Bring your own fork

August 31, 2005 - Wednesday

 It’s Alive

I had dinner with my friend and former coworker Kevin tonight, so I’m pretty sure he’s not dead yet. He was all hot to have a blog of his own until I set him up with one here at deadpan, but now that he’s got one he just can’t seem to find time to post to it. He cranked out six quick entries coming out of the gate, then screeched to a halt. It’s now been exactly one month today since his last entry — and his blog is only six weeks old.

Amateur.

Hell, I’d think he was dead based on his lack of entries if I hadn’t actually seen him tonight. I’m still not 100% sure he’s not, but he did eat a few ribs at the BBQ place where we had dinner, so I’m pretty sure he’s alive. Or a zombie. It’s a tough call.

Now that I’ve called him out like this, maybe he’ll write another entry. Or eat some brains. It’s probably a tough call.


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August 30, 2005 - Tuesday

 The View From 714

I am pleased to announce the triumphant return of…

(drum roll, please)

…that crowd-pleasing favorite: The View From Here!

714

This is the view from room 714 of the Hilton Garden Inn at the Dallas Market Center. Now that I’m viewing the hotel window view again and reviewing all the other views from here I’ve posted, one thing is clear: the hotel may change but the view never really does. It’s always parking lots and powerlines.

Gotta go. There’s a Waffle House with my name on it out there.


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August 24, 2005 - Wednesday

 Putting the Ass Back in Dallas

I’m going back out on the road again. I just got my first travel assignment from the new job: I’ll be observing/assisting in a training for a new client in Dallas next week. I’ll fly in Tuesday afternoon, train Wednesday and Thursday, and fly back home Thursday night.

It’ll be just like old times, only I’ll be on the road for just three days rather than five. And the software I’m training on actually works. And the company I work for isn’t an empire, let alone evil. And I’m getting paid a decent salary. And my supervisors don’t have their heads firmly planted in their colons. But aside from all that, it’ll be just like old times.

I think I see dinner at Pappadeaux in my future. Do any of you Dallas-area Lunchroom readers (Special K, I’m looking at you) want to meet up while I’m out there?


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August 22, 2005 - Monday

 Don’t Piss God Off

A few entries back I talked about how I am the Computer God for my family. I am, however, a god who gets no respect.

I should preface this by saying that what I’m about to bitch about doesn’t just happen with my family. But it happened with my family this time. Hence the bitching.

Listen up, computer neophytes. When I bestow my blessed wisdom upon you, what the fuck are you thinking when you question me? When you decide you’re smarter than me? When you try to second guess me? Are you out of your tiny little pea-brained minds???

Time and time again, it happens: Someone needs help installing something or moving something or copying something or de-oopsing something or doing some dirt-basic bit of computer usage that is light years beyond their personal capabilities. And they call me for help — but never just when the problem happens, when they’re at their computer, with the error on the screen. No, they have to wait until 10:30 at night, when they’re in the car on the way to a I Don’t Know What The Fuck To Do meeting or something and they simply don’t have time to talk right now but could I tell them how to fix it in 30 seconds while they’re only half paying attention and trying to change lanes while looking for a CD in the back seat? And I do tell them in 30 seconds or less how to fix it, and they hang up, and then they call me 10 days later with the problem still unaddressed but wondering if maybe this other brill-fucking-iant idea they came up with all by themselves to fix it a different way (that won’t even come close to working and will in fact fuck things up even worse) will work.

Because, you know, maybe I — the guy they call every time they’re having computer trouble, the guy who always fixes their messes, the guy who talks them through whatever the issue is when they call when I’m having dinner, the guy they acknowledge as being the family Computer God — maybe I lost my fucking mind and went stupid and they know better than me after all. And they’re running their I-know-better-than-you idea by me, the guy they know better than, to see if they really do know better than me!!!

Un-fucking-believable. I help them and they turn around and question me. The fools are tugging on Superman’s cape. They know not what they do. Pearls before swine. Etcetera.

Sometimes I just want to smite them.


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 Seeing Eye to Eye

I just got finished having a conversation with a guy with a lazy eye and I have no idea what we talked about. My mouth was on conversational autopilot while all my brain-power went to trying to figure out which eye I should be looking at.

I never did pick one, so I spent the whole conversation switching back and forth from one eye to the other. I felt like a friggin’ nystagmus sufferer. The thing is, the guy had to notice all the nervous eye-switching and know that I was trying to act all casual about his lazy eye, only it wasn’t casual because I couldn’t figure out which eye to look at, which was just calling even more attention to the lazy eye that I was trying not to call attention to, which made me even more uncomfortable and made my nystagmus thing even more frantic. Oy.

At first I felt badly about it, but now I’m just mad. At him. He knows he has a lazy eye and knows it’s an issue for the people talking to him — he has to know, he sees the nervous eye-switching all day long. He should be helping us out, not leave us to figure it out on our own.

I think a big tattoo on his cheek would do nicely, something like “Use This One” in big letters with a huge red arrow pointing at the good eye. Or maybe an eye patch. But come on, give us something!


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August 21, 2005 - Sunday

 No Respect

I took the family out for dinner tonight at Johnny Rockets because Zoe’s been asking to go there and she’s off to sleep-away camp for a week tomorrow and she’s a little nervous about it and so I wanted to do something nice for her on her last night at home.

Zoe finally pushed back after eating half a burger, quite a few of Beth’s fries and my onion rings, and most of a Oreo Cookies & Cream shake, saying she was stuffed. And I started lecturing her on how she had to eat everything on her plate if she wanted to grow up to be big and fat like her dear old dad and didn’t she want to grow up to be just like me, she could be bald and have a white goatee and hairy arms and fart on command and…

And that’s when Beth leaned in and interrupted me, telling Zoe, “Just ignore him.”

I tell you, I get no respect.

I don’t really have a point for this entry, I just wrote it because I can because I’m in the bathroom keeping Zoe company while she takes a shower. And let me point out that although I’m sitting on the can while blogging, I’m not taking a dump, so settle down all you nancies.


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August 20, 2005 - Saturday

 Here’s Your Sign

I was working down in beautiful downtown Santa Ana yesterday, and my route home took me right past The Commerce. I’m weak: I stopped in to play some poker.

First stop: the ATM to take out my standard $100 buy-in. That was literally my first stop, and it was a full stop: I got no cash. Instead, I got an error message about an “Invalid Transaction”. Since taking cash out of my bank account is, in my opinion, the most valid of transactions, I immediately identified this as a problem. I tried again — because I’m human and stupid and like most people will press an already-lit elevator button or repeat an “invalid transaction” — and amazingly got the same error.

I knew that, technically, this had to be a bank problem, but realistically it was my problem. The bank still had access to my money while I did not. Ergo: my problem. I figured I knew exactly what the problem was, too.

I have two checking accounts: mine for just me, and a joint account with Beth. Each of those accounts has an ATM card; I carry the one for my personal checking account and Beth carries the joint one. But Beth lost hers recently. (And she’ll try to tell you that I lost it when she loaned it to me but this is my blog and I’m telling the story so she’s lying, okay?) So I called the bank to have that card reissued. That was the problem.

When I talked to the dumber-than-fuck customer support drone on the phone, I explained in excrutiating detail exactly what the situation was: two accounts in my name, two ATM cards, one missing, whose card was whose, which card was missing, which card needed replacing, and I was very very very very very very very very very clear about which card did not need replacing: mine.

“Replace my wife’s card,” I said several times.

“Do not replace my card, I’m holding it in my hands right now,” I said several times.

“The card that’s linked to my personal account is just fine, don’t cancel it,” I said several times.

“You’re not going to cancel my card, right?” I asked several times.

So of course the numb cunt cancelled my card.

Beth’s card — the missing card? Still active. Also: still lost. Morons.

So I was stymied at the casino ATM. The one place in the whole casino where I’m guaranteed to win, and I lose. Fuck.

So I whipped out my Visa card. Hey, I had already pulled off the freeway, found a parking space, and set foot in the casino — I wasn’t about to waste all that effort. So I whipped out my credit card to take cash on that, stuck it in the ATM machine … and realized I didn’t know the PIN.

I called the credit card customer service, who couldn’t/wouldn’t/didn’t do much for me. They offered to mail me a new PIN and didn’t seem to grasp the obviousness of the phrase “That’s not going to help me right now, is it?”

But all hope was not lost. I was at a casino, where they are experts at extracting cash. And sure enough, they had a procedure I could follow that would allow me to get a C-note out of my credit card — and it was only going to cost me $12 to do it! So I did all the little card-swipey button-pushy firstborn-pledgy things the credit card machine asked, and then got a message that said to go get my money from the cashier.

The cashier took my ID and my credit card and worked her magic juju on her computer and then she came back to me. Without cash.

“I need your signature on the card,” she said.

Fuck. I don’t sign my credit cards. Instead, I write “Ask for ID.” That way, in theory, any time the card is used ID has to be verified and someone who steals my card can’t use it. But that’s theory. In practice, most stores never even glance at the back of the card, let alone ask to see my ID when they do. But still: I don’t sign my cards. Period. Mine says “Ask for ID.” She had my ID. With my signature on it. Good enough.

Not good enough. She positively absolutely had to have my signature on my card to give me any cash. So I caved and signed it. And of course the pen I used was A) a fine point that will hardly write on plastic in the first place, and B) was running out of ink. So my “signature” (written over “Ask for ID” written in Sharpie) was essentially illegible.

She couldn’t accept that signature even though she watched me do it. She had to check with her supervisor. She had to join the growing list of people who were pissing me off by restricting my access to my money when I had a poker jones on.

But I remained pleasant. I kept smiling and joking. Because the whole ridiculousness of the situation was inescapable. The Fates or the Poker Gods or Bank of America was sending me a big-ass signal: No Gambling For You Tonight. So I had to laugh about it.

As I stood there waiting for the supervisor to come back and deny my request to have some of my money, I figured the whole thing for a sign and decided the supervisor would be the last word. If she said no, then the powers that be really were telling me to go home. Then the teller came back and basically said the same thing: “This is like that Jeff Foxworthy line: here’s your sign. So if she (the supervisor) says no, I think that’s your sign and you should go home.” And that clinched it that, yes, this was a sign.

Then the supervisor walked up and gave me a sign: a $100 stack of chips. I was in!

It only took me 20 minutes to lose it all.

I took it as a sign. I gave up and went home.


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August 14, 2005 - Sunday

 Wifi Is The Shit

I think I love having this wifi-house-with-a-wifi-laptop thing. I can geekerize from every corner of the house now. Why, I could even write a blog entry while sitting on the toilet and taking a dump, for example.


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August 13, 2005 - Saturday

 Poker In The Rear

I had a bad, bad night of poker tonight. I’ve been trying to figure out a way to illustrate just how bad it was with the phrase “anally violated” without offending my mother if she happens to read this entry but I just can’t pull it off, so let’s just say “I had a bad, bad night” and leave it at that while I tuck the tattered remnants of my colon back into my sock so it stops dangling out of the bottom of my pant leg and dragging on the ground.

Anyway. Sometimes the Poker Gods smile on you and bless you with hands like AA and AK that hold up against everything, even 7-2 offsuit, and when they do you rake the pots and smile and life is good. And then other times they let you sit there for three hours seeing the same four or five hands — 7-2, 10-5, K-3, 8-5 — over and over and over again, and on the few occasions that you catch a real hand they give the other guy a slightly better one. Those times you just lose your cool and you lose your money. Tonight was one of those nights.

It was so bad, I even got into it with a dealer tonight. I’m a pretty polite player generally, even when I’m getting crushed like I was tonight. I get pissed off and go on tilt and start muttering and want to rip the cards in half, but I don’t take it out on the dealer. Some players curse at the dealers and throw cards at them and threaten them and blame them for everything that ever went wrong in their life. Me, the worst I do is mutter to them, “You can give me a real hand anytime now.”

Tonight, though, I got a prima donna dealer. I was folding yet another piece-of-shit hand — 7-5 os or some crap like that — and I was maybe just a little bit forceful when I threw them into the muck. Into the muck — that’s key. And since I was sitting right next to the dealer as I did this, I guess my cards brushed the back of his hand as I did it. Well. You’d think I had pinned him to the table and beaten the crap out of him.

“Sir! Sir! Do not throw your cards at me! And do not touch my hands with your hands when you are folding your cards! I will not allow you to assault me again!”

I felt bad for about a split second, then I remembered that I hadn’t thrown my cards at him and my hands hadn’t touched his and that I hadn’t assaulted him. Then I thought about going ahead and doing all those things if he was going to claim I did them anyway. Instead, I just gaped at him, surprised and a little baffled. The rest of the table reacted the same way — I hadn’t done any of the things he was bitching about, so none of us knew what his problem was.

So I was diplomatic about it. Sort of. I told him “I’ll see what I can do.”

Well. That triggered another tizzy: “No! You don’t see what you can do, you have to do it! I will call the floorman and he will make you do it!”

I sat there for a moment, he sat there for a moment, nobody said anything. Then he just started dealing cards again and the moment was over. And from then on, every hand I was folding — which was most of them — I would wait until I had his full attention, announce “Look out dealer, I’m about to fold, watch your hands, cards are coming in, look out!” and then carefully, delicately place my cards in the middle of the table, far, far away from his hands so he’d have to reach for them.

Juvenile, I know. I don’t care. Wah.

There was no best hand of the night this time around. Instead, I’ll share two losing hands that were typical of tonight’s session.

#1: I have A-Q and the flop comes Q-4-8. I go all-in with my last $35 and one player calls with K-Q. The turn was a rag, and of course the river was a K.

#2: I have pocket 4’s and the flop comes 555. I go all-in with my last $40 and one player calls. His cards? K-5. And then to add insult to injury, the river was a K.

Sometimes poker just isn’t fun. At all.


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August 11, 2005 - Thursday

 Dude, You’re Gettin’ A Dell!

I am the Computer God for my family.

First, here at my house, I have blessed us with the miracle of wi-fi. I would have done it sooner but I didn’t need it. Now that my new job has hooked me up with a laptop with a wi-fi card, well now it’s time for the home network (another of my many blessings upon the household) to go wireless.

Secondly, there’s the tech support for sex racket I’ve got going with Beth. She sleeps with me, and in return I fix her computer when it breaks and set her up with webspace and blogging software and make sure her PC is protected from virii and spyware and generally do all things technical around here.

Thirdly, my mother calls me frequently for tech support. Her email won’t send or she can’t get online or her porn won’t download — it’s always something with her. And always it’s “Do you think it’s a virus???” So she called me the other day to announce that her computer wouldn’t boot up, that it kept getting “some kind of error about a system disk.” So I went over there to check it out (because putting eyes on my mom’s computer problem du jour is the surest way to know exactly what’s going on) and I told her to “go make it do whatever it’s doing” so I could see exactly what she and it was doing. And voila, it booted up just fine. Because I am the Computer God and her computer feared me.

Fourthly, tonight, my sister-in-law with her PC vs Mac iTunes issues. She ripped all her CDs — hundreds of them — on her Windows XP PC, which naturally ripped everything into WMA. Then she became a Mac convert and now she A) can’t play her WMA files on her Mac iTunes, and B) can’t move them from PC to Mac without burning them to CD, which takes for freakin’ ever. So I hooked her up with my old ethernet hub (now unneeded because I have blessed myself with wi-fi, as noted above) and instructions on A) how to connect the PC to the Mac so she can move the files and B) import and convert them into iTunes.

Fifthly, I help Zoe play her Nick Jr. games on her computer and set up her iTunes and download the new Gwen Stefani mp3s for her and generally make sure she’s the wiredest little kid in class.

And finally, my brother, the oddly enough not-gay musical theater composer, and his ongoing issues with converting his MIDI compositions to mp3 so he can share them with his collaborators, but his ancient 486 PC can’t handle the load and is so kludged up from his attempts to “fix” things by deleting files that are mysterious and strange to him that he’s lucky it will boot up without exploding, let alone actually run any kind of application at all. So I hooked him up with a probably-hot Dell Latitude laptop running XP Professional that I bought for $300 from some guy on Craigslist that I don’t need it now since I got a spanky Mac G4 from work. The Dell is light years ahead of the computer he’s been using and so his head might explode from the sheer excitement of A) having a computer that doesn’t take 20 minutes to start up and B) having a pristine, blank canvas of perfectly configured strange and mysterious operating system files that he can delete with blissful ignorance of what these files are actually for and what impact deleting them might have. Which means that in about ten days I’ll start getting calls from him about “Dude, I deleted this extra file I found called “command” or something like that and now I’m getting a weird error message that I can’t remember but I think it said something about “fluffy-puff marshmallows” or something and now my computer is playing everything backwards. What should I delete to fix it?”

I am the Computer God for my extended family. And fortunately for them, I am a benevolent one.


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Ordained minister of the Universal Life Church.

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