: Slate strikes me as the type of online magazine that only people who want to pretend they care about important shit read.  If you scan over it’s front page there’s a splash of multiple graphic-headlines along with a side bar that represents the latest stories to appear on Slate, called “The Slatest” which is fucking cute.

Scrolling over the tops of the subject columns, you get drop down menus from the latest articles being written in each subject matter.  What really catches my eye are the “explainer” articles, where someone asks a question regarding current events (my favorite so far has been “What makes a gun a ‘cop-killer’ gun?” to which I would’ve simply answered: “It’s ability to function, now go back to pulling the curlers out of your hair, Maud.”).  I like these because it allows me to peer into the psyche of my fellow readers, and see exactly how shallow it can be.

Who gives a rat’s ass about “Which Way is Best for a ‘Twilight’ Vampire to Drink Blood’ or “What Makes a Prison State-of-the-Art?”  I have answers to both:  Through a straw and Rape Whistles, that’s what.

I think my biggest hangup with Slate is it’s over all redundancy.  On their front page alone, I can access the same article five different ways, six if it’s still listed on the “Slatest” side bar.  This only reeks of lack of content, which is why I normally only pump my brakes here once a day.

If it wasn’t for Farhad Manjoo, I would likely take Slate off my bookmarks.

Cape Cod Times: I don’t want to make this personal, I really don’t.  That would hurt my objectivity as well as credibility, but seriously you fucks, that sunrise submission I sent in was TIGHT.  And when you compare it to the other crap that was submitted, it makes me feel like someone down in whatever basement at the CCT has been busy jacking off all over everyone’s mail.

Here’s the back story:  The CCT asked for reader submissions of photos of sunrises and sunsets.  I submitted the following photo:

A few weeks later I checked back and saw that they posted the top 15.  Surely I was going to get SOME mention in the top 15.  That pic I took, with my iphone no less, was sick.

But no.  Out of the 15 they picked, maybe 4 or 5 were better, and after that, maybe 6 total were worth the effort.  The rest, including one taken from someone’s couch out of their picture window, blew King Kong Kock.

Now to the rest of your site – it’s terrible.  I understand you’re the only daily on Cape, but c’mon dude, you guys are fucking terrible.  It’s not like you have any real competition, except for the little dinky local papers, like the Ptown Banner, Barnstable Patriot, etc.  But c’mon, make the effort.

Your stories are half researched at best, and usually filled with speculation from your editorial staff.  You run incomplete articles that virtually amount to nothing, except a huge waste of time.

For instance, for the last month or six weeks, you’ve been running the same story about how some fire lieutenant is in trouble with the town offices in Bourne.  You can’t report why she’s in trouble, or under what circumstances she’s being investigated for, yet you run the story.

It’s fucking gossip dude.

Your Police and Fire Notes are often stuff you guys grab off the scanner.  Shooting here, stabbing there, car accident on 6… big deal, it’s so fucking repetitive that I want to go down to your printing shop and instruct all of you on the phenomenal waste of paper you’re generating.

But hey, my ferrets need ass wipe too, so… keep up the good work.

November 24, 2009 Posted by | Corporate America Hates You, Gay Shit I Know Too Much About, Getting Older, Gonzo Journalism, Out and About, People I Hate, Shameless Self Promotion, Why Am I Reading This? | , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Savageness of Business/The Shotgun Accord of 2009

The Realtor called again this afternoon.

To get everyone on the same page, there’s been this slow boiling Cold War between my wife and I, our utterly inept landlord (whom I discovered today, does appear as though she were a human-fish hybrid), and the real estate company she’s trying to sell our apartment through.  All parties despise each other to the point where our front step is something similar to the 38th Parallel.

We’re in the process of moving out of here, because Ang and I are fed up with having to deal with the bullshit that consumes us on a daily basis in our “quaint (see also: small, old, dingy)” apartment on Main St.  From drunken hooligans parading down the thoroughfare throwing glass bottles at houses, to the 7am weed-whacking that we’ve yet to pinpoint a location on, yet hear nearly daily, we long for something quiet, out of the way, and without the bothersome-yet-polite nagging from The Realtor.

As stated she called today, which took me off guard.  Typically phone numbers that come up on my phone’s screen that I don’t readily recognize I tend to send off to vmail; that is after all, why voicemail was invented, to screen calls from undesirables, am I right?  But being that I was driving, I felt compelled to put everyone’s life at risk, mine, my wife’s, other motorists, and answer.

“Hi, is this Jim?”  Came the cheery voice of the cuntbag Realtor.  At first I thought it might’ve been the nurse at the doctor’s office we just left a short while ago; maybe we had left something behind, or there was some missing paperwork, etc.  But she followed up her greeting with “This is ____ (rhymes with ‘spam’) from _______ (rhymes with ‘fuckhole’) Reality, how are you today?”

Fuck!

We were just coming back from a doctor’s visit where Ang had been knocked out so a small camera could be rammed down her throat and pictures could be taken of the small ulcer she’s gone on to name “Squirmy.”  While the photo’s were ‘Sear’s Portrait’ at best, we did get a B-Roll to take home with us.

Regardless, Ang was passed on in the passenger seat and I could tell she was going to be groggy for the next few days.  The very thought of a realtor dragging some so-and-sos through our apartment right now made my asshole itch.  Before I could even answer her initial question of ‘is this Jim’ she was already ramming her commission-earning greed-cock down my gullet and making my eyes bulge and tear.

“I was wondering if it’d be ok to show the apartment this time tomorrow,” we had an agreed upon an armistice after our last interaction, which I can’t remember if I went into or not in the last article I wrote regarding this topic.  In short, after she pinned her calling card on our door while we were out, and I came just short of calling her a miserable bitch from the 9th circle of hell when I called back, we agreed on what I call the “Shotgun Accord” where she would give me a 24 hour heads up before bringing prospective buyers by, and I wouldn’t shove the barrel of my Remington 870 into any “trespasser’s” face.

She was holding up hear end of the bargain, and under normal circumstances I’d be obligated to give her the go-ahead.  But I glanced over at the crumpled form of my wife, passed out in the passenger seat complete with her cute way of snoring like a man, thinking of her inevitable anesthesiologist-induced hangover, and had to pull the wife-card.

“Ugh, ____, it’s not going to happen, look, my wife’s real sick, we’re just coming back from the doctor’s where my wife had an IV rammed into her arm and a camera down her throat.  She’s in no position to have people tromping around where we live.  She needs rest.”

“Oh, that’s too bad.  Well, what I can do is call back the agent and find out if the people are locals or out of towners, and if they’re local, we’ll reschedule for later in the week, and if they’re out of town, we won’t bring them upstairs, how about that?”

The bitch!  Like, everything I just said to her apparently didn’t resonate one bit.  I understand that she’s got a business to run, and time is money, but I just told her that my wife’s bed ridden and sick.

I grip the steering wheel and twist, feeling like I’m going to snap if off the column.  Ang murmurs.

The Realtor doesn’t miss a beat, and it’s hard to miss the smugness in her voice:  “_____ (our landlord, rhymes with ‘Turdface’) tells me you guys found a place, so you don’t need me to give your info to our rental agent?”  When we last spoke, the Realtor told me she had a hook up on some nice rental property down the road from us, and she was going to have an agent contact us ‘very soon.’  That was weeks ago and we hadn’t heard one word from anyone from this agency until now.  I bit my tongue before telling this witch to hop back up on her broom and go fuck herself.

That was actually the scenario that I figured had probably gone down (not the broomstick penetration); that our shitty landlord had, in a surprising and uncharacteristically act of selflessness, contacted The Realtor and told her to back off of us.  We’d be gone in a few weeks, no need to hassle good people.  But I guess I was mistaken.

“Yeah, we found a place,” I conceded.  If she, The Realtor, knew this information, why wouldn’t she just leave us alone and let us move out, and start showing the place in earnest next month, when we’re not there and she doesn’t have to bother anyone?  The Savagery of Business!

I wanted to explain that scenario to her but I’d be wasting my breath.  The longer property sits on the market, the less likely it’ll get sold, that’s Real Estate 101 for you.  She wants as many dipshit buyers in our living space as possible.  I’m actually quite surprised that there hasn’t been an open house while we’re sitting at our kitchen table eating breakfast.

As of press time (which is later in the evening after taking the call) I’ve yet to hear back from this miserable bridge troll that’s in charge of selling this property, which means that sometime tomorrow afternoon, some fucking out-of-state dickbags and this happy-go-lucky machine gun target are going to be making all sorts of ridiculous noise during my wife’s convalescence.

Consider the “Shotgun Accord” to be officially null and void.

November 16, 2009 Posted by | Corporate America Hates You, Living in an Insane Asylum, Out and About, People I Hate | , , , , , , , | 3 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

The Honeymoon

You can see pics from the trip here – ed.
There’s something special about returning to work after taking time off, especially if that time off was regarding your honeymoon.  You feel so blissfully out of touch it’s amazing to find your desk as you left it, belongings mostly intact.  This all seems to soften the blow that your tub of fat-free yogurt has gone missing altogether.

That said, the time spent on your honeymoon is magical; everything seems to go right even when it’s terribly wrong, like getting lost in Upstate NY.

We weren’t really lost; the plan was to drive off the highway for a bit, see some of the “real” countryside of upstate, the side you don’t see on Rt 90 on your way to Buffalo, of all places.

I had been scanning the New York Times’ Real Estate section and observed that homes in the Saratoga Springs area were going for between 175-200K.  Good homes with two stories, a yard, maybe even a pool.  Perfect, I thought, just what we were looking for.

But Corinth, the small hamlet where we ended up, is New York State’s scraped elbow.  There’s nothing but mountains, trees, dirty depressing dilapidated store fronts, a gas station every ten feet, kitty-cornered from one another, each seemed to be manned by the same grimy-faced local who knew, instantly, that you were from out of town.

Such a local, a waitress in some sort of strange service station/diner, a face that looked beaten with a sun-heated shovel pointed her gnarled nicotine stained finger nail at the ATM in the far corner of the establishment when I asked as to where one could be found.

“You always miss it,” she hissed, as if to indicate that she knew I was from out of town, and I represented every wayward traveler to ever cross the town line.

And of course, it was easy enough to tell we, my wife and I, hadn’t graduated from the Corinth Regional High School.  Although dressed like slobs, our clothes didn’t reek of diesel fuel.  We were driving around in a whisper quiet Toyota Prius, paying more attention to our iPhones than the surroundings of the small dent in the Earth that was Corinth.

Remember in “Back to the Future” when Marty first arrives in the 50s and the locals think he’s an alien?  He has this crazy looking car with gull wings for doors, in a biohazard suit, etc.  The local hick farmer nearly cut him in two with a shotgun blast for crashing into his barn, but was too petrified to pull the triggers.

That’s what it was like for us, driving around Corinth with out of state plates in a car that made no noise.

We had enough “small town charm”, not bothering to stop at the Dollar General (we did eat in the one restaurant in town that didn’t look like someone’s wind-smashed porch.  A Chinese food place called Golden Dragon, or Double Gold, or Lucky Dragon… I think it’s a rule that Chinese restaurants have to have either “dragon” “gold” or “lucky” in their names in our order get a business license.) before high tailing it the hell out of Dodge.

***

Niagara was beautiful however, a trip that I will never forget, thanks to technology.  We arrived late, after putting in 12 hours on the road between Portland, ME and Niagara Falls.

We left later than what I wanted to, due to a slower start, but at the time it seemed the all engines were firing just fine.  But with a stop at the Tim Hortons before even leaving my mom’s home town – which sucked up about half an hour – we were in rough shape.

We pulled into the tiny B&B around 1930 and were greeted at the door by a charmingly cheerful owner, a young woman whom I had no idea would be old enough to have mothered a kindergartener.  She had our room squared away, a tiny “French Room” at the top of a set of grand stairs, with a private bath and tiny television.

Ang instantly took to the shower, as 12 hours on the road will make you believe that God himself demands you bathe.  As for me, I asked to be pointed towards the nearest liquor store.
Cassidy, the matron, busted out a touristy map and with a black pen started to scribble out a route by foot towards the nearest liquor store.

“You want to avoid this area, entirely,” she squared off a section of about twelve blocks due north of where we were.  “It’s a HUGE ghetto.”

But that’s who I am, a shit magnet, that despite my best efforts, would haphazardly wind up waist deep in … dark… waters.

I followed the instructions to what I thought was a “T”.  Taking a left where I was supposed to, staying on a street, etc.  I found myself looking at a dimly lit convenience store, a ratty Caddy idling with a rhythmic clank and rattle.

I rubbed my stubble and wandered in.  Inside I found what you’d find in any inner city general store:  non-descript bags of neon-colored popcorn, 24-count cases of Natural Ice, on sale.  Nylon doo-rags in cellophane packets dangling from a spinning wire rack , non-NFL sanctioned Buffalo Bills memorabilia, 40 oz bottles of some brackish-colored alcohol stacked at the end of one of the aisles (the brand escapes me, but it wasn’t one of the ‘hood classics’ like Cobra, Colt .45, or Steel Reserve), scratch tickets, festering hotdogs on rollers, and black people shouting at each other.

I went in looking for, of all things, wine, a loofah, and tampons.  Maybe a snack for myself, since it was likely we weren’t going to be having dinner.  I left with nothing but fear that at any moment I was going to become a tragic victim of urban violence.  A sad state of affairs, when a young promising male, successful in his own right, was gunned down at a convenience store  outside of Buffalo, NY.  Another tale of “wrong place, wrong time.”

I can see the befuddled detectives standing over my splayed out corpse, bullet wounds in my back leading towards a growing puddle of blood:

“What the hell was this guy doing here, anyway?”  One says to the other, as he flick’s my out-of-state driver’s license.

“Fuck if I know, probably trying to score drugs,”

***

We did the whole sight-seeing bit, which given the time of year, wasn’t a whole lot.  We were only really up there for one full day sandwiched by two days of traveling.

The weather was some-what cooperative; to ask for warmth so late through October would’ve been asking for too much.  But at least it didn’t rain, which would’ve been too much for either of us to stand.

We did the falls, got wet, then went shopping at the outlets, which seemed to be the best option going, as the mall was crowded.

That night, we went to the Casino.

Admittedly, the last time I was in a casino I was 21 or 22, a raging alcoholic who often surrounded himself with hooligans equally intoxicated.  The last time I was in a casino, we were asked to leave by security.

What had happened was innocent enough:  We had been gambling, I think, and decided we wanted to go to the fancy buffet on whatever floor above the betting floor.  We, the three or four of us, clambered into a glass elevator and rode upwards.

At some point, this kid named Anthony, or Michael, or Patrick, … some Irish fuckhead, decided to pull down his cargo shorts and press his ass cheeks against the glass.

Security met us at the elevator just as the doors opened to let us out.

Now, some five or six years later, I was going into a casino with my wife on my arm, wearing half a suit I bought off the rack at H&M before we left for the vacation.

The suit was all black, complete with vest.  I wanted to wear the whole thing, but Ang protested, saying I’d be way over dressed.  I relented and opted to wear designer blue jeans with the jacket and vest.

Walking on to the betting floor was a lot like what I imagine walking on to a kill floor of a slaughter house circa 1890.  It’s disgusting; cigarette smoke hangs in the air just above the dizzying lights and sounds of all the machines.  Mummified remains of happy grandparents sit in front of computerized screens, punching buttons in some sort of twisted scientific experiment.

“How long can we keep these withered bodies here, pressing the same button over and over again, using the Reward System?”

Some were so addicted that they had some sort of punch card attached to a lanyard plugged into the machine.  If we could somehow harness the power from five hundred elderly people mashing buttons for 12 hours at a whack, we’d have solved the energy crisis.

I’m not a gambler, I make terrible bets and even worse decisions when I’m faced with a choice in my betting.  All one has to do is watch me agonize over my fantasy football picks every week to get a clear idea on how I’d make a terrible gambler.

We made a round of the floor, went to the bar, and each got a beer.  I sipped my beer and decided that I was going to play blackjack.  I had 50 dollars in my pocket to use towards that end, and I made up my mind that I would not walk out with less than that amount, so help me god.  I found a lonely dealer at a blackjack table and sat down.

The dealer and I chatted for a bit as I played, and before I knew it, I was up by about 100 dollars from my initial 20 dollar investment.  The pressure suddenly got too high, or maybe it was boredom at how easily I was making money.  I even hit on 16 and drew a five, much to the dealer’s amazement.  I knew nothing of player/dealer etiquette, and failed to tip as I got up from the table.  He changed my chips from stacks of fives to a few stacks of tens.

It was then, holding the tens in my hands, I could see the addiction welling up.  If I bet just one of these chips, worth 10 dollars, I could potentially double it, and then double that amount, and so on.  I could FEEL the gravity of the table; a pull on my spine no short of someone actually reaching in and tugging on my bones.

I finished my beer and found Ang back at the bar, checking her phone.

“How’d you do?”  She asked.  I shrug.

“Well, I have fewer chips,” and I opened up my hand to show that I indeed had fewer chips, but they were worth a lot more than what I started.  She was pleased, especially when I said I was going to cash out and we were getting the hell out of there.

The entire time, walking across the floor to the cashier, I felt eyes on me.  Maybe it was how I was dressed (“what’re you so dressed up for?” the dealer would ask.  “I’m on my honeymoon,” I told him.  “Huh, where are you from?”  “Cape Cod.”  “…You came out to Niagara Falls and you’re from Cape Cod… on your honeymoon?  What, you don’t like palm trees?”) or maybe it was that I was walking out with the casino’s money.

I was for certain that in order to cash out I’d be required to fill out a mailing slip so they could send me promotions, or invite me back, etc.  But no, they simply took my chips, counted them out, and handed me back the appropriate amount of money back, hassle free.

We left, the feeling of a thousand eyes on my neck following me out of the casino.
***

We were on the road early the next morning to get back to reality.  The sky was gray, the air cold and uninviting, almost telling us that we were doomed.  Fourteen hours we arrived at our apartment with two ferrets and a load of bags that needed to be hauled up a flight of rickety stairs.  The dog was picked up shortly after from a friend on a rain soaked night that welcomed us home like the chilling embrace of a bear trap.

October 21, 2009 Posted by | Blogging Couple, Corporate America Hates You, Getting Older, Gonzo Journalism, Out and About, People I Love, Shameless Self Promotion | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Ex-Co-Workers: Your Office’s Lingering Fart.

In the working world people come and go, and the less transitory the job, the stronger the bonds are between co-workers.  I mean, if anyone was stuck in a foxhole with someone else long enough, I’m sure lasting friendships would be forged.

However, if you’re in a business where people tend to come and go like the breeze, it’s likely you couldn’t care less about your co-workers.  That isn’t to say that you won’t make a friend or two, or might be sad to see someone go every once in a while, however, largely you could care less.

It’s just faces in the crowd, really.

And that’s how I feel most of the time.  The bulk of people in my office I could give two shits about; you’re here, you work, and you transfer out in roughly a year or two.  It’s been nice knowin’ ya.

But what do you do when they come back?  …For a visit?

Is anything more awkward than an old co-worker coming back to your office to “hang out” and “catch up” especially when you’re busy at work?  Could you imagine sitting at your desk while someone you give less than two shits about jabbers on while leaning over you, perched on your cubical wall, not giving a shit that you’re a week behind a deadline and your phone is ringing off the hook?  Don’t you wish they’d take a hint and go the fuck away?Library_04619

Two such situations happened around my office recently, about five days apart, where old co-worker came back to the office to pay a visit.  Nothing to me is sadder than to discover a former co-worker just sitting around a common area waiting for someone to talk to, almost like a Trap Door Spider waiting to snatch some desert bird who haplessly came too close to their hovel.

But that’s what I walked into the other day when I was going from the little room I stay in when I’m here at work, to my office.  Between the two spaces I have to cross through a rather large common area, and who did I see leaning up against the wall?  This asshole that transferred out to our offices in CT at the beginning of Summer.

“Hey J, how’s things going for ya?”  He sticks his hand out.  I’m forced to be fake because the man is a born loser with a dark disposition on life, and I’m the exact opposite.  At least I like to keep up that appearance anyway.

No one was immediately in the area, so I couldn’t do the “hey,” shake, and move on bit.  I was forced to actually hit the brakes and chit chat.

“How’s Connecticut?”  I asked through somewhat gritted teeth.  He goes on to complain (because that’s a crowd-winner, right?  Who the hell cares how shitty it is, lie like everyone else and say ‘good!’) for a solid ten minutes about how it’s not like our branch, and how he hasn’t made any friends, so on, so forth.

This guy is the only guy I know who would frown while getting blown by Megan Fox.  He’s that miserable.

So after ten minutes of listening to him complain, I shove off, tell him I have some reports to run, yada yada yada, and he does that annoying thing where someone will start a whole new conversation as you’re taking a step to your right to walk away, just to reset their hooks in you.  I stop, looking around over his shoulder for someone to help me, begging god for someone on the PA to page me to some place, anything.  He locks me in for another solid two minutes before I finally stop him in mid sentence with:

“Oh hey, what happened with that (Blank)?”  He’s confused because he has no idea what I’m talking about, as I just made up an incident involving his new branch.  I take the pause to tell him I heard that (Blank) had happened and did he know anything about it.

“No…?”

“Oh, well, huh, that’s funny,” I say, allowing another awkward pause to settle in place.  I use that pause to segue into finally leaving this asshole leaning on the wall.  “Ok, well, I’ll be seeing you,” and I quickly turn and walk away without giving him a chance to try to rope me back in.iStock000000379976XSmallAnnoying2-main_Full

I heard similar stories of people’s run-ins with this guy for the rest of the day.  Apparently he didn’t get the message that no one really wanted to see him around.  I for one was close to paging security to come down and whisk him away, but I kept getting distracted by phone calls and text messages.

At one point I heard a page come across our PA system.  It was the guy’s voice, paging a co-worker of mine to come down to the break room.  Seriously, the nerve!

Jump ahead to this afternoon (as I’m writing this) me and some co-workers come in from a charity function here in town and there’s ANOTHER one of these former co-workers just hanging out in our administrative pool area!

This guy is ten times worse than the other guy because he’s a lying, stealing cheater with a big fat mouth and the balls to match.  He was caught red handed, twice, digging through my personal belongings both in my stay room and at my desk.  When confronted, he flat denied it to mine, and my supervisor’s face, both of us had been the ones to catch him.

He was assigned to our office a year ago from another office up the coast due to family illness.  While he was staying here, he did nothing but disrupt the natural course of business while failing to be productive.  He was a slimy leach latched on to the testicle of a happy working environment.   He was recently transferred out, back to his original office, after our office’s managers had decided they’d had enough of his antics.

But now, here he was, back again, smiling that gapped toothed smile, the very picture of an animated ventriloquist’s dummy.

We keep somewhat of a skeleton crew here at the office on the weekends; most of our bosses are at home, rightfully so, and we who are left behind are given a work list of things that require taking care of.  I don’t work every weekend, only a handful at a time, and it’s nice.

Luckily, most of my co-workers were already in the admin pool area when this dickwad sauntered in off the street to have lunch with us.

I avoided him at all cost, because I felt like I’d likely pummel him to death with my bare fists should I interact with him.  I went into my office without closing the door, as so Ivy, my dog who’s staying with me at the office this weekend, could come and go as she pleased.
complainer
In walks fuckstick.

“Cool dog, when did you get him?”

“We got HER, a few weeks ago.”

“Oh, how much did she cost?”  Who the fuck asks that?  I’ve been asked about every normal, sane question you can ask someone about their dog, and not one person asked me how much I spent on her.  And nothing is so trashy as to ask anyone how much anything costs.  Decent people don’t talk about money like that.

“Excuse me?”  I say while squinting and looking up from my screen.

“How much did you spend on her?”  He asks again while petting her. This gets under my skin real quick.  I avoid the question and ask him to shut the door.  He shuts the door, but he’s still in my office, petting my dog.

“No, I meant, shut the door with you on the other side of it,” I explain to him.  He looks up at me with a confused expression and I see the lightbulb eventually come up with a flicker.  Quietly he turns and opens up the door to my office and steps out, leaving it open.

Once you’ve left a job, be it through transfer, firing or quitting, don’t go back.  People have moved on, take it from me.  Your so-called “friends” at the office have pretty much forgotten about you the moment your car door slams shut for the last time in the company parking lot.  As you shuffle your box of belongings around on your passenger seat, people are already erasing your contact information from their email address books and rolodexes.  You’ve been “unfriended” by everyone at the office on Facebook, your tagged pictures have been “untagged.”  You’re like a fart, hanging in the air until you waft away and are forgotten for good.

How many farts do YOU really remember?

Just move on, make new “friends” where ever you land.  Always keep looking forward, and forget those behind you.

September 14, 2009 Posted by | Around The Office, Corporate America Hates You, Living in an Insane Asylum, People I Hate | , , , , , | 1 Comment

Animal Magentism

In case you haven’t been following me on Facebook or Twitter (@BAD0rg)IMG_0105, it may come as a surprise to you that my wife and I adopted a yellow lab about a week ago.

I could go into the why’s and how’s but I don’t feel like getting into it right now.  Just take for granted we went to a shelter, found ourselves a pretty laid back, albeit beat up, 5-8 year old yellow lab – slash – something else, and brought her home with us.

I’ve noticed, in the last week though, that people will literally (!) cross the street to come pet my dog.  Why, I have no idea.

I don’t mean to say that my dog, Ivy (so named because when we first took her for a “getting to know you” walk at the shelter, she dragged us through a patch of Poison Ivy), isn’t worth the attention.  She’s a great dog, great personality, non-aggressive or skittish.  She’s just a laid back dog, like any dog you’d find on a leash on Cape Cod.IMG_0103

Yet, everyone wants to talk to us about her, or pet her, or fawn a ton of attention on her.  People, she’s not like, Princess Diana’s dog or anything, Christ.

It’s annoying in the way that I can’t walk down our street without being stopped at least three times by some tourist asshole asking me a bunch of questions about my dog.

To wit:  Ang asked me to pick her up from work, as it was a Saturday night, and she’s taken a gig at a shop down the street from my office.  It was a nice night and since the aspect of having a pet I could actually walk was still somewhat new to me, I decided to take Ivy along and walk her down this boulevard towards Ang’s shop.

Because it was Saturday night the place was teaming with people, mostly hanging out in front of the many bars along particular stretch of road.  The road itself is congested, so when a slow moving vehicle is trying to squeeze through the throngs of people, I had to pull Ivy to the side between me and the loiterers.

“Hey, can I pet your dog?”  A gay guy asked me as I was walking by.  I don’t know if I hesitated or not, because I was walking with a purpose towards the other end of the street towards the shop, and Ivy loves to smell people/things so I was giving her little tugs on her leash to keep her moving.  Knowing the question was directed at me and was still up in the air, I half turned my head and said:

“No,” and kept walking.  The gay guy didn’t really like that.  He makes a huge fuss, calling me a douche bag.

“Who says ‘no?’ to someone asking to pet their dog!?” Shrieked the man.

I’m sorry that I don’t stop and let you pet my dog, sir.  In case you didn’t notice, I’m fucking walking someplace.  If I stopped and let every asshole in town who asked pet my dog, it’d take me an hour to go the four hundred yards down the street.  If you want an animal to pet so badly, go adopt one of your own.

Not to mention that my dog is currently in kinda rough shape and takes a bunch of pills because her former owners didn’t give two shits about her.  So how would you like to be swatted and rubbed down by complete strangers while you convalesced?  Or better yet, as you walked down the street?

I don’t understand it, honestly.  Before we were dog owners, I never went out of my way to play with or pet a stranger’s dog.  I see a dog being walked on a leash I just smile and keep walking; I probably side step too, just to get out of their way.  I sure as hell don’t stop that person and ask them 20 questions about the breed, age, pedigree, temperament, colorings/markings of the animal.

I understand that dogs can be used to attract people as well.  There’s countless movies where some hapless everyman is trying to attract a woman in a park with the aid of a puppy.  This ploy has been well documented.  But I’m a married man, out walking my dog.  My motives are clear:  I’m trying to get the animal to shit outdoors so it doesn’t shit in the middle of our living room.

Ang and I work in a gay community, so that Saturday night as I arrived at Ang’s shop, she was just closing up, and it was going to be a minute or two before she was going to be ready.

So Ivy and I hung out in front of the store, the dog sitting by my feet while I scanned the latest headlines on my phone.  This obviously was a huge signal for a group of gay men to come over and start talking to me.

“Wow, can I like, pet your dog?”  A member of the group of three or four asks.

I can’t be the same “douche bag” to these people, especially if I’m stationary, so I finish reading what I was reading on my phone and tell them they can shower Ivy with a bunch of attention.  While petting and rubbing her they press upon me the typical compliments about the dog I’ve been receiving the whole time, all while undressing me with their eyes.

“So what’re you doing here tonight in town?”  Another in the group asks.

“Oh, I’m just waiting for my wife,” I make sure to say.  That seems to get them to move along as they talk about visiting the “adult toy store” across the street.

IMG_0114To reiterate on my point:  If the dog is leashed, people, just mind your business.  If I’m at the dog park, or trails, or someplace where the dog isn’t leashed, then sure, don’t even ask, rub her little butt – she loves that.  But for Chrissakes, get your fucking hands off my dog.

August 26, 2009 Posted by | Gay Shit I Know Too Much About, Gonzo Journalism, Out and About, People I Hate, Pic Post | , , , , , | 2 Comments