Thursday, July 30, 2009

So Very Busy

I've started the new job and I am on brain overload at the moment. I've been going to trainings and reading procedures and SOPs all week. My head is already stuffed full of movie quotes and lists of people who have wronged me so I'm a bit tight on space as it stands anyway. So how is the job going? Ok I'd say. I mean, this is only day 4 but I think it will be ok. Right now I'm in a temporary spot (or so they tell me...I hope to jeebus christmas this is only temporary) as far as my seating arrangement goes. I'm sharing a room (can't really call it an office although it does have a door. It's just a back room near the central files area) with another dude who sits directly behind me. He's a nice guy and all but I gotta say, I find it ... let's say distracting ... to have someone RIGHT BEHIND me all day. Here's hoping I get my own space sooner rather than later.

The Mercedes Project (a.k.a. "The Sour Kraut") hasn't really kicked off yet. We just got the car last weekend and I drove it to Andy's place. The poor old girl really needs some help. It tried to kill me a few times on the drive over as the steering is a tad on the vague side. The brakes work ok (but it does tend to nose dive quite a bit even when being gentle on the pedal. Gotta check the suspension bits) but the major issue is the transmission. More to the point, it doesn't like to shift especially from 1st to 2nd. There are a number of vacuum leaks in the engine so I'm hopeful that if we can sort out the vacuum stuff we may be able to help quite a few other issues at the same time. Also, I think the turbo is toast. This may all sound like a horror show but honestly we're looking at this thing like a frog in biology class. We're going to dissect it and see if we can figure out what goes where and why. We may even attempt trying to get it back into good enough shape to pass inspection some day but if we can't, that's ok.

Oh, did I mention that the driver's side foot well was soaked in oil and there's a hole in the floor pan under the accelerator pedal (which is missing by the gas [ok, diesel] pedal)? Yea, I didn't think I had. I have to admit that this really bummed me out. I hope we can trace that leak down and fix it. Thus the name The Sour Kraut. It has been abused for a loooong time. We did give it a hose down and scrub (Andy even went to town on the interior, scraping off years of cigarette tar and sopping up most of the oil) but all the floor mats had to be tossed out. They were totally nasty, especially the driver's side.

We have a repair manual winging it's way to us at this very moment so I'm hopeful that we'll be able to get moving on some of the repairs fairly soon. Updates as events warrant.

What else? Hmm. Oh, yes, I've picked the bass up again. I haven't attempted to play since...holy 1991 maybe? Wow. I'm frickin' old. I have an old Crate amp that was sitting in a closet forever and my friend Gary loaned me a bass guitar so that I can practice. Right now all I can do is make noises but hopefully I'll eventually be able to make those noises sound good. Why am I doing this? Why not?

Thursday, July 23, 2009

My Friends All Drive Porsches, I Must Make Amends

Aaaaaaaaaaaand I'm back.

I kinda took a break from this for a lil' bit and enjoyed not sitting in front of a computer all day this week. This is my limbo week where I float between two jobs. I'm starting the new one this upcoming Monday (the 27th) and I left the other on the 17th of this month. It's an odd feeling for me since I'm not used to resigning from jobs. I usually just get laid off which throws me into a minor panic as I scramble for the next career path. This time I chose the time and place. Nice deal if you can swing it.

So what's news? The new job mostly, but since that's the "unknown" I haven't been obsessing over that (much). The most newsy news I have is that I have purchased a Mercedes Benz. I'll just let that sink in for a second. Now calm down. It's not what you think. I bought a 1982 300D. That's "D" as in "diesel". It cost me and my bud Andy a grand total of $800. It is, for all intents and purposes, a POS. But we shall bring it back from the brink of "total bleah" all the way to the rim of "meh, it's not completely awful".

I'm pretty excited about this project. It will represent the first time I've ever attempted a restoration – did I just say "restoration" (well, ok type)? There will be no restoration per se. This is certainly not going to be a show car or anything like that. We're just trying to get a car that needs some help back into good enough shape that it could be used daily again. That's the main goal. There are other goals too like keeping the costs down and not killing each other. Here's hoping we succeed.

As far as time frame on the project goes we haven't really hashed that out yet. Andy's a new daddy so his time is going to be much tighter than mine but I think we need to set up a schedule of some sort once we figure out what actually needs to be done on the car. Luckily the thing starts and runs (and stops!) right now so I'm hopeful that we haven't bitten off more than we can chew. I haven't taken any pics yet (we're picking it up on Saturday so I'll take some then) but I do have this shot of it taken from the seller's ad:

lookit that dirty old girl. Ain't she purty?

I think it's frickin' cool as hell. I'll document our progress (if there is any) and maybe even fire up another blog about that thing so as to not bore people with car stuff. As for now I'm gonna go meet some friends for a few beverages.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

So What's This Aboot the Economy Being in the Shitter or Something?

A while back I hinted that I may have some news soon. I'm sure that the interwebs was simply abuzz with people desperately trying to figure out what the news might be. The speculation, ranging from a) "Does he have a vagina?" to b) "Oh god, he didn't get The Wiff pregnant did he? Oh lord help us all if that's the case" to c) "Meh, don't care...wonder if my cousins have posted anymore stuff about the weather on Facebook yet.." (answers: a) practically. b) nope. see "a)". c) yes, of course they have. And they also wrote "LOL" a hundred times too. You share DNA with these people...good for you), was so overwhelming and quite frankly, embarrassing that I had to go into hiding for a little while. It's the life I chose. The life of the author of an amazingly popular blog. I'm talking upwards of six to seven honest-to-goodness hits per week. The numbers don't lie people. Plus, I get at least one person a month from Germany. Granted, they're actually searching for weirdo German porn when they type "Flunky Boy" into the search engine but that's not the point! They come to my site and sometimes don't immediately leave. Top that!

So then, what IS the news? Oh that. Yea, I got myself a new job. That's all. I hadn't really been looking for a job either. I have a decent gig at my current place and I'm so totally lazy that I'd prolly have stayed there for, well, forever but this opportunity presented itself so I checked it out. A guy I worked with at my current job had left to go work for this other company about a year ago and I had stayed in touch with him. He mentioned this position opening up back in what? like March or something of this year. I talked to the hiring manager on a phone interview and when he mentioned the position called for having some people report to me I kinda balked. Look, I've only been in this industry for a little over 5 years now and I don't think that I'm qualified to be someone's manager. Managers need to be able to help mentor and develop the people in their ...HA! oh god, I couldn't get through the whole sentence. I tried...I really did. But's true. Plus, I've been a manager-dude before and I didn't particularly like it. I liked the private office part but not so much the solving other people's problems.

So the guy was kinda like "Oh, well...hmmm." and I figured I had just blown the interview right then and there. But I didn't want to be dishonest either. So we chatted some more about my experience and yada yada and said our good-byes. "Damn, damn, damn" I thought. "Stupid mouth! Why don't you say the things that I need you to say?" My mouth had no response. Typical. It'll prolly think of some awesome comeback in the car ride home. Then I hear through the grapevine that the company had gone on not quite a hiring freeze but a cooling period. Ok fine. So, I won't be moving on just yet. S'ok. I gots a job and I can pay for stuff. No biggie.

But it was a biggie. See, I liked the hiring manager guy I had talked to on the phone. The company sounded like they were doing some cool stuff and against my better judgement (at the time) I had become invested. Nothing happened for months and then my buddy IM'd me ("takeiteasytony" on AOL IM, people...look me up!) and told me to check the email that I had listed on my resume. The company's recruiter had been trying to get in touch with me. Hee. I hadn't looked in a while since I didn't think that they were interested. I responded to the email and the interviews got set up.

The interview day came and it was one of those gauntlet type deals where I had to meet with 7–8 people from different departments. Overall I'd say it went well. I was wicked charming. And as it turns out, I kinda knew what I was talking about. Nice.

And then....nothing. For like longer than I felt comfortable with I didn't hear a peep from anyone attached to the hiring. This of course makes me go right to the worst-case scenario. Was it something I said? Didn't say? Didn't do? Crap. Then, finally a phone call from the recruiter dude saying that things went well at the interview and now the head of the department wanted to meet with me. Ok. No problem. "He would like to set up a breakfast meeting at a local hotel. How's 7:30 am on Friday?" Fuck me. Really? Ok. Breakfast at a hotel at 7 goddamn 30 on a FRIDAY. I'll be there.

I make my way to the hotel restaurant and meet up with the dept. head. We sit down at a table and the waiter brings us the menus. Now here's the thing. I had already eaten breakfast because I didn't want to be frickin' STARVING when I got there and then scarf down my meal while this guy tries to get a word in. "Can't talk. Eating." Yea, didn't want that. So I was not at all hungry. This menu was evil too. It had either really fou-fou stuff or straight-off-the-farm fare. There was no middle ground that I could find. Can a brother get a bagel? Nope. It's either a delicate fruit cup placed elegantly in a crystal bowl on a doily or 15 eggs served over a bacon stuffed pig with hash browns. Choose wisely.

Honestly, all I wanted was the damn fruit cup. Maybe a cup of coffee too. Now, I don't know this guy from a hole in the wall so I don't know what kinda guy he is. Is he the super-macho kind who would disapprove of guy ordering the fruit cup? Would that be a deal breaker for this guy? Would he even give a shit? I dunno. Am I over-thinking this? Shouldn't I just get what I want and be done with it? Why am I obsessing over what this guy would think about my breakfast choice? I'm not even hungry for fuck's sake. I'll just order the fruit cup and own the consequences if there are any. Who's this guy anyway? Why is he judging my food choices? What's wrong with a man ordering from the fou-fou side of the menu? Plus, it's by far the cheapest thing on here. Who pays $10.50 for eggs? Assholes, that's who. I'll be showing him that I'm fiscally responsible by getting the fruit cup. I'm getting the fruit dammit. That's FINAL.

"Mark, why don't you order first?" he said as the waiter turned to me. "Really? Ok... I'll have the giant plate of eggs and pork please." Of course I will. And what did he order you ask? Yes. The fruit cup. Well Mother Fuck.

But all that doesn't seem to matter after all. On Friday July 3rd I got the offer letter in the mail and signed that bad boy right away. I gave notice at my current gig this past Monday and this upcoming week will be my final week there. I have nothing but good things to say about my old job. They gave me a shot 5 years ago and I've learned quite a bit since I've been there. I had completely changed careers when I came there and I'm grateful for the opportunities they gave me. I know all that sounds corny but it's the truth.

Wish me luck. This is going to be interesting.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Lawn Care and Jesus Christ

Nah, just kidding aboot the Jeebus part. I have an aversion to lawn care. Mainly cuz, well, I don't care. I'd much prefer if I had some sort of ground cover plant thing that did not require me to walk in a pattern with spinning blades mere inches from my tootsies. But this will not come to pass. Back when we first bought the house I was sort of gung-ho about the whole idea of taking care of my lawn. That feeling of pride wore off quickly and even though it's not big by any one's standards, there's enough of it that it does require attention (HEY-OH!).

I grew up in apartments and so I didn't have any experience at all with lawn care. Other people took care of that stuff (or as one landlord did, just paved directly over the grass. Classy). I had seen commercials where suburban type dudes took great interest in their lawns and would defend them against the dreaded onslaught of weeds and/or dandelions with their very lives. There were lotsa dandelions and odd looking leafy formations on my "lawn" out in front of the house. "Hmm, I should go get me some of them there spray things to knock down those weed things," I thought to meself. So I did. Did you know that most of those are engineered for use on weeds showing up on say, concrete driveways and such? Yea, I didn't. Reading is hard.

I used this product (RoundUp I think) on what I determined to be the biggest offenders of the area. I sprayed the fuck outta them. I looked down at the milky-white stuff (ew) on the leaves and felt great about my new-found home ownership and being now by association: a lawn care expert. I went back inside and got myself a beer cuz I fucking deserved it. The next day I went back out to survey my newly weed-free lawn. Oh, it was weed-free alright. It was also grass-free. I had in essence created little crop circles of death. I had a grass holocaust on my hands and I was responsible. "Hmm, that's fucked up," I thought. "I wonder why this powerful herbicide killed everything in its path instead of what I had meant to destroy?" Doesn't it know the difference? Nope. It does not. Oh and all these years later the only thing that will grow in those very same circles of death? Weeds. Big, crab-grassy, pervasive and invasive weeds. Nice.

When we first moved in I had purchased one of the reel push mower dealies. They work fine as long as you keep up with the growth of the stupid grass. I, um, didn't and found out that when grass reaches a certain height, all a reel push mower will do is knock the blades of grass over as it passes harmlessly over them. Well mother fuck. I had a gas-powered weed whacker thing but it's loud and noisy and made my hands hurt. Plus, it would shoot grass juice all over my pretty little sundress. Have you ever tried to mow a lawn with a weed whacker? It ain't fun.

I went out a couple years back and bought myself an honest-to-goodness gas lawnmower offa some dude who had it on Craigslist. He even had a 2-gallon gas tank that he threw in as an extra bonus. I brought it home, stuffed it into the basement (it was almost winter) and forgot about it. Flash-forward a couple of years later and I'm at work complaining to a buddy about having to weed-whack my ghetto lawn again. He asked me about the lawn mower I had bought. Oh, that. Um, I don't know how to use it. Hee. I didn't know, seriously. He somehow didn't kick me in the balls and offered to show me how to use it that Saturday. Deal.

One of the problems with having this lawn mower stashed in the basement is that I don't have a bulkhead access for the basement. The only real way to get the thing into and out of the basement is to lug it up the basement stairs and then drag it across the kitchen floor to the back door. The biggest issue with that is when you happen to have more than half a tank of gas in the mower, it tends to leak out as your dragging it up the stairs. Awesome. So whatever, I learn how to use the mower (much obliged there Andy) and proceeded to use it fairly regularly, spilling gas all over my stairs every goddamn time.

Then I ran out of gas. Now I am a special kind of lazy. I still (I'm talking over a year now) haven't gotten more gas for the mower. Yup. A YEAR. Whatevs. I kinda hated the gas mower anyway for many of the same reasons I hate the gas weed whacker thing. So it has been sitting in a corner of my basement mocking my manhood ever since. Up yours mower, can't you see I'm not manly? Sheesh. I even looked into getting one of those battery powered mowers but they're more money than I was willing to spend. So what to do? I bought myself an electric weed whacker (with the giant 100 foot cord) and I'm out there like a retard weed whacking my whole lawn again. Sigh.

At the beginning of the spring I was out in front of the house dreading another season of lawn care when the kid who lives next door came over. "Hey Mr. O'Malley," he called, as I freaked out realizing that that's actually my name old. "I can mow your lawn for you if you want whenever I mow my mom's lawn." YES! You, sir are a savior. He said he'd do it for $10 and I could just pay him whenever I saw him next. Holy shit. Dude, I'm gonna pay you $20 for your much appreciated service. Now chop chop! Get to mowing!

And for a solid month and a half this was my greatest accomplishment. I had procured a landscaper for super cheap. I remember the first time I pulled into our driveway and looked over at the freshly mowed lawn. Best. $20. Ever. It ruled. Then about 10 days ago, after noticing that my lawn was in need of a trimming I saw the kid. He had a cast on his arm. Oh Fuck You. "Hey there Mike," I called out to him. "Uh, what happened?" He broke his goddamn wrist. 6 weeks in a cast and then 5 weeks of physical therapy. Oh, you dick. That's the whole goddamn summer and right into early fall. WHO'S GONNA MOW MY LAWN FOR ME? YOU EVER THINK OF THAT? Oh, I need to sit down for a minute. Oh you putz. Ugh.

So there it is. Right now my lawn is so overgrown that I'm thinking of calling in the EPA to see if I can get it declared a wildlife preserve or something. I just don't want to fucking walk around trailing a 100 feet of cord getting covered in tiny bits of grass and debris. My Chuck Taylors are supposed to be blue, not streaked with green grass ick. Plus it's been raining here non-stop for going on a month now. This is gonna suck. I'll try to remember to take a picture of the lawn tonight but no promises. My brain is very tiny.