You’re fired!

Seems kinda funny when Donald Trump says it. But not so funny when you lose your job. Which I did. Today.

My department was re-structured and myself and the only other person in my department were let go. It’s just me versus the economy now.



I took my car into the shop recently. Bad tie-rods. Check engine light. Bald tires. Worn out breaks. The works. But who cares about my car, let’s talk about the adventures I had in the Jeep. This is my dad’s Jeep, and he was nice enough to get sick on company time so that I could drive it to work while my car was being repaired to the tune of an all expenses paid trip to Disney World in beautiful Florida.

When I was learning to drive a stick, a Jeep almost killed me. And by “almost killed me”, I mean I let off the clutch too fast and the thing almost flipped over. I learned my lesson: Jeeps are not like normal cars. To a Jeep, many things are just suggestions. Curbs. Speed bumps. It’s own transmission. Logs. These things just serve as a mock leash that makes you think you might control the Jeep. A Jeep is not a car. Sounds exciting already doesn’t it?

I remember when I first sat in this particular Jeep, and I thought to myself, “This is kind of a nice Jeep.” It has rear speakers. And the roll bars are padded. And air conditioning. And a console for controlling the air vents that didn’t require you to manually push and pull giant knobs in the dash. Compared to older Jeeps, this was the Cadillac of Jeeps. But after having driven my Volkswagen New Beetle for nine years, I can say that this is still the driving equivalent of “roughing it”. I don’t mean it’s rough like you have to roll down your windows manually (which you do), but rough like you are pretty sure that those drain plugs are to let rain water out and not to let water in so it won’t float when you cross a six foot deep river … right? I’m not sure this Jeep has drain plugs since they would be hidden under the carpet. Which makes sense since it’s a pretty cushy Jeep with carpet and all those fancy extras.

Driving a Jeep is very fun though. There’s no mistaking that you are driving a gasoline powered internal combustion engine. You never wonder if the road is smooth or not, because even if it was, you wouldn’t notice. I can understand why my friends at work wanted to ride in the Jeep when we went to lunch. It makes the lunch trip an adventure! You get bounced around like you are off road. You can barely hear each other when accelerating. You sit up nice and high so you can look down on people who could never drive their way out of the Amazonian basin. Plus, it’s so unlike the typical car experience.

I have to admit that nothing really exciting happened to me while I was borrowing the Jeep. It was just different and interesting. How many cars can you drive that let you take the doors or roof off?

Being Sick of Being Sick

I hate sinus infections. They are the worst way of getting sick I have ever experienced. The last time I had one, I went to the doctor to get antibiotics so that my throat didn’t feel like someone was kicking it every time I swallowed.

When I was younger, being sick was a day off from school. Before I go any farther, I’ll let you know that I’m not going to talk about how idyllic or halcyonic it was to get sick when I was younger. When you are a child, sickness is just a stuffy head, a fever, and lots of boring daytime TV. I’m pretty sure my youthful constitution shrugged off most sicknesses without any major issue, and I was a pretty sickly kid. Maybe I had a couple bouts of walking pnemonia, but nothing major. And I’m also certain that before the age of thirteen, being sick and groggy had almost no impairment on my judgement. That’s why children need parents. Forced medication, forced bedrest, and forced back to school when we KNOW that we are not better … not yet.

I’m not going to write about that at all.

When you are me, which is never, being sick breaks your weekly rythm. I hated school. I just can’t abide being teached at. My memories of being sick as a child really seem glorified only by the fact that I hated school so much. But work, I can do work. And I like my job. It’s a good job that lets me complain, feel accomplished, and pretend I am riding a mechanical bull. System administrator is not nearly as logical and consistant a job as many people tell me they think it is. Being sick just pulls me right out of the loop. It’s like a forced vacation where I don’t go anywhere nice and I don’t go outside, and I don’t drive with the music on, and I don’t go to lunch with my co-workers. And, on top of all that, sickness usually means I am in pain, or stuffed up, or my sinuses are making a pact with some foreign bacteria to wage guerrilla warfare against my throat.

I usually go back into work long before I am well. And I am convinced that just stepping outside into the fresh air is the best medicine. Besides, who wouldn’t want me back at work even if my head isn’t totally clear. Sometimes the best ideas come out of the foggy groggyness of a mixed up mind. You know those ideas. The ones that have you scratching your head the next day thinking, “Why would anyone do this?”

High Definition Cable

This is the long and annoying story about how I came to have HD Cable.

Many years ago, when cell phones didn’t have cameras on them, I purchased a very nice, 36″ Sony television. At the time, this was a monster TV and only crazy people had anything larger. I lived in constant fear that this three hundred pound glass and plastic device might crush me or anyone visiting my house. Up until recently, this was how I watched cable TV, played Nintendo Wii, and rocked out on my Rock Band Machine (also known as an XBox 360).

My brother, who lives in a mansion with his wife and tiny little dog (who looks even smaller next to the house), purchased a television and replaced his 50″ Sony rear projection TV. I have seen his new TV and it’s as large as the monolith in 2001: A Space Odyssey, except instead of being full of stars, it’s full of pixels. His old TV was in good condition and he offered it to me on the cheap. And knowing that I would rather have someone come get my three hundred pound television because it was good, rather than have to lug it to the dump, I decided to “upgrade” to a larger, more highly defined moving picture thing. Arrangement were made and I secured a truck to move the larger television to my house. I inquired about twelve able-bodied men seeking adventure and fortune to go on this dangerous mission, but Enterprise (the rental company) had no one willing to risk it. Something about wives and children and bad backs. So, I opted for the help of my father and brother. Despite the trouble of having to keep the TV upright at all times and it being pretty heavy, I reminded myslelf that I wasn’t moving my old TV and it made the work easier. After a single, short three hours or so, the new, larger, more highly defined television was in my living room. We hooked it up to the cable and I saw what I have been told is ugly, analog television on a screen that was surely straining it’s best to not take offense.

The very next day, a co-worker showed up to take my old 36″ TV away and have it threaten his wife and friends with a good crushing. And had that been the end of it all, I could have slept easy knowing my Rock Band Machine would soon return from Ye Olde Microsofte Repaire Centre and I would play Rock Band 2 with my new amplifier and speakers (a whole other story) and even larger screen. And even better, I was told the images would be of definition so high, I would be amazed and hand out cigars at work and everyone would envy me.

That last part was true. Rock Band 2 was, and is, awesome. But when I went to watch cable TV, I got nothing but snow. The new TV insisted that there was “No Signal”. I took my smaller TV from upstairs and hooked it up to the same cable and showed the larger TV that there was signal. It didn’t believe me. I consulted with experts on the internet (of which there are millions). I consulted with my brother. I plugged the cable into any of the ports on the pack of the television to which it would attach. People even offered me VCRs so I could watch TV. Maybe I seem old fashioned by not having HD TV, but I am NOT going to hook up a VCR in the year two thousand and nine. No way.

I tried everything and still, “No Signal”. I gave up.

And two days later, when my lovely and smart and attractive girlfriend came over, the TV decided that there was a signal. And we watched cable TV and everyhing seemed to have gotten better. For days this charade went on. The television pretended it was fixed and I watched boring and silly shows for about five days. And then the TV either felt it had enough, or maybe that I had enough and it was back to “No Signal”. No popping noises or sparks or anything. Just snow and static. I remembered what I had done before and I skipped to the end. The “giving up” part.

I called Time Warner Cable. And when I say I “called” them, I mean I started an online chat with a sales-person. This person told me I needed digital phone service. He was a liar. But I still listened to him talk about pricing and digital cable. I made sure they were not going to send people to my house, which the cable company seems intent on doing even if you are a good customer and don’t owe them money. I “upgraded” to digital cable, which is the only kind they sell tuners for, and picked up my digital cable channel changing device from a local cable store.

And now I can watch cable in a miriad of screen sizes ranging from “horribly squished” to “so clear I can see everyone’s pores”. I also have so many channels that I often make a base camp around channel 100 and plan my ascent towards channel 200 after a good nights rest and a meal of hot dogs and peanut butter crackers. I hear there are music channels in the 900’s, but frankly, I’m pretty sure that’s an urban legend.

Christmas Day

Get up early. Check.

Eat way too much. Check.

Exchange gifts. Check.

Build at least one piece of furniture. Check.

Install one major electronic device. Check.

Eat even more. Check.

Get slober all over me from a basset hound. Check.

Have an enjoyable, relaxing day. Check.

Public Speaking

I don’t consider myself funny. I don’t think of myself as a good public speaker. I was in charge of announcements for ten LAN parties. I used a megaphone and I tried to get people to pay attention. Most people thought I was annoying and disruptive.

Last weekend, on October 18th, my friend Jeremy got married and he asked me to “MC” his reception. I have to say that in the past, after being asked to help with weddings of my friends, I had sworn off ever helping again. But, this seemed very different. The wedding was small and personal. It wasn’t fancy or long. It was more of a private party with two groups of families and friends getting together for a good time. So I agreed to do it.

Conviction is the root of good public speaking. An idea that you hold strongly, and truly believe, is going to demand to be spoken to a group of people who are listening to you. I spent a week coming up with things to say. There was some fretting and worrying about saying something that ruins someone’s wedding. But, like much of my past experience, I decided to “just wing it”. I am often a very strongly convicted individual and all I did was say things I thought were true to myself, and needed to be said to the people there. I think everyone who spoke at the reception did the exact same thing I did.

Listener said I could do this professionally. But, the irony is that I don’t think I could. Two strangers getting married with their friends and families around them … I would have nothing to say except luke-warm, mediocre glurge (a perfectly cromulent word, by the way).

In the end, I had a great time and I enjoyed doing something to help out Jeremy and Annie. It was fun. Lots of people thanked me for doing a good job, but it was all my pleasure. Congratulations to the new couple and I hope they enjoy each other in the good times and the bad.


I guess it was a matter of time. I have been playing Rock Band for many months now, and I guess that my constant drumming was bound to eventually kill the plastic pedal.