Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Enough Already With These Bailouts!

C'mon people, it's time to start to get tough.

The President is making a good show of it with his scolding of the automakers yesterday, but the bailouts and stimulus packages will still continue nevertheless.

Where did all this mindset of entitlement and the assumed "right" to use government as a big fiscal airbag come from anyway?

I remember the enormity of the Chrysler loan that the Carter administration and the late 1970's Congress gave to Lee Iaccoca's ailing Chrysler Corporation. Back then it was $1.5 billion (1979 dollars), and the country was in an uproar about it.

But since then, I can't recall a time when so many companies have been schlepping their sorry asses to the Capitol with their hands held out like panhandlers.

Okay, so we're in a recession. Well it's not the first time we've been in a recession, why the big handouts this go-round?

And it's not just big companies that are being given what amounts to a bankruptcy-free write off. These bo-bo's who either lied or were too stupid to read their paperwork when they closed on a home purchase they obviously couldn't afford. Look, as you know, I'm no saint when it comes to financial responsibility, but damn it, I had to pay the hard cold price for what my silly attitudes towards credit wrought. Why shouldn't they? Isn't it only fair?

It just reminds me of a great sketch SNL did a few years back. We need to not only laugh at the implied sarcasm the writers were conveying about American consumerism and it's cycle of absurdity, but we should also learn from it:

Saturday, March 28, 2009

FLASHBACK: July 1983

A week earlier, I served a couple of unexpected customers at my counter at Howard Johnson's. It was Lisa and her friend Kristen.

Lisa had been my "girlfriend" I had dated briefly three years earlier. My main goal was to have a date for my Junior Prom so I decided to flirt with Lisa, a girl in my JA company and asked her out. We first went to her prom at Cumberland High School. John and I double-dated. He took Kristen. Then we went to my prom at Woonsocket High.

I had pretty much "come out" to myself but I was still torn as to what I wanted my "public" life to be. I wasn't thrilled about living openly as a "fag", I was head set on a "normal" life, with a wife and kids and ranch-style house with a picket fence and two car garage. You know...the "American Dream". Or at least the Reagan inspired version of it.

Lisa was a good selection because it was pretty obvious she was hot for me and though, of course, I felt nothing sexually for her, at least she had a nice personality and could hold a good conversation. I even toyed with the idea of what married life would be with her. My desires were purely selfish, of course. In no way did I consider what she really wanted. At this time.

When Lisa showed up with Kristen at HoJo's, I hadn't spoken with her in about three years. No fight or official "breakup" caused our falling out, we just lost touch of each other. Actually, I just lost interest in her once JA and the proms were over so I never called her.

She was surprised to see me. She hadn't known I was working here and it was just coincidence that she and Kristen had popped in for some ice cream sodas.

I actually believed her. How naive I was.

Lisa told me that she had been attending her freshman year at Leslie College, an all-girl school in Cambridge and was staying at her parent's house for the summer. Kristen had also been away at college, but I forget where. I frankly didn't care. I was still jealous of Kristen on a sub-conscious level since John had maintained his relationship with her well into our senior year in high school. The year he basically shut me out for being madly in love with him. He wouldn't even have sex for money with me like he did during the last few months of our junior year.

Something about Lisa struck me while we caught up. Though still "full-figured" she had lost a bit of weight and gained a lot of self-assurance and character. I was intrigued. Would I say I was becoming attracted to her? Well, no. In the three years since I'd last seen her, I had become fully aware of my sexuality and knew I wouldn't even be "faking" a straight life. But I was looking for another friend.

I was still nominally friends with Michael P., but since the day I revealed to him that I had sex with his 16-year-old brother last summer, we weren't going out much anymore.

And Michelle, my other good friend, another HoJo's co-worker friend had been busy with her new boyfriend and didn't have much time for me anymore.

So here we were, on what could be termed a "date" going out to Denny's Pub, a newly-opened sports bar located on the spot of the former Lums family restaurant, which itself had replaced the Bonanza cafeteria-style steak house. We shared a couple carafes of blush zinfandel and after a few minutes, and once the alcohol of the wine started to fortify my courage, I decided to tell Lisa the truth.

"Lisa, I'm gay.", I decided to just declare it flat out, no drama, no ceremony.

She pretended at first to be fully ok with it, but I could see she was heartbroken. I think she had really started to have feelings for me. As I tried to explain to her why I wasn't forthright about it earlier, I could see she was becoming more comfortable with it. I think she sensed there was something there that was preventing our budding relationship from evolving despite her clear signs that she'd be open to it.

As we talked on and on, eventually closing the place down at 1:00, I knew I had done the right thing. I felt we were both more comfortable than ever with each other and knew our friendship would grow deeper over the coming months.

I had been sharing with Lisa my recent experiences frequenting Providence gay bars and she suggested we go to one. So after being shut out in this North Smithfield straight bar, we were headed to the Fife and Drum.

But as I was driving her father's AMC Hornet into downtown Providence on Route 95, I suddenly noticed, in the dark ahead of me, an 18-wheeler, stopped right in the middle of the right hand lane. At 55 miles per hour, and traffic blocking me in the lane to my left, I slammed on the brakes but it was futile. As we were about to smash into the back of the truck, I turned to Lisa as I held out my right arm to protect her from moving forward. I calmly said, "I tried to stop."

The car rammed into the tail bar of the truck, and since both Lisa and I were wearing seatbelts, we bucked forward but, thankfully didn't get flung through the windshield. As the car came to a halt, I could see the front end crumpled up, steam and smoke billowing up from the crushed engine. I looked over to Lisa and she seemed to be ok but looked like she was in shock. I felt fine and saw that the windshield didn't have a crack in it so I guessed I was ok. I got out of the car to assess the damage as the truck in front of me turned over its engine and started to roll away. There was a lady in tight jean shorts on the small sidewalk on the side of this highway bridge. She was staring at me and as I looked towards her, she pointed to me and started screaming.

I became slowly aware of the strange feeling of warm liquid flowing down from the top of my forehead. Apparently, my head did hit the windshield, but at an angle so the windshield didn't break, but the skin of my forehead did, tearing through an artery. Blood was gushing out of the wound in pulsating squirts.

The screaming lady, who it turns out, was a hooker the truck driver had stopped to solicit finally snapped out of it and used a part of what scanty clothing she had to help me apply a bandage to my head. Lisa was still in the car and seemed to be having trouble breathing. Things were starting to get fuzzy and I was getting dizzy so I had to sit down on the sidewalk with the hooker helping to apply pressure to my gash.

After the paramedics showed up, we were brought to the hospital in separate ambulances. After I was stitched up in ER I found Lisa. She said that she had been feeling chest pains but she was ok. She confided in me she was worried because aside from being epileptic, she also had a known heart defect and when she felt chest pains, she thought the worst. Luckily though, she was ok. I suffered a few days of pain from the wound, and 13 stitches which caused a slight scar which was then just behind the hairline.

Lisa father was super cool about the car. The insurance company questioned me about the accident and both Lisa and I stated that a truck had been stopped illegally on the highway. But no other witnesses reported seeing a truck. Of course the hooker was nowhere to be found.

The day after the accident I stayed in my room nursing my aching head. Around noontime, my father decided he'd check on me and asked me why I was still in bed. I told him that I was in a car accident last night. He said nonchalantly, "Oh, alright.", shut my bedroom door and left me alone. I didn't let myself cry into my pillow.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

The Good, The Bad And The Ugly

I got my rebate from the IRS. But lo and behold it was for about $200 more than I expected. They said I made an error in my computation. I thought that they had omitted the claim I made for the unemployment benefit money I received in '08 but it was actually the fact that they had reverse computed my tax obligations and payments through withholding over the past few years. Yes, that's right, the years I didn't file. Yikes, I thought, the gig is up. But get this, they figured when all is said and done that I paid them more than I owed so that's why I got more back in my refund. So I think I can breathe a sigh of relief. Maybe.

It doesn't shock me too much when I think about it because it is so quintessentially "me", but I went and done it again, folks. Yup, up and took an early lunch Monday after returning to work...and never went back. Life is too short for the anxiety and depression that accompanies an ill-fitting job. It's a fact now that I have to look into a new field. I just can't bear it anymore. I'm riding a little crest of savings and cashed-out 401k money. In that regards, I guess it's better to fund a few weeks of living expenses rather than see it get chewed up in this market.

My gout has finally entered the late, late phase. This flare-up has had more phases than the freakin' moon. Now it's pretty much pain-free, but both feet get seriously swollen just below the toes. It's some sort of fluid build up. I put my foot in a beam of sunlight coming through a slat in the ever-blinded shut windows and it worked like a poor-man's x-ray. I could see the veins amongst the puss-filled bulge that is the top of my foot.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

End Of Line

Then shall the maidens rejoice at the dance. The children of the one reborn shall find their own country. Contact is inevitable, leading to information bleed. But you are a spark of God's fire. Assume the relaxation length of photons in the sample atmosphere is constant. Back in the stream that feeds the ocean that feeds the stream. The wing beat of the dove drown out the heartbeat of those who follow the Six is back in the stream. Thus will it come to pass. Protect the child. End of Line.

- An amalgam of Hybrid-speak quotes over the course of the 2003-2009 TV series "Battlestar Galactica".

Well my favorite TV show has come to an end. Tonight (or actually "last night" since it's now very early Saturday morning) was the series finale.

I found it pretty satisfying though there were still some loose ends and some big plot holes, but all in all a good bow out. Certainly better than the ending of the original series which then spawned the ill-fated and horrifically bad "Galactica 1980".

BTW, I have to paste a copy of a now four year old post I stumbled across when I googled "human looking robot". The blogger had this to say about our friends "The Greys". Keep in mind the post just before this one where I outline my supposedly "novel" idea:

"Grey" aliens in my dream the other night...

A sort of story was what came through in the dream, from what I can deduce from my abstract recollection. This story involved all of humanity and lifeforms on Earth being the creation of the minds and doings of these grey beings (who appeared in my dream as the usual small, thin, grey bodies with large dark ovals for eyes). These apparently are the same beings that have appeared to many people for centuries on Earth in dream or vision form and have been the subject of controversy and fear ever since. However, the story that they seemed to relate to me in my dream was that we humans see these beings in this "grey alien" form only because this is the form that is represented to us when we try to see who we really are. From what I was "told" in the dream, these "aliens" are our actual "selves" and because we have both fear and curiosity at the same time there is this block that is created when both "sides" are trying to look at the other, when in a sense, they ARE each other. The other part of the dream-story was that there apparently are only just a few of these grey beings who are the creators of all that we know to be our world and ourselves, and we humans were created to play a sort of game. The beings say they do this because all of creation is a game to them and we are the players in this game. However, they have grown tired of watching the game and now want to make themselves known to the players and become one with their creation once more. In other words, "they" want to play, and they are on their way...

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Make Dark The Cobalt Sky

Ok, I know, this is a long one. And get this, it's only a synopsis. It's my idea for, finally, the epic space opera novel I'd been wanting to write. It has some rough edges and needs a lot of TLC, as well as the guts of a plot, but I think I got a pretty interesting foundation. Eh, we'll see.

Title: Make Dark The Cobalt Sky

Author: Michael Chausse

Genre: Science Fiction


Its 1979, an army intelligence soldier monitoring a Soviet sub off the coast of Alaska intercepts a strange radio communication between the sub and an unseen source seemingly buried within a nearby iceberg. Before the private can relay his discovery, he is mysteriously killed and the sub suddenly vanishes.

Flashback to 1947 and the Roswell, NM downing of an unidentified flying object. From the point of view of what appears to be an abducted Earthling on the craft we witness the accident from a whole new perspective and learn what really happened that day as the large-eyed eerie-looking aliens try to prevent the ship's crash.

Flashforward to 1981 and Ronald Reagan is sworn in as President of the United States. After the ceremony he exits the platform and enters into a small room behind a hidden wall panel inside the Capitol, there he solemnly kneels before an unseen being seated in a throne. We only see the hand of the entity, it looks like one of the aliens called The Greys.

Flashback to Dallas 1963 and the familiar scene of President Kennedy's motorcade on Daley Plaza unfolds. Only this time, we see it through the eyes of Lee Harvey Oswald, who is very much not alone. Another of the Greys is with him, controlling his actions.

Flashforward to 1986 and the Space Shuttle Challenger disaster. One NASA technician observes that a UFO is seen from a camera that has been knocked askew accidentally. It appears to be hovering in the sky a few miles from the position of the Space Shuttle when it exploded. Before he can alert anyone about his discovery, he suffers a heart attack and dies. The video of the UFO mysteriously disappears.

Flashback to 1969, Neil Armstrong steps on the moon and makes his famous quote to the world. Or does he? In our new view, after he steps onto the surface of the moon, he reaches up, pulls off his helmet and we see it is actually an alien.

After this montage of flashbacks and flashforwards we open to what appears to be present-day and onto the scene of a typical teenage boy's bedroom. His alarm clock is beeping and he sleepily smacks it into snooze mode, plops his head back under his pillow and tries to fall back to sleep as his mother calls up to him from the kitchen below.

We discover that 16-year old Nathan is a B-student who is unsure what he wants to do with his life. He feels out of place and though not out right Goth, has an affinity for the weird and unexplained. He is what one would call a lovable geek. Nate's a huge fan of everything sci-fi, usually with a cheesy bent to it like 50's sci-fi B-movies or hippy UFO stories. He especially is fond of all the conspiracy websites out there and even devotes his blog to his love of reruns of classic geeky and obscure sci-fi TV shows like "In Search Of...", "Nightstalker", and an early local public access sci-fi conspiracy TV show from the 70's called "The Grey Area".

Nate happened to find clips of that last show in the back of a little used storage room at the local FOX-affiliate where he works part-time after school as an intern. He views the old video tapes and see show after show of nothing more than a nerdy guy in glasses at a cheap desk in front of a poorly-made picture of a flying saucer with the words "The Grey Area" in a funky 1970's typeface. He reads from typewritten papers about various noteworthy news events and how they were actually caused or influenced by a race of aliens much used in popular culture...tall, skinny, shiny grey humanoids with big heads and huge black eyes.

At first Nate converts a few of these videos to mpegs and throws them up on his blog, ridiculing them in the captions he writes for them. He leaves out the information as to where they came from since technically he didn't ask anyone at the station if he could have them, so technically, he stole them.

Within a day or two of his posting of the videos, he receives strange comments on his blog from a guy named Aaron who wants to know more about the videos and if Nate knew where the guy in the video could be reached.

Also, around this time, Nate begins to have strange dreams in which he seems to be witness to some of the events mentioned in the videos as well as other infamous world events, many never having been part of the videos and some having taken place years after the videos were made. We discover that the opening montage was actually the same things Nathan saw in his dreams.

Nate tries to ignore both the comments from this guy Aaron and his dreams.

One night, Aaron begins to email Nathan while Nathan is online questions about the videos and he seems more desperate and less friendly with each successive email which comes more and more frequently despite attempts by Nathan to block him. Then Aaron starts to IM him, not on just one IM system but several, even ones that Nathan hasn't ever signed up for.

Suddenly after a rapid succession of ever building IM's and emails and even now Pop-Up Windows (some humorously made to look like the usual spam pop-ups like Male Enhancement drugs and Get Rich Quick schemes) all polluting his computer monitor. As Nathan tries to close down the barrage of windows, his personal webpages like his blog and his Facebook and Myspace page pop up and every bit of text has been replaced by the repeating words: ANSWER ME!

Visibly shaken, Nate shuts down his computer in fear and frustration. As he does so, his room becomes suddenly pitch dark, then, with a startle Nathan jumps in his seat to see that his computer monitor, TV on the other side of the room, iPod, iPhone and even the LED readout on the DVD player, and digital alarm clock have all changed to just two words in all caps, glaring bright green on a black background, blinking violently: ANSWER ME!

Nathan freaks out and runs out of his house, gets in his car and drives away. As he speeds down the suburban street, His car stereo changes from the alternative rock music it was playing to a static and high-pitched whine as if tuning into a weak or far-away transmission. Over the radio, a young woman's voice calmly instructs him to drive to the location indicated on the GPS system screen which has just been activated.

The GPS recorded voice asks the user to state the destination. The voice on the radio glibly addresses the GPS voice and tells her she's got it, honey! The GPS woman answers that she doesn't understand that location...soon the two are "talking" back and forth with the radio woman's voice, obviously not automated and pre-recorded like the GPS system becomes frustrated and even sounds a bit jealous of the GPS woman's voice.

Nathan is totally confused as to what the hell is going on and can hardly believe his ears! Finally, he tells the radio lady "Alright! Alright already I'll go wherever you want, just shut up already!"

The radio girl answers huffily, "Well alright Nathan, but really, is that any way to treat me during our first real conversation with one another? I think I deserve a little respect. After all, I am your fiancee!"

Nate screeches the car to a halt and exclaims, "My what?!" "Listen Nate, we'll explain the whole thing once you come in, I can't get into it over the air. Just follow the prompts on the GPS display."

When Nate gets to the location, it appears to be a boarded-up old abandoned mine, but as a doorway opens and an intense bright light pours out into the night, illuminating his way, Nate cautiously walks through the entrance and into his destiny.

Over the course of the rest of the story, we find out that Nathan is actually Naton the exiled young prince to race of humans who live on another planet much like Earth. In fact, almost exactly like Earth.

The planet is a sister of Earth, in the same orbit, also possessing a single moon the same size as ours, directly on the opposite side of the Sun. A planet named Nastralia for the ancient kingdom which has ruled this world for millennia.

Due to slightly varying ratios of land mass and ocean, only continental drift over the ages has made the two planets look different, otherwise, they have the same mass and size.

It's because of this astronomical rarity that has existed from the earliest days of the solar system's formation that an immensely ancient and highly-technological species of beings, who's name has been lost to the mists of the eons of time, found our twin planets to be the perfect proving grounds for studying the effects of similar, yet separate planets on the evolution and development of a proto-sentient species of hominid...namely us. The Forgotten Ones, as they're known, found Homo sapiens on Earth and transported thousands of them to Nastralia.

They established monitoring stations on both planets and charted human progress for tens of thousands of years. But as suddenly as they had come, for some unknown reason, they had left, abandoning all the monitoring posts and leaving them to be buried or destroyed by the elements. Perhaps a great disaster or war had befallen their home world, or, perhaps they just grew tired of their "pets"? We may never know.

So for thousands of years the two human planets fostered the rise of our species but because of the geologic stability on Nastralia and the lack thereof on Earth, coupled with the discovery of one of the ruins of a Forgotten Ones outpost on the former planet, the two civilizations developed at a much different pace.

Within an estimated 89,000 years of divergence between the two, the human population of Nastralia prospered greatly, developed their own technology at a rapidly-advancing and less-chaotic rate, discovered and adapted ancient Forgotten One ideas and inventions and by what would be known as the beginning of Earth's 17th Century AD, was a space-faring race which had to their astonishment, discovered a planet sharing its orbit, much like its own, populated with a backwards and archaic version of their own species.

Nathan/Naton is told all this and of course is in utter shock. And to find out that he is in fact the sole heir to the throne of this world, well, he finds it a bit too much to believe.

But with patience and demonstration, the beautiful teen-aged girl Aianna, the voice on his car stereo who brought him to this hidden underground locale, explains that he was abducted from the Nastralian royal place, Melanacrastian Citadel, for his own safety by his uncle Kevon when he was just a baby.

Secretly brought to Earth, just before the good king is slain by the greedy, naive and misguided Archduke Alaic of Certa-Biala. The death of King Vairnet, Naton's real father, was made to look like an accident, and though Archduke Alaic had planned for Naton to also be killed, he proclaimed to the people that Naton had also died in the same accident.

With no other heirs, Alaic was next in line for the throne and amidst sadness, was quietly crowned King of Nastralia. But before long, Alaic had round up any potential rivals and secured absolute power over the government. He abandoned the People's Congress and built up a fascist oppressor state, ostensibly for "global security" against the meddling of the well-known alien race called The Greys.

But actually, Alaic was in league with the Greys and allowed them unpresidented access to all aspects of Nastralia's infra-structure. Within a decade, The Greys had risen to such power that they had no reason to hide anymore. They killed Alaic and the head of the army of Greys on Nastralia, K' Jix-Ur, seated himself as Emperor of the Grey-Occupied planet.

His counter part on Earth had also made terrifying gains into the inner-sanctum of that world's governments, but because of the fractured and disordered nature of Earth politics, it was more difficult.

Impatient, K' Jix-Ur announced that he would enslave the humans of Nastralia to build a fleet of ships so that Earth could forgo the behind-the-scenes manipulation of the Greys and instead, be subjected to outright conquest. It is said K' Jix-Ur boasted he would blanket the whole Earth with his heavily-armed starships to "...make dark the cobalt sky".

Ainna, Princess of Algeon Island, who had been betrothed as an infant to Naton while they were merely a few days old by their respective royal parents, had also been secured away to Earth years ago by her parents, members of a group of Nastralians who suspected Alaic's true motivations were under the control of the Greys.

Here on Earth, they hid-out in this vast underground facility disguised to look from the outside like an abandoned mine.

They watched the Greys on Earth, monitored their transmissions and bided their time until they could return to Nastralia, overthrow K' Jix-Ur, defeat the Greys, reinstate Naton to his rightful place on the throne and save both human planets. But how they'd do this before Earth was conquered was unknown and fiercely debated.

That is until Nathan posted those videos on the Internet. Then, suddenly, and hopefully just in time, everything came into place.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Workin' The System

So my boss Rick called me late last Friday afternoon and asked if I had a doctor's note for the 4 days I took off last week for this ailment. I told him I hadn't been to the doctor since I've had flare ups of this condition before and I was self-treating. Further, I said, I didn't have health insurance yet so I couldn't afford to pay full price for a doctor's visit. He seemed concerned and started giving me the old "well the company's policy..." and all. I told him it seemed like my foot was getting better and that I'd be in on Monday. He said that he'd be out Monday but he'd arrange for Linda (the scheduling supervisor) to "meet with me".

"Hmm, what did this all mean?", I wondered. Am I being targeted for termination for poor attendance similar to C-N-M back in 2006?

I went in Monday, but I was apprehensive the whole way. I debated just driving right past the building and turning back home. I came quite close. Once up in my cubicle I got my water and coffee, making sure to let as many co-workers see me limp along as possible. I started taking calls but after about an hour I said to myself: "Fuck this." I packed up my mug and my portable fan, logged off the system, turned off the computer and said goodbye silently to Jar Jar Binks, who, similar to his placement on my cubicle shelf at Symantec, sat with General Grevious in front of Marshall's rainbow-colored origami wheel. Yes I was abandoning them.

But then a funny thing happened on the way back home. I stopped by the post office and there was one piece of mail waiting for me. It was my new Aetna card for the Embarq HMO plan I'd selected. I thought I'd have to wait until the beginning of April in order to enjoy health benefits, but I guess it kicked in early. As I reflected on the jewel that I held in my hand, my whole attitude about work changed. Now that I can make an appointment with my doctor, I think I will give this job another chance. But on my terms, of course...

I met with my doctor today. He checked out my foot and, of course, whipped that prescription pad out. Since the gout flare up is in its end stage now, I wasn't too interested in the Colchicine he prescribed, I was more interested in him using that pad and pen to write me a doctor's note. I told him I would need it to excuse me from work until next Monday.

He grinned and gave me a "c'mon" look saying that it was a bit excessive for gout. But I stuck to my guns. I told him I wanted to be sure the swelling was totally subsided. He relented though with a little apprehension but I got my note.

And another 6 days before I have to return to the grind. I'll discreetly replace my fan and fill my cup with coffee, limp ever so slightly around the office, turn my golden ticket in and suck it up and do some work. How can I be so cavalier as to walk (or hobble) away from a job in this economy? I can't afford to, is the short and simple answer.

Will there be some hell to pay? Maybe in some attitudes, but I think I know the workplace rights game fairly well and when you have a doctor's note, baby, you got the ultimate trump card.

Maybe I should have pushed for two weeks?

Monday, March 16, 2009

FLASHBACK: Summer 1980

I had quit my job as a dishwasher at the small bistro restaurant Bijou's on Cass Avenue in October because I insisted it interfered with my schoolwork. Though my parents, especially my father wasn't happy with my determination, he laid off on pressuring me to get another job until towards the end of the school year. Then it was all "when are you going to do your part to help out the family" crap.

I got a job that summer with John N. We worked after school in a small "call center" on Main St. of about 20 people from varying age ranges, calling up people who we found in the phone book and letting them know that they "won" a fabulous prize. We would only need to have our representative come by and collect a small sum of money from them to compensate for the cost of the advertising campaign, usually around $20. In compensation for this they would receive a valuable prize (a coupon book) supposedly worth more than $5000! (Ya, right!)

Here's a sample of our pitch:

"Hello Mrs. Smith?"

"Yes, this is Mrs. Smith."

"Congratulations! You won an opportunity to have an all expense paid trip to the Bahamas valued at over $5000!"

"Oh my! Really?!"

"Yes, that's right Mrs. Smith, if you can guess the answer to the following Grand Prize Quiz question, you will be our next winner!"

"Oh my, I don't know, well, ok."

"Mrs. Smith, your question is...What President's face is on the one dollar bill?"

Believe it or not, more than a few people got it wrong, so we had to give them another question...

This then required tougher sales "techniques".

Bells on our desks were rung whenever we got a "sale" and balloons were popped which gave us the dollar amount of our commission hidden on a slip of paper inside, and it was all very festive and for the the time, very lucrative. John and I were making about $350 a week. That was great money back then. Especially for 16 year olds! But soon, Channel 12's News crew was barging in on the scene since the business was using shady practices to get money from unsuspecting victims. Oh well, the end of that job. Luckily, the employees were never held responsible.

We just became instantly unemployed.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Dirty Dishes In The Sink

You know me and my love of metaphors, well this one captures the essence of what's going on right now: dirty dishes in the sink.

I hate leaving dishes in the sink, but on occasion, it's to be expected, especially if I'm rushed or it's just a small bowl and a spoon and it's deep enough in the sink so I don't have to see it every time I glance that way. (Outta sight, outta mind, kinda thing.)

But when I have more than a couple dishes poking out of the sink, begging for attention, sitting amidst a pool of long-cold soaking water with food debris hardening more and more with each passing hour, I know something is up.

Dirty dishes being ignored is like a problem being ignored, but the delay in resolving the issue just makes it worse. Plus, you can't truly ignore it, it's sitting right there staring you in the face all day long.

Other than the real ones in the sink, here are some of the other "dirty dishes" I'm dealing with right now:

I have to be honest, I don't really like the new job. There, I've admitted it. That's the first step to recovery, right? I don't know if it'll be that simple. I mean, what can I do? It took me almost five months of searching to find it, and that was while I was living under the luxurious umbrella of two months warning of an impending layoff date, then a six week severance payoff while also collecting unemployment benefits. If I chose to leave now, I'd be living off savings. And in this economy? So instead I endure and stick it out. I will have to rewire my thinking and do some serious cognitive restructuring to make this hated job work. I can't plummet back to the days of the worst of Koyaanisqatsi. I don't know if I could literally live through it.

Ole Mr. Gout has come a callin' once again. This time the flare up is about as bad as it was in March of 2006. Like then, I am forced to take sick days off from a new job and it's no doubt, as it did then, impacting the impression my supervisors have of me. It was hard for me to shake off the image of a slacker in '06 with Symantec, I'm unsure how I'm perceived here. Frankly, in light of my feeling expressed in the previous paragraph, I kinda don't care.

Of course, Mr. Gout doesn't come around unless I leave some kind of invitation for him in the form of potent potables. Like a big circular Catch 22, I've been drinking more because I hate my job but that invites hangovers and, in this case, gout to make me sick so I can't go in to work, which could make my job worse in that I would also have to prove to them that I'm not slacking off, but that becomes more difficult and makes me feel more stressed so I drink more and the cycle repeats itself again and again until I quit or I'm fired. I might opt for the later outcome. Maybe I could get back on Unemployment.

Like a drop or two of Dawn dishwashing liquid, there are a few things lately that are a refreshing swipe of the SOS pad:

As I've mentioned before, Nugget is doing fine and yes, she does indeed have a shiny new gas cap. Well, it's a dull gray plastic so it's not really shiny, but you know what I mean.

My friend and former roommate Wayne from RI found this blog through a Google search of my name and so we're keeping in touch by email. It's nice but a little weird...I mean what do you chat about? I don't really need to write about my life since it's so conveniently laid out here in the 325 posts of this blog.

Ric and I made semi-contact this past weekend...kinda. I was having a drink or twelve and decided to call him around 8:00 pm last Saturday but I hung up when it started to go to voicemail. He later saw I had called and called me back, but by then (1:00 am) I had already gone to sleep (ie: passed out). He left a message that was half asshole-ish and half conciliatory. It went something like: "Well the atheist calls the Christian...Hey, I saw you tried to call me earlier; if you want to talk it would be ok...". I haven't called him back.

I got out to IOA a couple weekends ago. It was a beautiful day and I actually had the energy and strength to make my way around the whole park. I didn't bring my camera since it was kinda an impromptu thing but I'm getting to think any photos or videos of the parks would be redundant anyway. There's just so much available on the web since they are such major tourist attractions. I saw the Sinbad show for like the billionth time. Yet again, new actors playing the roles. (They do have high turnover for that show...maybe because it's so physically demanding on the performers, I mean they are doing some amazing feats of acrobatics throughout the whole show several times a day, day in and day out.)

Well, I got to hobble with my lame foot over to the sink. Unlike the Sinbad show, there ain't no Enchanted Staff I can wave and make my dishes, and my troubles, just magically disappear.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

FLASHBACK: October 1984

"All right guys, what can we make that's relatively easy and cheap but will sell well for our fundraiser?", I asked the dozen or so members of the CCRI Art Club. As President of the club, I felt I had to take the lead on this. A few mentioned sketches or pottery but I reminded them that we also needed a product that would have broader appeal than just usual artworks since we wanted to raise as much money for our New York trip as possible, yet still stay true to the "art" theme.

I thought back to my JA days and was struck by inspiration...

"I know! Silk-screened T-Shirts!", I blurted out.

"That might take too much time to get the screens made and then to actually produce them...", cautioned Mr. Morrissey, our faculty advisory.

Of course he was right. I was surprised the logical argument came from Mr. Morrissey since his artistic expression was anything but logical. During one of his classes I attended recently, he featured a video he'd created in which the only subject was a blank concrete wall, with the camera panning slowly in and out, to a score of bizarre off-tune electronic music. The worst was the fact that the "film" ran, just like that, for a whole 45 minutes! Tom Morrissey was CCRI's resident post-minimalist guru, but unlike the hippy-dippie or snobby-fufu image that one usually conjures for artists in this genre, he was actually very down-to-earth in appearance and demeanor. I mean, he taught Commercial Art for cryin' out loud.

Then I think it was actually Linda who came up with the inspired thought that made it work: "How about if we splatter fabric paint on the t-shirts in the style of Jackson Pollack?", she exclaimed.

(Yes, Linda, the same Linda I would eventually have a decade long friendship with, was a member of the art club. Yet she attended only a few meetings, since she did have a busy extra-curricular schedule with two kids to raise and an estranged husband to argue with. Glad she was there on this day though.)

"Great idea, Linda!", I congratulated her and the group agreed with the kooky soccer mom in her mink coat covering her jogging suit and sneakers attire.

So we bought an array of solid colored T-shirts, crew neck sweats and hoodies, dipped straws into buckets of red, green, yellow and blue fabric paint and flicked the paint-filled straws all over the place. Fabric paint was splattered all over the newspaper-covered floor of the art studio, ourselves, and some of it even made it onto the product! We had a blast! And the shirts came out looking great. The whole splattered paint look was "in" then so on the day of the fundraiser, held in the school cafeteria, we sold virtually every shirt we had.

With the success of our sales, we had enough to finance our New York Art Club trip. Linda and a couple of other members couldn't make it so we ended up being a group of about nine plus Mr. Morrissey. We coordinated a charter bus with another school club so we could split the costs of transportation from Rhode Island to New York, but once we arrived, the two clubs went their separate ways.

We first hit the Mecca of museums, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, then made our way across Manhattan's museum and gallery scene over the next 3 days. MOMA, the Guggenheim, the Whitney and a slew of galleries.

Some of the more memorable moments:

While viewing the decidedly minimalistic artworks on display at one gallery in SoHo, Mr. Morrissey accidentally kicked a fluorescent light tube that was part of a sprawling display in the middle of the room. It loudly skittered across the hardwood floor as we all looked on in horror fearing it would shatter and he'd be faced with the obligation of buying the piece, priced at over $10,000. But surprisingly in didn't break. The gallery staff person nonchalantly walked over to it, picked it up and placed it back in the cacophonous array of tubes that was the artwork without consternation as to whether it was being placed in its original position. He looked over to an ashen-faced, wide-mouthed Tom, smiled, and said, "Don't worry about it, it happens all the time."

We had lunch one afternoon at a bar in SoHo called Central Falls. It was named for a little city on the border of Pawtucket in Rhode Island called, Central Falls. The old oak bar in the place was said to have been moved to New York from a bar that had been closed years ago in Central Falls, RI. We met with the owners and told him we were from a community college in RI and he seemed thrilled to see us admitted that he was not himself a transplanted Rhode Islander, he just bought the bar from a classified ad and had it shipped here.

My sour memory of this place was in its prices...they were outrageous! $10 for a salad, and it was cheaper than the $15 sandwiches so I opted for that. I wanted a glass of wine with my lunch but the waiter told me the only wine they sold by the glass was the port. Without him cautioning me as to the price, he let me order it. I realized when I got it that it was more of a dessert wine and it came in a tiny aperitif-sized stemmed glass. I begrudgingly knocked it down in one sip. When I got the check, I saw they charged me $50 for the wine! I complained to the waiter but he gave me attitude like if I didn't pay it he'd call the cops. I paid, but it pretty much wiped out my spending money for the trip. (These prices were outrageous even by today's standards. I think they gave us the special "rube tourist" menus when we let it be known we were from what they would no doubt consider the hick state of Rhode Island.)

Mark, one of the straight-guy club members I was sharing a hotel room with (oddly enough, there were no gay guys in our club, go figure) and I decided late one night to take the subway down to Greenwich Village from our Midtown hotel to catch what we thought would be New York's wild nightlife. All we found were some hole-in-the-wall blue collar bars and one tired, rundown gay club filled with tired old barflies. We drank at each one anyway and by 3:30 am were stumbling drunk. Somehow we made it back to the hotel without getting mugged or arrested.

We had done a lot in those three days and on our last night Tom surprised us by springing for us all at the festive Mama Leone's where we had a great dinner, drank lots of great wine and reminessed on our superb trip to the Big Apple.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

American Idol: Season Yawn

Last season I really got into Idol. I mean little Davey Archuletta was just so damn good, he made me want watch every Tuesday. (Ya, I know they're on other nights too but really folks, one night a week is more than enough.)

The previous season was good too.

But what happened this year? I mean, am I the only one who feels that there really isn't the talent pool this time 'round that they had in years past. It seems the ones I kinda think are okay, the judges uniformly rip apart, especially Simon of course. But the ones I have to turn the volume down on lest the neighbors think I'm trying to rape a cat, they all love! Even Simon!

Yo, yo Randy...listen up...I am not on the same wavelength this year, Dog! I just don't feel it.

Each performance seems kinda karaoke to me.

And tonight, they started the theme competitions like they do each year towards the finals. Each week they restrict the contestants choice of song to ones in a particular genre, or, like tonight, to the catalogue of one particular artist. Tonight it was the music of Michael Jackson.

I knew when they announced it I was in for an evening of disappointment. I mean, really, who can sing Michael Jackson better than Michael Jackson? Covers of him are so obvious since his voice is so distinctive and his musical style so unique that imitators only do it either as a total tribute act, dressed and made-up just like Michael, in which they hit each note and do each dance maneuver as close as they can to the King of Pop so as to amaze the audience, or they are a parody or farcical over-the-top comedy act. Neither style is appropriate for a competition designed to showcase the unique and creative stylings of up-and-coming new vocal superstars-to-be.

Most of tonight's contestants wisely chose less evocative songs from years staying away from the quintessential Jacksonian highlight era of the early to mid nineteen eighties. But one guy, ironically in light of the video below, who is of Indian heritage, actually "went for it" and dared to sing "Beat It".

Okay, I'll give you this, the kid is too young to remember those days. But do you remember when karaoke became popular what the most common choice was of every bad drunk singer in every bad karaoke bar in the early '90s? Do you remember one of Weird Al Yankovick's best parodies called "Eat It"?

He may as well have just done this:

At least then it would have been funny.

Monday, March 09, 2009

SCRAPBOOK: A Magical Transformation

It seems that every ten years or so, the theme park giants here in Orlando "have at it" and battle to see who can out do each other to capture a larger share of the all-important, and ever-fickle tourist dollar.

Ten years ago, or so, saw the full-out creation of brand-new parks. Disney with Animal Kingdom, Universal with Islands of Adventure and a tad later, Sea World with Discovery Cove.

Over the next decade, the competitors would throw up a new ride or attraction here and there, but now we seem to be at another major alignment of the new development stars...

Disney has just recently launched their new addition to Disney's Hollywood Studios: The American Idol Experience, an interactive show reminiscent of the hit TV singing competition.

Sea World is erecting their new coaster this Spring. It'll be called Manta.

But Universal is out doing them all.

First will be a new coaster sandwiched among the existing structures on the south side of the Universal Studios original park. It'll be that park's first true adult rollercoaster. It'll be called Hollywood Rip Ride Rockit featuring a vertical 17-story lift, rider selected music and full ride video available for riders to upload to YouTube et al.

But the real excitement is for a new Island to join the others at IOA: The Wizarding World of Harry Potter.

Though it meant the destruction of my beloved Enchanted Oak restaurant with its dark and cozy Medieval-themed Alchemy Bar, where many a tankard of ale has been drunk with friends in the past, the work on this new addition looks phenomenal.

Dueling Dragons will be incorporated into this new island, leaving Lost Continents without moving an inch. I just hope they don't ruin the themed queue through the castle by re-imaging it for a Harry Potter theme. It's great as it is, IMHO.

Here are some shots of the new construction and temporary structures put in place.

It should be completed sometime in 2010.

It's a great time to be in the theme park capital of the world!

Fun With Randomness

I just love this recent post on Alexander The Gay's blog. He gives instructions for a "Do It Yourself Album Design".

Here are the rules:

1 - Go to Wikipedia. Hit “random”
or click http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Special:Random
The first random Wikipedia article you get is the name of your band.

2 - Go to Quotations Page and select "random quotations"
or click http://www.quotationspage.com/random.php3
The last four or five words of the very last quote on the page is the title of your first album.

3 - Go to Flickr and click on “explore the last seven days”
or click http://www.flickr.com/explore/interesting/7days
Third picture, no matter what it is, will be your album cover.

4 - Use Photoshop, GIMP, Inkscape, or similar to put it all together.

I followed it to a T and here's what I got:

Neat, huh? I like my selections. I imagine my fake band is a forgotten country singer named Shean Donovan. He wore all black like Johnny Cash and played banjo and harmonica. He was known for funky and quirky ditties. His last semi-popular "hit" was "Impossible Until They're Not" when it got to number 58 on the Country-Western charts back in September 1971. Shean was married 5 times and died of emphysema in 1997 at the age of 64.

Try it, it's fun!

Sunday, March 08, 2009

FLASHBACK: July 1999

Tom, the company's Regional Manager called me to see if I could join him for lunch. He wanted to go over some preliminaries before I started out for my scheduled trip to the home office. Tom rarely had lunch with anyone other than the occasional Branch Managers he wanted to reward. He was in a rank of his own in our building. He carried himself that way too. He was, according to him, superior and there was an unspoken rule that when you saw him, you were to acknowledge that fact. Ya, in essence, he was a pompous prick. And virtually everyone in the office hated him.

He drove us to the somewhat swank Sam Sneed's in his BMW and it wasn't long after being seated he started showing his attitude off to the waitress snottily complaining about the silverware. I guess it wasn't polished enough or something. She apologized earnestly and quickly replaced his set of utensils without batting an eye. I watched her for any sign of animosity towards Tom since I knew I would have been pissed had he treated me like he had just treated her, seemingly blaming her personally. But she was cool as a cucumber. I guess she's used to blowhards here, the restaurant attracts rich, arrogant white guys a lot, I guess.

Once he finished dictating his multi-exemption-filled order (ie: toasted lightly, but substitute this for that, and this on the side, and an extra this...you know, making it more difficult just because he wanted to be an asshole), Tom dismissed the waitress with a faint wave of his hand and turned to me. He began listing the things I should NOT do on this trip. Drinking was number one. And it was stressed as the most important.

After our lunch I went back to my office and it was Roger's turn to meet with me. Roger was the Branch Manager, my direct boss. I joined him in his darkened office, seated with my back cautiously close to his gnarled six foot tall potted cactus. Roger's management style was decidedly opposite that of Tom's. Where Tom was all X-Theory, Roger molded his team into a pseudo family. We could all speak freely and act on our own decisions. I could never decide whether I thought Roger was just very empowering or very incompetent. Either way, Steve (my counterpart in our office) and I were left to run the place as we pleased. And I loved it.

Roger explained why Tom was nervous about this business trip. Every summer, the home office does this Headquarters open house and invites a few select up-and-coming managers to meet with the executive staff and enjoy a week in the New York City area. Though the trip is touted as a chance for us new managers to see how the home office operates, it's also a chance for them to see how we operate. A few years back, one of the invitees from Orlando embarrassed themselves and ultimately Tom by getting drunk and arrested in a bar fight. Needless to say, that guy was soon fired and Tom was still having a hard time getting over it. It was well-known Tom was eying a VP seat and having wayward team members was not how he wanted to be known to home office execs.

The flight to Newark was quick and uneventful. On the plane with me were 2 other ABMs from the other Orlando-based offices called Orlando 1 and 2 respectively (I was from Orlando 3). We were greeted there by our defacto chaperone Jim, the counterpart to Tom, but for the Southeast Region. He was traveling with the 3 selectees from the company's Tempe, Arizona office. We had to wait for our counterparts from the Omaha office. 2 other ABMs would join us at the hotel since they were from New Jersey and were driving up to Mahwah, our destination.

Rooms were assigned and shared, but, by luck of the draw, I was the odd man out so I got a room to myself. After we were settled in we all met in the lobby and Jim took us to a nearby steak house restaurant. It was pleasant be we were on a work-related trip so we were careful to moderate our actions and words as much as we would if we were in the office.

Over the course of the next week we attended all sorts of meetings and got to see the operations of various departments that affected our goals at our respective branch offices. It was a well-organized and tightly scheduled set of events. We even had lunch one day at a fine French restaurant in the nearby exclusive enclave of Suffern, NY with the much revered and mysterious CEO of this privately held company. It was funny how we all tried to shine during our one opportunity to ask casual questions of our "fearless leader". Oh how we tried to sound intelligent and success-driven.

One of our last nights here, we were taken to a great old Italian restaurant in the Bronx where everything was served family-style at long tables and though we had to wait almost 2 hours to be seated, the food was excellent. Nothing fancy, very rustic Italian, but oh so homemade tasting. Later, we wanted to have a night on the town and though we invited Jim, he decided to head back to the hotel with one of the execs from the home office who joined us for dinner. So we were left the rented van and pointed our way towards Manhattan. Part-ay!

Oh some of these guys were on the wild side, and though most of us had been on our best behavior, we now let our hair down, so to speak, and cruised our way towards Times Square. After parking we walked with mouths agape down the heart of Times Square staring at all the neon and flashing lights, watching the ebb and flow of the sea of human and automobile traffic. We stopped at a liquor store and pitched in to buy a big bottle of Seagram's 7, then we went to Burger King, each bought a large frozen Coke (remember that craze?) dumped half of it, and filled our innocent looking fast food drink cups with a slurry mixture of frozen Coke and whiskey.
Before long we were drunk and driving around the streets of the city, a couple of the girls in our group even started flashing their tits through the van windows as we passed by pedestrians.

The next morning Jim wondered why we all seemed to be a bit sluggish but no one fessed up and told him about our Times Square drink fest. Later that day, as we made our way back towards the airport, we stopped at a small riverside park across the Hudson from lower Manhattan to take pictures. I remember we got some nice stranger to snap a group photo of all of us posing with the skyline of Manhattan, including the towering twin World Trade Center buildings behind us.

When we arrived home at Orlando International Airport, I bid goodbye to the two other managers from Orlando and made my way towards the parking garage. I passed by an airport bar with their TVs tuned to a breaking news event. The small private plane piloted by John F. Kennedy Jr. had gone down on its way to Martha's Vineyard. He and his wife were presumed dead.

Thursday, March 05, 2009

Life's A Drag

I have another secret to confess...

I've always wanted to do drag.

Yup. Total over-the-top, fabulously-appointed, sequined, feathered and quaffed, rip-roarin' in-your-face faux femme fatale.

To borrow a phrase from "Project Runway" season 4's winner Christian, I would be a FIERCE bitch!

As a kid, I used to use bedspreads and sheets to drape and knot around my body to create an impromtu ball gown. I'd actually do this quite frequently. I even got caught by my Dad once playing with my mother's costume jewelery. Thankfully I was only eight so I could excuse it by telling him I was pretending it was "pirate treasure". Ya right. So why were the diamond-esque earrings dangling from both my earlobes?

Ever since my first exposure to gay clubs, I'd been fascinated by drag queens. Their look, their mannerisms and especially the adoration of their fans intrigued me. I was in awe. I secretly wanted to be one of them. Imagine...perfectly strange men falling over themselves to gingerly approach you and hand you dollar bills and all you had to do is look stunning in tight polyester, a thick coat of make-up and a well-overworked and much-shellacked cheap wig.

As I posted a few months ago, I had gotten all done up in full drag for the first time as an adult back in '93, but I never left the house. I was too chicken.

When I moved here to Central Florida, I quickly discovered that Orlando was the shining capital of the drag queen circuit. If you could make it here, you could make it anywhere. My ex-BF Justin tried to join the ranks of the Belles of the Stage at the now-closed Southern Nights club, but they soon tired of his awkward looks and un-refined gait. Alas, he'd started too late at the old age of 23. Here, drag queens start well before they can legally enter a club. Well before. Then they practice, practice, practice and do whatever it takes to win contests, gain a large coterie of alliances and devoted fans, and claw, kick and bite their way to the top of the heap.

My stays in the Big Easy also exposed me to a vastly more risque and raw drag queen culture. And during the days of Southern Decadence, the Quarter is rife with bountiful boas, buoyant bouffants and all-manner of badoinkadoink, boobies and bling bling, real and fake!

I've succumbed to a more middle-aged low-key nightlife now, but I still try to make it out once in a while to places like the world-famous gay resort club here in Orlando, The Parliament House (yes Walter, it's a plug so better give me at least a free drink next time I'm down there, bitch!) and bask in the glow of the greasepaint, glitter, glitz and glam that is the drag scene.

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

One Puzzle Piece At A Time

I've made countless metaphors for life, or at least my humble experience of it over the years, but one of the ones that fits how I feel lately is a giant jigsaw puzzle.

When wholly disassembled with the thousands of pieces all strewn about, it can appear quite hopeless. How can the puzzle be completed before the proverbial "game is up"? The task seems impossible.

Well, I guess the puzzle isn't meant to be finished. It will always be a work in progress. But just like any jigsaw puzzle, as time goes by and more and more pieces find their correct place, it becomes slowly, yet steadily, more easy to find a home for the remaining pieces.

Life is like that. With experience comes patience, wisdom and knowledge and with those skills it becomes less difficult when dealing with stress, obstacles, or the unexpected. And when pieces start to fall into place in the later stages, the image they are composing becomes more identifiable.

Now whether the image the puzzle ultimately reveals to us is one we look upon with delight or disgust, well, that's another issue altogether, isn't it?

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Much Ado About Nothing

Naturally concerned over Nugget's sudden and unexpected scream for attention (see yesterday's post) I took the day out of work to bring her to the service station. I needed a day off anyway, after all its been a whole 7 work days since my last call out. I mean, they gave a lump sum of 120 PTO hours and are pretty much (so far) hassle-free about my "sick days". They surely don't know me well, do they...

Anyway, long story short, it turns out its just a faulty gas cap. Sheesh, that's it? Couldn't Nugget give me a more subtle, less threatening warning than "Check Engine"? I mean, what does the gas cap have to do with the engine?

And I found out she's still under factory warranty, so it cost me nothing for the repair. But I saw the bill to GM: it would have only cost about $55 anyway. But then if you think about it, that's a good repair bill amount had it really been engine problems, but for a stupid gas cap? Whatever, I don't have to pay it.

The other thing was the amount of time it took them to fix Nugget...three and a half hours! Ya! Oh, he excused it due to the fact that it was a Chevy part and they were a Saturn dealership and that they had to go to South Orlando for it. Um, I drive like a turtle and I can still make it from Casselberry to South Orlando and back in about an hour.

Oh but here's the kicker. The service manager tried to sell me on getting my fuel injectors cleaned ($150)..no thanks, and he also offered to refill my tires with nitrogen gas to increase their longevity for about another buck fifty. HUH!?? Nitrogen gas. I politely declined but felt like telling him that my tires already have about 78% nitrogen in them, for free. That's right, plain old air is mostly nitrogen with about 20% oxygen and a small amount of trace gases.

I overheard another service tech talking to an elderly couple who had just fallen for this gimmick. She was explaining that if they did need to inflate their tires to stabilize tire pressure, they would be ok to use just regular air. Sure, why not, I thought, its practically the same thing.

True, times are bad, but why resort to scams when you have a good name-brand to supposedly uphold? Especially in light of the fact that my tax dollars are going to help out the parent company.

I just thought about it...I didn't check to insure that they did, in fact, replace my gas cap. My luck would suggest they didn't...they may have just disabled the pesky idiot light.

Monday, March 02, 2009

No, Nugget, No!

Oh don't you tell me...

After a rough day at work, I get into Nugget and here's what she tells me:


How could you do this to me, Nugget?

I've never had a car flash the Check Engine light at me, not even the many beaters I've had over the years.

Well, actually, the '81 Ford Escort probably lit this amongst the other lights of it's Christmas tree of idiot lights when I knowingly drove her to a seized engine death in 1991. But that wasn't a surprise. And she had about 120,000 miles on her and was gulping about 2 quarts of oil a day. So it was an act of euthanasia, actually.

Oh, and then there was the '85 Chevy Cavalier, which even though I leased it I was still responsible for its maintenance. That lemon probably winked this light at me since it cost about $5,000 to replace her engine in 1989.

Oh, and how did I forget my friend Lisa's '80 AMC Hornet that I slammed into the back of an 18-wheeler in 1983. I think I saw it's Check Engine light blink just before my head hit the windshield and I felt a pulsing flow of warm blood gush down all over me from my forehead.

Actually, that light came on when I rammed my '82 Subaru into the head of a dog on Rt. 146 one dark night in 1991. I was actually sober, but the fucker just ran into the highway right in front of my car while I was doing 65 MPH. I stopped the car, walked to the huge Great Dane and saw it gasp its last breath. Thankfully, I was able to fix the car.

Well, I guess I have had my share of cars that have had issues before. Or, perhaps, I just have issues with cars.

No matter. I'll bring Nugget to some mechanic and hope that they don't figure out I'm clueless, and more importantly, totally unlucky when it comes to cars, and I won't be screwed royally.

I admit I really am long overdue for a good screw...

But not this way.