Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Lazy Blogging = Must Be Christmas Week

Christmas time is here much like a big truck barreling out of control down the street, its driver passed out at the wheel from meth, right into the side of my face. Of course I only notice it coming at the very last moment and then it is upon me faster than I'd have thought possible. I am helpless to stop its relentless forward momentum as it plows over me, leaving in its wake disappointment and emotional carnage. Yup, it's just like that only with tinsel. Suffice it to say, I'm too goddamn busy to write an entry and so I'm delegating this task to everyone's favorite guest author, Oliver the Cat. He's got a lot to say about the changes the house undergoes during this holiday season and offers many insights into why plastic bags are awesome.

Hey there everybody! Looks like I'm going to get another shot at this! Let's get into it! Exclamation points are fun!

I've been around for a while now. Like easily more than ... ok, I don't know numbers very well. All I know is that I have noticed that this house goes through weird changes. Right now we're in what appears to be the Tease Oliver Season. I'm not normally a complainer (unless I'm super starving or tired) but I don't think the humans understand us cats very well at all. Let me break it down for you all. See, we're creatures of habit. We like things to be just so. I, for one, check the condition of the pile of sneakers in the upstairs bedroom at least twice a day. If even one of them has moved, I will notice it and I then have to reinspect the entire collection. I then have to rub my face on all the remaining pairs of sneakers just to make sure that they smell like me. I don't want to, I HAVE to.

The Christmas Tree: They put up this big plastic tree-looking thingie that has all these flashy lights on it and then they dangled all kinds of toys from it. These toys look fantastic and I want to play with them immediately! But as soon as I even start towards this big distraction, the humans yell at me! Why? I should be yelling at them for not allowing the toys to be free! They seem to want to just have them all on display and not let us play with them. Where's the fun in that? Wouldn't it be more interesting to see how that shiny glass ball looks as it shoots across the room? They can't possibly be vigilant forever. As soon as they let their guard down, I'm jumping up and grabbing some of these toys for my secret stash (that's where I store stray socks, wine corks, and bits of plastic for future use). I will have that ornament. It will be mine.

Presents: As you probably already know, us cats frickin' love boxes. We love to sleep in them, hide in them, jump in and out of them, y'know, the usual stuff. But oh man, when a box has some crinkly wrapping paper on it? It's just this side of heaven. I could spend my entire day walking on those boxes that are sitting under that sorry, plastic excuse for a tree. The sounds of the paper combined with the angular rigidity of the box are intoxicating. I think I'll go rub my face on the corner of the boxes again and again until the wrapping paper either tears or gets all greasy from my scent. Ew, I just skeeved myself out.

Christmas Cards: One of the humans insists on putting these little bits of paper on the doorway from the big room with the fire to the big room with the food in it. She uses these little pieces of plastic that don't taste quite as good as a bag does but in a pinch they'll do for a quick fix. What is annoying about these pieces of paper is that she hangs them quite high up initially and it makes it rather difficult to get at them. It's like she doesn't want me to bat at them at all. I have noticed that sometimes the cards fall off the door frame and that's when I pounce! First, after sniffing the card to make sure it isn't going to murder me, I'll sit on it for a while. Then, when that gets boring, I'll eat the little piece of plastic tape. Fantastic.

Plastic Bags: This time of year the humans seem to bring a lot more plastic bags into the house than usual. Seriously I cannot say enough good things about these things. They are delicious. They make wonderful sounds. They're cool to the touch and oh, the texture. That amazing texture. I really don't think I can do it justice by trying to explain it here on this stupid fat man's blog. Go find a plastic bag and put it on the floor (if you have to jump on a table and knock it onto the floor, that's perfectly acceptable in my opinion. I take this approach when it comes to jumping up on things: "If the humans didn't see it, I didn't do it"). Now walk around on the plastic bag for a while. Sniff it. Sniff it a lot. Like waaaay too much really. Taste it. First start with some small licks that gradually increase in intensity and frequency until you have whipped yourself into a glorious, blissful frenzy. Then, just when you feel like you simply cannot handle it anymore, take some little nibbles out of the bag and let the full plasticky goodness take over your mouth. You should get some faint notes of animal renderings on the back end of the finish. Oh, it's in there somewhere. Then, flop down on your side and take a nap on the bag. If the moment grabs you, maybe cough up a bothersome hairball on the handle part so that the bag cannot be used as intended by the humans. That'll teach those show-offs. "OooOOooh, lookit me! I have thumbs!" Whatever freakshow, go clean my litter box.

Sir Oliver the Stupidhead

Friday, December 2, 2011

Turnips are Gross, That's Why

I have a compressed nerve in my neck. I didn't call it "pinched" because apparently doctors don't like that term. Whatever doctors...god, they're soooo sensitive. Yea, so neck hurts and it sends waves of owies down my left arm as well that go all the way down the front of my forearm and onto my fingers. It sucks balls. So I ignored it for a couple days (shutup, I'm a stubborn dumbass) until finally last Sunday night, the pain actually kept me from getting any sleep. It got so bad in fact that I punched a wall in frustration. Not recommended by the way for two reasons: 1) it makes a hole that you then have to fix. 2) you could further injure yourself you big dummy. Also, you look like a huge jackass and immediately feel stupid and childish afterwards.

On Monday I went to my doctor and after some prodding, questions, and strength tests (still strong like bull) I was diagnosed with the nerve thingie. Luckily it was a muscle in spasm and not the more serious structural problems that was causing the pain. I was given a sling, a couple prescriptions for some meds (more on that later), told to rest for a few days and sent on my merry way. Well, that really wasn't good enough for me. I was still in pain and they hadn't done much to actually fix the problem. I then made the decision to go back to my old chiropractor to see what, if anything, he could do about this. Dr. Friedman worked on me back in 2002-2003 when I had injured my back. He's great and I can't recommend his practice Right Spine enough. I have gone a few times since Wednesday of this week and I can already feel the improvement in the neck.

So on Monday night after getting the prescriptions filled I took them and passed the frick out. The meds were 600mg of Ibuprofen, some Vicodin and some muscle relaxer thing (the name escapes me). I slept better certainly if by sleep you mean being in a coma. On Tuesday morning when I woke up, it was clear to me that I was not going to be doing any work for the next couple days. I took more pills, popped my arm in the sling, staked out a spot on the couch and tried not to grumble too much. I was fairly successful on that last one. The thing that helped was the Vicodin. Holy shit people, if you have never been on this drug then I feel sorry for you. I'm not one to say "Go do drugs" but if it is mothatruckin' Vicodin, take a dip, I won't tell anyone. Weary of the pass-out scenario of the previous night, I cut the pill in half and just took that. It left me with this lovely little buzz that I can only equate with having 2 glasses of really good wine and you are just about to reach for your third. Super mellow. Super Chill. Wow. I now understand why people abuse and get addicted to this drug.

Here are some things I thought about while under Vicodin:

  • How come I can't taste my teeth? Or am I always tasting them and I'm not aware of it? How can I tell?
  • How come I don't like turnips?  
  • I wish I had had my teeth cleaned today. I love that freshly cleaned texture. 
  • That freckle on my right pinkie is weird. Why is it there? Is it sad that it's all alone? 
  • My forearms are hairy. My knuckles are not. Is that a good thing?
  • I want to paint the stairs. Not the treads though. That would be ugly. Or would it? Yea, it would be.
  • What if I got addicted to Vicodin? Would I lose the house and have to sell my booty for cash? Ugh. That's a horrific idea. Quick, think of something else.
  • Blank. 
As I sit here now typing this up on day 7 of this thing I can truly say that I'm in the high 80% to low 90% better. And I haven't had any pills today either. I plan to not have anymore if I can handle it. There is still work to do over the next few weeks but Dr. Friedman says that I should make a full recovery by Christmas. Awesomesauce. He also does not like turnips.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Egregious Abuse of B-Boys

Back when MTV showed videos (no, don't worry, I'm not going to go on and on about that. Because honestly, most of the videos they played sucked anyway), a lot of the videos had awkward dance sequences. Usually this scene was not only unnecessary but sometimes was so contrived and forced that it made the viewer feel uneasy (i.e. Pat Benatar in "Love is a Battlefield". Skip to 3:21 and thank me later).

In the mid-80s someone thought not only would be a great idea to shoehorn a dance number into their video, but it might be superawesomesauce to have hip hop dancers (B-Boys, people...B-Boys) embarrass themselves as well. Mira, if you're going to have people dancing to your shitty song it might as well be a bunch of guys who actually know how to move (rather than the weirdo chorus line of people doing the same hackneyed "dance" all together). I get that. But what I don't get is why oh why are they being forced to dance to these songs?  Check it:

I like this song. Actually I like this song a lot (I'm a sucker for Robert Plant), but skip ahead to 3:58 for a hyper-embarrassing moment in 80s video history. WTF? Who ok'd this? Plus, you can't even do the "White Guy Dance" (a.k.a. Whatever the hell Springsteen is doing in the "Dancing in the Dark" video. Stop that Bruce. Stop it this INSTANT! Don't you bring Courtney up on that fake stage with you! FOR SHAME! BAD BRUCE! BAD!) to this tune let alone break-dance.

The abuse continues:

No one likes this song. Not even Billy. Give me anything off of Glass Houses rather than this horror show. But more importantly, why would ANYONE think it would be a good idea to have someone popping and locking to fucking Uptown Girl? El Diablo himself wouldn't even attempt it. Skip to 2:18 to see what I mean. And yes, I recommend having the sound on just so you can get the full effect of this bad decision.

Were the 80s finally done humiliating the hip hop community? Oh no sir, they were not done.

Wow. First off, please spend a couple of minutes bathing in smug entitlement of 16-year-old Tiffany (you should probably turn the sound down's pretty terrible). In nearly every shot she is giving the camera the same "come hither" look. Or what she probably thought was her sexy bedroom eyes look at any rate. It really just looks like she has to take a dump real bad. But for this example I think it's the worst offender because here she clearly just inserts herself in what was probably just some dudes practicing or even doing a street (beach? boardwalk?) performance for some cash. Go to 2:24 and try not to be mesmerized by her shuffling feet dance move. I'll tell ya, that girl is going places.

The abuse of the B-Boys was not limited to these 3 videos of course. But I have another example here that while the dancers are not popping and locking or whatever, they are still totally fucking tossed into the middle of a video for no reason and the song is simply NOT a song anyone would want to dance to. Plus, they can't even seem to get their moves synchronized and that's just sloppy. Go to 2:01 in this vid. For realsies:

What. The. Fuck. God, I so want to punch that guy with the curly mullet in the face over and over again. I would say that the taller dancer dude is better but I think what's actually happening here is the shorter guy realized that no one actually gives a fat fuck about how this looks so he just phoned it in. That's how I chose to view it anyway.

And now, just cuz I loves you all sooooooo much, I present to you Cowboy Hip Hop. You're welcome.

Say it with me now: "That's Jammin'!!"

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Fake Elvis Wanted Too Much Money

Guess what today is? Well, yes, it is Thursday. Yes, it may be your birthday or whatever. Look, I don't care about you and your feelings ok? Today is my wedding anniversary. Yep. The Wiff and I have been married for 14 years as of today. 'Course we've actually been "together" for over 18 years but that date is harder to narrow down. Do you count from the day when we first met? Do you count from the day when we started hanging out? Do you count from the day that we moved in together? Who frickin' knows? So the wedding anniversary is just an easier date to acknowledge.

"Why, dear Mark", you ask quite boldly and slightly rudely. "Why is your anniversary on November 3rd of all dates?" Are you a crazy person or perhaps thick? Our anniversary is on November 3rd because we got engaged on Halloween night, at Logan airport, more specifically in the "Cheers" bar in the airport, with Silence of the Lambs playing on the TV behind Amy's head, while we were on our way to vacation in Vegas. We then got married 3 days later which would make that day what? November 3rd, that's what. I TOLD you I was classy. Side note: I hated Vegas a lot. Like, a WHOLE lot. It was just a shithole. We did go see George Carlin perform at the MGM Grand though. That was pretty cool. And I got my first speeding ticket on this trip. That wasn't as cool.

Getting married in Vegas was our best option because it allowed us to avoid the whole wedding planning nonsense. The whole she-bang from the flights to Vegas, a week in the time-share condo the company I worked for owned, rental car, wedding silliness, day trips to Death Valley, the Grand Canyon and Zion National Park cost us under $4000. Yep. Them's 1997 dollars too. Totally the way to go. We then were able to save up enough cash to put a down payment on our house (which we still live in). No, we didn't get the "Elvis" package. Motherfucker wanted an extra $300 just to walk Amy down the aisle. And he may have been a hero to most, but he never meant shit to me.

So, yea. This whole thing is has other stories that splinter off from the main theme but I'm too lazy to get into those right now. Plus, I wanted to keep this light. After all, this is about me and The Wiff. See, I like love her and stuff and I'm proud to be her hubby. She's kinda awesome. So there.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Not Gonna Mention the 'betes.

We are in my favorite season right now and it has me in a delightful mood. At the house the wood is stacked next to the fireplace ready at a moments notice to take any chill out of the air. The cats have made it known that we can be used as a heat source and I am again reminded that our windows are shitty. We don't have a vent in the bathroom and so we have to leave the window up there slightly open and I enjoy feeling that chilly air when I'm brushing my teeth. Of course once it gets stupidly cold we close it and the shower steam just billows into the hallway where it peels the paint on the ceiling. It's a tradition.

I'm changing gigs at work too did I mention that? I don't remember. Yea, I've been doing the current job for a little over 2 years and it was time for a change. Luckily for me an opportunity presented itself and I was able to make the switch. Should be interesting as I get up to speed with the new responsibilities. Plus, I'll have to help the new person transition into my old job so that'll take a little time. I know the person they hired though and she's good peeps so I'm not stressing about that.

What else what else what else? Hmm...oh! I'm currently obsessed and I mean OBSESSED with Breaking Bad. I know, I know..the show's been on for a few years and how come I never watched it? I dunno. I plead that I am easily distracted and I didn't know a damn thing about the show. I hadn't even read any reviews. But I happened across an interview with Bryan Cranston and I decided I'd give it a try since I can stream it off Netflix. Holy shit people. If you haven't watched this show, do so now so we can talk about it. If you have watched it, call me immediately so we can talk about it, only don't tell me anything about Season 4 as I'm only in Season 3 right now.

I'm also working on another site with some other contributors. It's called Seriously Awesome Monsters and the idea is to create a monster that does whatever you want it to do. Just tap into your superego and let the ideas flow. There's even a Twitter feed if you want to read what SAMs have to say about god knows what. The site is in its infancy at the moment but we hope to have more and more people draw a monster for us. You want in? You totally can if'n you want. Don't worry if you can't draw, we can't either. So yea, if you want to draw something to put up on Seriously Awesome Monsters, just email me and I'll put it up there. How 'bout it? C''ll be fun. All the cool kids are doing it.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Why Can't I Have Some Cake?

My pancreas is broken. I had a broken gall bladder once and when I took it to the shop they said I'd be better off just getting rid of the bloated little fucker. So out he came (that was 1996). But apparently this is not an option with Mr. Pancreas. It's one of those organs that has a "you can't live without me" complex. Technically you can live without it but it's not recommended. I looked to see if I had some sort of warranty on the corn-on-the-cob-lookin' mofo. No such luck. So yea, Type II Diabetes. Well, goddammit.

I guess I can look on the bright side of this in that it was diagnosed long before any real symptoms appeared. I just had a physical (the first in 7 years. Oh shut up. Get off my ass about that. I'm an O'Malley. We ignore shit like our health and feelings) and they took a blood sample. Now, I can't really say I was surprised when the results came back that my sugar levels were too high (9.5 on my A1C which should be below 7 or even below 6). I knew that I had put on a few more pounds and that my activity level was around that of a sedated 3-toed sloth so when my doctor told me that I have the 'betes my reaction was more like, "Of course I do." It seemed obvious. I had been eating like I was still riding my bike for several hours a day and walking everywhere I went like I used to in my 20's. I haven't done that shit in ... well, a frickin' long time. So yea, of course stuff is gonna happen.

What does this all mean? Well, short-term it's meds. Luckily I don't have to do insulin so there's ways that I can control my blood sugar through diet and exercise. I've already changed my diet so that's been interesting (to me anyway). The exercise thing I'm a little slower to ramp up. I know what to do and I am going to do it I just haven't yet as of this writing. I'm also off the sauce. Why? Well my liver numbers also came back a little higher than they should be too. The doc said it is most likely from fat deposits around the liver (mmmm, nice image...wassup ladies?) but why not ease up on the booze to help the poor little dude out? I don't know where I stand on the no drinks thing at this stage but so far it hasn't been an issue. I might just see how long I can go without just as an experiment.

I'm working on getting a handle on these health issues and make a positive change in my life. I'm not going to get all preachy or whatever about this. I'm not going to talk about this much beyond this posting unless it is relevant to the story I'm telling. I've had a bit of a wake-up call is all and I'm trying to undo some bad choices I've made about how I conduct myself. That's it really. No big whoop. How are you?

Friday, August 26, 2011

You're Welcome Hollywood

On a recent episode of Louie, Louie CK had to pitch a movie idea to a high-powered movie studio executive at an impromptu lunch meeting. He described a film premise where the main character's life starts out crappy and then through a series of poor choices and failed ventures his situation ends up becoming even worse than when the movie started (which apparently is a fairly common theme in independent films ... which also explains why I didn't know that since I'm not exactly a film buff). About half-way through Louie's pitch (it really wasn't a pitch .. more like a "well, I have this idea" thing) I realized that I have a similar movie idea that's been rattling around in my head for a while. I also understand that I will most likely never get an opportunity to actually pitch this idea to anyone who would be in a position to green light it so I figured I'd tell all you fine folks. Not to say that you are not all high-powered executives of your own fucking amazing lives or whatever but, well, you probably don't run a movie studio right? Or do you? Holy shit you've done well for yourself.

Here goes ... now please keep in mind that this is just an outline. I don't have all the details fleshed out yet:

The movie starts with a guy on his lunch hour in the city (maybe Boston? New York?). He's sitting on a stone wall that surrounds a water fountain, eating what appears to be a reuben sandwich. It's clearly difficult for him to keep it from becoming a big mess. He eventually gets some on his shirt and in a spastic move to avoid getting some on his pants he accidentally flings his cell phone into the fountain. He then has to take his shoes and socks off, roll up his pants and wade into the fountain to retrieve his phone. He gets it back and it seems to still be working until he tries to actually use it and it dies. He wades back over to where he left his shoes and socks and they are gone. Someone stole them.

He then has to walk back into the office building barefooted. Maybe he gets some static from the security guard about having no shoes on? I dunno...I'm spitballin' here. Eventually they let him in and he gets back to his sad, grey cube where he has a spare pair of socks and his running shoes. He goes to a big meeting with his boss. There is an opportunity for him to take ownership of a major project that the would have lots of visibility and would probably mean a promotion if he were successful. He balks at the chance and one of his co-workers (whom he trained maybe?) steps up and takes the reins. We see the boss looking disappointed and somewhat irritated that our guy did not take on the project. After the meeting, the boss takes him aside to tell him that he's concerned that our guy is not committed to the job and maybe he should re-evaluate whether or not he wants to work at this firm. As the boss is talking, he notices the sneakers the guy is wearing and just walks away from him in mid-sentence.

Our guy starts to make his way home and as he does, the camera pans up and we see what appears to be the silhouette of an angel sitting on the edge of the office building where our guy works (ok, that's cheesy and a bit of a rip off...needs work). The angel seems to be upset that the situation for our guy is going so poorly. We then get to review the office scene again from his perspective and we see that he influenced our guy to not take the lead role on the big project. The angel is so convincing in his efforts to make sure the guy does not work on the project that when the guy opts out, it is a choice that he feels really strongly about. When the choice turns out to be the wrong one (again), both he and the angel are genuinely stunned by this.

The angel sees the guy leaving for home and decides to let him go alone and meets up with his other guardian angel friends in a shitty dive bar in a bad part of the city. The bar itself if dark and dirty and there are a number of angels milling about and sitting either at tables or the bar. The angel sees a friend of his at the bar and makes his way over to him. He orders up a whiskey and his friend asks him what's going on. He mentions the guy from this morning (whom he calls a "client") and how the path that he lead this client to turned out to be the bad choice. He looks really bothered by this. His friend says "Well, yeah. I mean, that's what you do right?" The friend then goes on to reveal that they are not guardian angels at all but are, in fact, demons who's sole purpose is to ruin people's lives. "As a matter of fact, you're like the best demon in our whole organization!", the other demon tells him. "Your clients are by far the most miserable failures in this sector. You totally dominate the client's actual guardian angels that you've effectively rendered them useless." There could be a discussion on quotas and how his numbers are better than every other demon...again, needs work here.

The former self-described angel, now fully realized demon, is crushed by this news. His friend simply thought he was stating the obvious and didn't understand that this demon believed he was doing good. Our demon excuses himself, assuring his friend that's he's fine and that he just needs to go out for a walk. He walks around the city reflecting on his past clients and how every last one of them over the years has become a complete failure (perhaps some of them even becoming criminals or worse). He gets really depressed and decides to not go into work for a couple of days (side note: maybe we then get to see some of his clients' lives improving as they start to make better decisions?) while he tries to get his head around this new notion of being evil.

This is where I lose my train of thought: What direction to go? Does the angel/demon character then try to redeem himself and truly try to become "good"? He could then struggle to go against his own base instincts (à la George Costanza in that Seinfeld episode where he does the opposite of whatever he normally would do) and in the process of doing that, alienate his fellow demons to the point of getting exiled. But unfortunately, even though he's "reformed" and is now doing "good", the guardian angels reject him based on his past (I mean, he was their sworn enemy for eons). Because he is not part of either the angels or the demons (sounds like 1960's street gang names), he becomes lost and broken. He is stripped of his powers and becomes a mortal man with no knowledge of his history and is then assigned a guardian angel and a demon (perhaps his old friend from the bar? And maybe this is considered a punishment by the other demons because technically he was responsible for them losing their best employee?). 


He then embraces the fact that he is evil and totally ramps up his game. Maybe he becomes such a workaholic (I hate that term by the way...why is "aholic" used as a suffix to describe obsessive behavior?), rising through the demon ranks to become the head demon for all of the northeast territory. I don't know why I have this vision of them breaking up all the client people that they have to watch over into quadrants or whatever. I just see them as salesmen y'know? Like their whole job is to "sell" the choices that people are presented with on a daily basis. The angels are selling the "right" choices and the demons the "bad" choices. And the better they are at this, the more people or "clients" they get assigned to them. Am I blathering again? Sorry.

So, yeah, I don't have an ending and the 2nd act is pretty weak at the moment but like I stated earlier, this is only a draft outline. The gist is there I think. The concept is fairly straightforward but I just don't know all the details yet. Uh...that's my idea in a nutshell. Whattaya think? Vote below! Hooray! Voting with no real outcome!

Would You Watch That Movie? free polls 

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Guest Blogger: Oliver the Cat

This post is going to be a little different. Oliver, the boy cat in our house has a wealth of knowledge about living in the modern world as a housecat and he has asked to address the world (or at least the 3 people who read this). I wasn't on board with the idea but he promised a cease fire on the daily hairball bombings for the near future if he could do this. That's a pretty sweet deal if you ask me and you didn't. And so without further ado, I present the hacky premise of a cat blogging about cat stuff:

Oliver's House Cat Survival Tips

Barfing: One should barf only in convenient places. If you happen to be sitting on the couch when the urge to hurl comes on, it will take far too much effort to run downstairs and "deposit the item" shall we say, in one of the lovely piddle palaces that the people have provided. Why not just barf right there? It's a pretty big couch so you do not have to worry about ruining a favorite place to sleep. Only one small area will be affected and the people will certainly clean it up once they get home. Just pretend you have no idea what's going on if they seem upset at you.

Scratching: It really feels wonderful to come out of one of your multiple naps, arch your back while stretching out exaggeratedly and then get a really good scratch going on a lovely, textured surface. The people have insisted that this activity should only be carried out on the S-shaped scratching post thingie in the living room. Now this surface is quite wonderful and I must admit it is a pleasure to use but again, it becomes a question of convenience. As a cat, one cannot be expected to have to commute to the "designated scratching area" just to satisfy the humans when the intoxicating, delicious urge to scratch on something is swimming all through your head and clouding your thoughts. What if you find yourself upstairs? Are you just supposed to ignore all those record albums sitting there on the bottom shelf? I mean why else did they put them there if they didn't want you to use them? What of that bass amp? Wouldn't it be better to use it for something as noble as a scratching post rather than just let it sit there idly for years? It has this fantastic black felty stuff on it that I must say hits the pads on my paws juuuuust right when I tear into it. And I can't say enough about the area rugs. There is one in the kitchen that gets all my bullet points. I highly recommend it.

Fur and its many uses: Fur is amazing stuff. It keeps us warm, it looks sweet, you can shed any extra at will, and it fuels the barfing that we all enjoy so much. The shedding part is one of my favorites. I like to leave deposits on the stairs that lead from the first to the second floor. I especially like to do this after the human has just swept the stairs clean. It's hilarious. Also, rolling around on furniture and rugs will help slough off a whole shit-ton of fur onto said surfaces. Again, I recommend doing this after the fat one has put away the loud sucking machine with the tiny wheels. Fur can be used to mess up the people's clothes too. The most effective strategy for this ploy is to wait until they are ready to leave for the day (I have often wondered where do they go? Why don't they just stay here with us and nap in the sunlight all day? They are silly), and then rub up against their legs. I believe they think I'm just being affectionate or something so it works like a charm every time. Oh! I almost forgot to mention the fact that fur can absorb smells really efficiently. What I like to do is to hang out all day in the musty basement and then later, when the people are asleep, I walk across their faces. Oh man! That NEVER gets old.

Constant vigilance: This is critical. As a cat you are under nearly ceaseless threats of death from all sides. These emergencies can come at any time from any place. I cannot stress this point enough. ANYTHING can kill you instantly no matter how harmless it may seem. Luckily we have been blessed with excellent hearing which is one of the best early-warning systems one can have. Here is a short list of sounds that WILL foreshadow your death. When you hear these sounds you must bolt immediately out of the room and hide either in the basement or under the bed in the large room upstairs. These are the only safe places in the house.

  • The doorbell
  • A sneeze
  • A car door closing
  • The garbage disposal
  • Any human's voice other than the two that feed us

This is not by any means a complete list and it may be advisable to become nervous and tense at the slightest sound or perceived threat. When you hear these sounds you must react and not think. You must be ready at any second to launch yourself into the air and skitter away like a lunatic. There can be no hesitation. You must be steadfast in your determination to escape. I recommend practice runs at random intervals during the day to keep your reflexes sharp. Remember, the thing can't get you if you hiss and growl loud enough.

Humans: Look, I don't like to admit it any more than you do but they seem to be necessary to have in one's life. They provide food, water and maintenance of the poopy boxes and bonus! they can be very comfortable to sleep on and/or against. The biggest complaints I hear most often is that they are quite loud (I mean they have no respect for a cat trying to get a nap in after being awake for nearly an hour) and that they always want to touch the fur that you just groomed. What's up with that anyway? I JUST fixed that side of my coat and here comes Chubby with his sausage fingers to mess it all up again. Soooo frustrating (Incidentally, by what names do you call your humans? Ah, I guess it doesn't really matter does it? They never come when you call them anyway). What I have determined is that one can keep the humans quite happy with minimal effort. Here's a few things you can do to entertain your human that won't cause you to lose respect for yourself:

  1. Play fetch for a bit with them using a favorite toy and then abandon the practice completely. This will keep them confused and may even have them buy you other toys in a sad attempt to recreate that "special moment" you both shared. Refuse to play with all of the toys when the human is around and then shove them all under the refrigerator when no one is looking.
  2. "Adopt" a sock (or dish towel) as a representative of either a fresh kill or perhaps an imaginary baby kitten. This one is a classic that never fails to get the humans to either feel sad for you or completely charmed. Simply go to the laundry basket grab an item and walk around with it in your mouth while making loud vocalizations. You might get the human to pet you sympathetically in hopes of soothing your long-suppressed "animal instincts". The humans have weird guilt about "forcing" us to stay in the house for our entire lives. I'm pretty sure that's what's going on. Use this opportunity to shed on them.
  3. Lick them. I know, that sounds gross but stay with me on this one. I'm telling you, cat to cat, humans taste great. I can't speak to actually eating one or even taking a chunk out of their arms but the surface of their skin is just the right amount of salty. Seriously, try it. Tonight when you are using them as a pillow, give their arm a couple of quick licks and see if you don't love it. What I like to do is to wait until they are about to fall asleep and then I crawl up and lick the tender inside of their arms. If they're sleepy enough you can get a few minutes in before they get all fussy and roll over. No problem. Most likely they've exposed a leg or something else that you can lick. Thank me later.

That's some of the helpful survival tips you need to know in order to live a long and nap-filled life with your human pets. These are certainly not all the things you will need to master but I simply do not have the time to list all of my feline knowledge here on this pathetic website. I hope to return as a guest blogger from time to time and maybe answer questions from the readers. If you do have a question for me, Oliver the House Cat, please leave them below in the comments area and I will do my bestest to answer them next time. Right now I gotta jet cuz I just noticed that the sun has moved onto the dining room table and god I love sleeping on so-called forbidden places. Peace out.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Need a Little Tenderness

I know that I'm a cranky person, hell, I even put it right in the "About Me" thingie on this site. I am the opposite of a people person. I'm not actively looking to complain about my fellow humans, it's just that I happen to notice that most people (I said "most" ok? I wanted to say "all" but I held back) are self-absorbed, selfish jackasses who live in a bubble of their own making. And this is coming from a guy who has a blog where I write about me me me me me. I'm also a hypocrite so I think we can agree that it works out awesomely.

This morning I was witness to some behaviors that technically aren't a large affront but I think they are symptomatic of a much larger problem within our society. People are super rude and forget that there are other people around who may not want to deal with them. I had gone up to the cafeteria (Cafe Fail) and grabbed an orange juice (dunno why but I had a major craving for orange juice with all kinds of pulpy goodness this morning). I paid for m'juice and then went over to the elevators and pressed the button to go back down to the 1st floor. I was waiting for the elevator to come when some guy came up and stood next to me. He then proceeded to hit the down button (we are on the top floor of a 4-story building). Hey dick? Yea, see how that button is all lit up and shit? That means that I've already hit said button to call the elevator. I know I look dumb and all but I'm pretty sure I did it correctly. Your tapping it again isn't going to make it come any quicker. That's Strike One. The elevator finally came and we filed on. I hit the 1st floor button and settled back into the "don't talk to me" stance (for me that's basically any stance). He leans over and hits the 3rd floor button. Hey dick? You're going down ONE floor? Unacceptable. That's Strike Two.

He must have either noticed that I was irritated by his singular floor ride or perhaps he just felt guilty (both options are unlikely) so he said, "I really tweaked my knee playing basketball" to me. Hey dick? I don't care. Don't talk to me. Can you not see my personal barrier? It's pretty obvious I'm not a chatter. Keep your banter to yourself 'kay? 'Kay. I'm-a-gonna let that one slide though and let you go with a warning. And then, not quite content with the now 2.5 offenses that I have silently charged him with he decides to up the ante by opening up his breakfast sandwich and taking a HUGE slobbering bite out of it. It sounded like this: krinkle krinkle krinkle..."mmmfff CHOMP! scmuSNNmmffPHH! smack! smack! smack!" Holy shit dude. You do realize that you are only going to be on this elevator for like 15-20 seconds right? You couldn't fucking hold off on tearing into that egg and sausage shitstorm for less than half a minute? No? Awesome. Thanks for letting me hear you chew. All this before 8 am too. Lucky me.

The doors open and he slowly wanders out onto his floor while taking yet another huge bite from his sandwich. Holy fuck. Did he even get to swallow the first bite yet? Gah! The elevator doors closed and I was left to go down the remainder of the floors with the stink of his breakfast hanging in the air threatening to permeate my clothes. I looked over and there was a glob of melted cheese and a halo of bread crumbs where he was standing. "God, it stinks in here," I thought to myself as the elevator arrived at my floor. The doors opened and of course there was like three people standing RIGHT IN FRONT of the door as if there was absolutely no way that there could possibly be another person on the planet who might just happen to want to get the fuck off the elevator. I mean, c'mon people. Fucking spread out and let me pass. My only consolation was the knowledge that they are now standing in that guy's sandwich funk. I don't even care if they suspect that it was me. Ok, I care a little.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

I got quite a variety of reactions on my last post ranging from indifference to confusion to appreciation. It basically was an idea that I had had while I was in my basement cleaning up gross cat stuff. I tried to write it out as organically as it had flowed in my head. I'm not so sure I was successful on that front but it was fun to do and I will probably do more of that here in the near future. I'm always making up little stories in my head to entertain myself so I might as well share the weirdness.

Full disclosure: I actually had a rather long post all ready to go that talked about relationship progression and all the different paths that something as potentially complex as a relationship can take but I'm not going to post it. Why? Well, it was terrible. It was shitty actually. I may go into it again sometime in the future but right now I don't seem to have anything that I would want to post. I'm trying to spare you, gentle reader, from the 3rd grade level blather that I had produced. That's not to say that I won't publish my 4th grade level bullshit though.

So what to do? Do I talk (write. I'm not actually talking. Although as I write this, I do hear my own voice in my head saying these words. That voice is way more nasal than I would have hoped. I recently heard a recording of my voice and I know it's cliche to say you don't like the sound of your own voice but this was either a really bad recording or fucking spot on. I can't tell. At any rate, it was not something I'd like to hear again. So let me apologize for the way my voice sounds right up front here if I ever talk to you in person) about something else? I'm kind of doing that right now aren't I? Is this less irritating than the thoughts I tried to put into words about relationships? Probably. It really was a terrible post. You should totally thank me. I think what I'll do is a 5-Song Shuffle to pad this entry. Won't that be fun? You all know the rules right? Let's explain them anyway. Play along if you'd like and post your results in the comments area (quick aside about that by the way... please post comments if you have them. I like reading them. For reals). Ok, the rules: Get yer iPod or MP3 player or whatever you have your music on and turn on the shuffle feature. Write down the first five songs that come on and no cheating! If Kenny G comes on, write it down. Embrace your silly musical tastes. Kay? Kay.

  1. Stiff Little Fingers – Alternative Ulster
  2. The Walkmen – New Years Eve
  3. Regina Spektor – Apres Moi
  4. Big Boi – Shutterbug
  5. Little Brother – Dreams

That was pretty decent actually. Lucky for me. I do have some stinkers on here somewhere but I did purge a bunch of stuff recently. I actually freed up like 1 GB worth of songs that I kept skipping. Isn't this super interesting? I know. I'm sorry. I'll get something better up on the blog thing soon. Move along.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Cat Grooming and the Clown Problem

I think my stupid cats should stop throwing up in my basement. It's disgusting and I'm tired of going down there and discovering yet another hairball-infused spew on the floor. I'd gladly give the little fuckers some petromalt except that the main culprit Oliver (a.k.a Ollie, Awww-Lee, Little Bastard, L.B., Mr. ShitFucker, Lil' Bubba, Bubba, Lil' Buddy, Stinky BumBumBoy, Molly's Oliver, Captain Shithole, Freakshow, Hey You Get Offa There NOW!) doesn't like the malty goop and refuses to eat it. Molly loves it but she's not the one horking up every goddamn day is she? No, she is not. So because he's such a stubborn bugger and licks not only himself but Molly's fur as well, I end up with a veritable mine field in the basement that I have to navigate. Yes, I clean it but cat vomit has amazing bonding capabilities with bare concrete. If you aren't standing right behind Colonel Asslicker when he lets his vile, hairy payload go, well then it's gonna have time to absorb into the floor and make it nigh impossible to extract completely. I have barf halos everywhere down there. It's a problem.

What does he think, I'm running a circus down there? I mean, not anymore. Not since the permits were revoked and all the elephants escaped. Also maybe the sheer number of clown deaths may have been a catalyst for the eventual failure of The Amazing O'Malley Super Fantastic 3-Ring Traveling Circus Extravaganza That Never Actually Traveled or Even Existed circus. I still to this day say that the city was far too judgmental on that point. I mean, what is an "inordinate amount" anyway? It should be clearly defined. Is one clown death ok? How about a half dozen? Surely that can't be a problem. I need solid numbers if I am to understand this "law". I personally think we were providing a service for the community. These clowns have no self control and they breed like ... not rabbits exactly but maybe marsupials? Marsupials without the pouch thing. Come to think of it, I'm not even sure that they don't have pouches. Their outfits are large enough to conceal one. Man, wouldn't that be just like a frickin' clown to be hiding a marsupial-like pouch for their hideous offspring to climb into in order to latch onto a nasty, clowny teat. Goddamn, clowns are gross.

I'd feel better about the circus failing if the city had claimed zoning problems or something mundane like that as the issue. But the city was fully behind us getting the big tent up and filling it with thousands of cheering spectators and the pungent smell of elephant poop from the beginning, pushing the permitting process through quicker than anyone had ever seen before. At one time there had been a recommendation from the local government to make it mandatory for all school children to attend TAOMSF3RTCETNATOEE (as the circus was known to our fans) at least twice during the school year. We had become the go-to destination for school field trips for communities up and down the Massachusetts coast (and at least one Canadian elementary school too, but we didn't let them in on account of their funny-looking money). But the specter of the "Clown Apocalypse", as the local paper branded it, proved too difficult to overcome for us and so our dream died (along with a lot of clowns as it turns out).

Even if the grand jury votes to indict us (The Wiff was more involved in the talent management and book keeping where I was in charge of the day-to-day affairs and clown disposal), I don't think they have much of a case. Nor do I think they'll want to provoke us into "stirring things up". If we go down, we're gonna take others down too. I can give multiple examples of not only the police benefiting from our "practice" but also the local gardeners and landscapers (we offered the highest quality clown mulch at below-market prices). There's no way they didn't have an idea of what was going on (think about it....all that grease paint concentrated in one area there's bound to be some run-off and/or staining). We were just trying to keep the neighborhood safe from all the creepy, creepy clowns we kept hiring for our circus. We also needed to keep the show fresh and new. If someone came to the show more than once, I didn't want them seeing the same batch of twitchy, paranoid clowns running around in a tight circle that they saw last time. Everyone looked the other way for years and now that the numbers of missing clowns has grown to this supposed shockingly large number, they've all sprouted morals. I call bullshit.

My lawyer (Mr. Twinkles) tells me that I shouldn't comment since this is an active and on-going case but I suspect he may be part clown. I'm not worried though as I have every confidence that we will be cleared of all charges. Even if this does end up going to trial, there's no jury in the world that would consider convicting us. Clown population control is a public service. Would you really prefer that they be left to their own devices and allowed to roam free? What happens when they start infringing on our neighborhoods? Do you really want to throw out your garbage only to be confronted with a cackle of clowns (that's the technical term for a group of 3 or more clowns) rifling through your barrels in search of food and things to juggle? Or worse, what if they walk up to your house and peer in a window while you are sitting on the couch watching Wipeout (oh get down off your high horse. That show is fucking hilarious)? At first you'll just feel the hair on the back of your neck stand up a little but you're not sure why. You'll look around the room and suddenly out of the corner of your eye you'll see a tuft of bright red, fuzzy hair. Then you'll lock eyes with it and scream like you just got worst titty-twister ever. No one needs that. Let me handle them for you ok? Otherwise they'll end up infesting not only the woods and sewers systems but maybe even the walls of your house (they love fiberglass insulation. They use it for nesting material and replacement hair).

That's all I'm going to say about this. I will of course update all of you on the progress of the case periodically but for now I would like to get on with my life. Besides, I have plenty of hairball nastiness to deal with.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

I Like What I Like

I'm not exactly what you'd call an adventurous eater. I grew up in a household where....well, I've told this part of the story before. Anywho, it's very hard to get me to try different things. I tend to go back to the foods that I am positive that I will enjoy. It is a near-constant source of frustration for The Wiff who is much more apt to try a new dish and/or food combination. Basically, I'm a culinary chicken-shit. With that in mind here is a short list of things that you should avoid putting into a meal that you want me to try.

Water Chestnuts - God I hate these things. My aversion to them is three-fold: 1) Texture. That wimpy crunch they have is bad enough but I cannot abide that slightly squeaky sound they make in my head when one makes it past my filter and gets into my gob. 2) Taste. People say that the water chestnut has a subtle taste and absorbs the flavoring of sauces easily and readily like a little crunchy diplomat. I say they taste like someone dropped a chunk of drywall into whatever it is they were cooking and said, "Meh, no one will notice". 3) They are sneaky. As I alluded to earlier, I can spend a good 5 minutes clearing what I expect to be a chestnut-free path in whatever I am eating and invariably one of these tiny, edible terrorists will infiltrate my defenses and blow up my mouth with it's shitty, fake foodness. They mostly appear in Asian food but I have run across them in surprising places before (a salad for instance and once in a chicken wrap). They are banned from my plate. Take them away.

Cilantro - As garnishes go I don't mind large leafy bits of cilantro because I can usually pick 'em off quite easily (same goes for parsley with which some chefs go completely overboard). I'm not a complete dunderhead. I can appreciate presentation when it comes to food. It's when cilantro is incorporated into the actual recipe where I object. I'll be enjoying a lovely burrito and suddenly I'll hit a patch of what tastes like Ivory soap. Except it isn't soap, it's motherfucking cilantro ruining everything for everyone. I used to complain about a certain local restaurant's tomatoes tasting like they had freezer burn on them. This was not the case after all. Turns out their salsa was infested with cilantro and that was making the tomatoes taste evil. Stop using it. For the record, I'm not a huge fan of coriander either. This whole plant can just go fuck itself.

Caraway Seeds - What is the best way to ruin a perfectly lovely sausage? Stuff it full of caraway seeds, that's how. Rye bread is sometimes infested with these evil fuckers. Recently I bought a helping of potato gnocchi here at work (at the lovely Cafe Fail) and much to my chagrin some twisted bastard had dumped caraway seeds into the sauce. Why? So unnecessary. I spent the bulk of my lunch time liberating my little dumpling friends from the unpleasant influence of those pungent bastards. Some of them had of course overwhelmed the lovely blandness of the potato and ruined the poor buggers. I probably still ate all them though.

Peas - Nasty, nasty peas. By far these have the worst texture of all vegetables (I don't care if they are technically a fruit according to my Wikipedia research). That mushiness is what appeals to some people (the Brits love 'em) but I cannot stand that texture. I'm very texture-sensitive it would seem. The Wiff has tried several times to get me to try different variations of peas, "OMG, these are SOOooOOooO fresh! You'll LOVE them!!" No. No I won't. I have never, ever, ever liked them. As a kid I used to put them under my plate thinking that would trick my mom into thinking I had eaten them (that didn't work by the by. All it did was create a plate-sized pea pancake that, if left to cure for 15 minutes, would adhere the plate to the kitchen table with the tensile strength of a low-grade wood glue. Nasty). Quit trying to slip them into other foods that I enjoy. Get them the hell out of my shepard's pie. I don't care if the recipe calls for them. Don't use them please please please. A thousand times please. She doesn't listen to me though. So I must separate the diminutive green fuckers from the stuff I want to eat. Damn you, Wiff.

Corn (off the cob) - Ok, this is a weird one, I'll admit. If you are serving some wonderful corn on the cob count me in as interested. I'm not saying I'm a super enthusiast but I'll gladly get slightly messy munching on a nicely buttered corn on the cob (cob of corn? That sounds wrong somehow...slightly sexual perhaps). But if you were to take that very same cob and slice off the corn kernels, well then count me the fuck out. I want nothing to do with free-agent corn. I like my corn in cob form only. I have no further explanation and I don't believe that one is needed. Keep 'em on the cob or I'm gonna pick 'em out. Simple as that.

Why yes! Of course I'd love some!

Holy shit get that away from me! What's wrong with you?

Now if you'll excuse me I have to go see if there is anything I can complain about that doesn't really matter to anyone else.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Pay Attention to MEEEEEEE!!

That's this blog yelling at me in the title there. I've not been a good blogger (jeezus christ I hate that word. The word just plops out of your mouth like a turd. Awful). So yeah, I am a slacker huh? I say that I want to have at least one update a week for this website/blog thing but of course I keep neglecting it. Why is this? Mainly it's cuz I don't have much going that is all that interesting. I'm trying to be courteous to you, gentle reader, by not posting a lot of sleep-inducing blather about my day-to-day existence. I HAVE to know about all this stuff that's in my head but I can at the very least shield you all from it. Basically I'm a hero and you need to praise me.

Alright,'s up? Not much with me. Yes, ok, there's stuff going on but it's all work stuff. I have some things I have to take care of at work and they seem to be taking quite a bit of not only my time but also my brain capacity (short order there huh? zing!). I think once I get past this project I'll be better able to focus on side projects like this (not that I have a ton of hobbies or whatever). I have a long-standing policy of not talking about jobs that appear on the resume so I'm certainly not going to go into much detail here. But I will say that I got cranky at my job recently. I was given a project that I wasn't thrilled about and after trying to wiggle my way out of it with no luck, I just sucked it up and did the work. That's really what I've found works for me anyway. Stop yer whining and just do the thing. Maybe you'll learn something in the process. So yea, it was not fun but it's wrapping up soon and as it turns out, I did learn some things. Meh. I tend to forget that if I'm uncomfortable and grumpy at work it usually means I'm learning something new. Yes, I can be a baby but hopefully I can be less of a baby in the future.

What about home stuff? Well, we recently had our deck and fence replaced at the house. The old deck was not-so-slowly sinking into the ground (this past winter and all that snow really took a toll on the poorly built bugger) and the fence that forms a giant 75-foot L shape between our property and two of our neighbor's houses (we have the corner lot) was threatening to fall over soon. I think the new stuff looks wicked pissah. Wanna see? 'Course you do. Let's do this in "Before and After" style!

See? Look how far away from the house that railing was sinking!

Ahhhh..that's better

This was the culprit corner. This corner was down about 8 inches from where it was supposed to be.

Blammo! Fixed.

The shittiest stairs ever. Not one riser was the same height as the next one. The top one was almost 9 inches. The standard is somewhere between 6" and 7" (yes, I looked that up).

Mucho better.

Bleah. Look at that shit.

Ooh. So fresh and so clean clean.

Not bad right? Pretty slick. We used the same contractor who did our kitchen renovation. He rules. We also had him build us a little shed on the driveway side of the house. I don't have a picture of it but in his words: It's cute! It totally is too. I'm gonna get me a snow blower and keep it in there. Did I mention I know absolutely nothing about snow blowers? I've been shoveling snow since I was a tiny cherub. I believe I deserve some gas powered awesomeness to move that white bullshit for me. It will rule and it will never not work and nobody will ever break into my new shed and steal it. Right? Right.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Is It Really Work If There Are Cat Beds Nearby?

I'm pretty fortunate to have a job where I can occasionally work from home. Not everyone can do this and certainly I have had many a job where I did not have this option. I guess you could call it a perk. However, when I work from home it's not all pickles and sunshine (what? You've never eaten a delicious dill pickle outside in the lovely summer-time air? It is just this side of heaven gosh darn it). I may be sitting in a much more comfortable and, even with the traffic noise from my busy street penetrating my shitty single-pane windows (can I borrow several thousand dollars to replace all 30+ windows in my house? Pretty please? No? Ok...fine), quieter environment; I do still have to actually get some work done. Let's do a Pros and Cons approach to working from home shall we? Why the hell not.

  • Super short commute. I Can't beat that. The worst that could happen is maybe there is a cat jack-knifed on the stairs but one can usually nudge said cat along and get down to the first floor with little hassle.
  • The aforementioned quiet. I sit in a cube farm at work (high roller...that's me) and while I understand that there are other people on the planet, I don't like to hear them when I'm working. Ok, I don't really like to hear them at all. Am I a misanthrope? Maybe. 
  • The coffee. Holy hell is the coffee at home waaaaaaaaaay better than the stuff I can get at the office. As a matter of fact, I have not had a cup of coffee at work in nearly 2 years. And this shit is FREE. I just cannot deal with bad coffee because I am a snob. I have my usual cup of home brew on the way into the office and then maybe I'll grab a diet Coke at around 10am. I still get my caffeine fix which I require in order to function but I'll tells ya: I'd much prefer it in hot coffee form. I can get this at ye olde homestead. Lovely.
  • Dress code. It's not like I have to wear a suit and a tie at work but I do have to look somewhat presentable. However, at home...all bets are off. Now I will still get dressed because I am a professional goddammit. Plus, I can't take myself seriously when I'm in my PJs so how can I expect anyone else to? But my attire will be decidedly down from what I can wear at work. Old ratty t-shirt with what appears to be a grease stain across the chest? Sure. How about some shorts to show off those fabulous-good-lord-I-didn't-know-something-could-be-that-pale legs of mine? You betcha. Don't feel like fixing my hair? Not a problem. Go with the "just got out of the shower" look instead.
  • Temperature. The office tends to be about 5 to 6 degrees warmer than I would like it to be. This does a few things to me. One, it makes me a little sleepy and I can get distracted more easily. Two, I'm already rather well insulated so I tend to become uncomfortable. This does not occur at the homestead. Even in the dog days of summer I can retreat to an air conditioned room and cool myself off. 
  • Cats. One might think that the furry little buggers would be a "pro" in this debate. That would be incorrect. Case in point: I was working from home and had staked out a nice comfy spot on the couch to sit. I had the laptop on the coffee table, my notes and stuff piled neatly next to the computer, and I was ready to go. A half hour later when Morticia decided that it was way more important for me to be a pillow for her rather than a productive member of my team was when I realized that this was probably not the best place to sit. When Molly came over and started licking my arm I knew I had to move. I moved all my stuff into the dining room and spent the rest of the day on a very hard and not so comfortable chair. These chairs are ok for enjoying a nice meal but not so much for sitting all day and trying to work. Then Oliver threw up right in front of me. I wish I was making that up. Nasty.
  • Discipline. Because I am at home and NOT in the office, it is ultimately up to me to make sure that I get stuff done. Usually I'd say that this is a problem because I am quite lazy and can be distracted by pretty much anything. But for whatever reason, when I work from home I get very focused and I tend to get a lot accomplished. I actually think my company gets more work out of me when I'm not in the office than when I am. The reason this doesn't show up in the "Pros" category is that I don't want to work at all. But stupid reality says that I must. So, "Cons" it is.
  • Lunch choices. At work I have a number of options for lunch. I can choose the sammich The Wiff lovingly prepared for me (I will 9 times out of 10...honestly), I can go upstairs to the cafeteria (or what I call "Cafe Fail"), or there are a number of restaurants, sub joints, pizza places and crap like that within a short walk of the office. When I'm at home it's just what we have in the kitchen. And that usually means a whole bunch of ingredients. See, The Wiff likes to cook so she has on hand many items with which she can conjure up lovely meals. I, on the other hand, cannot cook and so I'd rather just have some quick stuff available that I can slap together. Ok, this may be a weak example...are you still reading this?
  • Communication. When I'm at work and I have a quick question for someone I can usually just walk over to where they sit and ask them in person. When I'm sitting in my house, my choices are calling them which I'd rather not do, emailing them which my be delayed since I'm on the VPN, or using our internal IM service. All of these choices are ok but they fall short of just being able to talk to someone face to face. Then again, I do prefer to not talk to anyone so maybe this is also a bad example? 
As I suspected, the Pros clearly outweigh the Cons when it comes to working from home. Not a surprise at all. I need to figure out how to become independently wealthy so I don't have to go to work. That's the goal. How I get there is a mystery I'm afraid. 

Monday, May 16, 2011

Junk From My Brain

NOTE: Blogger had a meltdown last week and my post "Junk From My Brain" was lost in the shuffle. I'm re-posting it since it doesn't look like they will be recovering it themselves.

The Pony Tail.  I think that the Pony Tail might be one of the happiest hair-do's ever. Whenever I see a woman jogging or even just walking quickly with her hair in a pony tail, I always imagine that the pony tail is singing a little song in a high-pitched-happy-happy-sing-song voice as it swishes back and forth. "Pony-tail! Pony-tail! Pony-tail! Pony-tail!" I had thought about making a video with me doing the voice of the pony tail but the creep factor of me filming several women jogging or walking seemed too high. "No officer, I'm not some pervert. I'm just making a video of pony-tails for my blog. See, I'm going sing the voice of the pony-tail! ...Because it's funny? No! This is NOT a fetish. No wait!...please don't arrest me...I'll leave. I'm sorry." I just realized that the Pig Tail as a hair style is as happy if not happier than the Pony Tail. Hmmm...I betcha that filming someone with pig tails does involve a fetish of some sort though.

The Shirt Taco.  You know when you're  wearing a button-down shirt and you're a fat guy? No? Ok, so what about if you are wearing a button-down shirt and when you sit down a space opens up between two of the buttons? That's a Shirt Taco. Shirt tacos can happen from a shirt not fitting well causing it to bunch up when you sit or, in my case, you have exceeded the shirt's documented capacity limits. This is sometimes preceded by consuming a meal. Such as: "Ah crap...I shouldn't have had that big lunch. Now I have shirt tacos." The worst type of shirt tacos are usually seen on men where there is no undershirt behind the taco. This allows hairy flesh to poke out. That's nasty and no one wants to bear witness to such an exhibition. On the other side of the shirt taco spectrum is when a woman's ill-fitting shirt gives one a brief glimpse at the booby area. These particular shirt tacos can be fun. Yes, I know I'm ma dirty old man but don't even act like you haven't glanced inside a shirt taco, seen some lady's bra and giggled to yourself. You have and you know it. These are more dangerous though because one does run the risk of getting caught looking. What I have observed is that no matter where the shirt taco appears (man or woman), it is unwise to acknowledge its existence. Just give it a quick glance when you think the coast is clear and then chuckle to yourself later.

Apostrophes and Computer Forms.  As an Apostrophized American (apostrophied? apostrophed?), I am flabbergasted that in 2011 there are still computer forms out there that refuse to recognize the apostrophe as a legitimate character. What the frick computers? My name is "O'Malley" and your dumb form has forced me to revoke my own apostrophe in order to satisfy your out-dated and, dare I say, discriminatory computer code. I will now and forever be labeled as "Omalley" in your stupid database. Every time I have to deal with your company I will have to say "No, the name is O'Malley not Omalley. Yes, I know that's what you have in front of you but I'm telling you that's not how it is spelled. There's an apostrophe in the last name but your site wouldn't let me put it in. It just kept rejecting my application/order/whatever. Yes, I'm positive. I've had this name for as long as I can remember. Yes, I'll hold." It does help me sort the junk mail that comes to the house. If the last name is misspelled, chances are that particular piece of mail came from a company that I don't want to work with anymore. Here's the kicker: My own email address here at work does not include the apostrophe. Mother fuck.

Friday, April 29, 2011

Relax, Man

I have to get out of the office more often. I spend my day going from one meeting to another or at my desk doing work. Sometimes the meetings are in different buildings so I do get to briefly go outside, but mostly I'm indoors from when I get in until I leave in the evening. It's not exactly what I'd call a big problem or anything like that. It just is what it is, y'know? I get busy and before I know it, I've been sitting in my cube all day (minor confession here: I came really close to saying "my office" just then to give the impression that I'm not just sitting in a drab beige-grey box with no top. As if I might actually have a door or *gasp!* a window...but alas, I do not. My cube does have one "wall" that has glass in it but that's not really the same as a window is it? No, it's mainly a source of annoyance when people stare at me as they walk by. Keep it moving people. Do not make eye contact).

I sometimes go for a short walk during my lunch hour (maybe down to the Charles River or over to Central Square to people watch. Central Sq. may be a lot less sketchy than it used to be but hoo-boy there are still quite a few characters to be seen) but as the weather gets warmer, I have to limit my range. Why? The "sweat factor". I know....I'm gross. But seriously, if I walk too far and/or too fast (not really an issue...let's be honest), I run the risk of becoming a sweaty mess. As I may have mentioned before, I generate enough heat to power a small city. If you add to that a high ambient temperature, or god forbid, humidity, well, that's a recipe for disaster. It is out of courtesy for my fellow workers that I will keep things under control.

As the weather improves, I must bid adieu to a rarely used but wonderful way to recharge myself. I call it "urban camping". Urban camping for me means going to my car in the garage here at work and sitting inside quietly while trying to clear my head (again, not really an issue for the most part). Sometimes I'd just take a quicky nap (like 15 min) but the main idea is to just take a break from what's going on and relax. I've never read anything about how to meditate but I think I have the basics. It works really well for me. I don't think I'll be able to do it as much during the summer because I like to have the windows rolled up so that it is as quiet as possible. That's kinda hard to do when it's 90°F out.

Speaking of 90°F days, they're coming and I am not looking forward to them. Since I can't do the camping thing nor can I go for a walk when it's that damn hot out I'm going to have to find some alternative. I thought about trying to book a conference room for a half hour or so as a solution but the walls here as so super thin that I think it'll be too distracting for me. Plus, I'm not sure what the perception of someone meditating in a conference room is here at the office. My guess is that it may not be positive. I have to find some place to do this though because I like the way it helps me focus. I'm not an afternoon coffee person (used to be during the Hate Bus days) and I'm suspicious of the 5-Hour Energy stuff and their ilk, so I've come to depend on these sessions to help keep me going. I hope I'm not turning into a hippie, I'm allergic to hacky-sacks.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Everyone Will Want to Buy This Product!

Right around the same time that I was "taking a break" from college and trying to find a career path that best suited my lack of experience/terrible attitude, I wandered into the clutches of a multi-level marketing job (which is a polite way of saying "pyramid scheme"). This particular episode of Vocational Errors by Your Host Mark took place sometime during 1991 since I was living in Jamaica Plain at the time. As a matter of fact, I just realized that this Vocational Error is a two-fer since I was also working at Copy Cop (making the lofty wage of $7.50/hr). So I was doubling down on the stupidity. Let's dive shall we?

A friend of mine had heard about another friend of ours who had had recently come to be involved in this really lucrative and exciting business. He said that we should meet up with him and see what this business opportunity was. He was super excited to do this and I was pretty naive (read: dumb) so I agreed to meet up. Our friend suggested that rather than the 3 of us meeting that we should instead come to this office building to meet his contact (Business Dude). Whatever, just tell me where to be and what time to be there. (Note: that's 4 uses of the word "meet" in one tiny paragraph. What an excellent vocabulary, Mark. Actually the whole paragraph is poorly written and confusing. Meh, I'm too lazy to fix it now.)

We met with the Business Dude and he was impressive to the 1991 me. He looked completely legit with a dark suit, nice hairdo, and rented office space. He even had a big wooden desk and framed pictures on his walls. Clearly, this guy had made it so I should listen up and pay attention here. He went on to explain what the product was and how the business ran. We were to give people the opportunity to experience the superior quality of NSA Water Filters and at the same time let them in on the rewarding and financially liberating world of sales! He showed us how our friend had sold X amount of filters and was now moving on to amass his own team of sales guys (a.k.a. the two of us. Oh man, what a poor choice he was making). The Business Dude said things like "You can make your own hours! Work as much or as little as you want! These things sell themselves!", which to a guy like me who was lazy and unmotivated that's the equivalent of saying "It's like college where no one really cares if you do the assigned work or not. It's totally up to you and your well-defined work ethic. Go get 'em tiger!". Business Dude assured us that this model was working for him, would soon work for our other friend and could, in fact, work for us.

What I should have said was "No, I'm not interested in being a marketing/sales dude. I'm more of an introverted cube-jockey kind of guy. Got any jobs like that around here in this one-room office?" But what I did was sign up on the spot. I also purchased the sales starter kit which included a couple of the sink filters, some pamphlets, a video tape of a woman who was entirely way too excited about the virtues of filtered water, and some freebie give-away things (pens, stickers and shit like that). Did I mention that I had to borrow money off my friend in order to buy this kit? I went to a sales meeting/cult-like motivational speech thing at a local hotel and listened to person after person get up and tell their remarkable stories of success selling these overpriced and shitty wonderful water filters. Each person's story was more fantastic than the next. "I used to be a real estate broker," one woman said. "But I got tired of getting broker and broker! <she paused for a waayyy-too-forced laugh break here> So I started selling NSA filters and supplies to all my dumb friends! Now look at me! I'm so successful that I'm standing in a Holiday Inn conference room on a Tuesday night talking to all you assholes!" (I'm paraphrasing of course). It was thrilling. I was convinced that I'd be one of those successful douchebags within the year.

I went home that night all psyched up about my new found fast-track to wealth. All I had to do was sell hundreds of water filters and filter-related products to all the people I knew while I recruited them to be in my sales crew. What could possibly go wrong? Oh, except the fact that 2 of my friends were already doing the exact same thing and hitting up the very same, now rapidly dwindling supply of peeps. Ah shit. Plus, I have a full-time job and no car. Pfffffffth. Whatever. What I decided to do was to install one of the filters on the kitchen faucet in my apartment and then take the only other one in the kit and install it in my parents' apartment. What a brilliant marketing plan: Put the product where the least amount of people will see it. I think this is the same way Dyson sold all those vacuums. I could be wrong about that.

About 2 weeks later I was contacted by Business Guy. He was just checking in to see how amazingly successful I was by now. I explained that I had not exactly had the rapid rise to success that everyone had expected of me but to rest assured, I was certainly massively qualified to run my own off-shoot of this business. It would only be a couple more weeks before I found my groove. Business Guy also wanted to know if I needed any more filters or other things that he could sell to me (no, I didn't pick up on this red flag). I bought a couple more filters from him (along with a couple of the portable models which, he told me a little too quickly, could be used to filter your own urine into potable drinking water. Um, ok...I'll take your word for it mister). I failed to ask him if there was any kind of training or management support for a dumb-dumb like me out there in the field. Basically, I just said "yes" a lot on the phone and went blindly forward. I was 4 weeks and a few hundred dollars into this deal and had nothing to show for it.

The next several weeks resulted in zero water filter sales for Team Mark. Actually, I'm not sure I can legally call it a team since I was the only member. My friend who had joined up with me had also not had much success. One of the biggest hurdles that we both faced was that these things were fairly pricey (I believe they were in the $200 range) and everyone we knew were Po' Folk who didn't mind drinking water straight from the tap. This was 1991 remember so the whole filtered\bottled water thing hadn't really taken off (that's it! we were AHEAD of our time!!). I floundered around with this "business" eating at my tiny budget for another week or so and then I made the call to the friend who got me into this whole mess in the first place. "Look man," I explained. "I'm not going to do this anymore. I haven't sold one filter thing and I can't afford to buy samples and supplies." He made a last-ditch effort to front me some filters and other supplies to keep my sinking business afloat until the sales started pouring in but I turned him down. "I quit man. I'm done." He hung up on me and I don't think I've spoken to him since. Ah well. At least I had good drinking water for another 5 months until the filter clogged up and it stopped working.

Monday, April 18, 2011

I'm Going to Miss You Harry

Unfortunately I again find myself in the terrible position of reporting sad news. Another member of my family has died and way too soon. We lost Harry Climenson on April 6th. Harry was married to Amy's mom Cheryl and so I've known him almost as long as I've known Amy. Since Amy was 27 when they were married, she never called Harry her "step-dad" she just called him her "Harry" (as in when introducing them to people: "This is my mom and this is my Harry". It just made more sense). Harry was such a constant presence in our lives that hard to accept that he's not going to be there anymore. Yeah, I know I can "keep him in my thoughts" and "keep his memory alive" and all those things that people say when someone dies. I'm sorry, but that's not good enough. I just want to have dinner with the guy again and I can't (Harry was a phenomenal cook and Amy and I enjoyed many a meal that he prepared. Seriously, the guy could tear it up in the kitchen).

I don't know where I currently am in the Kübler-Ross model but I think I'm jumping all up and down the scale. When I heard that things had taken a desperate turn for the worst I simply couldn't understand it. We had just visited him in the hospital and while he certainly didn't look like he was going to run a marathon anytime soon, it did seem like he'd at least be able to go home soon-ish. I figured we'd all help him adjust to whatever the scenario would be (I had envisioned him having to retire from his job, tote around an oxygen tank, and give up his beloved game of golf) but we didn't get that chance. On Sunday the infection he had contracted got worse and the doctors decided to put him into a medically induced coma to help his system fight it. They moved him into the critical care unit and tried everything they could to knock down the infection and the reverse the damage it was doing to his lungs. They simply weren't successful. All of this forced Cheryl to make the hardest decision she will ever (hopefully) have to make. Let me be clear here: It was the absolute right decision to make. But that doesn't make it any less heart wrenching and awful. I've buried both of my parents and a mere 5 months ago we lost Amy's father but I can't imagine what losing a spouse must be like. Let's not think about that right now ok? Ok.

I have to confess that this hit me a lot harder than I had expected. I think I can attribute this to making myself more present in the moment this time around. I didn't allow myself to retreat into my favorite defense mechanism. That's where I disassociate from what's going on and everything feels like I'm watching it all on a TV. It has its uses but I do tend to rely on it too heavily. So much so that I'm not really sure I've ever honestly confronted my own feelings about losing my parents all those years ago. And every time since when I've had to go to another funeral for an aunt or uncle I have watched myself wander through the proceedings and say all the things people say from a tiny monitor somewhere far away. Not this time. This time I forced myself to be present. At the funeral when Cheryl sobbed, I felt that pain like a rabbit punch to the kidney. When I looked over at Harry's long-time friends Tommy and Vic and saw the hurt and sadness in their faces I let that sink in. I tried to not shrink away from any of it. I think I was successful but goddamn that shit hurts.

So now what? I don't know. We have to figure out what to do next as a family. I have no idea what this will mean or how it will all pan out but it has to somehow. It always does right? I'm guessing it does because we're all still here but I can't remember how any of this works. Maybe it just does? No, that's bullshit. As a matter of fact, that's borderline defeatist. I'm not saying we have to work every waking moment but I'm certainly not putting any "faith" or whatever you call it into some higher being to make everything all better. People make things work or not work. I'm determined to make things work. I'm not saying I can "make it all better" but I can make sure that it is less shitty. That may not seem like much but that's all we have. This is our new "normal".

Shit. I don't know what I'm even talking about. All I know is that I'm really sad that he's gone. I'm going to miss you, Harry. Rest in peace.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

The Saddest Mid-Life Crisis Ever

I first saw her on the internet on one of those sites. You know the ones. She wasn't my usual type but damn, she looked good and her information seemed promising. I arranged to meet up with her and that was the start of things. I was so excited. I had never done anything like this before. When we finally met it didn't take long for me to fall for her. Her online profile did her justice and the pics did not lie. We only went out once but after that it was obvious to me that I'd be with her for a while. I'm a commitment kind of guy after all. It was an exciting time.

The first month or so of the relationship was rocky at best, making me jumpy and irritable. But we worked on how to communicate better and soon there was a mutual give and take. I learned to recognize her signals and sometimes not-so-subtle suggestions. She saw how I operated and adjusted. It had become comfortable and nice, even familiar. Everything seemed to be going well but then I started to...question things. That nagging sensation I had been ignoring for the last several months was getting stronger. What is this feeling? Is it a wanderlust? What is it that I'm looking for? Am I afraid of settling down? Or is it just that goddamn clutch and the fact that the radio doesn't work?

And so, after 2-plus years of being together, the Jetta and I have broken up. It was a hard decision that I'd like to say was a mutual thing but honestly, I can't. I left her. She seemed bitter at the end and I can't say I blame her. I'm not sure she saw it coming at all. Although I did complain daily about driving a manual transmission to and from Cambridge that's hardly her fault. She was pretty up-front about the fact that she was a stick. That's all on me. Maybe I was experimenting or trying to prove to myself that yes, I can drive 5-speed car every day and not blow out the clutch or stall every 15 feet. She was supportive of me during that learning period (in her own Prussian way) and that's why I still have feelings for her. But it's over between us. I hope her new situation works out.

I'm already seeing another car. Actually, I made it official the other day. I am now with an asian. That's right. When most guys go through their mid-life crisis it involves destroying their marriage and/or going nuts and buying a new Porsche or something along those lines. Not me. I just hem and haw for months on end trying to rationalize replacing a perfectly decent car that will easily last several more years with one that gets worse gas mileage and is quite frankly, a larger car than I need. But see, this one is an automatic and therefore it doesn't make my left leg hurt in traffic. And it's New. And Shiny. And Everything Works. Hee! So without further ado, I present to you the result of the saddest mid-life crisis ever: The 2011 Hyundai Sante Fe.

Sorry Jetta, but you never stood a chance. No hard feelings ok?