Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Could You Hold My Tooth for Me?

Christmas is over and New Year's Eve is approaching. I have this week off thanks to my company realizing that people would rather have this week off than an office party. This is the first year they've done this and they claim that it will also be the only year. We'll have to wait and see on that front. I think it'll be too popular to eliminate. But I'm also not that bright so you can take that at face value.

So what's been going on? Just stuff. I'm getting excited about the vacation that the Wiff and I will be taking to Ireland soon. Check this out. This is my schedule from last Monday, December 21st until the end of January: Dec. 21-23 were working days. Then I have 11 days in a row (including weekends) off. I return to work on January 4th. On January 7th I leave for Ireland for vacation. I will be off for another 11 days (7 of them in Ireland), returning to work on the 18th. Then on the 21st I fly to England to do a training at our Oxfordshire office. The Wiff will also be flying out to meet up with me after I'm done with the trainings in London. We'll fly back to Boston on the 24th. Then there's just a week left of January. Oh, and in the middle of the trip to Ireland I'll be turning 40 fucking years old. Crazy.

Guess what I did yesterday? No, not that (ok, yes that too). I made beer in New Hampshire. My friends Matt and Adam (who are brothers by the by) and I went to this place called IncrediBREW and spent a couple hours making our own beer. Ok, so technically it's a recipe that the place provides but we did all the mixing and cooking. It was pretty cool but I'm willing to allow others to brew my beer for me thank you very much. There's lots of steps and everything is so very precise. In a couple weeks we get to go back and bottle it all up and we should get about 4-5 cases of 22 oz. beers. Niiiice. I won't be at the bottling portion of the deal since I'll be in Ireland being a drunk. I suggested that we start our own "Brew your own whiskey" business. People would come in and whip up a nice batch of whiskey from recipes that we would provide for them. And then in a short 12-18 years, they would come back and bottle it up. Matt and Adam weren't convinced that it was genius moment. It may not be the best business model I'll admit but I'm looking into the licensing anyway. So back off people, it's MY IDEA.

On Monday I went back to my dentist to have my crown put in finally. I had scheduled the appointment at 9 am so that it would be over and done and I wouldn't have to think about it anymore. What a silly goose I am. I should have realized that nothing ever goes so smoothly. I've had this temporary crown in for a month or so and it isn't the most comfortable thing in the world. It's slightly wider than a real tooth and the texture is all wrong. My tongue keeps checking it out to see if it has somehow become a real tooth during the last few seconds. "Is it real yet? Nope. How about now? Nope. Better check again. Nope, it's still a giant Lego piece jammed in my face." My dentist has assured me that the actual crown which is porcelain baked over gold (oooh, fancy!) will match my original toof (minus the giant crack in said toof that started this nonsense in the first place). Ok, doc. Let's do this shit.

So I'm sitting in the chair when he comes in and without so much as a "Hey, how are you doing?", he reaches into my mouth with these big honkin' pliers and yanks the temporary tooth out. Um, ow! Thanks for the warning skippy. He then proceeded to use his evil assortment of tools to hose out the area with ice cold water. You know what sucks? Exposed nerves coming in contact with cold water. That sucks. Then his minion used the sucky-face thing to attack my tongue. Seriously. She went right for it. I dunno what my tongue ever did to her (HEY-OH!) but she clearly hates it. Then he did a dry fitting of the new crown. After asking me to bite down on these little strips of cardboard material he then took out his drill (!!!) and started shaving down the crown so that it would fit properly. He then took the crown and left me sitting in the chair staring at the light. Those dentist chair lights always look like the space ships from the original War of the Worlds movie to me.

He came back after a few minutes (here's the extent of the small talk his minion and I shared: Her: "Do you have any kids?" Me: "Nope." Her: ....) and said that because of a defect in the porcelain, he cannot put in ("install"? is that the right word? "put in" seems wrong. "insert"? that sounds dirty..how about "fasten"? yea, I like that one) fasten the crown. And since the place that made the crown is closed this week, I'm going to have to come back next Tuesday afternoon so he can do it then. Fuuuuuck. Ok, fine. Put the shitty Lego toof back in and lemme outta here. Sheesh.

Cut to yesterday and after we made the beer, Matt, Adam and I grabbed some food at this mexican place up the street from the brewing place. After dinner when Adam and I were headed home (I drove since he lives close by my house and it seemed silly to have us drive up separately), he offered me a piece of gum. "Sure, why not", I said. I'll tell you why not: The toof. Yep. About 15 seconds after popping the gum in my mouth, it yanked the temporary crown out and I had to hand the whole thing over to Adam. That's nasty I know but he has a small kid so he must be used to gross things by now. He separated the gum from the toof and tossed the gum out the window. Luckily it was actually the gum he tossed and not the toof.

And since I was driving and it seemed unlikely that I'd be able to pop it back in with any level of success, he held onto the toof the entire trip home. I appreciate that sir. When I got home I cleaned it up and pressed it back into place. It has this putty stuff on the underside that seems to be holding on for now. I just have to chew EVERYTHING on the other side of my mouth so that it doesn't come loose again. I only have to deal with this for 6 days. I hope it doesn't come out during the night and I end up swallowing it. That would suck ass.

Monday, December 21, 2009

B to the double RR

So far in my nearly 40 god-forsaken years I have only lived in eastern Massachusetts. This area is not the coldest, it's not the warmest, and it's not ... the anything-est really. When summer comes I always forget just exactly what 95 degrees and super-high humidity feels like. It feels like what I assume Satan's taint would feel like if you were crammed down the backside of his underwear for an entire day. Does Ol' Scratch even wear underwear? Prolly not huh? I mean he's got those goat legs and all so the underwear would be rather restrictive. I mean, off-the-shelf underwear would be anyway. I guess he could commission some custom undies for himself but I'm still not convinced that he's an underwear type of demon. What was I talking about? Oh, right...the weather.

The point being that even though it does get hot and humid here, it typically doesn't last all that long cuz we're so close to the ocean. But, when winter comes? Hoo-boy. That shit seems to linger. It's the same deal as summer where I forget exactly what cold actually is. As fall moves into winter and the days get colder and the layers of clothes get thicker, I am sort of lulled into thinking that the change of seasons is pleasant. Then we have a day where the temp does not move past 5°F (that was last week) and I am instantly reminded that winter is a horrible, mean bitch who is hell bent on freezing my face off.

Yesterday we got our first honest-to-goodness snowfall and it was a doozy. In Lynn (the gateway to Saugus) we ended up with just over a foot of snow, blowing around making drifts of 2-3 feet. And no, I do not have a snowblower. Yes, I realize that there are much colder places and yes, I realize that Syracuse NY got 3 feet of snow in ONE STORM, but I submit to you that people who live in those places are crazy. They are fully aware that this shit happens every goddamn year and yet they refuse to move away from there. That is lunatic behavior. You would only have to tell me once that "It's nice here in the summer and the city is beautiful and blah blah blah. Oh, by the way, we typically get 9.5 feet of snow per year." You would never see me again. Simple as that.

I've been yammering on and on about wanting to move to Maine but I think I have to reevaluate that. I might be too delicate for their winters (which start in October to and end sometime in late May). Sometimes I forget that I'm a weenie.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Stupid House Stuff

'Sup? Work has started on the Not-So-Great Kitchen Project '09. The Crack committed suicide last Wednesday (the 9th) by finally crashing to the kitchen floor (luckily not taking out a cat in the process) and scaring the bejeesus out of me. It sounded like a whole bunch of plates falling and shattering. It was looooooud. I was upstairs at the time and as I made my way downstairs to see what the hell happened (while actually saying "What the hell happened"), I was met on the stairs by Oliver who's eyes were like huge saucers and Molly who's tail was a giant bushy mess. They were on their way up to go hide under the bed which as any cat will tell you, is by far the best hiding space no matter what the threat. House on fire? Hide under the bed. Ceiling crashing to the floor? Go hide under the bed. Huge bed-moving monster from Planet Eatonlyhidingcats? Your best bet is to hide under the bed.

I must admit that I immediately blamed these two for whatever had been broken since they are most likely the culprits whenever there anything is broken in the house. "Oh, you little assholes," I yelled at them. "What the fuck did you do now?" When I got to the first floor and surveyed the living room, everything looked in order. The TV was fine (which was my first thought when I heard the crash. I figured they'd smashed my favorite appliance in the whole wide world) and Morticia was sitting on the couch looking guilty. Granted, she always looks guilty though. "What was that noise, miss lady?" I asked her. She did a little "MMMmmmmrrrow?" thing but totally did not answer my question. She's been around us for over 15 years now and she still cannot speak a work of English. Whatta dope.

I turned to go into the kitchen and was greeted with what was left of The Crack. A decent-sized chunk of the ceiling had come crashing down and I now had shattered plaster and debris everywhere in the kitchen. There was still some crumbs tumbling down from the 2 foot by 1.5 foot hole in the ceiling. "Oh motherfuck", I groaned. The Crack had become The Hole. "Good thing the contractor dude is coming on Monday." I swept up all the junk and wondered just how it was possible that for 11 years I avoided fixing this stupid thing. The Hole responded by dumping more tufts of horse hair and plaster crumbs on my freshly swept floor.

And so yesterday Mike the Contractor came and made The Crack which became The Hole into The Patch. I think the proper noun status of The Patch will be very short lived as Mike moves forward with blending the patch into the rest of the ceiling, priming and then painting everything to match. It's gonna look pissah. Or at the very least, so much less shitty. What about the mudroom? Well, that room is going to be turned into...are you ready for this? A mudroom. I know. Fucking brilliant right? Previously this room was used as kitchen/pantry overflow and pot and pan storage. But since I took everything out of there so that the contractors can patch, prime and paint the space, The Wiff has decided that she'd much rather have that space used as it was originally intended and she'll find another space to put all the kitchen detritus. I'm all for that idea and we are going to look at bench things so that one can sit and take off/put on one's boots and such. It's like we're real-live yuppie douches!




 From top to bottom: The Hole soon after The Crack killed himself.
                                     The Hole with the ceiling fan (naked ceiling fan! ooh! scandalous!).
                                     The Patch with just mud.

                                     The Patch with some texture (soon to be painted and blended).

Also, The Wiff has given me my Christmas present a little early this year. We have this chair that I bought from the AMVETS thrift store in Allston back in 1994 for $25. I carried that bad boy home upside on my head (the chair, not me) and it rules. I used to call it the Archie Bunker Chair but that's not really accurate since it's a rocker. We've carted it from apartment to apartment and finally to the house. It had this horrible fabric but up until the introduction of Oliver the cat, not one rip had shown up. Oliver made quick work of the front right corner of the chair, shredding the fabric and exposing the yellowing foam beneath. And that's how it sat, looking sad and unloved for a couple more years. When the Wiff asked me what I'd like for Christmas this year, I asked her to get the chair reupholstered. And so a couple a days ago the new cushions (and 3 pillows to boot) were delivered and the old chair has new life! Check it. The pics don't really do it justice (it doesn't look that shiny in person).


naked chair (oooh! risque!)                                                 


New cushions and somewhat fancy pillow!

Thursday, December 10, 2009

"The List" or "How I Lost All Female Readers"

My recent business trip to San Diego left me with a lot of time to observe my fellow travelers and it gave me plenty of opportunities to do people watching. I got to see how people for the most part seem to be completely unaware of how their own behavior may impact those seated near them. There was one woman at one of the airports I was in (was it O'Hare? fuck if I remember) who was walking around the terminal blathering at ridiculous volumes on her cell phone about how shitty her boyfriend, job, family and living arrangements were. Mm-hmm. I'm positive it's all THEIR fault. You are totally innocent ma'am. Can you imagine if they ever allow cell phone usage on airplane flights? There will be so much carnage in the skies as people tear out their own eardrums or rip out the tongues of the asshole sitting behind them who is discussing Next Top Model in agonizing detail. I personally will abandon all airline travel if this happens.

There are many games/activities that one can play while people watching. I played a quick game of How Many Times Will This Kid Say "Mom" Before His Mom Actually Acknowledges His Existence (answer: 22). I also had a satisfying round of Spot the Drunk Guy. That was a little harder but I think I spied 2 clearly bombed guys and one borderline tipsy lady. Now at the risk of sounding like a complete creep but in keeping with my policy of complete disclosure: I'm going to talk about The List.

I've talked to several people (granted, all were male friends) and they have all confirmed that they too play this game. I call it a game but it can be serious business depending on the person "playing". Usually The List simply is employed to help pass the time in a boring meeting, in a waiting room, church, or whatever. You name a place where people have to congregate and I'm betting that someone is playing a variation of The List. It is another way to occupy your mind while trying to navigate through your day.

So what is it? The List is the list of people in the room that you would have sex with (some people throw in "under what circumstances" to add another level of complexity i.e. 1 beer, 2 beers, six-pack, etc., but I prefer to keep it more straightforward). It is just that simple and that crude. The List is a very base, very visceral, first impression kind of deal. There is very little, if any, consideration of personality, intelligence or compatibility. There is most certainly zero contemplation with regard to whether the person one is adding to The List would even give you the time of day. That would just be depressing really. I personally call the list "The Ever-Growing, Ever-Changing List of Women I Will Never Have Sex With". Yep, that sounded exactly as creepy as I thought it would. And by "never" I mean two things:
  1. I'm married and well, I wouldn't cheat.
  2. I mean, c'mon, look at me
Look, I'm just being honest here and I'd like to ask that anyone who wants to comment on whether or not they do OR do not play this very same game (or a variation on this theme) to please do so.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Business Travel for a Dummy

I am so glad to be home. Where was I? I was in San Diego helping to run some trainings at our office out there. The big roll-out date for this project was on Monday the 7th and my boss sent me out to do the training for the SD group (don't think that this was in any way fancy. It totally was not). I was to fly out on Sunday the 6th, do the training on Monday the 7th, and then fly back on Tuesday the 8th. This is all fine and dandy but here's the thing: there isn't a direct flight from Boston to San Diego and so I was going to have to catch a connecting flight either in Los Angeles or Chicago. Can you guess where BOTH of my connecting flights where? If you guessed Chicago then you win! Chicago in December...what could POSSIBLY go wrong?

But I'm getting ahead of myself. The flights out where fine. I actually had no one seated right next to me so I was less uncomfortable. I refuse to say I was in anyway comfortable because having to sit in a big, metal tube with a couple hundred jackasses as it hurtles through the air while the chick in front of me flings her seat backwards crowding my personal space is in no way my idea of luxury. And I got to have a lovely 2 hour layover in Chicago. Do you know what you can do at an airport with 2 hours to kill? I have no idea. I'm honestly asking. All I did was finish up my book (Everything is Illuminated by Jonathan Safan Foer. I had started this book awhile ago but never got that far. I tore through it on this trip. It is a really great read) and people watch. I may have mentioned that I don't really care for people but I sure do like watching them.

Airports and air travel tend to bring out strange behavior in people. Either that or perhaps because of the close quarters, these idiosyncrasies become enhanced. I'm the type of person who needs to not only be on time but preferably early for any appointment. So I'm the guy sitting at the empty terminal a good half hour before anyone else shows up for the flight. Traveling stresses me out and so to ease my tension I will overcompensate by checking my boarding pass and gate information a couple hundred times to make ABSOLUTELY sure that I'm at the right place at the right time. I know, I know. Leave me alone. What I do is I'll go to the gate (super early) and sit and watch people. This also helps me chill out and feel better about my own quirks. People is fucked up, yo.

Finally I get to San Diego and you know what they say about southern California and all that crazy sunshine! I got a fucking downpour. It rained and rained and rained. Oh, and then the winds kicked in. The hotel we (I say "we" because the guy I share an office with [Seth] also went out. He works with the group I was going to train and hadn't actually met any of them yet) stayed in was in La Jolla which is just north of San Diego and supposedly quite swanky. All I saw was rain and flying palm fronds (hee! fronds). By the time I got to the hotel after several hours of travel (my plane left Boston at 7am EST and it was now 3:30pm Pacific time, so what's that? Like a day and a half or something?), I was pretty beat. I went to my room and pretty much crashed. I didn't even grab any dinner.

The next day the weather was even worse. All the local news stations were going on and on about how this was the worst storm they had seen all year and yada yada. Great. Nice timing O'Malley. We went to the office, banged out the training (at which I am much improved thank you very much) and then took a cab back to the hotel. We were going to get together with one of our vendors out there and have some dinner but I found out that this was actually more of a meeting rather than an interesting night out. I bailed on that and I'd like to say that I went exploring the area around the hotel but did I mention the goddamn rain? Yea, I stayed in and watched TV. I am a party animal people. Whatever. At least I got to watch Hoarders which is only the bestest show on the planet.

And then it was time to head back. We had the same flight out of San Diego and the same connector in Chicago (we didn't fly out together). As a matter of fact, it was the same plane that would take us into Chicago and then eventually to Boston. And with a 45 minute layover, that should mean that we won't have to get off the plane right (or "de-plane" as the flight attendants called it. Fuck that fake-ass term. This ain't Fantasy Island bitches)? Wrongo. When we finally got into O'Hare after hanging out in a holding pattern for 40 minutes, they told us that we'd have to get off the plane and then reboard in twenty minutes. Sonofa... Fine. The snow was kicking Chicago in it's frozen nuts and I was dreading having them tell us that oops, sorry, we can't fly out tonight. The odds were kind of stacked against us.

But, huzzah! We did manage to get back on the plane only an hour later than predicted and they flew my sorry ass back to Boston. I got into Logan at around 2am and I praised the Wiff for scheduling a PlanetTran car service to pick me up and ferry me home. That was pretty sweet. What really worked to my advantage is that my boss is super cool and told me not to come in to the office today. As a matter of fact, he told me to just take the day to make up for the loss of my Sunday. Schweet. I was so glad he said that 'cuz I didn't get home until 2:40 and I didn't really get to sleep until well after 3:30. I would have been toast at work today. And not yummy toast either. More like stale-ass bread that you hope will be ok once you pop it in the toaster but after a couple of bites you realize it just tastes like sadness. Yup. Just like that.

Friday, December 4, 2009

When There's Lightning...

I like to listen to music when I'm working. It helps me focus and I get more done when I have music playing. Usually I'm just using my iPod but I will also listen to Pandora (which seems to misunderstand what music I'm in the mood for a lot of the time...even if I specify), Houndstooth Radio, or The Late Riser's Club on WMBR (I sometimes have a problem connecting to their feed for some reason. It's super annoying because I'm only like 4 blocks away from them but I can't get a radio signal AT ALL in this building so I have to rely on the streaming feed). This morning it was the trusty ol' iPod's turn to shine. As a crusty old dude who grew up on vinyl records, mixed tapes and eventually mixed CDs, I'm still kinda blown away by the idea of having the bulk of my music collection in one super convenient device. I haven't ripped every CD I own yet (mainly because it is such a profoundly boring task) but I'm more than 3/4 of the way through 'em and I still have a huge amount of space left on this thing.

With it set to randomly play all the songs housed within it's tiny hard drive, what gem do you think it served up this very morn at 8:11? Dio – Holy Diver. Heh. Ok, iPod, is that how the day is going to start out? Bring it. Dio did just that. Check this shit out: "Ride the tiger, you can see his stripes but you know he's clean. Oh, don't you see what I mean?"  Um, no Ronnie. I can safely say that I have no bloody idea what the fuck you mean. I don't normally hold songwriters accountable to have their lyrics be literal. I can appreciate a hidden meaning or a clever turn of phrase as much as the next guy. I mean gimme a nice metaphor and I'm on board for whatever you're trying to say. But I suspect that Ronnie might have been just trying to have a tiger in his song cuz he thought they were cool. Especially a clean tiger, they're the coolest.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Ow, Quit It. Ow, Quit It.

As I write this I cannot feel the right side of my face. I am the physical embodiment of that Bill Cosby bit. Last year when I was getting my cleaning done I mentioned some pain that I was having in one of my toofs. After knocking on it for a good 10 minutes with a tiny hammer (so not awesome), my dentist announced that I have a cracked tooth and that he would recommend that I get a crown put in. This was just before Thanksgiving of last year. I nodded and agreed that boy-howdy I should totally ruin my Thanksgiving and have dental work done. He popped in a temporary filling and I blew him off for an entire year while learning that chewing on one side of my mouth wasn't so hard to do. Cut to earlier this month when I was back at his office getting my teeth cleaned and I mentioned that maybe I should get that crown done y'know?

And that's what I did this morning. I've never had this done before and if you have not either let me tell ya, while it certainly isn't horrific, it is far from pleasant. There was a lot of drilling and poking and use of that little evil vacuum thing. I don't know how many shots of Novocaine or whatever they use now I got but it still didn't quite take all the pain away. There were a few times when he hit close to a nerve and my death grip on the arm rests of the seat tightened. My dentist is a good dude and I know he noticed (hold on a sec...I'm drooling again) the furrowed brow and white knuckles and he checked in with me to see if I was ok. I wasn't really but c'mon Doc, let's just get this over with ok? The drilling went on forever. Did you know that dentists run the risk of going deaf because of the noise that the drill makes? That seems fair to me.

So now I have a temporary crown jammed in there and I have to go back in late December to have the real deal put in. The temp is a bizarre color, sort of off-white and almost yellow-ish. I'm hoping that the second appointment is quicker and less shitty. I'll have to wait and see. In the meantime I want to have my lunch but I'm afraid to chew. Hold me?

Monday, November 23, 2009

Quick Post of Limited Interest

Not much going on as of late that I'd think would be blog worthy. I've just been working and trying to not get fired. So far, so good. I do have a couple updates I suppose:

1) The Sour Kraut: The project that never was is officially no more. I know, I know. Last week it was hauled away and it no longer can taunt us (AW and myself that is) with our lack of manliness. We didn't really get anything done on the project (unless you count cleaning it a bit and opening the hood a couple times). The long and short of this is that the car needed work that was/is waaaaaay out of our collective skill-set. Adding to the complications was the fact that we didn't have a garage to work in. All we had was AW's lawn and that really isn't good enough for a project car of this...um, caliber (read: giant piece of doo-doo that needed to be almost completely redone). So lesson learned ($400 a piece lesson by the way...ouch. Although, we figure we got about $375 worth of laughs out of it): if attempting a project of this scale, get a garage space to work on said project first. Then maybe, just maybe you'll be able to get the work done.

We may still attempt a much smaller scale engine rebuild in the form of my lawn mower. I know it's no where near as cool as an old Mercedes but we can work on it in my basement all warm and dry. I'm trying to not be too bummed out about failing to be a man. You'd think I'd be used to it by now but it still stings.

2) The Crack: Oh, and speaking of totally not being a man, the Wiff and I have hired a dude, who clearly IS a man, to come and fix our shitty kitchen ceiling. We're also having the mud room cleaned up. Basically we're gonna tart up the mud room in hopes that when the time comes to sell (c'mon economy, you can do it. You can help me get the bloody hell out of Lynn!), the people looking won't notice how wonky the kitchen/pantry set up is if everything is shiny and cleaned up. We should have this thing done by Christmas and that's a decent timeline.

That's about it I suppose. We're headin' up NH to our friends the Peplinski's place for Thanksgiving this year. I'm really looking forward to that. It's going to be nice and low-key and I plan on getting loaded. You have to set your goals and then follow through, people. Have I not taught you anything? Sheesh.

Hmmm, I'm-a-gonna throw in a 5 Song Shuffle here too just to pad this entry. I'm a giver. I give and give.

1. Stiff Little Fingers - Barbed Wire Love
2. The Frames - Keepsake
3. Q-Tip - Do It
4. Dub Trio - Felicitacion
5. Black Rebel Motorcycle Club - Rifles

Monday, November 16, 2009

Oh Sweet! Is That the New LionMaster UP Challenger?

Hello and welcome to more evidence of my stupidity. Not long after I quit my job at the video store my mom was out pounding the pavement trying to find a job for me. I know how that sounds but it's also the truth. My mom was very dedicated to getting her stupid son a job and she did not discriminate. If there was a salt mine nearby, my mom would have talked the foreman into giving her son whatever crap job was available. Basically she knew I was lazy and she wanted me off her couch. Can't say I blame her.

She came home one afternoon and told me that I was going to be applying for a job at this company that makes toy trains near our apartment. "Oh. Uh, ok Mom, " I responded thinking all the while that who knew there was a company that made toy trains in Malden? Not me that's fer shu-ah. I took the application form that she gave me, filled it out and the next day went to the place to lay on the ol' O'Malley charm. This place was just behind a car dealership in a pretty new and sizable building. It was not only a manufacturing plant but it also had a huge warehouse and a little retail shop at the front. I figured they'd want me to work in the little shop and snarl at their customers (since being forced to interact with the public had been the bulk of my work experience up to this point) but when I met with the guy who owned the place he had other plans for me. "You'll work in the warehouse," he proclaimed and so I did for a whopping $6 an hour.

What I hadn't expected was that he would put me to work immediately. I had come dressed for an interview not understanding that he would want me to start moving boxes around that day. I had on what in my world constituted a nice shirt, decent pants and my one and only pair of dress shoes. He took me to the back of the enormous warehouse and pointed to this bay that had piles of crushed boxes in it. "Clean that out and then come find me. I'll give you something else to do." And then he stormed off. The owner dude was this guy who was an ex-Marine and he would walk around looking like a puffed up bird with his chest pushed way out and his arms splayed out at a comical angle. I think he was trying to create the illusion that his chest was still larger than his enormous beer gut. Yea, that would be a fail.

That first day was a little microcosm of what my employment at this company was going to be like. After cleaning out the bay (which took a lot longer than I had anticipated and I got a bunch of cardboard paper cuts on my delicate lil' hands) I was told to help this guy Karl unload a 50' truck that had just pulled up. Karl was this doofus with a big ol' belly and the shortest legs I have ever seen on an adult (and no, he was not a little person. He was just freakishly dis-proportioned). He fucking LOVED trains. He was already inside the truck when I got there and he was in the process of opening one of the boxes so that he'd be the first one to see the new train engine or some nonsense. He ripped open the top of the box, grabbed one of the trains inside and sniffed it. Go ahead and let that sink in for a sec. He fucking SNIFFED the toy train engine. This is a fetish I did not want to explore any further thank you very much. He let out a huge "Aaaaaaaaah!" and said that he just loved that smell (I did not ask him to elaborate) and we got down to the business of unloading this truck.

Did you know there are several different scales of toy train and each has it's own track made specifically for it? No, of course you didn't know that because you are not a spaz. The front of the truck had a couple pallets of the new, allegedly fantastic smelling train engines and behind those was a number of pallets of train track. That shit is freakin' heavy. We had one of those pallet jacks to haul the stacked pallets out of the truck but of course one of them had shifted and we couldn't get it to budge. We then had to unload that mofo box by box and re-stack it in the warehouse on another pallet. So Karl, some other guy who's name escapes me and myself formed a chain and started shifting the stock out of the truck. Karl (who had a habit of dousing himself in cologne rather than say, bathing) stayed in the truck, I was next in line and then the Other Guy Who's Name Escapes Me was last (inside the warehouse and doing the actual re-stacking bit).

These boxes were I think about 15 pounds apiece and Karl was tossing them from the truck to me and then I would toss them to OGWNEM. We had a nice rhythm going until there was a hang-up at the re-stacking end of things and I had to wait for that guy to get ready again. Of course Karl being a moron did not wait and hucked another box to me just as I was turning to say "HOLD UP KARL!". I got as far as "Hold up Ka–" and then the box of train track nailed me in my left shoulder hard. It spun me around and I almost fell off the loading dock. I dropped the box I was already holding and it just missed my foot by inches. Please keep in mind that not only is this my FIRST DAY but it's not even lunch time yet. I saw red and charged at Karl to beat the living snot out of him. He was saying "Sorry man! I'm sorry! I didn't know! I'm sorry!" over and over and trying to scramble over the boxes to get away from me. Those tiny legs of his weren't much help on that front. I didn't hit him though. I thought about not only losing the job my mom got for me in record time but probably also getting arrested for assault and decided that calling Karl a fucking idiot was a better idea. I still regret that decision. It would have been so much better if I had ended up shoving that new train down his throat (or maybe he'd like that?). And yes, my nice shirt was all jacked up.

I worked there for probably 7 months or so and I even got my friend Shawn a job there in the warehouse with me (sorry about that Shawn). It was a mindless job and that hit to the shoulder hurt for months afterward (no, I never did go get it checked out) and the only joy I had was the weekends when I would go out to UMass Amherst to see my friends, hang out and drink way too much beer (I had already failed out of U/Mass the previous semester...another story for another time perhaps). But on the plus side I discovered an area in the back of the warehouse on the 2nd floor where I could take power naps. The best line still goes to Shawn when we were talking about the fun we were going to have that upcoming weekend because we were going to go to UMass. He said "Oh man, I can't wait to get there. I'm going to drink puddles of beer." He paused a second and said, "Wait, puddles? Puddles are SMALL!" Ah yes. Much simpler times indeed.

And now for some conversation whiplash: Check out this hilarious video.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

So, Do I Install the Active X?

Jesus Christ. I was going to start this off with another installment of Vocational Errors by Your Host Mark (an extremely popular feature here at Flunky Boy...not sure what to make of that) but I've been getting my ass kicked by my current job lately and I can't seem to focus on my ridiculous past occupations. I'll spare you the details but basically I've been attending a whole slew of trainings lately and my function during these sessions is to act as support for the presenter (usually my boss). I stand in the back of the room and wait for people who are having computer problems to call me over. I then scurry (yes, scurry) over to them and hopefully fix whatever issue they are having as well as get them caught up to where the rest of the class is.

Most of the classes have been rather large (30+ people) and although I know that one of the reasons that I even took this job was that I wanted to step out of my "comfort zone" and experience/learn new stuff...holy hell is it draining. We had a small group at a training this morning and I honestly don't know that they have ever used a computer before. I was going from user to user answering some really basic questions:

"How do I get the screen to look like his?" (usually while pointing both at their computer screen and the projected image at the front of the room at the same time. Oh, and their computer screens typically have hundreds of smeared fingerprints all over them)
Um, you click on the folder here.
"What? The little blue link?"
Yea, ok, sure. The little blue link. Click that. It'll open and you'll see what is up on the big screen there. No, you have to actually click on the...yea. Right there. No, use the mouse...and..
"Ooooh!" (and then they beam up at me like I'm magic)
Fuck me.

All of this takes a lot out of me. I know intellectually anyway that doing these trainings will get easier with regard to doing the presentations and getting the message across and all that happy horseshit but I don't think it'll get any easier on my mental energy depletion. After being in one of the sessions I want to go to a nice quiet place for the rest of the day. But most likely I will not be able to do that. Stupid mortgage. I also can't understand why people in these trainings, most of whom are of reasonable intelligence simply CANNOT follow simple directions. At the beginning of each training we mention that they might get prompted to install an Active X control thing and they should go ahead and install it. Literally 5 minutes later I'm running over to someone who has fallen behind because they did NOT install the file and now the program is frozen. "Oh, I saw that but I didn't know I was supposed to install it." Sigh. I'm telling you it hurts me.

Last week I attended a training, not as a presenter OR support staff but as a student. It was one of these touchy-feely classes that companies love so much. Basically the gist of the thing was that people typically fall into several categories based on their personalities and this was a class on how to recognize those personality traits and how to interact with someone who looks at the world differently than yourself. Sounds almost helpful there doesn't it? The problem I think is that I am clearly an introvert and as an introvert I'm fairly certain that I will not use this method to help me "read" people. I don't like people so why would I want to understand their point of view? They annoy me and waste my precious sitting by myself and reading time (and by "reading" I mean playing Grand Theft Auto). I'm not shitting on the class or even the concept of the program but I just know that I personally did not find much useful information there. It really wasn't bad, it just wasn't for me is all. Meh, at least I got a free lunch out of the deal.

So work is still challenging me and right now I think I'm experiencing my typical "change makes me cranky" phase. I don't know when this phase ends as I have always been cranky. I just feel crankier than usual lately. They did find a permanent place for me to sit finally but the rub is that I still ended up with someone sitting directly behind me. Granted there is a little more room in this space but I still get that uneasy feeling of knowing that there is someone else just over my shoulder. Next time I'll post about the time I worked in a factory/warehouse that made toy trains. For reals.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Goodbye Aunt Edie

My family lost a great lady a couple of days ago. My Aunt Edie (who is my mother's sister) died after a brief illness. We will all miss her very much and my thoughts are with my cousins during this hard time. She was one tough and funny lady and I'm going to miss her tremendously.

During the summers when I was growing up, Aunt Edie and Uncle Woody would have us all over for cookouts almost every weekend. They had a huge backyard and a pool, one of those above-ground circular jobs, so all of us kids (meaning all the cousins) were thrilled to go there. My mother's side of the family is pretty big (my mom was one of 8 kids, all of whom started their own families) so these summer weekends at the Wood's house were pretty crowded. The house I grew up in was pretty small and although there was a decent sized backyard, our landlord fancied himself a gardner and therefore wouldn't allow us to play in most of the yard. So when we would go to Aunt Edie's (yes, I know it was Uncle Woody's place too but I always called it "going to Aunt Edie's") it was amazing because we had full run of the whole yard.

Aunt Edie had a really dry wit and most of her joking around was lost on me as a kid. Kids look at most situations literally so I totally didn't understand most of what she said to me back then (unless she was telling me to stop doing whatever destructive thing I was doing. That shit I understood quickly. Never piss off a McAleavey). I'm really glad that later on I was smart enough to actually talk to not only her but all of my aunts and uncles and get them to talk about their stories. I wasn't quite smart enough yet or maybe I just didn't get enough time to actually talk to my own parents the way I was able to talk to Aunt Edie and other members of my family. I am grateful that I had the opportunity to listen to her and get to understand that she really was a smart and funny woman who raised her family and dealt with what life threw at her with a determination and will that I think is pretty rare.

I poke fun at my family but in the end, they are a great bunch of people. Don't get me wrong, they're all completely batty but I think that's a good thing. If they weren't the mixed bag of nuts that they are it would be really boring at reunions. When we all get together (like we just did this past summer to celebrate Aunt Edie's 75th birthday) I think what shines through is that we all understand that we're in this together. We can lean on each other and look to each other for support during hard times with the knowledge that the help will be there. My family hasn't been the best at communication over the years but I think we're improving. The torch has been passed from our parent's generation onto us and although we've had some missteps I think we're on track. Aunt Edie would be proud.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Beep Beep! Toot Toot!

How-do? I have this flip camera and I've been kinda futzing around with it. Just having fun y'know? At any rate, I thought I'd try shooting my commute home. Now bear in mind that I don't know what I'm doing here. I edited it to increase the frame rate...are you still reading this? Just click the fucking thing already will ya? The high-pitched sounds are the music I had on as well as me complaining about people's driving skills. I couldn't figure out how to fix that.

For to enjoy. Please don't hunt me down and murder me.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Hey! Get Offa My Porch!

Halloween is this weekend (tomorrow as a matter of fact) and I'm not looking forward to it. When we first moved in together, the Wiff (then the GF) and I had zero trick or treaters come to the apartment. Granted, they would have had to have access to the building first so that's probably the reason. The next apartment didn't offer much in the way of Halloween festivities either and it wasn't until the 3rd apartment that we finally had a few kids come to our door. I usually would spend the night worrying that some shithead kid would egg my car or something. Nothing ever happened like that luckily. And now that most of our friends have kids themselves, the possibility of being invited to a Halloween party are lessening too. That's not something I'm missing at all, I just thought I'd mention it.

When we bought the house we were excited that we would probably have a few kids come and do the trick or treat thing. It was going to be fun! We'll get to meet our neighbors! We'll be able to establish our place as the cool house in the neighborhood! We even went the extra mile and bought a bunch of goofy stuff from this catalog and filled up little bags with toys and candy. We spent a couple nights sitting at the dining room table filling up the bags and trying to evenly distribute the chotchkies so that everyone got a fair share. It was a big hit and we got (if memory serves) 80-something kids that year. "Holy crap", we thought. "That's a lot of kids!" We were mistaken. That's nothing. The next year we got over a hundred and it has been steadily climbing ever since. The cats hate it as they associate the doorbell ringing with a terrifying attack or something because whenever it rings they bolt upstairs instantly. Oliver actually growls too. He's wicked intimidating.

We have since scaled back on the extra gift things and have gone with straight candy for the last 5 years or so. But that doesn't seem to matter as last year we got 135 kids. This year, who knows? Maybe we should start giving out Smarties or some other crappy candy or maybe pennies to make our numbers go down (by the way, when did the regular Halloween candies get so small? I remember the "Fun Size" bars being the disappointing standard but now they're all like "mini bars" or some bullshit. Whatta gyp). However, when we were cleaning out the basement during The Great Purge of 2009 we did come across a bag of leftover Halloween toys. We won't do the little gift bags but The Wiff will be handing out those toys on a first come/first serve basis. Hopefully no one will get stabbed on our porch during the mad scramble to get a shitty rubber skeleton and a pumpkin pencil. I don't actually interact with the little buggers because I find them annoying but the Wiff loves it. She does the whole sing-song voice thing and Oooohs and Aaaahs over all the kid's costumes. She's insane.

But Halloween also reminds me that our wedding anniversary is rapidly approaching. It was 12 years ago tomorrow that I proposed to Amy in a bar at Logan Airport. Classy. We were planning a vacation in Vegas and I thought that this would be perfect. Luckily for me she thought so too and we were married 3 days later on November 3, 1997. Happy anniversary Amy (a.k.a. The Wiff)!

Monday, October 26, 2009

I Left the House Again

I went out Saturday night AND it was raining. I want extra credit for that. Ad Frank and the Fast Easy Women played out at Great Scott in Allston and since I hadn't seen them play in about a year and a half I really wanted to see this show. Plus, it being their record release, I figured it was going to be a good show. So The Wiff, my sis Mary and our friend Dee piled into the volvo (a.k.a. The Old Girl) and headed over to Allston.

We had plenty of time and so we had decided to grab something to eat before the show. The Wiff had made reservations at this cool Japanese place called Shabu Toki. I had found it while I was online looking for another restaurant over there (that seems to have closed, thank you ever-so-creepy Google Maps) and it looked interesting. I dropped the ladies off at the restaurant and then went to find a parking spot. I figured that since this is my old neighborhood that I'd be able to find a place to park fairly quickly. I was so wrong. I went up and down Brighton Ave a bunch of times, down side streets (even past our old apartment on Chester St) and over into areas that I really didn't want to leave the car. Nothing. No spots to be had. And the rain just would not stop. I had hoped that this would keep the traffic down but no such luck there. Apparently rain doesn't bother young people in the slightest.

After 43 minutes, yes, FORTY-THREE MINUTES of circling and back-tracking I finally found a spot a few blocks up from where the club is. Now normally finding a spot that was relatively close to the club would be a good thing (and it was after the show), but I still had to walk past the club and to the restaurant in the rain. And since I am whatever the opposite of a boy scout is, I did not have an umbrella. "Never prepared". That's my fucking motto. By the time I got to the restaurant I was soaked. Drenched even. And no, I did not have a rain coat either. The good thing about this though is that since I was so delayed in getting there, the food and my beer were already waiting for me when I finally did arrive. That was pretty sweet.

And goddamn that Shabu Toki place was great. I didn't know much about what the whole Shabu Shabu experience was like but I'd go back there again. I don't know that I'd go back on a Saturday night (in the rain, did I mention the rain?) again but I'd certainly try a Tuesday or a Wednesday perhaps. I would recommend it to anyone too by the by. Plus, as a bonus, it's pretty cheap too.

After dinner we trudged back through the rain to the club. When The Wiff and I lived over in Allston this bar was kinda off limits to us cuz it always seems stuffed to the rafters with douchebags and frat boys (is that redundant? I think it might be). I can remember fights spilling out of there and onto the sidewalk and thinking to myself "yea, I'm never going in there". So walking into the club I didn't really know what to expect. The bar area itself is a little wonky but the space is ok. Unfortunately it's another one of these places that decided to have bands play as sort of an after thought. The stage is stuffed into a back corner of the bar where, as Kevin C. said, it "looks like that's where they used to store the empty beer cases". He isn't kidding. There really isn't much of an area for the crowd to stand and watch the show without completely blocking access to the bathrooms. So throughout the show there was a near constant stream (hee!) of people making their way to and from the bathrooms.

Normally I hate crowds (cuz of the whole hating people thing) but for some reason when I'm at a show I can be in a crowd getting bumped into every 2 seconds and I'm ok with it. I'm not saying I ENJOY it, but it doesn't make me freak out or get angry. I think it's cuz there's a sense of purpose or community perhaps when people are gathered in a tiny narrow room to watch a band play. Everyone knows it isn't ideal and so we just get along. I found a space where I could have my back up against a wall (to minimize the bumpings) and as it turns out the sound at the club was pretty decent. The band really sounded great and as always put on a fun, energetic show. I always run into a bunch of people that I know at their shows too so that's cool.

After the show ended I went and got the car and picked everyone up out front 'cuz I'm a fucking gentleman goddammit. When we finally got home I was all wound up so I knew I couldn't go to sleep right away. I watched some god awful television until 4am and then went upstairs and passed out. So there you have it: a night out with me with very little complaining. Ok, so I did moan about the parking issue and the fact that I was soaked oh and that people kept bumping into me and ... fine. Hmph. I still had a good time overall so there. Go by "Your Secrets are Mine Now". Do it.

Friday, October 23, 2009

The Very Timely Death of The Crack

After living with the ginormous crack in our kitchen ceiling for 11 years, the Wiff and I have decided that it's time to fix the mofo. And of course by this I mean "hire some dude to fix the mofo". The ceiling was damaged by what we suspect was the previous owner's kids. The bathroom is directly above the crack and an overflowing tub is the likely culprit. For the first 9 years we lived in the house, we completely ignored the crack and just puttered around the house blissfully ignorant of the blight taking up residence in our tiny, whacked-out kitchen. It was there, and we knew about it but it wasn't bothering anyone so we left it alone. Then in 2007 we put the house up for sale (I know...not exactly the best timing. Thanks economy!) and the crack was like a big ol' gaping mouth saying "HA! No one will pay what you're asking for this place with ME hanging around!" The crack was right.

I had attempted to repair it for the sake of making the house more presentable by using plaster button doo-dads but that didn't work out so great. As I was trying to install them I got a first-hand look at just how bad the damage was/is. When I drilled in the first button, the crack started to open up about 2 feet away from where I was applying pressure. I stopped cold and so did the ceiling. There was a bit of stand off for a few minutes and then I backed off. The crack was taunting me. So I ate the cost of the buttons and decided to smear some joint compound into the largest part of the crack. Yes, it looked shitty but it looked somewhat less shitty than before. I am no artisan. Oh, and then our house still didn't sell. Awesome.

So cut to this past summer and how damp it was here in the Boston area. The beginning of the summer was cooler and certainly wetter than recent memory and when the heat finally did arrive, I noticed the crack had widened. It had drooped more and become more noticeable. And then it started to drop bits of itself onto the kitchen floor. I'd notice little tiny bits of plaster crumbs that the cats had obviously enjoyed batting around the night before. Well goddamn. Now every time I wander into the kitchen (which is a lot...heh, stupid belly), I immediately look up at The Crack. It is now large enough to warrant proper noun status. I secretly think that my joint compound band aid may have aggravated the situation but don't tell the Wiff ok?

And so blah blah blah we're getting it fixed. A few nights ago we had a guy stop by to take a look but it turns out he doesn't fix ceilings (mis-communication there...he's a painter. whoops) so that wasn't so much helpful as it was a complete waste of everyone's time. However, tonight we have a genuine ceiling fixer dude/plaster guru coming over to laugh at our ceiling. Dunno if he'll be the one we end up hiring but it's a start. So fuck The Crack. He must go.


















This is The Crack. I hate him.



















Stop grinning at me you prick.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

We Have Had Our Summer Evenings, Now for October Eves!

The change of the seasons: It's the one thing that people who move away from this part of the country say that they miss. But as my friend Janine pointed out, it's mostly autumn that they miss. It is hands-down my favorite season. Autumn to me is brisk mornings with dew on the grass, clear blue skies, leaves changing color and clean air. It's a light jacket and the nice walk down by the water. It's poems by Dickinson, Keats or Thoreau. It's apple picking, cider donuts and pies. It's sitting in the living room reading a book with a fire going. It is glorious and it should last from mid-September to mid-November.

This year? Yea, this morning it was 58 degrees downstairs in the house. It was 61 upstairs. Fuck that shit. Last night I closed the storm windows in the dining room and some of them upstairs but there are still some open. I had a fire blazing last night so it was at least comfortable downstairs. But this morning when we got up we had to turn the heat on earlier than we have ever had to in the past (or at least earlier than I can remember us doing). Granted I only had the thing come on to 63 degrees but that took the chill out of the air and made getting ready for work more bearable. Tonight we'll close up the rest of the house and hopefully we won't need to have the heat on at all. Usually, since I'm a stingy cunt I like to try to wait until the first of November before turning on the heat. I think I've been able to do that maybe 3 or 4 times since we've lived in that house.

Autumn also means that winter is fast approaching and with that so is my birthday. I'm turning 40 goddamn years old in January. Holy piss. Now I know that people say that "Forty is the new thirty!". Mmm-hmm. You know who says that? Old people, that's who. Forty is forty and that's that. Luckily for my mindset I'm really only as mature as a 15-year-old so I've got that going for me. I'm not one for harping on age normally but this one has me kind of off balance. I guess I just never really thought about getting older and being a 40 year old guy. Yea, yea, stop saying "but it's not really old". I know this. But it's older than I ever really thought I'd be. Not that I'm saying I thought about dying or anything like that, but since I'm not really a well-thought out guy, I just didn't allow myself to think or plan about what I would want/need at this age. Or in the future for that matter. Plus, my own immediate family history doesn't bode well for getting older as both my parents died at a young age, Mom at 58 and Dad at 61.

So what does that mean? I dunno. Thinking about this kind of stuff is new territory for me. I have a pretty good life overall (great marriage, fantastic friends and family, decent job and a house that is still standing) and for the first time in a while the future is looking pretty stable. I say this with trepidation because although I don't believe in much, I do believe in "jinxing" things. Plus, the economy and my own checkered past tell me that there is always the possibility of losing my job and then at least one aspect of my life will suffer. But I've made it through that stuff before so it doesn't worry me as much as it used to. The Wiff and I decided years ago to not have kids and I am still fully on board with that decision. I think it was the right one for us and will continue to be so. That being said, I think there is room for a change soon. Ha, no, not on the "no kids" front. I'm talking about living where we live. Having no kids makes this decision easier to execute.

Ever since I was 10 years old or so I've wanted to live in Maine. Why Maine? Well, because it isn't Massachusetts (anymore). Real estate in Maine, in comparison with what I'm used to here, is affordable. The biggest issue of course is looking for work. Finding a place to live with a decent mortgage is a pretty large problem too. I've been looking at places near the Augusta area and the prices are reasonable. I would like this to happen within the next 3 years. "But Mark, you're a city boy. You've never lived outside of city in anything even remotely rural. Won't you go sort of stir crazy?" I dunno. I don't think so. I have less inclination to go out to clubs to watch a band play like I used to (I still do it on occasion but just not EVERY weekend like before) so I don't feel like that'll be a huge issue. Plus, keep in mind the fact that I really, honestly do not like people and places where there are ... people. The occasional night out with me has usually turned into me hating on those around me and the Wiff annoyed at how intolerant I can be. So maybe living in a less crowded area is exactly what the doctor ordered.

But whatever does happen it'll be ok. For reals. I'm less of a worry-wart than I used to be. Don't get me wrong, I'm still a mess but less so. Plus, I'm looking forward to the trip to Ireland the Wiff and I are taking for my b-day. We're going to Dublin, then down to Cork, Kinsale, and swing up the west coast to Galway. I can't wait. We went to the west coast of Ireland a few years back on a bus tour with a bunch of people but this time it'll just be the two of us and a little rental car. Maybe we'll move there instead....hmmmm.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

More Jobs that do not Appear on the Resume

Time for another dose of Vocational Errors by Your Host Mark. This one took place right around the same time as the Greenpeace incident. Don't hold me to these dates though as I have no concept of time anymore.

I was still living at home and my morning ritual included me grabbing the paper and perusing the Help Wanted section while dropping the kids off at the pool (you're welcome for that image). I came across an ad for "Motivated individuals needed for IMMEDIATE HIRE with HUGE opportunity to SUCCEED!" or something along those lines. It looks like a pyramid scheme or some shit right? Yea, I didn't know what that meant. Motivated? Fuck yea I'm motivated. I don't want to live here with the parents for much longer please. Huge opportunity to succeed? Sign me the frick up Billy. I told my parents about it and how I was going to the office in downtown Malden to meet with the hiring guy. My dad said that it didn't sound like a legitimate business but I said I should at least try it out right? My mom said nothing cuz she just wanted her $200 a month.

So with my dad shaking his head slowly at me I left to go to the interview. I got to the office space which was right on Ferry St. in this rundown building. I walked in and there was about 10 other guys there who were also responding to the ad. The first thing I noticed is that they were all wearing ties and some even had suits on. I had just a button down shirt (probably untucked) and some pants that I'd probably already worn a couple of times. I sat down amongst the other candidates and filled out the application. When my turn came to meet with the hiring guy he mentioned that he liked my relaxed style which I took as a compliment but he most likely was poking fun at me. He explained that the job was a sales position (zero experience there) in the exciting field (read: risky) of direct marketing (read: pyramid). I nodded a lot and agreed to accept the position (I later figured out that ANYONE who walked into that office and didn't immediately turn around and bail got "hired"). He told me to come back the next day for the sales meeting and then I'd meet the guy who'd be training me. "He's a big up and coming guy in this organization!" he boasted. What organization? You have a pool or morons like me who you're going to have sell shit products to less than bright people. Awesome business plan.

I'd like to point out that absolutely no red flags went off for me at all. Zero. I just thought that I need money and this guy says that he can help me get some. He's in an office and wearing a suit so he must know more than I do right? Well yea, but that's all relative. I went home and told my parents that I got hired and that I'd be going to work the next day. No response from them on that subject. Feh, what do they know anyway?

At the sales/team meeting the next day I got my first glimpse at what this guy thought my future would be. Apparently I'd be super excited all the time and say things like "YEA! GO TEAM (insert name of this guy's shitty company here...I can't remember what it was)!" I'm just not the "go team" kinda guy really. I can't muster up that kind of excitement for...well, anything. I would not classify myself as high energy or Type A. Type C perhaps. Type D even. I just want to do whatever I have to do and please leave me alone. So why not realize this and immediately leave the meeting? Well, I do like money. So with the prospect of perhaps earning some I thought that I can maybe fake the excitement part.

The meeting lasted about 45 minutes and then I met up with the guy who was going to be training me on how to go about selling the products. What products, you ask? Oh, a horrible set of 6 steak knives and a 5 piece reversible belt set (it was 3 leather belts of questionable quality which were reversible and 2 different buckles. You totally want a set don't you?). We jumped into his Caprice and made our way to a super market parking lot in Dorchester. When we got there he parked near the entrance and opened up the trunk where he had boxes and boxes of this stuff. We got out and he immediately started trying to sell knives to people who just wanted to go get some groceries. "Hey ma'am?", he called over to some lady who just pulled up. "You should check out this AMAZING DEAL!" He then would point to me as I would do an interpretation of a Price Is Right model while trying to show how fucking fantastic these steak knives were. "Excuse me sir," he would say while annoying some poor guy getting into his shitbox. "Every man needs more than one belt right? Well this is SIX BELTS IN ONE!" Which technically isn't true. It's more like six belts in one set...or 3 belts in one times 2. I guess that's not as zingy though.

Here's the bizarre thing: people would stop and buy this shit. I think the belt set was like $10 and the knives were $15 or something like that. We would hawk this crap all over the city hitting little strip malls in run-down areas because as he so eloquently put it "people around here will buy anything". Nice. So now I have to deal with that rolling around in my head. I'd like to say that it was right then and there that I decided that I didn't want anything to do with this guy and this "business" but I was still blinded by the promise of "big bucks". Plus, he had been saying how he was going to be moving to Florida soon and would need guys like me to help him get his franchise set up down there. Oh you mean like guys who haven't sold ANYTHING ever, who hate people and can't drive? Those kind of guys? Well hell, I'm yer man then.

After several hours of moving from parking lot to parking lot he decided that I was all trained up and could easily set out on my own the next day. What? Seriously? "Oh jeebus, I think I've fucked up again", was the thought going through my head. "How am I going to carry this crap around? On the goddamn T?" I decided that I wasn't going to accept his offer to move to Florida if asked and I certainly wasn't going to return the next day to continue with this career. Plus, I still had to purchase my inventory. Had I mentioned that part yet? Oh yes, you needed to have a certain amount of crap in stock to sell to people who should know better. One thing I was definitely lacking was moneys with which to purchase goods. So this whole scheme was doomed from the start.

We wrapped up the day of sales and headed back to the office in Malden. He was going on and on about how great it's going to be when he gets to Florida and how much I'm going to love it there (apparently I had landed the job after all even though I never actually heard an offer or accepted anything. That's how goddamn charming I am). We were on Rt. 93 north near the Boston Garden when he said "Oh man, I gotta take a leak. Here, grab the steering wheel a sec won't ya?" I'm sorry, what? I do as instructed and grab a hold of the steering wheel as he turned over onto his left side, cracked open the door and pissed out of the opening. All of this while stuck in traffic. Oh COME ON! What the fuck? Even I could see this for the giant red flag that it was.

We got back to the office and I followed him in to talk to the boss guy. He went in to the guy's office and told me to wait out in the main reception area for a sec. I did and in a few he came out and said the boss guy wanted to see me. WHY AM I STILL HERE? I SHOULD JUST FUCKING LEAVE ALREADY! But of course I don't leave and I go in to talk to the boss guy. "Petey (or whatever that guy's name was...I forget) says your a natural at this! As far as I'm concerned you have a job here!" Oh really? You do realize that Petey if a fucking moron right? Do you know he pisses out of his car door while driving on Rt. 93? Do you know he's a huge racist? I do. I know a lot of nuggets about Petey. I don't ever want to see him or you again. Good DAY, sir. That's what I should have said. What I did say was "Oh really? That's nice of you." Whatta pussy.

I did eventually tell the guy that I couldn't really do the job, not because of the fact that it was an unsustainable business model or that his hiring practices left me wondering about his intelligence or even that the idea of hawking knives to people at 8 in the morning isn't a pleasant prospect; oh no, I couldn't do the job because I couldn't AFFORD to buy in. Yep. Moral standards officially lowered, full speed ahead. He said he understood and I left the office to start my walk back to my parent's apartment. And I still didn't have any money to pay my mom the room and board I owed her. Awesome.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Loose Ends and Housekeeping

'Sup? I haven't fucked anything up in the last week or so which on the one hand is good from a life-management aspect but on the other hand from a "I have a blog that chronicles my blunders on a semi-weekly basis" perspective it doesn't exactly make for good reading. So I figured I'd address some of the open issues I have at the moment. In no particular order, other than as they came to my mind, here goes:

The Sour Kraut: ah yes. Not much going on there. This weekend Andy and I plan on taking another look-see under the hood to see if we can trace down where the major problems are. My prediction is that the major problems will be that it's a fucking pile of shit and we don't have the money/interest to fix it. Yep. That sums that up quite nicely. Lesson learned for this project is to not take on a car project that needs waaaaaaay more work than you are willing to do and/or capable of doing. Also, have a garage to work in. A lawn doesn't quite work.

Giving Trainings at Work: I'm still terrible at it but improving. I gave another training today via a web conference and it went much better. I think it was because of the fact that it was a web conference and not a face to face deal. All I had to do was talk to a telephone and use my computer. Not so bad but still not up to snuff. I would say it was less like a train wreck and more like a 4-5 car pile-up on a highway. There was still carnage (flop sweat and um-ing) but less than previously experienced.

The Great Purge of '09: The Wiff and I have been really going through all the stuff we have in the house and purging it. Most of the stuff has been or will be donated to Big Brother/Big Sister but there are some things that simply have no real value anymore (old mixed CDs, VHS tapes, shit like that) that just get the unceremonious heave-ho. It is quite satisfying to really go through this stuff. As I have mentioned before, we've just accumulated so much stuff over the past 11 years and since we had the space to store it, we did. Not anymore. There is no room at the inn.

The Cats: Morticia has arthritis. Molly has glaucoma and Oliver has asthma. I've never been a dog person but I did find the one breed of dog that I would like to have one day. The English Bulldog. It's me in dog form. Awesome.

What else? Not much I guess. I'm still the FNG at work so I'm trying not to fuck up there. I'm still seated in the back room but I'm used to it now. That sounded worse than I had intended. What I meant to say is that I don't mind sitting where I sit. It doesn't really matter as much as I thought it would. So even though my boss tells me he's working on getting me a different space, either way is fine by me honestly. I would like some drawers though. All my shit is spread out on my work surface (and by work surface I mean Formica counter top) and it looks all messy. Oh, did I mention that there are fucking house centipedes in here? Yep. Luckily we've only seen one which Chris (the guy who I share the room with) killed. But if there's one, there's bound to be more. Shudder. They are pure, unadulterated evil. Plain and simple. Hmm, maybe I will hope my boss gets me my own space after all...

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

World's Best Presenter/Hair Stylist

Last week I mentioned that I freaked out while giving a training. It was pretty bad. I had to give a training on this application that we use here at work. Simple enough, one would think right? However, when I got up there in front of the group (oh, and when I mentioned "the group" did you picture a large group of people? You probably did. However, this was NOT a large group. It was 4 people) at the podium I just locked up. Suddenly I forgot everything that I knew about the application and how to use it. I stammered, went on tangents and sweated. Did I mention the sweating? Holy hell. I dunno why I freaked out so hard but the flop sweat was in full effect. I wonder if the freak out was due in part to my past experience in front of an audience...a little flashback maybe? I dunno.

At one point I looked down at my notes (and while I'm on the subject of notes, I may very well be the world's worst note taker. Any notes that I take during meetings usually contain several asterisks and arrows with "important!" or something equally as helpful written next to them. Never any explanation as to why this part of the note is more important than others. I wonder if this is part of the reason why I was such a terrible student...hmmmm) and a drop of sweat landed on the inside of my glasses. Nice. I'm sure that absolutely no one noticed that. Do I take off the glasses, mop the brow and try to clean the lens or do just soldier on and pretend none of that happened. Let's go with pretending there isn't a problem since it has served me so well in the past (right gall bladder? Oh right, you're not here anymore).

I blazed through the rest of the training, not really caring if anyone was understanding what was being said and wrapped everything up with too much time remaining in the session. I believe the term is "train wreck". Not at all what I had hoped would happen. So after the people left I talked to the guy who used to do these trainings (Andy, who had agreed to sit in on the session) about what he thought and what I should do to fix the presentation. He gave me some pointers and I got ready for the training session coming up the very next day. And by "got ready" I mean I had a nice glass of scotch when I got home.

The next day came and we headed over to the meeting. I was a little less nervous than I had been because I had gone over the application several times just prior to this session in hopes that I could remain focused on what I needed to convey to these people. I was expecting about 7-8 people (again, not a large group) and we arrived about 5 minutes before the meeting started to set up. When the time came that the meeting was scheduled to start only one of the people who had accepted the invite had even bothered to show up. I opted to wait for a bit to see if we would have any stragglers wandering in late. After about 10 minutes of waiting it became obvious that no one else was going to show (this isn't a required training for the employees but it does help). So now it was me and this one woman. I said, "Well, I can show you how to use the system and it won't take as long." To which she replied, "I'd rather not if that's ok. If no one else is here I have work I can do." and she got the heck outta the room. Well, fuck you very much indeed.

But I was relieved. I know that the best thing for me to improve my pathetic presentation skills would have been to have had everyone show up and go through the whole damn hour of the training. But I was already overheated and nervous so having that lady bail was fine by me. The main problem then was that I then had to tell my boss that no one showed up and I'm pretty sure he's going to make those people get trained at some point. Basically I've only dodged this temporarily.

Moving on. On Saturday the Wiff and I had been invited to a birthday party for our friend's kid. She was turning 6 and good lord I have no idea what a 6-year-old girl might like. I left all of that in the capable hands of la Wiff and moved on to matters that I can handle. One such matter was to give myself a lil' haircut. The ol' mop had become a tad unruly and rather than go get it cut by, oh I dunno, a PROFESSIONAL (and a professional in the form of my good friend Kerry too. She rules), I went into the bathroom and got out the handy-dandy clippers. I surveyed the 'do and decided that a #7 would do the trick. I brushed out my hair (noting just how much goddamn silver and white there was and wondered briefly if Just For Men looks as shitty as I suspect it does) and started giving myself a trim.

I was making fantastic progress when my thumb popped the guide off of the head of the clipper just as I was making another pass and BZZZZZZZZZKKKKT! Ah, yes. A nice 2.5 inch wide swath. Hello scalp. How are you? Let's just take a look at this and see just how bad this is. Is it salvageable? Oh, no. No, it is not. Ok then. A wiffle it will be. God, whatta dope. Now to offset the lack of hair on the noggin I have decided to bring back the goatee. Actually, it's not really a goatee is it? Why am I asking you? It's just a beard thing that resides on my chin. It helps cover the second chin. There's no mustache and no "soul patch" either. Just the beardy thing. And all the little hairs that used to come in a bright red are now completely white. Wow. that's officially the worst paragraph ever. You're welcome.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Speaking In Front of People is so NOT My Strong Suit

This morning I had to run a training here at work and it was awful. What I mean by that is I was awful. I stumbled, stammered, forgot what I was talking about and sweated. A lot. Like, I sweated way too much for a normal person. "Flop sweat" I believe it is called. I could hear myself saying "Um, like...uh" and I was powerless to stop it. I started to go off on tangents and I'm not sure if I even got the point of the training across. I'm still processing the experience and I'll have an update on this whole thing at a future date. The worst part? I get to do it all over again tomorrow morning. Fuck me.

Meanwhile, here's a 5 Song Shuffle to look at while I go get a towel. God, I'm gross.
  1. Adam Ant – Stand and Deliver (shut up..)
  2. Black Lipstick – Hot Sinners
  3. Stiff Little Fingers – 78rpm
  4. Little Brother – Can't Win for Losing
  5. Cee-lo – Soul Machine

Monday, September 21, 2009

Purge, Purge and More Purge

The Great Purge of 2009 has begun. The Wiff and I had a smallish start a couple of weeks ago when we cleared out most of the cabinets in the pantry but this past weekend we tackled the back room of the basement. Here, lurking in boxes and Rubbermaid bins was an assload of stuff that we simply do not need. We cleared out enough things to fill about 12 boxes. And these are pretty decent sized boxes too. Next stop: The Attic.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Open Letter to Everyone Else on the Road

Hi it's me, Mark. Yea, I'm either the guy right behind you or the guy right in front of you. If you're the person in front of me, please get outta my way. If you're the person behind me, get offa my ass you clown. And thus I sum up my driving style. I used to drive really fast and aggressively, especially when I had that dumb job where I had to go to 4-5 different appointments everyday. Now-a-days I don't drive as fast or as aggressively but I'm still a jackass from Boston so, you know how much weight you can put behind that statement.

Most of the time when I'm on the road now I don't really have to be in a rush to get where I'm going. Usually I'm going either to work or back home so I don't have to be at either place at a specific time (for the most part). However, I do have to work a clutch, so I'm all about efficiency. I don't want to have slow down and I abhor stopping. Let's just keep this shit moving people.

Look, I understand that you have to get to wherever it is you people go but seriously? Just get you and your vehicle out of my way. Oh, and all you people who are retired? Yea, you are banned from the roads during my commute. You will only be allowed to drive your Buick LeSabres from 11am until 2:30pm. I'll give you until 3pm if you promise that you'll stay home on the weekends. I have noticed in my daily commute a few things that I think will help all of you to get out of my way faster:
  1. When the light turns green, that means it's time for you to go. Preferably immediately. There's no reason to look in your rear view mirror at me to see what I'm doing. I can tell you if you want to know: I'm waiting for you to go. Simple as that. See, if you don't go, then I can't go and then in turn jackass behind me will also not be able to go (which may make him lean on his horn and irritate me). 
  2. If you happen to think it would be a good idea to cut in front of me (the Jetta gets zero respect) I ask only that you do so quickly. I don't condone your action (and I'm probably calling you an asshole and/or making gestures), but if you do it swiftly and do not impede my own forward progress; then I'll get over it quicker than if you were to poke along and make me downshift.
  3. And while if you are behind me you are technically not in my way, you can distract me and get on my nerves. I don't drive fast anymore (it's the cheap Mic in me...I'm no hyper-miler but I am trying to squeeze as much out of a tank as I can get) so if you come flying up behind me and start tailgating me, that's going to cause me to go slower. I won't slam on the brakes (anymore) but I might make it my goal in life to make your commute that much shittier. I will at the very least downshift and then floor the accelerator thus dumping a big cloud of diesel smoke in your face.
  4. If you are a pedestrian and you want to cross the street, please understand that I don't want to stop for you. This is mainly for those people in and around M.I.T. They don't even bother to look most of the time. They just saunter across not even thinking that someone in a car might not be paying attention at that very moment and will take their sorry asses out. I'm not that guy but I do have a green light here so stay on the sidewalk for a couple of seconds while I zip on by.
We also need to talk about parking garages and how to get out of my way in there as well. If you enter a garage and you happen to notice that I'm behind you (just look for the giant head filling up your rear view mirror), the best thing for you to do is to park as quickly as possible. This does not mean to grab the first spot you see if said spot will require you to enter in at an awkward angle thus impeding my getting around you. I know that most of you love getting the spots as close to the exit of the garage as possible (to the point of trying to cram their cars into spaces that should be ignored as being too difficult to maneuver in and out of. Just this morning I was treated to some lady in front of me who just HAD to get her giant SUV into this spot that was clearly too small. She turned in at a stupid angle, realized too late that she couldn't make it and then backed up without looking and nearly rammed into me. Look lady, it is now obvious to me that you cannot drive and that you are not even aware of the dimensions of your own vehicle. You simply do not have the skill set necessary to drive that behemoth.You are now banned from being on the road at the same time as me. No arguments. Move it along. There are plenty of spaces on the next level) but if you could just park you goddamn car a few spaces further along I guarantee that you'll be out of my way quicker. And isn't that what everyone really strives to accomplish? Yes, of course it is.

I tend to give people names while I'm driving. Apart from the obvious ones (Fucking asshole, Asshole, Motherfucking asshole, Motherfucker, etc.), I tend to call people "Billy" a lot, as in: "C'mon Billy, let's go". I also use "Joey" or "Jimmy", such as: "Jimmy, it's the pedal on the right.." The name assigned to the person doesn't take into consideration if the driver is female or male. I am not that interested in the gender of the person. I just want them to move. The name will usually be assigned if said driver has done something that I have determined to be detrimental to my getting to where I want to go.

Offenses include but are not limited to:
  • Looking for something on the floor of your car when I'm behind you at a stop light. Look for it later and pay attention to the goddamn traffic light. When it turns green, I'm going to require you to move yer ass.
  • "Look talking". I define this as someone who has to look over at their passenger when they are talking to them. I'm behind this person and I cannot help but notice that their head is swiveling back and forth from looking at the road and then their passenger. This will annoy me to no end. Cut it out. It's perfectly acceptable in this situation to keep your goddamn eyes on the road in front of you and still be able to carry on a conversation with the person seated RIGHT NEXT TO YOU. Eye contact at 50mph is not necessary. I'm sure Ms. Manners would agree.
  • Dealing with whatever your children are doing in the backseat. If the little shits cannot behave while you are driving, then leave them at home. Ok, so that may not be practical but perhaps you could at the very least, pull over and let me pass you. And if you could allow one or more cars to pass you so that I have a little bit of a buffer between you and whatever vehicle you will eventually plow into that would be fantastic.
  • Really loud music rattling my fillings. Mira, I get it. You REALLY like this song, more than you probably should I'm guessing. But I'm trying to listen to my own stuff in here you see and I don't like how your jam is making my rear view mirror vibrate. Turn it down Joey.
  • Merging. There are a few places in my commute where two or more lanes have to merge together into one lane. I'm guessing that most of the people that are on these roads at the same time I am have gone this way before and therefore know that this merge is coming. So what do they do? Yep. They all jam themselves up at the entrance trying to get that one car length ahead of the next retard. "No way you're getting ahead ME, pal!!" Listen Billy, just think of this as a big zipper ok? We all need to get into this fucking tunnel at some point so if you imagine that your car and all the other cars around you are teeth on a giant zipper then we can get where we want to go a little quicker. If you continue to be a dick and try to force the other guy (who's also a dick by the way) to get behind you then the zipper thing goes out the window and we end up with a clusterfuck. No one likes a clusterfuck Billy, so fucking chill out on the testosterone and let the mini van go. Jeez.
  • Line cutters. No one likes a line cutter. You can trace this all the way back to elementary school. "Hey, no cutsies!!" I will admit that I have on occasion been one of those guys who bomb up the opposite lane of traffic and then cut in at the last minute to take the off-ramp or exit or whatever that everyone else is queuing up for but see, it's ok when I do it. It's NOT ok when others do it. Plus, it's bad driving karma anyway and you'll end up pissing off some lunatic one day who will take out all his frustrations on you. No one wants that, so to the back of the line there Jimmy.
To sum up: the take-home message is that getting out of my way is critical. I know that you all will be trying your best to move your sorry asses and make my commute much more pleasant. I only live 15 miles or so away from where I work and it can on occasion take an hour. This is unacceptable. I'm going to need all of you to work together to make my driving experience more palatable. If this means that more of you will have to take public transportation and/or ride a bike then that's a sacrifice that I'm willing to let you make. Just make sure that if you're on a bike that you don't do that thing where you wear spandex racing gear. You're not Lance Armstrong ok Billy? Move it along people.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Anyone Interested in Some VHS Tapes from the Early 90's?

The Wiff and I have lived in our house now for 11 years this month. That's a long time in my book. The longest I've lived in any one place was for 16 years (I still have dreams that take place at 70 Linwood St. It's always right there just under the surface). And so as you may have guessed, we've accumulated quite a bit of stuff. I used to like to remind the Wiff that when we moved in together all my worldly possessions fit into the back of my parents Hyundai Excel (including my bed which was strapped to the roof). Now if we were to move it would take a very large truck indeed. So what to do? It's time to purge some shit.

My mom used to go into fits of purging every now and then and just toss stuff out without really consulting anyone (like beloved stuffed animals or comic books). Our house was cluttered but always clean. We just seemed have a lot of stuff everywhere and then suddenly one day when everyone was out of the house, she'd flip a switch and throw stuff out. This is why I think I now have that tendency. It used to be much more prominant in my personality but I think but ever since the Wiff and I tried and failed to sell our house we kind of went into a, well I wouldn't call it a depression necessarily but perhaps a malaise? When we had the house up for sale we had to keep the place absolutely spotless at all times just in case the real estate broker called to let us know she was going to show it. We also had to strip it of any real personality so all our pictures and the more "funky" decorations had to be taken down. These all got boxed up and stored in the basement. I also took all my stupid little toys out of the little bedroom upstairs to make it look more presentable.

After it became apparent that no one wanted to buy our house, we had pulled it off the market but we didn't put all the stuff back right away. A lot of it still resides in those very same boxes in our basement. I'm talking 2 years now. Also since we didn't have to have the place looking like it was going to be in a photo shoot for Better Homes and Shitty Back Gardens it was allowed to revert to it's natural state of clean but cluttered. Plus there's all the stuff that we either aren't interested in anymore or just simply don't ever use in the basement and/or attic as well. If I'm honest about it, there's things there that I'm fairly certain we've actually NEVER used. We have boxes of old cassette and VHS tapes somewhere as well. It's just stuff. But since it's all (for the most part) neatly stacked away and out of sight, I was ok with it (as was the Wiff). Then we started watching the show "Hoarders".

Holy fuck. This show messed my shit up. Now I don't want to give the impression that we have a hoarding problem at all. I could not imagine the hell that these people on Hoarders live in. First of all, the subjects' obvious mental illness is really quite terrible but it was the very tangible physical evidence that I focused on. Meaning: there's piles of stuff everywhere. I literally wanted to become an instant Buddhist and just get renounce all worldly possessions (except my T.V. and maybe my PS3...I really like those. Oh, and maybe the cars..those were expensive. And I really like having the coffee maker. Hmm, maybe I don't need to renounce every everything). Watching this show awakened that dormant purge gene and all I could think about was organizing and minimizing the amount of thingies in the house.

On Saturday the Wiff and I started down the path by cleaning out the pantry cabinets. We're contemplating getting that room fixed up and I figured this would be a good way to promote my new "Let's throw shit out" agenda. Luckily the Wiff is smarter than me and suggested that we donate the stuff that's still good rather than renting a giant dumpster and just hurling everything into it. Fine. We'll do it your "sane" way or whatever. Hmph. The pantry is a pretty small space and there isn't much in the way of storage space but holy crap had we crammed a bunch of stuff in there. After all was said and done we ended up with 5 boxes for donation and only one that will be sent to the basement for storage (I know, I know...baby steps. Eventually we'll get the extra stuff to go away). The Wiff did a great job. It was harder for her than it was for me cuz for the most part the stuff in question were in her domain. I don't mean to make that sound like she "belongs in the kitchen" or any of that chauvinist bullshit, no I just mean that she's the chef of the house so these are all her tools. And goddamn if she didn't have a bunch of them.

Now all I can think about is what to tackle next. The coat closet? The back room in the basement? My tool area? The attic? There are plenty of places that need attention. The Great Post No-Sale of the House Depression has run its course. It's time to chuck shit into boxes and send 'em off to Salvation Army and/or Big Brother/Big Sister. Again, this is not to give the impression that our place is a mess. It simply isn't. But what we do have is a whole lot of shit that we don't need to keep around anymore. Especially if it's stuff that one of these charities can make some dough off of (mmmm, dangling preposition). "Why not have a yard sale then, Mark?" Oh silly reader. Don't you know by now that if you have a yard sale that people show up? I don't like people remember? This way is better me thinks.