Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Dom Cobb Would Shoot Me in the Face

My brain wouldn't shut up last night. It kept me awake for a large portion of the evening with inane worries about money/financial instability and then it would switch to scenarios that it would get all excited. One minute it was all "OMG, what if The Wiff can't find a job (the Wiff went and got herself laid off last month [hee! I like phrasing it that way, as if she had any control at all over the situation. Thanks, Corporate America])?! OMG, what if I get laid off too? Oh Em Gee!" Then all lickety-split it'd veer over to "Hey! I know! We should totally get that race team idea off the ground! I think we can make a run for the 24 Hours of Lemons next year if we work on getting a team together". WTF brain? Shutup so's we can all get some sleep. I like to think of my body parts (yes, even those parts...mmrrRRoOOooowwwrrr!) yelling at the brain to clam up.

No matter what I tried as a diversion to get myself to stop trying to solve all the world's problems from my side of the bed it was no use.

"Why is our economy based on whether or not I take advantage of the sales at Best Buy? That seems insane. You know what we should do?" No brain, I don't, and therefore by default, neither do you. Go to sleep. "Yea, but..." Yea but nothing. Go to sleep. "It's just that I was thinking about the taillight on the Jetta. We need to get that replacement bulb. Oh, and the mailbox needs to be mounted on the front of the house. Plus, we should totally paint the trim around the back door. Heh. 'trim'...heh, 'backdoor'" Oh god, really? Look, we're not doing ANY of that stuff now cuz it's 2 in the goddamn morning. Go. To. Sleep. "Why does Obama compromise on everything? Even things that seem to be his base principles?" There is no way I'm discussing politics with you now. Seriously. Look, I'm sorry I made you take that nap earlier today but we're old and naps are lovely. "No, I'm just sayin'. I still like the guy and all it's just that ... I dunno" Again, I know you don't know. I'm you remember? Shut the fuck up. "Is that Molly the cat on our feet? Can you get her to move or something cuz that's going to be super distracting for me." Fine. Cat has been moved and is now angrily patrolling the foot of the bed. Satisfied? Sheesh. "Oh man, that's SO much better. Thanks! Oh hey! Remember that theme song from The Streets of San Francisco? Do you mind if I hum that for the next 3 hours? Awesome!"

My brain is trying to kill me.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Open Letters

Dear Security Guard,
Good morning. Hello. Yes, hi ... yes, good morning. We have established that the morning is good and in doing so, this has ceased to be an acceptable form of greeting. Can you stop that now? Ok. Here's the deal: I'm not what you'd call an overly friendly guy. I'm not technically a misanthrope but if I were you I wouldn't hold my breath waiting for me to strike up a conversation on say, an elevator for instance. You probably will be disappointed if this is what you are expecting. Now when I come into the office building in the morning and you are seated there at the security desk, I understand that there is probably a security reason for the you to acknowledge that I exist. It may even be part of your job. But see, I'm usually in a post-commute funk and just starting to coming down off of my coffee high so I say pish posh to this social construct. Let's just allow this morning's awkward exchange be our coup de grâce. You don't want to be sitting there greeting every douche who walks through the door with some variation on "Good morning!" anymore than I want to come up with a Pavlovian response and/or a comment on whatever the weather conditions may be on that particular morn. Please understand that it is not a reflection on you as a person nor is it a sign of arrogance on my part (at least I hope it isn't). I just don't want to talk to anyone at 7:55 a.m.
kisses,
-Mark

Dear Guy Who Creates a Toilet Paper Privacy Screen, 
Hi, no, I'm not entirely sure who you are yet (although I have a couple of suspects), but I'd like to address your behavior if I may. You know how you create that privacy screen of toilet paper where you configure it to bridge the gap between the wall and the metal toilet stall wall? Yea, to close up that 1 inch gap there? Um, I don't know how to break this to you but I think you might be insane. You're certainly profoundly paranoid. First of all, really? I don't think we have many voyeurs here at the office but if we do, I'd be willing to bet that they don't want to watch you taking a dump. Ok, let's say that perhaps there is a remote chance, albeit small, that there could be a pervert lurking somewhere in the company who's particular fetish is watching people pinch a loaf but that bathroom is particularly busy and even if they were able to situate themselves so that a) you were not aware they were watching, and b) that they were on some bizarro angle so that they could actually see the toilet area, someone else would walk in on them. Oh, that's part of the thrill they get you say. I see. It heightens the experience for them. Gotcha. Don't you think that you might be a bit conceited to think that you were the one they want to view? At any rate, here's a step ladder that you can use to get over yourself. Please stop wasting TP like that. It's silly.
Boo! I see you!
-Mark

Dear Bon Scott (of AC/DC fame),
I think I may know why you were "Shot Down In Flames" as you put it. I listened to the words as you sang this song and I have to say, it sounds like it was your own fault. Now, we don't know each other and there may also have been some extenuating circumstances at play here but, well, let me just quote this to you and see if you can figure out where the conversation may have gone off the tracks. Now keep in mind, these are your own words here so it's not like I'm getting this through a third-party source. Ok, here goes:

She was standin' alone over by the jukebox, 
Like she's got something to sell
I said, Baby what's the goin' price –
She told me to go to hell

Ok, I think the first problem was that you made a pretty bold assumption right off the bat that this woman was a prostitute of some sort. I think that's going to stand out as mistake #1. Just... well, just don't do that. It's in poor taste (to say the least) and if I may, I'm quite surprised you thought this tactic would work in the first place. Then, we go right into mistake #2 where you acted on that assumption and said, in no uncertain terms, that you do indeed think she is a prostitute. And like, right to her face too. This is mistake #3 and the most glaring mistake of them all. There's really no way this scenario was going to end well for you. Personally I can't believe that all she did was tell you to go to hell. You could have easily endangered one if not both of your testicles by this action. I hope that this exercise in breaking down why you were shot down in flames was helpful to you. I'd like to think that I'm helping people use communication to further their relationships and build on the skills needed to be a better person. What's that? You died in 1980? Oh, then fuck it. Carry on sir.
-Mark

Monday, November 22, 2010

I Think I Can, Maybe

As the whirlwind of the holiday season descends upon us like a glittery dragon that smells vaguely of pine needles and sadness, I have accepted a challenge. I will participate in the 5-Boro Bike Tour next year. Last year I attempted the ride without even once taking it seriously and proceeded to fail miserably. Hey, did you know you can't not exercise for years and then just jump on a bike and go 42 miles in the rain? Technically I can say that I knew that as well but I didn't remember. I was reminded when I realized I couldn't continue somewhere in Queens. I have learned my lesson.

I have a little over 5 months (the ride is on the first Sunday in May) to train and get into some semblance of physical fitness. I have been...let's say "dormant" for some time now. The attempt at the bike tour the last time actually made my lack of enthusiasm for exertion even worse. I regressed and the dreaded belly took over. My job is also not helping as most of it can be done while seated. It's not like I'm crawling around in people's attics anymore so I have to actually make an effort to get some activity going. I have no plans on turning this blog (still hate hate hate that word. Can we please come up with a better name?) into a log of my progress but I thought it was worth mentioning. Your humble author will be endeavoring to become less of a lazy shit. Further updates as events warrant.

Meanwhile at work I have been moved into the "Thunderdome" (a.k.a. the cube farm). I think I've mentioned that I used to share an office space and while it wasn't ideal (meaning, I'd rather have my own space and not have to share at all), it was pretty sweet compared to cube dwelling. In the office scenario, we had what is commonly know as a "door". This "door" allowed us to block most of the sounds coming from the rest of the people in the office. There was also a "thermostat". This device allowed us to actually control the temperature of our space in order to make it more comfortable. The main office space is, in my opinion, always too damn hot. Like now for instance. It's gotta be 76°F out here. What the fuck people? Are you all lizards? How about a nice comfortable 68°? Heck, I'll even bend and agree to 70°. No? You all like it super dry and roasting? Great.

I have nothing against sitting in a cube per se, it's just that when you are a cube resident, invariably they place other people around you. It's with these other people I tend to have issues. For one, they all talk. They really shouldn't be allowed to do this. Talking is noisy and goddammit they should be quiet. They also type on their keyboards too loudly and shuffle around in their 7 x 7 foot spaces. Of course there's always the coughing, sneezing, and other noises that people make on a daily basis. Hey there person who sits a couple rows over from me. You know how you keep sniffing every 3 seconds? Yea, if you actually blow your nose, it might get rid of some of that snot all in one semi-efficient action. What's that? You'd rather just sniffle constantly? Oh, ok. Carry on.

There is another person who sits nearby who is not only loud and makes every sentence sound like a question (this is a fairly common phenomenon by the by. It totally drives me crazy? When people do it? I find it frustrating? to listen to?), but she also sounds almost exactly like Rosie Perez in Do the Right Thing (minus all the swearing). Now while Rosie is super cute and charming I challenge you to sit within earshot of her all day every day. It's not easy. Use your inside voice lady who sounds like Tina, you're making me stabby.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Real Stuff Happens Too

Where to begin? Do I even want to discuss this? I dunno. If I'm to take this blog thing seriously (and by that meaning I want to use it as a place to talk about not only the silly and hopefully funny things that happen in my life but also the issues that have more weight and significance. That's not to say that having a fireplace mantle fall on my foot on stage in front of the entire elementary school wasn't a significant time in my life but you get the idea), then I have to talk about this too.

Last week my father-in-law, Amy's dad Bob Davis, died after a short battle with lung cancer. He was 69 years old. Amy and her dad had a much different relationship than what I had with my dad. Her parents divorced when she was 13 and it wasn't what you'd call a good break-up. Not that any of them are really. He had a drinking problem and their contact was sporadic at times before he got himself cleaned up. He became a "friend of Bill's" and had been sober for over 20 years. By the time I came into the picture, he was living with Carol (one of the best people I've ever met by the way. She literally saved his life by befriending him and letting him move into her house. They remained close friends and companions right up until the end), a family court judge and no-nonsense woman of the highest order. It was the stable environment of her house that allowed Amy and her dad to mend their fractured relationship. Carol played a huge role in helping them get things back on track.

What I found hard was that it didn't seem like Amy and her dad ever really talked things out. It was like those years were swept under the rug. They may be mentioned in passing but only briefly and with the understanding that they were not going to discuss them further. I found it infinitely frustrating during our visits since I knew that no one was actually going to say anything that would start a real conversation. I understand it, since that wasn't really the purpose of visiting her father: the investigatory breakdown of her childhood memories and his role in her development, but I still wanted them to have a better relationship and I felt strongly that difficult conversations might help facilitate that.

I'm also colossally full of shit too. I have to admit to looking back on my own relationship with my parents with rose-colored glasses. After my mom died I would go to the apartment in Malden to visit with my dad. We'd sit in the kitchen (my dad always sat in the kitchen watching a little 13 inch TV) and play cribbage. I'd ask him questions about his life growing up in South Boston or how he met mom or whatever. I got some information that I didn't know about him and mom but for the most part, it was just an exercise in trying to get to know him at a different level. When he died I felt better about how I had made an effort to know who he was since I didn't really have the maturity to do that same thing with my mom at the time. I don't know why but I just never talked to her about stuff that really mattered to me. Maybe because I wasn't sure what actually mattered yet.

In the years since their deaths I've been asking my aunts and uncles about their relationships with my parents since they saw knew them as friends, or as a sister or a brother. It's been great fun and enlightening but unfortunately they are a dwindling resource. My Aunt Mary was an amazing person and I used to love to visit with her in her kitchen (much like my dad ... hmmm, they were brother and sister ... maybe that's an O'Malley trait? Sitting in the kitchen drinking coffee and shootin' the shit?). When she died, she took a lot of good stories with her. My Aunt Sissy passed away this summer and that's a loss with which I still have yet to come to terms. She was an amazing story teller and loved to talk about her little sister Eileen (my mom). My Uncle Don is another one that I'm worried about. He's been in failing health lately and I'm doing the typical "not-thinking-about-it-so-it-can't-be-happening" defense mechanism. He is another one who can tell a good story and he's told me stuff about my dad that allowed me to view my dad in another light.

This is what I mean about being full of shit though. I never really got into deep philosophical discussions about life and our family with my parents, I got most of that from other people and their perspectives. My sisters were a good source for that matter. We all grew up in the same house but have our own memories and angles on how things were. Sometimes I'm shocked to find that my view is different from the way one of them remembers the same event. It's been helpful but again, it's not something that we do that often or with any real goal in mind. I'm not even sure what it is I'm looking for with regard to my need for information about my parents. I guess it's just to know them better as people since I didn't know how to do that when they were actually around.

Amy is an only child. She doesn't have siblings to help her validate what she experienced. She just has herself and she admits to not knowing what that experience was. She says there are major gaps in her memory of her childhood and subsequently it affected how her and her dad got along. Watching her and her mother work on their communication over time has been interesting. Again, like my own parents, I'm not sure they have been able to talk to one another as adults until fairly recently. I often wonder what it would be like if my parents were still around. I wonder if we'd have the close relationship that I didn't even realize I wanted and needed until it was too late. They were just my parents y'know? I was in my mid-twenties when they died and now that I'm (gulp) 40 I find myself missing them more and more. I want to talk to them. Bob's death brought all of these thoughts to the forefront again. I'm really good at ignoring shit that is bothering me. Sorry if this post is kind of rambling but I'm just writing this as I'm thinking about it. This is all first-draft stuff that I don't want to edit and re-edit until it's all cohesive. It needs to be messy and raw because that's what it feels like right now.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Random Shit That I Have to Get Out of My Head Before it Fills Up

When I find something that I like (like a fun website, blog, TV show, etc) I become voracious. I consume all the content. I'll go to a site I like and spend all my time reading everything that is posted there. You have a kick ass webcomic thing? I'm-a-gonna read all them motherfuckers in one sitting. Your blog is super awesome and funny? Hey, look at me reading every goddamn post you have. You have a way-cool TV show? I'll Netflix the shit out of it. This is all well and good but ultimately what happens is I catch up to whatever the latest post/episode is and then there's no more. I have to wait in REAL TIME for stuff to happen. It's bullshit. I need more of  your funny/interesting/thoughtful/whatever content and I need that shit now. Don't make me navigate away from your page. I'll do it. I may totally forget that I love your page too. I'm flighty and I have short-term memory issues. Of course I will then obsessively check and re-check to see if there are any updates. It's not healthy. Hurry up with my entertainment stuff already.

Misty rainy bullshit rain today. I was driving in to work and the rain was like "Weee! I'm annoyingly hard to wipe away cuz I'm not quite rainy enough to warrant a full swipe of the windshield wipers. And I'll make the wipers stutter across the window. What setting will you choose for the intermittent wipers? No setting will suffice! Ha! Ha! And you forgot to replace the crappy blades again cuz you only remember when you're in the car!"

Fuck you rain. Why don't you stop being so misty and commit to real rain drops? What kind of a storm constists only of tiny, tiny rain spittle? If I was a storm I'd be totally like "Awwww, yeah! Here comes them BIG drops bitches! I'm gonna be all up in your face with the rain. Holla!" That'd be awesome.

And then my windshield wipers were all "Weee, I've got a notch in me that makes a big ol' streak right in your line of sight forever ok?" Goddamn it. Note to self: buy wiper blades TONIGHT. Or forget again, whichever's easier.

I'm getting a new laptop at work. My old one is ok but kinda slow so it has been decided that I should get a newer, faster model. This is fine by me. The problem is that the IT guy who is backing up my data stinks. This isn't me being mean because this is a fact. He smells of bad breath, poopy and other terrible things. Also, there is a thing on his neck and I think it's trying to talk to me. I think it started out as a mole but it has become evil I don't want to talk to it. I feel it staring at me when he's talking his death breath all over me. When he was using my computer to do whatever, he kept touching his face and hair and then my keyboard and mouse. Duuuuuude, now I have to dump some industrial strength purell over everything in my space. I think I have to throw them all away. Again, this cannot be mean because it has the power of the truth to back it up.

That is all. Carry on.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Timid Woodland Creature

Halloween is this Sunday and I am totally unprepared. We get a shit-ton of kids coming to the house (well over 100) and good lord if they don't all want something for free. The cats hate this night almost as much as they hate the 4th of July. No, the cats don't hate America and your freedoms, they hate fireworks and our doorbell. Luckily, the Trick or Treaters ringing the doorbell doesn't happen every night for an entire month like the fireworks do. Fuck you ineffective Chapter 148, Sec 9, General Laws Board of Fire Prevention Regulations, Massachusetts Fire Safety Code, 527 CMR 2.00. You are a joke law with zero teeth.

What was I talking about? Oh yea, Halloween and all the crazy spooky shit that goes along with it. I may have mentioned a few times that I don't do scary movies. I do not care for them. They can scare me and I find this unpleasant. I do not enjoy seeing gore or zombies or what have you. I am not good at keeping my girly shrieks at bay and I have found that using my hands to shield my eyes does not prevent the horrible sounds from getting to my brain. And this is where the sounds will put images that may very well be worse than anything the movie is presenting.

I remember scaring myself into thinking that I saw a ghost in my bedroom (after my grandmother on my mom's side died. She was the first dead person I had ever seen). I had pulled the covers up and jammed myself up against the wall next to my bed so that if the ghost bumped into the bed (?), it wouldn't brush up against me. So there I was all wrapped up and protected when the thought occurred to me that, "Wait, I can still hear things." Ghosts make that spooky sound right? I would still be able to hear that and I'd have a heart attack and die at 10 years old. That thought messed me up and I proceeded to jam a pillow onto my head to block out sound. Luckily I did not pass out from lack of oxygen or overheat and explode (I normally require lots of ventilation).

With Halloween so close, everywhere I look and every news or entertainment outfit has something that could potentially freak me out. "Top 10 Horror Movie Scenes!" shouts one article with a large picture of that fucking Exorcist kid front and center. "No fucking thanks," I say and click over to another site. "50 Scariest Movies!" proclaims the caption under yet another shot of Linda Fucking Blair snarling at me. Jesus fuck. I just want to read about the economy or something totally not scary like that (wink! it's sarcasm folks! zoinks!).

I can trace my aversion to the horror and/or scary movie genre back to 1975 when at the far too fucking young age of 5, my parents took me to see a little film called Jaws. Are you kidding me? That's messed up. When that severed head in the sunken boat clonked into frame, I'm pretty sure I had a stroke. From that day on their movie viewing choices were suspect. I remember my mom announcing one Saturday morning that "We're all going to the Granada Theater to see a movie today." Lovely, and what movie would that be, dear mother of mine? "We're going to go see Young Frankenstein." I balked because although she promised me that it was a comedy and I'd like it, this was the same woman who said I should watch Psycho with her one night when I couldn't sleep. Wow. And yes, I would watch the Creature Double Feature on Channel 56 nearly every Saturday. But that was mainly movies with dudes in cheap rubber suits. However there was one that stuck with me. The Brain That Wouldn't Die scared the bejeezus outta me.

If you'd like a quick gauge of my level of jumpiness I can provide it. As a kid I was frightened by an episode of The Dick Van Dyke Show. Yep. And not just by little Richie's horrible acting either (I can remember even as a little kid thinking "Wow, that kid is a really shitty actor. Why does he yell all his lines? Couldn't they just fire the little fuck and get someone who's good at this?"). I was freaked out by how freaked out Dick Van Dyke was. When he came home at the end of the show and they started coming after him from the other rooms? I lost my little mind. Morey Amsterdam's bugged out eyes coming out of the bedroom was terrifying. Seriously. Even when Laura comes cascading out of the closet on a wave of walnuts I was scared (at the 19:20 mark on this video).

So this past weekend I went on to Netflix and searched for that episode to see if it would elicit the same reaction now that I'm all grown up and (presumably) less skittish. I found it and streamed it off my PS3 (so cool being able to do that. I love technology). It is basically a spoof of a Twilight Zone episode and I was totally enjoying watching it. Then, that scene came up...yep, still spooked me. Maybe I'm just afraid of Morey Amsterdam? Lesson learned. No scary movies or even pseudo scary 49-year-old family television shows. Yea, I'm a real man alright.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Existence Precedes Essence

Similar to what she did last year, The Wiff has been in Florida for the last several days hanging out with her friends by the pool at Universal Something or Other. You can see by my inability to recall the actual name of the theme park/resort that I am not a fan. Good thing too since I wasn't invited. Which is fine. I didn't wanna go to your stinky movie-themed getaway with a cool pool and hang out all day anyway. I wanted to stay in Boston where it was cold and kinda rainy. I prefer it. So there. No, actually I do. For realsies.

Day 1: The Wiff had to leave at stupid o'clock because her flight to Orlando was leaving out of T.F. Green in Providence. Have I mentioned that we live about 10 miles from Logan Airport? No? Well, we do. She wasn't thrilled about the choice of airport but this is what happens when you let other people book your trip for you. All I knew was I was going to have the house to myself for a few days and I had planned on using this time to do some serious slacking. I'm talking about bringing laziness to a whole new level. By the time I got up for work that morning she had already been gone for an hour. She had made coffee for us (awesome) which I gladly drank and then headed off to work. That night was pretty uneventful so let's just ignore Day 1 and move on shall we? We shall.

Day 2: Friday morning came and since I'm like wicked smahhhht I had made arrangements to work from home. It was a touch chilly in the house when I woke up so after my morning routine I decided to make a nice fire. Oh man, I love having that fireplace insert. It may be a pain in the balls stacking the wood and then bringing it into the house only to restack it in the corner in shape of a small pyramid, but when you get a nice hot fire rolling along and that fan kicks on and heats the house, you forget all about the bullshit. The cats took turns passing out in front of the fireplace glass and I set about my day. I have a rule when I work from home: I have to be dressed as if I am actually going into the office. Luckily where I work that does not mean a suit and tie but it also doesn't mean that I can get away with sitting in my PJs either. But at least I can sit in a super comfy chair with my feet up.

While I was sitting there I noticed a rather large and evil-looking spider making its way across the rug and headed in my general direction. "Stupid firewood's all full of creepy crawlies I bet," I thought to myself and looked around for something to squash said spider if it came within striking distance (I may not like spiders and their ilk but I'm also quite lazy). Luckily for me, Oliver also spotted the spider and swooped in like a gallant furry knight and gobbled the little bastard up. Huzzah, Sir Oliver! Well played! He sat there on the rug looking pleased with himself while scanning for other little moving snacks. Cut to a half hour later and Good Sir Oliver is barfing up a hairball in the dining room that had a not-so-subtle spider theme. Nasty. Is there a worse sound than a cat horking up a hairball? I'm sure there is but I can't think of one right now. I revoke your knighthood Oliver. You are just a gross cat now.

Day 3: Saturday. Glorious, glorious Saturday. This was a day where I had nothing to do. The calendar was completely open and the possibilities seemingly endless (within reason of course). What to do then? How about sleeping in until 9:30 or so and then pad downstairs to play some video games while drinking really strong coffee? Awesome. Let's go do that right now. I even made myself some breakfast. I made some hash and a couple eggs (sunny-side up thank you very much). Plus, the chill was still in the air so I got to make another satisfying fire. Perfecto. Then, at around 2pm, I got bored. Like, super bored. I didn't want to watch anymore TV or play any games. The interwebs was boring me too. So I took a nap in my chair. With a cat in my lap. I am officially an old woman.

Day 4: Ok, this is getting ridiculous. I have to make the coffee AGAIN? Fuck me. And I have to feed the cats and the fish as well as make sure the snake (yes, the snake. We have a ball python named Charlie. It's ridiculous) has enough water or whatever (cuz I sure as hell am not feeding him his favorite food. I'm far too squeamish for that shit). I bet this means I'm going to have to make breakfast for myself too. Sheesh. I know that sounds like I'm a sexist pig but honestly it's just that I'm a terrible cook. My hash and sunny-side up eggs that I had the day before weren't very good and took a lot more talent than I had anticipated. There is a skill set here that I simply do not possess. I am the cleaner. I clean things. I cannot cook things. Well, not very well anyway. Look out dry cereal in a bowl, here I come (I don't really like milk y'see). The rest of this day was spent avoiding doing laundry. I did use the dishwasher though. That was an event. This is literally the first time in my life that I have ever used one. Sure, I've helped load and unload them in the past but I've never put in the soap and turned the fucker on before. I broke my dishwasher cherry. And at the tender age of 40 too. Hope no one calls me a Cascade whore.

Day 5: Monday. Back to work. The Wiff texted me that her flight was going to be delayed and that she figured she'd be home by 9:45 or so. I had planned on going to bed early and finish my book but I realized that I'd probably just pass out and I'd miss her grand arrival. And most likely she'd just wake my sorry ass up anyway so I just watched Top Gear and waited up for her. Aren't I swell? Of course I am. We've established this already.

And so that was the end of my alone time at ye olde homestead. I have never lived alone so getting a couple days to putter around and think my own thoughts while staring at nothing in particular was nice. I even had a bit of an existential crisis which I may or may not explain in a later post. I'm not sure how I feel about it yet. Not to make that a teaser or anything, I just tend to over share sometimes and I have to remind myself that there can be certain boundaries. Fuck, I dunno. I'm just really glad Amy is back home. I missed my lady. I don't even mind that she hogs the covers.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

This Is Not Real

When I'm watching a movie or a TV show I get annoyed when an actor will take me out of the little universe I'm supposed to be buying into for the duration of the show by doing something I find distracting. "Well Mark, what do you mean by that long, border-line run-on sentence", you ask? Lemme 'splain cuz there are several examples (quick aside: when I say "several" I feel like I should have at least 4 examples to warrant the use of the word. If I had 7 examples, then that to me is the perfect use of the word "several". If I had 3, then I would say "a few" obviously. And everyone knows 2 examples is "a couple". This be the rules, people. I feel the terms "many" and "a bunch" are more loosey-goosey and therefore do not warrant further examination).

1. Darting Eyes
  This drives me batty. When an actor is talking to another person and the camera is on their face as they deliver their lines, the actor will make his/her eyes dart back and forth from the other actor's eyes: left, right, left, right, all super fast. The frequency of the eye movement increases with the dramatic weight of the scene. The more intense the actor thinks this performance is, the more those goddamn eyes are gonna be whizzing like a metronome on steroids in their sockets. Cut it out actor-types. We can see you doing that. It makes me think to myself, no matter how engrossed I might be in the story, that "oh yea, this is just a dumb movie and that's the chick from that episode of The Wire." This is where a better blog would have a bunch of examples from YouTube or whatever but I don't. And I don't know how to put one together either.

2. Not Looking at the Road While Driving
  Oh man, this is guaranteed to take me out of the plot and put me right back in my reality (which I'm trying to escape for the love of Pete and you actors are fucking that up for me). Two actors will be sitting in the front of a vehicle and they'll be having a conversation. The one who is driving will deliver their lines while looking directly at the person in the passenger seat. Sometimes they'll even stare at the person while waiting for the dramatic reaction to the lines just spoken. This makes me in the audience say, "Look at the fucking road you asshole!" It basically points out that this whole thing is fake and they are actually on one of those elaborate vehicle rigs where they are just towed around and they actually have zero control over the car. I've noticed that if the scene calls for more than 2 people in the car or someone to be in the backseat, then someone will eventually say "Hey! Watch the road!". Yes, please do. It's distracting.  I think I must commute on the same roads as a lot of aspiring actors or something.

3. Not Locking a Vehicle
  Another one that is rampant but seems to be more so in TV shows than movies. Not sure why. This is when a character will drive up to wherever, get out of the car and walk away without locking it up. Sometimes they'll go so far as to leave the frickin' windows open too. I've even seen where they'll leave a convertible top down. Who does this? No one in the real world (unless you live in some fairy tale land where no one ever does anything illegal to anyone else's property. I'm going to go out on a limb here and say that's rare). I live and work in a city and I lock my shit up. I wouldn't even leave my car unlocked in my own driveway or the garage here at work. The times I notice it in TV shows is invariably when the character parks the car, pays no mind to the fact that their in a shitty neighborhood and just leaves the thing wide open. Which brings me to my final example.

4. Finding a Parking Space No Matter What
  I understand that it isn't interesting to have a character circle a block for 20 minutes trying to find a parking space but I get distracted when they're in a big, busy city and not only is there a spot right in front of the building they need to go to but there are usually SEVERAL spaces available. C'mon, that is just super fake. The only time I can remember a character having trouble finding a space to park is when there's valet parking and the character is the "put-upon-loser-type". It's funnier if they can't park their jalopy in front of the hip club with all the kids and their hairdos. Otherwise it appears that it is super easy to find a place to park in downtown New York.

Ok, so that last one doesn't really bother me as much as the others do but I needed to satisfy my definition of "several". I can't seem to think of 3 more examples to get me to the purest form of "several". Any thoughts internet peeps?

Here's my current favorite pop song. I'm sure I'll be totally sick of it by the end of November, but right now I can't stop singing it. And for that, I apologize.

Friday, October 8, 2010

What's for Dessert?

I just made a really bad decision. Lately I've been a bad boy and have not been bringing my lunch in to work. I've just been super lazy about it. The guilt that I feel over the truly unnecessary expenditure of $7+ a day when I should be bringing in food from home is palpable. I have to suppress it and blend it up with the ball of regret and shame that I keep just in the center of my chest. That's the one skill set that I can trace back to my Catholic upbringing: the ability to see exactly what the problem is and yet ignore the issue and hope that it will somehow solve itself. It's how I self-diagnosed myself as being lactose intolerant for awhile as my gall bladder not-so-silently got closer and closer to killing me. I didn't say it was a good skillset.

Yea, so anyway. There is a cafeteria on the top floor of the building where I work. And although it is cheap, it is not a good cafeteria by any stretch of the imagination. In fact, it's pretty shitty. The food is marginal to bad and the people who work there are surly and/or disinterested. Also, they continually fuck up the french fries. This is unforgivable. The goddamn french fries are always slightly under done and too greasy. How do you fuck up fries? When I pick up a fry, it shouldn't sag over sadly onto one side and then start to sweat oil. That's nasty. The good news on this front is that the company that currently runs this cafe has been told to hit the bricks by the company I work for. See ya Sodexo. Go eat a bowl of dicks.

Here's why I can't go upstairs to the cafeteria: Sodexo knows that they have lost this contract and are slated to be out of there by Oct. 15 so they have seriously slacked on stocking things to eat and drink. Plus, I can't help thinking that if they were so apathetic and shoddy when they thought they were in like Flynn then what level of quality can one expect from them now that they know the jig is up? I don't want to find out. So I decided to go grab a couple of slices of pizza with the guy I share this office with (pardon me while I dangle that preposition). On the walk over I announce that "I'm gonna get 3 slices!" to which Seth warned "Don't do it man. I did that yesterday and holy shit did I pay the price. I was useless the rest of the day." I chose to ignore this advice. "Feh, what does he know anyway?," I thought to myself. "Nothin', that's what. Plus, lookit the guy, he's all slight and shit. I'm strong like bull and almost as big. This'll be fine." Can you see where this is headed? Of course you can. We all can. All except "in-the-past" Mark. He's forgotten that he is a 40-year-old man who has no exercise regimen to speak of (unless you count getting in and out of a Jetta). Let's see what happens!

I sat down at the tiny table with my 3 glorious slices of pizza and started in. This place makes really good pizza so the first 2 pieces went down easy. By the time I had finished my second piece, Seth was done with his sub. He said "Are you sure you want to eat that one too?", which I of course took as a challenge to my manhood. "Hell yea, I'm gonna eat that one." I said confidently. "No problem." But by this time I was already full and in need of a nap when I took the first bite of that last slice. I have watched quite a few episodes of that show Man Vs. Food and I always put myself in his place when he takes on those crazy-ass food challenges. The conclusion is always the same: No fucking way would I eat all that shit he has in front of him. Not even if I could be sitting directly on a toilet at the time. It just won't happen. I charged through 3/4 of it and then I hit the wall.

I put down the rest of the slice and sat there regretting being dumb. Seth looked at my plate and said, "What, you're not going to eat the crust?" I said that no, I can't. He replied that if I don't eat the entire piece, then I lose. Lose what you ask? If you have to ask then you are not a competitive douche like me. I knew that I cannot lose no matter what. I must win the non-existent prize. This challenge will not go unmet. I stared at the crust of the pizza slice and lemme tell you it looked huge. I sighed, gathered myself and jammed that mofo into my mouth in two bites (my parents would be so proud. Oh wait, I think I have the wrong word there...whatsitcalled? Mortified? Too harsh. Disappointed? Yes! That's the one).

We then immediately walked back to the office and I'll tell ya, that was the worst thing I could have done. I should have just sat there at the table for another 10 minutes or so and let what I just did to myself settle down. By the time we got back to the office I was a wreck. The pizza was just sitting in my gut like a bowling ball. Thank Christ I didn't have any meetings or anything like that to go to because for the next hour I was barely able to function (my boss doesn't read this does he?). I just had to do stuff with folks on the phone so they couldn't see how I was all greasy with pizza sweats. Sorry ladies, I'm spoken for. Ah the Wiff is a lucky lady.

It's been over 4 hours since I ingested that meal and I am just now starting to feel relatively normal again. Lunch shouldn't do that to a person. I hope this new contractor/catering company is better. I will be making more of an effort to bring in lunch but I also know that I'm inherently lazy and will slip from time to time. As long as the new people know how to make a decent batch of french fries I will be happy.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Spamalot

Lately I have been spending way too much time telling the Yahoo Mail spam filter that yes, these 25 emails that have landed in my inbox are in fact spam. I know that there are people out there who's sole purpose in this life is to make my online experience as miserable as possible but I have lead a mostly spam-free life these last few years. Until recently. Since Gmail came out I have used that as my main point of contact for all things official; from the main blog contact to incidental work-related correspondence. My Yahoo account, which I have had since I think 1997 or so has been relegated to the "Oh, this place needs an email address to complete my order" email. Vendors from Zappos to Amazon to Northern Tool know to contact me at the Yahoo address. And I do still use it for those rare occasions when I think to open my ancient Yahoo IM app. (although now that they have copied Google and integrated IM into the mailbox area of Yahoo, I seriously doubt I'll ever download and open the actual IM application ever again).

Somewhere along the line some nefarious online merchant has sold my address to some rather seedy organizations. At first the spam filter was on top of its game. It scooped up the bulk of the over-the-top and the blatantly obvious ones and ushered them into the spam folder with very little fanfare. I never saw them. Of course some slipped by but I didn't mind checking the little box and then marking them as spam. I would get a little note from SpamGuard saying thanks for helping it perform better. What was implied was that SpamGuard was so sorry and, frankly embarrassed that it had let me down by allowing this terrible blight stink up my email inbox with its potentially offensive content. I would smile graciously and say to no one in particular, "Hey SpamGuard, don't sweat it. I'm a laid-back kinda guy and I'm just happy knowing that you are trying your hardest to not let this happen again. It won't happen again correct? Do we understand each other here? I think we do. I expect more from my free services." But it did happen again. And again. Lately, it's been happening several times a day in fact.

Let's take a quick peek at what the filter has been letting through lately shall we? Here are a few gems in no particular order (these are quoted directly from the subject line in my Yahoo email account):
  • Plump Breasty Best Lucky Mad Belly Mama So (I kinda like that one...it's sorta sing-songy and fun)
  • Nailed Stuffing Small Hunks Haily Foot Bent Puffy Skinny Covered ("small hunks"? ewww)
  • Finger Sits Stuffed Alluring Orgy Amazing Rod Stunning Twinks Wants Dark-Haired (yea, I didn't know what "twinks" meant. I don't suggest googling it...trust me. I have seen things that I cannot un-see)
And now for my favorite:
  •  Mark Omalley thighs enjoying four jem jeweled swallowing juice stuffed taste banana tanned plugged look seduced classic showing
Wait....what? You know what annoyed me the most from that last one? The fact that they misspelled my last name. I hate it when computers don't allow apostrophes as a recognized character because what happens is the M in my last name doesn't get capitalized and the whole pronunciation becomes garbled. It's actually a quick way to scan the junk mail I get at home. If my name is spelled "Omalley" then I know I don't have to open it (usually The Wiff filters the junk mail before I even see it by the way. I'm totally spoiled).

I have no idea why this sudden influx of spam messages has been able to route its way around whatever algorithm Yahoo uses but goddammit those mother-truckin' Russian and/or Chinese spam robots are relentless. I'm getting on average 6-8 messages per day that make it to my inbox past the filter (even more on the weekends for some reason). This is in addition to the (holy shit) 463 messages that the filter caught and prevented. Who sold me out to the crazies? Was it you Timbuk2? How about you Best Buy? Somebody did it and I want revenge. I also want to know what a "stuffed taste banana" is.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Je Fais des Choses Muettes

This past weekend The Wiff and I went on a little adventure in Canada. I had to go up to my company's office just outside of Montreal do run a training and she tagged along for the heck of it. Neither one of us had been to Montreal and so we figured this would be a nice little trip. Montreal is a beautiful city from what I understand and lord knows I could use some time away from Massachusetts. I had decided to drive up since taking a flight with the customs, flight delays, and airport traffic would have taken approximately as much time, give or take an hour. Plus, if I drove, I'd have my own car to bop around in once I got out of work. How sweet would that be? If I flew, I doubt the company would let me have a rental car (the office was quite close to the hotel).

The drive up on Thursday was, for the most part, uneventful. We zipped up through Vermont and made decent time. At the border crossing I showed why I have not chosen a life of crime. We pulled up to the checkpoint and stopped at the little sign that declared "ARRET!". Fine, I'll just wait here then shall I? The border guard waved us forward and I eased up to the little booth that is his center of power. I should mention now that I get super nervous around authority figures. I can't help but to imagine that this guy, if he so chose, could easily detain me and make my life a misery for the next several hours. I know intellectually that this will not happen (or shouldn't happen) but I see all the cameras and uniforms and automatic weapons on display and I freak out a bit. Suddenly in my head I am an international (Canada counts as international right?) master criminal and I have to do is slink past this one guard to gain my freedom and claim my rightful place in the annals famous thieves or whatever. Meanwhile in reality, I'm a fat guy in an old diesel Jetta.

The guard asked us a question in french and when I stared blankly at him, he switched effortlessly to english. I handed over our passports and he asked us some questions in slightly accented english. This was the exchange:

Border guard: "Where are do you live?"
Me: "Mark O'Malley."
Border guard: "..... What? Where's that?"
Me: "Oh, I'm sorry, I thought you asked me my name."
Border guard: "No, I asked 'where are do you live?'"
Me: "We're going to Laval!"
Border guard: (moving on..) "Do you have any produce?"
Me: "I don't think so."
The Wiff: (desperately) "No! We don't have any produce!"
Border guard: "Are you bringing any gifts to anyone in Canada?"
Me: "Not that I know of."
The Wiff: "No! No gifts!"
Border guard: "Ok, thank you."

Yep. I am a smooth operator. Thank christ that the Wiff was with me because I could not for the life of me understand this guy. I cannot explain why since his english was better than mine. I just got all nervous and turned around by his, as you can plainly see, cryptic and misleading questions. God, I am a dope. So he just let us through and I still can't understand why exactly. I must cut such a non-threatening profile that he sized me up and thought, well even if he is a criminal or terrorist, there's no way he can successfully pull off a crime.

We got to the hotel in just under 6 hours (which includes me driving slowly, pee breaks, and the aforementioned border crossing). I was pretty damn tired, thank you very much. The next day I went and did the training (it went ok I guess. I can never really tell. When I'm in the moment during a training I always feel like it's going poorly and I'm losing the audience. After the trainings people seem to be happy and satisfied so maybe this is just me projecting my own bullshit). I came back to the hotel and we went to the hotel bar to have some food and drinks. We wanted to talk about our trip to Montreal and decide what we wanted to see and do. That was the idea anyway. I don't think we actually talked about it at all. And that, ladies and gentlepeoples is the problem. We are failures at "winging it". We can't do it.

The fact that the Wiff and I cannot just "wing it" on a vacation or even a short trip like this one became very clear to us back in January with our trip to Ireland. Sure, the weather fucked a lot of stuff up for us but for the most part what really messed that trip up was our own inability to actually decide on what the fuck we wanted to do. There was a lot of "we could do this and that" and "I dunno, what do you wanna do?" going on and what ultimately happens in that scenario is NOTHING. Nothing happens. We end up frustrated and bored while we sit in the hotel room. The problem this time was that we did not learn from the Ireland trip and did pretty much the same thing this time around. We don't need a vacation that is so rigorously planned that every minute of every day is accounted for but the willy-nilly-let's-just-see-what-comes-up approach doesn't work either. We need some structure with the option to change plans if the need or desire should arise.

On Saturday we slept in a little late and took our time getting ready. The TV news told us that Montreal would be in the mid-90's by noon and oh by the way, NASCAR as well as tens of thousands of fans are in town for a race that is taking place right in the heart of the city. Oh dear. Crowds + heat + unfamiliar area = super cranky Mark. After figuring out where the Metro station was and what stop we'd need to get off at we were all set to head out on our day trip. Then the Wiff called our own bluff. She said, "Would you rather just leave tonight and save the money? We could take a really scenic and round-about route and make that our adventure." Oh fuck yes, please. It was exactly what I wanted to do but I was too afraid that she'd get all mad at me if I suggested it. We promised each other that we'd come back to Montreal and have a plan of action. And we would stay in Montreal and not on the outskirts (the hotel and office are in Laval which is about 7 miles or so outside of the city. The hotel was situated on a major highway next to several strip malls which didn't exactly make for a lovely stroll).

And so we bailed on Montreal. I know, we're lame. We have admitted to this and are working towards a solution. Do not judge us. We drove away and made our long and meandering way home (including a 40+ mile misjudging of the highway system in Canada that eventually lead to a quick ferry ride across the St. Lawrence river). When we got to the U.S./Canada border (this time at New Hampshire) I was primed. I knew that the guard would be American and I'd be able to understand everything he asked me. I pulled up to the booth and sure enough I answered every question with flying colors. I was awesome. He dismissed us and sent us on our merry way. We had decided that we'd take Rt. 5 for a bit rather than jumping on Rt. 91 since Rt. 5 is a nice calm road with stuff to see and Rt. 91 is just a boring old interstate. I drove towards the Rt. 5 signs and there was a bit of confusion at this point. After stopping at a stop sign (which I have to admit I was glad did not yell "ARRET!" at me) near where we had just checked in, the GPS stopped working. That is to say, it stopped giving us directions and just showed us where we were, not where we'd like to go. I drove forward noting another U.S. Customs check-in point to my right but not thinking anything of it since we had just gone through all that. We drove by this and then suddenly the GPS woke up. It was indicating that we had missed our turn and that we should make a U-turn when possible. Ok, little electronic woman's voice. I shall do as you bid.

I turned the car around and passed the check-in point again. Soon I found myself with a choice. I could either go back up the hill from which we had just come or I could go down another little hill. Going down the little hill seemed to be the better choice as we both knew that going back up the other way would just take us to the border right? So down we went. At the bottom of the hill we were confronted with what was clearly a Canadian check-in point. "Oh dear," I said and turned the car around before getting to the border (or so I thought). As I made my way back up that hill I saw that written in large letters on the pavement were the words "Must Report To U.S. Customs". Oh fuck. As we approached the check-in I noticed a post office building and thought that it would be a good idea to pull in there and see if I can't figure out what the hell just happened. As I pulled in, a dude dressed in a black uniform came running out of the U.S. Customs building pointing at me and yelling "YOU! YOU! YOU! Stop!" Ah, fuck. This isn't going to be good.

He came running up to the car and yelled at me that I had to go through the check point. "B.b..but we just came–" I stammered. "YOU MUST GO THROUGH THIS CHECKPOINT!" he yelled again. Ok. You're the one who's armed here...you win. I pulled around to the booth and the another guy who was sitting in there said "What was that all about? Are you the guy who pulled into the post office?" I said that yes it was me. I tried in vain to explain what had happened when he said "But you came up the hill. Did you check in with the Canadians?" I explained that I had not as I had turned around when I realized my error and came back up the hill. "Then you just entered Canada illegally. They probably have your photo and information and are looking for you right now. You may have a big problem if you try to enter Canada in the future." I'm sorry, what? Dudley Do-right is after me? "What should I do?" I asked. He suggested that I go back down the hill and explain what happened and "if they let you go" we should then come back up to him to check in. All I heard was "IF THEY LET YOU GO". It was rattling around in my head and blocking all other input as I took the passports back and drove the car back down that hill to the Canadian customs building and what surely would be a life sentence spent working in the maple syrup mines. There are huge veins of maple syrup running through this part of Canada and they're always looking for prisoners and slave labor to harvest it.

When we got there, the Canadian dude at the station could not have been nicer. We explained that we had been following the GPS and it got us all turned around. All we really wanted to do was to go home. That's it. He said that this area seemed to be a "Bermuda triangle of GPS". He said that we weren't the first people to do this and that yes, they had noticed our car turning around before the checkpoint but understood what we were doing and no, they were not looking for us. He told us to just go ahead and turn around but to "make sure we checked back in with the U.S. Customs people". So I turned around and headed back up the hill (again) and drove over to the U.S. checkpoint. This time the guy was a lot nicer to us. It was then that it occurred to me that if the Canadian dude has seen this kind of directional confusion before then this prick has also witnessed people innocently making this same error. So why were the U.S. guys such jack-offs? Why did they try to make me pee myself (only a little came out I think)? Why didn't they just let me explain what happened and figure out that it wasn't a real issue? Because they can, that's why. Something I did made them not want to make this easy on me and I suspect it was my pulling into the post office parking lot. That really made them mad. These guys need to smoke some weed and chill the frick out.

At this point all I wanted to do is go home. We made our way to the highway and got the fuck outta town. On the way home we stopped off at the New Hampshire state liquor store and got me some scotch. It was only through immense self control that I didn't just slam a shot right then and there in the parking lot. As soon as we got home I got into comfy clothes and poured myself a nice healthy glass. Mmmmmm, scotch.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

You Mean Not Everyone Does This?

My commute to my job in Cambridge puts me in my car for approximately 30 miles or roughly an hour and a half round trip every day. The distance traveled doesn't vary all that much (depending on which route I take), but the time can be anywhere from 40 minutes on a good day to well over an hour. That's a one-way distance of 15 miles in what averages out to about an hour. Simple math tells you that I'm going very slowly for most of that time. Add in the craptacular roads around here and the abundance of complete assholes hell bent on getting that one precious car length ahead of you and this does not make for pleasant driving conditions.

When I had that wonderfully wacky job at CSG (the second iteration, circa 1995-1996), I would drive around the Boston area for most of my day. I logged a lot of miles and far too much time behind the wheel on the shitty, shitty roads that we have here. It wore on me and I had a couple of notable episodes of road rage (including one where I punched a guy's truck. I don't recommend doing that by the way. Trucks are made from metal). I wish I could say that I came to my senses and calmed the fuck down when driving soon after this incident but that's, uh, not the case. It took me a while to get to my current N.O.T.S.M. (none of this shit matters) philosophy. One major factor that made me reevaluate my own attitude and behavior was when my friend discovered the "notebook".

At the risk of sounding crazy I'm going to explain what the notebook was. I would commute on the same route every day and I would see people doing what I determined to be bad behavior while driving (cutting in at the last minute, aggressive lane changes, blowing through red lights, etc). These incidents sometimes involved me, meaning I was the one who was cut off or whatever but that wasn't always the case. Occasionally I was just a witness to some douchey display. What I would then do is log the time, location, license plate, description of vehicle and a short summary of the infraction into a small spiral ring notebook that I kept in my glove box. I would give a brief outline of what lead up to the episode as well as what the driver looked like. You should probably read that again while keeping in mind that I am not in any way, shape, or form a police officer. Why was I doing this? I told myself it was a way for me to have a record that I could reference as to which drivers I should avoid. I honestly looked at it in this way. I was keeping tabs on the crazy ones so that I could minimize my interaction with them. Some of the pages had multiple entries for the same vehicle. Almost sounds reasonable (well, to me anyway).

And I did this for years. Literally years. All told I filled up 3 notebooks in that time. The pages would usually have only one entry scribbled at an odd angle because I had written it while driving with the notebook either on my lap or on the seat next to me. I'm not making this any better am I? Cut to a few years down the road and I am working at an office in Cambridge and car-pooling with a friend. One day he has to go into the glove box for something and he discovers the notebook. Before I can even attempt to explain what it is, he opened it and started reading. "Dude, what the hell is this?" he asked with a look on his face that told me that perhaps I had entered an area he usually reserved for crazy people. "Um, y'know. It's how I keep track of these jackasses on the road," I explained. "I, uh, have two others in the trunk." He stared at me for a little bit and then said, "You have to get rid of this. Like, now."

And he was right of course. The nightmare scenario he painted for me was this: I get into a road rage incident with some guy and it escalates into a physical confrontation. After losing the fight (presumably), the police show up and arrest me and while they have me detained, they discover the notebook. Nothing good can come from my attempts to not only justify the fight that got me arrested, but how do you explain away 3 notebooks worth of crazily scrawled evidence? The answer is I couldn't. I had to make some changes before his prediction came true. I tossed the notebooks away that evening. I thought about "saving them for a laugh" but that just felt risky.

I have changed the way that I drive in that I'm a lot calmer than I used to be. I'm more apt to let things go rather than seethe with anger at any slight provocation. That's not to say I don't notice shitty behavior out on the roads, it's just that I know that it doesn't really matter. I'd like to say that I've completely quelled this but I have slipped a few times. I no longer keep a notebook or anything but I do still have "rules" that I follow. Most of these pertain to allowing people into line in traffic.

Rule #1 is never let the following vehicles pull out in front of you:
  • taxis
  • tow trucks
  • buses (school or commuter)
  • delivery vans
  • contractor vans (usually the dreaded "white van")
The reason for this exception to my newish "just go with the flow" driving style is that generally the drivers of these vehicles are the worst offenders. They are dicks. They would not let you go if you were trying to merge, so fuck them.

Rule #2 is never let someone who is poking the nose of the car too far into the flow of traffic and being "rude about it". They aren't sitting patiently and respectfully waiting their turn to go. It's just bad etiquette. God, I sound like a fucking lunatic. I clearly have some issues still. The bottom line is that although I have made changes, I still struggle with keeping my new perspective (as the aforementioned "Rules" illustrate). I'm working on it. Just don't beep at me ok?

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Gonna Need a Lot of Ice

We need to bring back the ice floe. The sheer amount of stupid people who have been allowed to poison our gene pool and clog up our roads with their dumbness has made our society very unstable. I propose rounding up a large group of dumb-dumbs and placing them on a nice, semi-stable sheet of ice way the fuck up north somewheres and then gently nudge it out into the Gulf stream. And then what happens, happens. But Mark, who do you propose we relegate to this fate? Do you have some sort of list perhaps? Why yes, yes I do.
  • People who whistle. You are not enhancing any song that may be on at the moment nor are you uplifting anyone's spirits with your monotonous rendition of "Rocky Mountain High". Off to the floe with you.
  • The blond, frizzy-haired woman who works in my office. We seem to be on the same schedule for everything lately and I'm tired of seeing her. Walking into work, there she is across the street. On my way to grab some lunch, she's at the salad bar. Time for a wee? She's in the damn hallway. Go away lady. Get on that floe. (postscript: Hey lady, it's called conditioner...look that shit up. Oh no he di'int!)
  • The cashier lady in the cafeteria at my work. I get the same thing and price changes every time. I know you hate your job and me for whatever reason but see, I don't care. I will solve both our problems by dooming you to stand on a rapidly melting chunk of ice somewhere in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean. Enjoy.
  • People who say "How's it goin'?" How is what going exactly? Be more specific. Y'know what? Nevermind that. Just get on the floe.
  • People who say "It's goin'!" in response to people who ask them "How's it goin'"?
  • The guy who nodded off during the training I was giving the other day. I understand that trainings are dull but it's not like there was a hundred people in the room. As you may or may not recall, there was only 3 of us in there. So yea, I noticed when your head kept bobbing onto your chest. Hope you can tread water for several days.
  • The woman who sits in the cube outside my office. Her laugh is super nasal and I can no longer abide it. She must go.
Wow, that last one seemed kinda harsh. Ah well. I have a bit of a problem. I tend to let things bother me. I notice patterns of behavior and idiosyncrasies in my fellow humans and once I notice something, I cannot UN-notice it, y'know? Frankly, I'm amazed when others do NOT notice the quirks of those around them. "See, he does that thing with his lips every 15 minutes. You mean you've NEVER noticed that? God, it's maddening. I HATE that guy!" I'm even more shocked when these things don't bother people even after I've pointed out how obvious they are. I once broke up with a girl cuz she tapped her leg whenever she was sitting. We'd be at a movie and I'd miss the entire thing because I was just obsessing on the fact that her leg was bouncing up and down the entire time. What the fuck? Stop fucking doing that before I stab you. And when say I "broke up with her" I mean that she dumped me after cheating on me. Whatever, she's on the floe now.

The Wiff and I were watching a film about the White Stripes tour through Canada back in 2007. They wanted to play all the Providences and out-of-the-way places where bands don't usually perform. It's a nice story and if you like the White Stripes, a must-watch. While we were watching the movie, the Wiff mentioned how she liked how they not only toured the remote areas but went out of their way to get to know the area and show respect to the local customs. I barely heard this comment as I was harping on the weird thing that Meg White does with her left arm when she drums. I may need medication.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Oh, Come ON!

I watched a terrible movie this past weekend. I did not watch the entire thing but I watched enough of it to know that it was a shitty one. The film in question was 2012 which came out last year and I distinctly remember saying to myself "Well, there's another movie I'll never ever watch." I spoke too soon apparently. The Wiff had recorded it off of HBO and it had been sitting on the DVR like a turd for a couple of weeks. Yesterday after she got back from running errands and doing some work she announced that she was "going to watch a movie". I understood that as "I want to be alone now. Go upstairs and let me watch this dumb movie in peace." See, it's not that I mean to ruin her viewing of horribly stupid candy-movies/TV shows, it's just that I can't help myself. I have to make comments and poke fun at the plot, characters, special effects, what-have-you in said movie/TV show. I don't WANT to, I HAVE to. I am compelled. It's a sickness.

So I went upstairs and let her be. But I got bored upstairs. When you don't have anything you really want to do, the internets can get dull super fast. I poked around on Hulu looking for a show I wanted to watch but got distracted by a game of Snood instead. After a couple of games I went on to YouTube to watch people falling off of things. That got old faster than anticipated. I made my way back downstairs and ignored the look that the Wiff gave me. I noticed it, I just ignored it. She was camped out on the couch and 2012 was stinking up the TV. I sat down and tried to keep my comments to myself. I didn't last very long. "Oh, come on man...they're on a huge, cavernous cargo plane and it's quiet enough to have a whispered conversation? So they're saying our car is louder than that plane?" Eye rolls from the Wiff. There was one scene later on with John Cusak doing his best Shelley Winters impersonation except he must have the lung capacity of an orca because he is under water for waaaaaay longer than humanly possible and when he finally comes up, he's not even tired. This is the same guy who needed a tiny French chick to help him rebuild a Camaro. Amazing.

The movie also suffers from the problem of computers not behaving like computers. Computers in movies make all kinds of extraneous bleeps, bloops, and whizzing noises. The graphics are always too flashy (especially for government computers) and although the operators have access to amazing amounts of information, they can never accurately predict anything. They can't even do a countdown properly. I know I'm supposed to suspend reality for the sake of entertainment but shouldn't the concept of time passing be the same? The movie did blow shit up nicely I must admit. The shiny-shiny-ness was palatable but the scale of some of the disasters seemed awkward, like a cut scene from a crappy video game. Plus, the whole planet is blowing the fuck up right? How come John Cusak gets to keep his entire family together throughout this shit storm? He even gets to hook up with his ex-wife after her boyfriend bites it in a rather nasty fashion. Can I just say that I don't like Amanda Peet? She always looks angry. Lighten up lady, you're in a movie.

There is so much dumb shit going on in this movie that it stopped being worth wasting my witty remarks on it, much to the Wiff's chagrin I'm sure. After John Cusak gives the Mayan's the middle finger and survives what I estimate to be a hundred different attempts to kill him and his family (did you know you could out-run an explosion? or drive through a building that's collapsing, popping out the other side unscathed? or you can sit in the bed of a pick-up truck as it drives through the goddamn Himalayas in WINTER and be perfectly cozy in just a suit jacket?), they are on the deck of one of the arks that were built in China (sure, they all survive the floods but they end up with lead poisoning) months after the disaster when his semi-retarded daughter says "Daddy? When can we go home?" Hey kid, did you not pay attention to when everything ON THE PLANET got fucked over? Hmmm? Did you miss all that? D'ya think that your McMansion on the fucking cul-de-sac survived? *Smack!* At least that's what he should have done. The need to put a pretty little bow on the end of this movie really just didn't make any sense. If the writers had made the ending dark and brooding (a la Battlestar Galactica for instance) I'd have a smidgen of respect for them.

I have a benchmark for shitty movies like this one. That standard is the movie "Volcano" starring Tommy Lee Jones at his robotic best and Anne Heche (before she went crazy). Volcano did what any movie that is this poorly written, acted, directed and filmed should do. It ramped up the crazy and unbelievable scenarios and became, in my opinion, a comedy. If you have never seen Volcano, rent it and enjoy (geologists straddling a super-hot fissure? Sure, why not. A guy melting in lava? Of course. A lava floe stopped by cramming a bunch of jersey barriers into a horseshoe shape? You betcha). I suggest that you watch it while drinking. As a matter of fact, you can do the Volcano Drinking Game. Every time someone dies while just standing still and screaming, take a shot. Every time someone does NOT die even though lava is pretty goddamn hot, take a shot. You could take a shot every time the laws of physics are ignored but you'd be shitfaced by the end of the first 30 minutes.

Since Volcano is so bad that it's good I have devised a rating system based on it. If you have a movie that is rated as 1 Volcano, it's a bad movie but you could watch it all the way through without saying "Oh, come ON!" more than twice. A movie that is rated 5 Volcanos is, well, Volcano. It's a pretty high standard of awful. This movie, 2012, I will give 3.5 Volcanos. I was going to just go with a rating of 3 Volcanos but since 2012 runs 2 and a half hours long, that makes it extra tough to take. A while back the Wiff and I tried having a "Bad Movie Night" and have some friends over to watch dumb movies and make fun of them. It kind of fizzled out after a couple attempts but I think we have to bring this back. Ooooh, maybe the first movie for BMN can be Taken. That stinker rates a solid 3 Volcanos easily.

Friday, July 16, 2010

I am Boring. Hear Me Roar.

A giant wave of dull has swamped the boat where I keep my interests and has washed away my creative urges. Currently my schedule includes waking up, getting ready for work, driving to work, working, driving home, watching some TV, and then going to bed. I could point the finger at the seemingly ever-present heat and humidity which has really become entrenched here in Boston. The weather is an easy scapegoat for me because as a fat dude, on a normal weather day I generate enough heat to power a small city. Now if you ramp up the temperature and humidity outside, then you could strap some kind of containment bell to the top of my head to extract the huge volume of heat blasting out of the top of my noggin. I'm pretty sure I could solve our nation's energy crisis if you just make me walk outside in July.

I can't with any legitimacy blame the weather for this current slump in activity. I just don't know what my problem is. I have a sense that maybe I'm just not as interesting as I had hoped I would be at this age. I'm not even sure how I thought that just by living the lifestyle that I have it would generate all kinds of wacky adventures and interesting encounters. I guess I just assumed that I'd have more to talk about than I do. But honestly my life is pretty stable and calm. "Stable and calm" does not make for hilarious hi-jinks. My work is going well and even if it wasn't, I have a policy of not talking about jobs that still appear on my resume. "Ooooh, so crazy things could be happening at work and you just won't tell us! Is that it?" you ask. Wait, what? Well, no. I mean, yea, stuff happens at work that might make for a good story but that's not the problem. If the story has nothing at all to do with where I work, then I can take it out of that context and tell it without violating my rule. Does that make sense? There are dramatic and interesting things happening to people in my life as well but these are not my stories to tell. I would never go into someone else's problems here. It just isn't the place y'know? Plus, I ain't no snitch.

What I need to do is get over or through or around this slump in which I find myself. I'll figure it out. I have a road trip to Montreal coming up at the end of August so that could certainly generate some weirdness. I have to go up for work but The Wiff is tagging along so that we can eke out a mini-vacation. I've never been to Montreal so I'm looking forward to it (not the work part though, that's not going to be much fun for me). All I know is that having this blog thing has been interesting. I'm so psyched when people tell me that they like it but then on the other hand I'm embarrassed when someone brings it up too. Why is that? I want to have people read this right? I mean, that's the whole point of putting these rambling diatribes up on the interwebs in the first place isn't it? I have to say that leaving Facebook greatly reduced the number of people who visit the site. Hmmm, should I put a Facebook page up for Flunky Boy so that people could be a "fan"? Would that be totally cheesy? Probably. I don't even know how to do that.

I'm going to do a 5-Song Shuffle here at the end to give this post some flashy shiny-ness. The caveat here is that the songs that come up have to also have a YouTube video associated with them.
  1. Big Dipper – Ron Klaus Wrecked His House
  2. The Ejected – England Ain't Dead
  3. TV on the Radio – Dancing Choose
  4. The Buzzcocks – What Do I Get?
  5. The Roots – Guns Are Drawn
Bonus round:

Monday, July 12, 2010

A Kitchen Reborn

Huzzah! After many months (ok, two months) and lots of stress and cash we now have a new kitchen/pantry in ye olde homestead! The final inspection is today and there are just a couple of very minor things to wrap up but I'm going ahead and calling the project complete! There, I just did it. Eggs all in one basket. Chickens all counted way before they have hatched. Cart squarely before the horse. Let's plow ahead shall we?

Behold a whole slew of before, during, and after pictures of the project. Click on the pics for larger versions:

The pantry window with the old sink and dark cabinets.
The new pantry window with new sink, countertops and cabinets.
View of the right-hand cabinets and the old sink unit thing.
Same area during the renovation.
















Same view after with new countertop, cabinets and lighting. Mmmmm...coffee.
The nasty old metal sink and cabinet unit.
Heh..."unit".






Zoinks! The whole she-bang is gone!







Same area with the new cabinet base installed and the space for the dishwasher on the left.








Blammo! New counters, sink and dishwasher. Check out the tile work yo.







 A pic of the pantry entryway with the old pine bookcase that housed all (or most) of the Wiff's cookbooks.



 
 Same shot as it looks now.


An overview shot of the pantry and the mudroom (on the right). This is after we removed everything from the kitchen and put it all in the dining room the day before the project started.















Same shot after the job is done.









The stove area before the project started. You can see that I'd already started pulling down the shitty wallpaper by this stage.



In progress...

Looking better...


















And done! Whew! That sure was expensive.

I'm so glad this is done and that it looks as good as it does. I wish we had had the entire kitchen floor refinished during the project but alas we did not. Ah well, another thing to add to the list. We'll get to it eventually.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Summer Heat Ruins My Summer

It is stupidly hot outside. It's the type of hot that smacks you in the face and then drapes itself over you like a very unwelcome parka, clinging to the sheen of sweat on your forehead and generally making you feel less than human. When it is this hot I cannot function. Luckily (?) I work in an air conditioned office building but ye olde homestead is not so well equipped. We do have a few window A/C units to cool off 3 key rooms in the house (our bedroom, The Wiff's office, and the weird little bedroom where I keep my computer) but the rest of the house is all hot and bothered. From the weather reports that I have heard (quick tangent if you don't mind: I have a problem retaining weather information. I can sit and listen to a forecast and 2 seconds after the report ends I have no idea what the weather will be like for the next couple days. Dunno why that is but I thought it worth mentioning), we are unlikely to be getting much in the way of relief from this heat any time soon. Fantastic.

Being as it is so bloody hot, one could assume that the heating system in the house would be off right? The thermostat is turned off, all the windows are open and it's 89 degrees inside. Sounds like a reasonable assumption to me. Well, as it turns out we're both wrong. On Tuesday of last week we had the oil guy come in and service our boiler. One of the tests that the technician ran is called the combustion safety test. It's a somewhat involved procedure that requires that the appliance in question is turned on and allowed to run long enough to get to operating temperature. Why do I know about this test? Two reasons: 1) I'm a nerd. 2) I used to do this test as part of my job at CSG. After he ran the test and gave the system a clean bill of health, he packed up and left. Since I was on vacation last week I was glad to have the rest of the day to myself and so I continued puttering around the place.

A few days later on Monday (the 5th), the Wiff and I were cleaning in the kitchen (yes, the kitchen project is very nearly complete. We have a couple very small things for the contractor to fix and then there's the final inspection by the city. We expect that to go smoothly and I will post pics and stuff soon...I promise) when she noticed that the baseboard heaters were hot. "These are really hot." she said. "Pfffffffff." I replied. "Of course they're hot. It's like 95ºF in here." "No, seriously stupid, these are hot." she said. I'm not sure why she was so mean to me. I'm like a really swell guy and everything. "Is the heat on?" she asked. I leaned down and checked and sure enough the heaters were on. What the frick? I went over to the thermostat and made sure it was off. It was. I went downstairs and stared at the boiler. It sat there and gave me zero information. "Hmph." I was out of ideas at that point.

The Wiff then called the oil company and the guy said that he knew what the problem was and that they'd come out and fix it. Apparently the technician must have left a jumper cable on something in the control box so the guy on the phone suggested shutting off the boiler completely. Nice. Luckily it is hot as Satan's buttcrack after a game of "Fling the Sinner into the Pit" (a very popular game in Hell I'm lead to believe) so needing hot water for a shower is not a priority for the moment. Even though they said they'd be at the house yesterday, they called and rescheduled for tonight. I just hope that they didn't break anything or waste a lot of oil.

UPDATE: Turns out it wasn't the phantom jumper cable (or whatever) that was causing the problem. It looks like we have a faulty pump/check valve thing. When our hot water tank calls for hot water, this broken piece allows water to flow into the first floor zone and heat up the baseboards. Great. Now we have to have that damn thing fixed or replaced too. Luckily the technician showed us a temporary "fix" where all we have to do is shut off the zones in question and that will keep the hot water flowing only to the tank and not the rest of the house. Then in the winter, we'll just open those valves back up. Stupid house.

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Are You Sure You Want to Leave?

Recently I deactivated my account on Facebook. I had joined about 3 years ago (I think...maybe it was 2 years ago?) on the suggestion of a work friend. I liked connecting with people I hadn't talked to in forever (like from high school and such) and it was helpful in keeping in touch with my large extended family members. But then something happened where I found myself just spending way too much time on the site. I'd browse through photos of smiling people I did not know at events I did not attend simply because one friend had been "tagged" in a blurry cell phone shot. I felt like a creep. Like a voyeur. I didn't like that feeling, so I left.

I have to admit it was hard. Would I miss playing Scrabble (or Lexulous, whatever. I hated that name) with friends? Would the fear of "missing out" be too much to bear? Can I survive without knowing daily thoughts of some person I haven't actually seen in over 20 years? I kept the bookmark in my browser for the first week "just in case". I'd hover my mouse over that bookmark trying to decide if I wanted to click on it or not. On the computers that I normally use, Facebook was typically one of the first 5 bookmarks. As of this writing, it still appears in the favorites in the browser on my work computer. I'm on vacation this week so I haven't had an opportunity to delete it yet (other than the 3 days last week when I certainly could have deleted it quite easily, I just wasn't mentally strong enough yet).

Quitting cold turkey for me was the only option. I'm a bit obsessive by nature so I knew that if I did nothing or attempted a scale-back model to try to wean myself off of the site I'd never truly give it up. Now I'm not down on Facebook nor will I judge others who still use the site (the Wiff is still on there for instance). If you use the site and have fun with it, that's great. I just know that for me, it was eating into my productivity and keeping me from actually getting things done. That includes doing things like writing on this blog. This is currently my only creative outlet and I hadn't given much time to it lately. Even though I get embarrassed when I talk about this site (I'm blushing right now...seriously), a few people have actually come up to me and told me they like reading my rambling, barely coherent drivel. That's incredibly flattering and I never know how to react. I don't take compliments very well.

What does this mean for ye olde blog moving forward? Well it will eliminate those sometime visitors who found the link on my profile and clicked to visit the site. There wasn't a lot of those people anyway. What I hope it means is that I will be able to dedicate more time to writing here. When I started this a couple years ago my intent was to post once a week. I've kept to that loose schedule for the most part. Maybe without the FB distraction siphoning my time and energy I'll be able to post more dumb stories about my life. Wouldn't that be wicked awesome? Of course it would be. So if we were Facebook friends just know that you have one less virtual friend online. I'm still available in person for realsies though. Heck, you could even stop by the house and see the new kitchen! Yes, pictures will be forthcoming of the kitchen renovation.