Friday, May 28, 2010

Get Some More Rest. Trust Me.

I have had a week. And it has not been a good one.

The week started with a delay in getting the components I needed to finish a project at work. This pushed my time to meet the deadline off by a day and a half. So that meant that I had to work late the past several days. Although this isn't the best scenario and it certainly was an inconvenience, it doesn't happen very often so I'm really not complaining about working late so much as just putting it in context. So Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday (yesterday) I worked late each night. How late? I put in about 12 hours for each one of those days (oh awesome. I just did some quick math {thanks Malden public schools!}and figured out that I'm now officially working for free today).

And during all this the kitchen project is on-going and so my home is in disarray. Add to that the fact that we STILL do not have internet access at home (or Video On-Demand for that matter since that also runs off the router). The replacement router that Verizon sent us also did not work so that was less than helpful. Oh, and they sent what was clearly a used router. I'm all for recycling or whatever but goddamn it for the money I send these fuckers every month they should send me a brand-new router dammit. The Verizon guy is coming tomorrow to troubleshoot and hopefully fix what the issue is. I just wanna watch TV shows on Hulu. Is that too much to ask? So far, yes. Yes it is.

Meanwhile work is crazy busy and threatening to become busier. Hmph. I had to do a couple of trainings this week and that never sits well with me. At this company we are scattered between several building sites (in Cambridge, MA all within walking distance of each other. It's inconvenient but you have to make it work) and so scheduling meetings with people can be difficult. Especially if they have another meeting that butts (heh..."butts") up against the time slot you are trying to book. They may have to walk from one site to get to the next meeting at another site which can make the start times slightly off. The running joke here is that meetings usually start 5-7 minutes late but I've seen people come in 10 minutes late. My point? Ok, chill, I'm getting there. I like how I projected that you the reader might be bored by all this detail since it was boring me. But I don't really know do I? Perhaps you LOVE details. Maybe you revel in making lists and organizing things by shape and size as well. I mean, you're still reading this paragraph right?

I still show up to meetings on time if not slightly early if I can. I have yet to adjust to this slight delay in start times and so when no one had showed up for the 9 am training yesterday by 9:05 I have to admit to being a bit pissed. Finally 3 of the 4 people showed up by about 7 past 9. I got the training started and was making good progress when at 9:37 (yes, I remember the exact time) the 4th person finally showed up. He apologized and found a seat. I was so annoyed with him. I looked at him and then at the clock and said "Look, I can't sign off on your training seeing as how you missed half of it. You'll have to reschedule." Ooooh! Layin' down the LAW! Ok, so a minor power trip there but c'mon...Fuck that guy. Whatta douche. He looked at me like "Really?" and I gave him my best "Yea, fucking REALLY" face (was it the Gas Face perhaps?). So he got up and left the conference room. The other nozzles in the class all continued to stare down at the table. That's right bitches. Don't make eyes at me.

Then last night after working late (again) I decided to take a different route home than usual. On Wednesday after working late I had encountered a lot of traffic over near the Museum of Science and I just did not have the stamina to deal with another clusterfuck. So I took the longer but somewhat more scenic route home. Ye Olde Jetta was in fine form but a bit parched as the fuel gauge "fill me" light had been on since the previous night. I knew I had enough to get to my usual fill-up station so I wasn't really concerned about it. As I was driving I had passed several gas stations and noted that none of them sold diesel. I meandered along through Melrose and made my way onto Route 1 north in Saugus. That's when I noticed that the Hess station had a diesel sign. "Oh sweet", I thought to myself. "I'll just fill up here and it'll be done." The station I usually go to is past my house so I was glad that I could just get this done now and not have to drive right by my house to go to the Irving station in Salem. Since I was feeling a bit brain-dead and tired I welcomed the chance to get home earlier.

I pulled in and sidled up to a pump. It looked just like the ones at the Irving station. Two pumps on the right, the space in the middle where you put in your credit card and stuff, and on the left-hand side there was a green pump. Nice. Let's do this. I got out, put in my credit card, picked up the green nozzle and started pumping. I stood there not really looking at anything for a little bit. Just sort of spacing out really. Then I looked at the pump itself. "Hmm," I thought. "Diesel here is pretty cheap. This may be my new place. Hey, look at that. They have the wrong rating system here. It says '87 octane'. Heh, don't they know that diesel has cetane not octane? Boy, Hess must be run by a buncha maroons." La, la, la, la, still pumping away with not a care in the world.

And then it hit me. Oh fuck. Oh no. Oh shit. I looked, I REALLY looked at the pump. There, written in white letters 5 inches high on the green background was the word "REGULAR". Oh fuck me. I immediately let go of the handle on the pump. How much had I dumped in there? "12.08 gallons. Of. The. Wrong. Fuel", said the gauge in what I perceived as a slightly dickish tone. FUUUUUCK! I stood there with the nozzle still in the tank for a good minute just trying to assess if this had actually just happened. Yep. It had. Ok, so what the fuck do I do now? Well, I knew enough not to try to start the thing up but that still means that I am stuck here. As I walked around the car to grab my cell phone to call for Triple A I noticed a big (and I do mean BIG) sign off to the right that said "DIESEL HERE" right over a pump that was separated from all the others like it had farted or something. And the handle was bright red. No, Hess gas station, no. Diesel is supposed to have a GREEN nozzle thingie. Goddamn stupid brain.

I know I'm totally projecting onto Hess that they're the dummies for having their pumps kinda-sorta look like diesel pumps from a completely different company but jumping-jesus-fuck-a-monkey they do look like the Irving ones.

This is not the offending pump but it does illustrate the layout of the one I used last night. See how the tyrants at Hess like to segregate the "regular" fuel from the "premium" and "plus" options? I know what they're doing here. They are trying to subliminally make people who do not need "plus" or "premium" fuel for their cars (and who are not paying attention) to instinctually grab for those pumps rather than the poor, lonely "regular" pump that has been banished to the left. So not only have they ostracized the diesel fuel onto its own separate island away from the "normal" fuels but now they also are trying to swindle the brain-dead public into buying the more expensive types of gas. I know you're game Mr. Hess and I'm callin' you out on this. Yer a sneaky mofo.

And so 35 minutes later the tow truck showed up and towed my poor poisoned Jetta home. The kid (and he was a kid too, like 21 years old. Fucking hell I'm ancient) did a good job getting the thing backed into our driveway. He had to do like a 52-point turn to get it in but he managed. By this time it was about 9pm and since his truck was loud and had flashing lights every one of my neighbors were in their windows gawking at us. Yea, I know. I would have done the same thing but it really just annoyed me last night. I kept saying "Yes, it's a tow truck. Fuckin' AMAZING huh?" to no one in particular. I wasn't in the best mood. I had just spent $38 on fuel I could not use, had my car towed and now I have to find a place that will be able to fix this problem that I created. I got my stuff out of the backseat, locked the car (not sure why) and went in to drink a nice scotch to put this day behind me.

So right now the car is sitting stoically in my driveway awaiting another tow truck to drag it to the doctor's. It's a good thing I have my mantra to guide me through these little hiccups that life and my tiny brain throw at me. None of this shit matters. I must remain calm.

UPDATE: Had the car towed to the garage on Saturday and now some $250+ later, she's back to her old self. Although I think the trust she had in me is gone.

Monday, May 24, 2010

It'll Take Two Weeks

We are deep in the middle of the kitchen/pantry remodel project thing. It's...uh, stressful. I'll post pics and stuff when it's all done but let's just say that at the moment my house is a bit messy. All the stuff that's usually in the kitchen is now in the dining room and has spilled into the living room a little too. It resembles one of those houses you see on Hoarders minus the decomposing animals that is. Plus as a bonus this past weekend our modem shit the bed so we've been without internet access since Friday. It isn't a terrible thing but it is annoying. Verizon tells us that the new modem will be here on Tuesday. God, I guess I'm going to have to like, talk to the Wiff and stuff until then. Oh wait, there's still TV. Whew!

So what else is going on? The Wiff and I went to see Bill Burr play at the Wilbur Theater a couple weeks ago. I'd only seen him on his specials on TV and I've been a faithful listener to his Monday Morning Podcast for a while now. This was the first time seeing him perform live and it was a really good show. The opener was Joe DeRosa (who works with Bill on the Uninformed Radio Show) and he was really good too. I'd only heard him on the radio so to see him perform was cool. We took the train into the city (Blue line to the Orange line) and that was a mistake. We should never have transferred to the Orange line. That line is just packed to the gills with people with whom I'd rather not be in an enclosed metal tube. The Blue line is no picnic either by the by. Standing on the platform at State Street with the stale urine smell wafting by my nostrils and being forced to listen to inane conversations going on around me made me wish that we had driven into Boston. But the parking situation in the theater district is enough to give me fits so the only option really was the T.

After the show we decided that we'd just walk up Tremont Street to Government Center and skip the whole Orange line transfer nonsense completely. That was a much better idea. Although walking up Tremont Street on a Friday night is pretty annoying too. You kind of have to do the drunk-college-kid/lost-tourist/suburbanites-in-to-see-a-show hurdle in order to maintain any semblance of forward motion on the sidewalk. Normally I walk at a pretty slow pace but I guess I had shifted into another gear cuz the Wiff said she had a hard time keeping up with me. Look lady, I'm old and fat but I can move if I have to. We made it back to the car which was parked at Wonderland, picked up a pizza at Bianchi's, and listened to the Bruins lose in overtime to the Flyers. Who knew they would go on to lose 4 in a row and be eliminated? Schmucks.

Now I have to root for the Flyers to eliminate the Canadians. Ultimately I think I want to see the Blackhawks win it this year but honestly, the wind is out of my sails now. I'm still watching the games but the huge choke that the Bruins let happen still stings. Ah well. At least the games are still fun to watch.

Oh, and my iTunes did something wonky the other day. I have approximately 8,500 songs on my home computer and suddenly I had over 23,000. It had made doubles and sometimes triples of the MP3 files and in the process, wiped out all the cover art for the albums. I was pissed. So now I have to do the tedious and time consuming chore of pruning the files, making sure that they are the correct ones, and updating and/or downloading the cover art for all my music files. It sucks balls and I don't want to do it. I have my iTunes pointing to a removable hard drive thing and I guess the settings got ... oh who cares? You certainly don't. All I know is that I have to spend a stupid amount of time fixing this. I miss vinyl.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Me Ego Knows No Bounds

I got an email recently with the subject "Not sure what to make of this" from my friend Crispin. He went on to say that he came across an MP3 from a band called "3.1416 Magnum" and that....well, why don't I let youse read it?

Hey Mark,  
How goes it all?  
Weird... I came across an mp3 by a band called 3.1416 Magnum. I think they're from western MA. Never heard of them. Anyway, I found an edit of one of their songs. It kinda seems like they're ripping off your song - hard to say...

This is not a bluff
You will be the focus of my violence
You'll agree that retreat makes sense
This is your final warning
This is the calm before the storming
This is the calm before the storming
This is the calm before the storming

Thought you might be interested.  

Hope all's well with you and yours,

Why would someone steal those lyrics? Are they that desperate? Perhaps they are from a developing country and don't have access to actual real rock music ...and uh, stuff. I will FIND these people and then contact the appropriate authorities (as soon as I determine who those authorities are. Is there a Shitty Lyric division at the police department?). I immediately did my own google search for these thieving fuckers. I got a bunch of hits that made no sense and one that talked about condom sizes. "Hmm," I thinks to meselfs. "I didn't see anything with music or any ...waitaminnit." And then it dawned on me. I'm a little slow on the uptake y'see.

I went back to Crispin's email and there buried at the bottom was an MP3 file. I grinned and opened it. It was a frickin' brilliant (if I may say so, and I may goddammit) rendition of my teen-age-angst-laden song. I played and replayed it, no kidding, 20 times. This is Crispin Fucking Wood from The BAGS singing lyrics I WROTE and shredding on the song. I was absolutely giddy and I still am. Yes, I had hoped that a number of people would have sent in their own versions of the song but weeks went by and I hadn't seen jack poop. I just assumed that the "challenge" was dead and I had moved on. Then out of the blue I get this and I know it's silly but goddamn I love it. You must check it:

Right? I think it totally catches what I was hoping to ... of fuck it. It ROCKS! Yes, it may be ironic rocking but it still rocks. Either way, Crispin Rules. Believe that.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Inducing of Vibrations

I was a good kid growing up. I didn't cause (much) trouble and I did well in school. I did briefly fall in with the "wrong crowd" in the third grade but as you may have guessed, my career as a juvenile delinquent was short lived. During my spree the crimes included throwing wads of soaked toilet paper at the boys bathroom ceiling (it made an awesome sound and the clumps stayed up there like tiny mashed potato stalactites), writing "Boobs" on the wall in the playground behind the school, and in one case stealing 80 cents when I was in charge of collecting dimes for milk in the lunchroom. I skimmed a little off the top and we split it amongst each others. My share was 30 cents because I had taken the most risk. I didn't want to tell them that I felt awful stealing the money because they were all excited that we could go buy Swedish fish after school. It was then that I decided that I'm not cut out for the criminal life. But how to break my bond with these other shitty little no-good-nicks?

Our school cafeteria was a quite the multi-purpose room. It served as the cafeteria, a gym when it was raining, and it was also where the school plays were held (including the dreaded Christmas Play). During lunchtime, the caf was patrolled by two older women known to me only as The Lunch Ladies. These women were gruff, hardened old battle-axes who had been through epic foodfights and chocolate milk fueled riots. They didn't take shit from anybody. One of them, the shorter, dark haired lady used to have a bunch of spoons (like 3 of them all stacked and tied together) that she would use to bang on the end of a table to get everyone's attention and/or regain order in the cafeteria. God help you if you were sitting anywhere near the end of the table where she chose to bang those spoons. Your head would be ringing the rest of the day.

On this particular day The Lunch Ladies were having a hell of a time controlling the room for whatever reason and that's when my semi-evil little cohorts decided that this would be a perfect opportunity to start a spitball fight. I knew damn well that this was a horrible idea and that further we would surely be caught immediately. The taller Lunch Lady did NOT like spitballs and I seem to remember her screaming at the top of her lungs at a kid who looked like he might possibly think about perhaps making a spitball. The poor fucker didn't know what hit him and that was just a fucking warning shot as far as she was concerned. She had a zero tolerance approach. But I didn't express my concerns or suggest another less risky activity because I'm a follower, people. Oh, and a pussy.

We each had our straws and our lines of spitballs prepared (the spitballs were hidden under the lip of our lunch trays. Clever huh? I'm sure they'll never think to look there) and although I can't remember who shot the first one, I can tell you who shot the one that brought this whole affair to a grinding halt and got us caught. That would be me. I had a nice wad stuffed into the business end of my straw and as I turned to shoot it at the kid sitting next to me, I misfired and shot it too early (wassup ladies? oh crap...I'm never gonna get that right). It was one of those slow-motion moments as the ball went right between two other kids and hit this girl in the back of the head...right in front of the dark-haired lunch lady. Totally busted. In a flash they were both at our table the spoon lady on one end beating the hell out of the spoons and the other one yelling at all of us at the other end. It sucked.

They marched us all down to the principal's office and made us sit there for what seemed like hours. Finally the vice-principal came out and she stood in front of us with her arms folded and her face all scrunched up like she had just free-based a grapefruit. The taller lunch lady was there too and she looked so pleased as if she had just brought in the ring leaders of the MS13. I guess in her little world she had. The vice-principal walked over to us and asked us to tell the truth about what happened. She said that we were going to be punished but if we were honest she'd be more understanding. And so one by one she asked us if we had shot spitballs in the cafeteria. And one by one my stupid friends said "No. I didn't shoot spitballs." Yes, you did jackass. They SAW us do it. They have all the evidence. Lincoln Elementary's version of CSI had gathered up all our spitty wads of straw wrapper and napkin bits and were sending them to the lab for DNA testing as we sit here! Just fess up already so we can go home!

When she came to me it was pretty clear that she was really pissed off now. She had absolutely zero patience left and all she wanted to do is get these kids out of her office so that she could go home and have a glass of wine (or am I projecting a little here?). I looked at her and then over at my friends and when she asked the question "Did you shoot spitballs in the cafeteria?", not only did I confess, but I ratted out everyone else too. I said "Yes, I did. We all did." Oh man, that is not going to go well for me is it? I mean, it's not like we had sworn an oath of omertà or anything but it's still not a best practice to squeal. Especially right in front of the people you're squealing on. I remember looking at those guys and thinking, "Whoops". The vice principal smiled at me and then at them and said, "Mark did a good thing here. He told the truth. And for that I have decided that he will not have to be punished further." Oh, great. Thanks lady. Why not just hand them all baseball bats and little knives? She then called all our parents. My popularity rating plunged and my friendship stock was downgraded to junk status. A week later Ricky Crotty beat me up in front of the school and I was officially "jumped out" of our lil' gang.

As I said, my academic career was decent from elementary through I'd say junior year of high school. Ah, that's not really true. I just remembered that I totally bombed out of physics in my junior year and I think that's when my whole attitude towards school went...uh, south. The failing of my physics class was a classic fuck-up on my part. I figured out fairly early into the class that:
  1. The teacher, Mr. Carlson, was the dullest teacher I had ever come across 
  2. None of this stuff was going to get through my thick skull
  3. Mr. Carlson was due to retire that year so I figured if I fail the course, I can just re-take it the next year and surely the teacher will be 10x better
And so I slacked and I slacked HARD. I goofed off in class, did sub-par lab work, forgot to do homework, and spent most of my time trying to make the kids around me laugh. I did progressively shittier and shittier on tests until finally it was clear that yes indeedy I was going to get my first ever F for a course (in one example where I actually studied for a test, the only thing that stuck in my brain was the book's definition of resonance: "the inducing of vibrations of a natural rate by a vibrating source having the same frequency". It wasn't even on the goddamn test). It was going to be hard to convince my parents (especially my mom) that I wasn't going to need tutoring, summer study, or just a beating (I towered over my parents by this time. I had a good 6 inches on my dad but he easily could have kicked my ass if he wanted to and I knew it. Plus my mom was a ninja with a wooden spoon). Somehow I convinced them that they shouldn't kill me and we all agreed that I can just re-take the course as a senior and that will satisfy the science requirement for graduation. Whew, I am one gifted negotiator. Last name "Eva", first name "Greatest".

The next year I signed up for physics again and it was going to be a clean slate for me. New year, new class, new teacher, and a new attitude. I got my schedule and there it was: Physics, period 6, room blah-blah-blah, Mr. Carlson. Oh fuck you. This has to be a mistake right? That crusty old shitbird retired during the summer didn't he? He's like 80 years old for fuck's sake! But it wasn't wrong. He hadn't retired. And hoo-boy did he remember me. That class was pure torture for me that year. He made damn sure that I was paying attention and would routinely call on me. Fuck dude, I don't know the goddamn answer and you know that. I am a science dumb-dumb ok? My oldest sister got all the math and science smarts for our family, I got zippo on that front. But I hung in there people, I battled with that grey-skinned old fart and I squeaked out at the end of the year with a C+ grade. Ha! Take THAT Carlson. In your FACE! He probably still hasn't retired.