Good Times Bad Times

I went from having the best shift in the world to the worst shift in the world, previously, evenings 3-midnight with Saturdays and Sundays off; now, overnights, 9:30 to 6 in the morning with Fridays and Saturdays off. Any other time of year it would be slight gradients more palatable, but in the summer, when it’s hot as balls out and the sun stares right at you right when you’re fixing to go to bed, and when there’s nothing on television worth a darn, well, I’ve spent this summer feeling mighty upside-down most of the time. It’s the kind of thing you can try to correct for and keep trying to correct for but that you can’t get straight. If I draw this shift next quarter, I can tell you I will have questions.

It is though a great opportunity to binge-watch television programs. I have watched Parenthood. I have watched Brothers and Sisters. I have watched Ally McBeal. I am now on season 3 of Better Call Saul. And I want to mention something about the third one there.

Anne Heche has died. She is in seven episodes of Ally McBeal. She plays Melanie West, a tourette’s-having cutie who for a moment is a romantic interest for the silly little man known as John Cage. She is delightful in it. I would enjoy watching outtakes of her working in rehearsal with Peter MacNicol. I know she did much more other work. It’s just I recently watched her in this. And this was an actor who lit up the screen. It is sad the context of her end, the firey car crash, the anoxic brain injury. She was my age almost exactly and born in a place I know too well, Aurora, Ohio, though she did not grow up there.

I will say this too about the show Ally McBeal: I found it more compelling now than I did then, mainly because I know more music. What TV show these days would suddenly break into a cover of “To Sir With Love?” Who does that? I don’t know what neighborhood in Boston Ally McBeal’s world is in, but I’d like to check it out sometime.

And Olivia Newton-John as well. It’s odd, if there is ever an earworm from this person for me, it’s “Hopelessly Devoted” from Grease. Then maybe the weird ’80s mainstay “Physical.” Then maybe “Magic” from Xanadu. It’s weird how a musical artist like that can seem so innocuous but can be so vital. If Linda Ronstadt ever goes, you’re gonna have to give me a day or two to process it.

Binging Better Call Saul is a great experience though. I was watching it when it first came out, but I think I lost interest trying to figure out what Mike Ehrmantraut was doing with that stupid battery and the tracker. I had to look it up on the internet this time, and I’m here to tell you, it’s pretty smart. Quite a crafty way for ol’ Mike to meet up with Gustavo Fring. That’s the beautiful thing about Vince Gilligan. He trusts you. In the Mike storylines, there is barely any dialogue. They want you to watch, to bear with a slowly-unfolding story, to cheerfully receive a story not told but shown. So much so that I had to go look up the thing with the tracker and why Mike was hooking up a AA battery to a radio. Okay, here’s what he was doing, ready?

Mike drives away from the location where he tried to kill Hector[b] and unsuccessfully checks his car for a tracking device. Certain he was followed, he completely dismantles the station wagon he was driving at a local junkyard but finds nothing. While looking at a sales display of gas caps, he has an epiphany and takes apart the one from the station wagon, where he finds a battery-operated tracker.

After finding the tracking device, Mike obtains an identical one from Dr. Caldera, studies its function, and discovers it remotely warns the operator when the battery runs low. He replaces the tracker in the gas cap of his sedan with the new one, drains the battery of the one he took from his sedan, and stays awake all night to watch the sedan. In the early morning, someone arrives to change the tracker on his sedan for one with a fresh battery. Because the man who replaced the tracker is actually carrying the one Mike placed on his car, Mike is able to follow him.

Do not mess with Mike. I’m just saying.

Meanwhile today is the day that Salman Rushdie got stabbed in the throat at Chappaqua of all places and the day that we all found out that Former Loser Preznit Carnage the Magnificent likely actually absconded with nucular documents. Can we impeach him yet? I mean, again?

Here’s a picture of my cat.

You Will Have Swamp-Ass

So today is going to be a Swamp-Ass Labor Day. Glad I am sitting in a nice air-conditioned room with a desk and a computer.

Since I’ve been working 10-hour days, it’s been nice but difficult. Three-day weekends are nice. But by the end of day three, you feel like a lump. So last night I said FERGET IT. I did not make a breakfast shake. I did not pack additional breakfast nums. I took some screen time. I listened to the Lovesexy album. I ate an Aaron Burrito from the freezer.

Then I woke up this morning and realized the cafe here would not be open today. Oh, well. Nothing like a quick rip through the McDucky’s drive-through. Had to run a stupid red light not to be late.

Oh, well.

Hey. Here’s a nicely written piece of media criticism. Seriously, you should read it:

We are all Kim Wexler: “Better Call Saul” and the painful realities of mid-career crisis

YouTube Poops Dujour

Sunday Morning

When I first arrived in Rochester and got my first job here, that job gave me what I thought then was a wonderful schedule. I worked Sunday through Thursday, with Friday and Saturday as my weekends.

I mean, what good are Sundays, right? Kind of useless days. I’m not a big church-goer. And Sunday always feels kind of sluggish anyways. One might as well get one’s first work shift over with while everyone else is at home watching 60 Minutes.

But the previous job offered Saturdays and Sundays off, and once I moved out of the shoebox downtown, Sundays became more pleasant. I watch Sunday Morning on CBS because I’m older than 45 and that’s the law. Then I watch Meet the Press, Face the Nation, and This Week. I genuflect for the loss of The McLaughlin Group. I cook eggs and bacon.

Sadly, the new gig put me back on Sunday – Thursday for a while. I could take my morning news shows with me via YouTubeTV, I found, but it just wasn’t the same. I grew to miss my Sundays.

So I was utterly crestfallen when the boss asked me last week if I would mind going back to Monday – Friday.

It was weird being home today as I had actually gotten accustomed to Sundays in that little room. But man, it is nice to have that rather selfish comfy time cursing at my television monging on my eggs.

Happy Oscar night.


I work with nerds. Lots and lots of nerds.

Most of them are superhero nerds. Big-time. I mean from the youngest puppy nerd to the oldest oldie old alta kahker nerd. To a tee, they are always watching The Flash or debating the merits of this superhero movie or that. This is not my cup of meat. I am not a superhero nerd, which is surprising because I spent years being Superman when I was younger. You know. 32.

There are Doctor Who nerds. I think I might one day become a Doctor Who nerd. I think I’ll have to watch more than two episodes in order for that to happen.

There are Star Wars nerds. I can identify an AT-AT on sight and have watched Plinkett’s work obsessively. I am most certainly a Star Wars nerd.

There are Star Trek nerds, who, it seems cannot for some reason also be Star Wars nerds. I do not know why this is so. It’s like Elvis/Beatles.

I have to say, though, and with some dismay, that I have never met a fellow nerd of the Battlestar Galactica (reboot) varietal.

I do not understand why this fine program, which I have probably screened several dozen times, does not inspire more passion in nerds as it ought to. I cannot imagine not bowing in sheer reverence to one of the finest television programs ever to have existed.


Anyways. I’m now recently working on a particular driving skill I’ve lost.

When I owned a Chevy Lumina, I could back up on a dime. On a mime. On a very good time. I’d sling my arm over the passenger seat, perk my head back, lift my butt up a little in the seat, and I could seriously back that sedan into Anna Nicole Smith’s back pocket.

The current vehicle, however, is a 2013 Malibu. And it has a really big ass.

And shortly after I got her (her name is Eli. I have a transgender/fluid-gender car. F the binary.), I had an accident where I backed into a Safelite car.

Safelite repair, Safelite replace.

So, I’ve been a scaredy cat about backing up ever since. I can’t parallel park anymore, I’m ashamed to admit.

I was threatening to get a backing cam, and honestly, this vehicle needs one. But this car has had so many problems (this time last year she was sitting at the local dealer sans engine; I am not making this up) that I hate to put more munny into it.

I should also add for this story that I have always thought of people who back into parking spaces as morons.

I have. I couldn’t help it. It’s like, what are you trying to prove, doc? It’s always irked me in a way. That’s probably my own little illness. But it’s true. Or has been. Until I read a persuasive article on the Internet. It’s much safer to back into a parking space. Why don’t we do it?

This is absolutely sensible. When you back into a parking spot, you are backing into no traffic whatsoever, the only danger is that you might sideswipe a vehicle next to you. Then, when you go to pull out, your line of sight into active traffic is at like 90 percent.

Backing out of the spot into active traffic? Yeah, line of sight is a real problem. Even with a back-cam, you can’t beat the visibility of pulling out forward.

Turns out, all those jokers I laughed at and made little-dick jokes about all those years? Yeah. They were right.

Besides, if I make myself back into parking spots more often, that’s like, you know, how you get to Carnegie Hall, man.

So when you see that white Malibu struggling to back into a parking spot? Go ahead, laugh. But understand, that’s a honkey trying to better himself.

Meanwhile, I’m on #3 of Dr. Who on Amazon Prime. I may become one of those nerds after all.

Weird Week

I am sitting at my front office listening to Chris Matthews on the MSNBC and waiting for electoral results, mostly locally but certainly nationally and especially from my former home state of Virginia. I have direly predicted that Republican Ned Gillespie (yes, I did that on purpose) will be victorious. This is not because of anything I know, except that I know that Democrats are in a bit of a slump. Factoring in to my maudlin prediction was indeed the weird and screechy revelations from the upchucking I mean upcoming book by Donna Brazile, whose name should really be pronounced “BRAH-ZYLE” and who is currently really pissing me off. I would like to have seen her upend the ticket single-handedly based on a stumble caused by heat exhaustion and pneumonia and her own pique at being denied the autonomy at work you believe you are due. Welcome to work, Donna Brah-zyle. Work does not often offer the autonomy we believe we are due. It usually doesn’t. It always doesn’t. What a nice time to regrudgeitate 2016 yet again, you moron. Lookit that. I just made up a word.

My own work life is weirdly uncertain, and I am weirdly okay with that. I am on temp-type job currently that will probably not go on forever. I have turned down two other jobs since the previous job went away, something I have never done before but probably should have. My original plan was to eat the layoff and have a really nice holiday season, and then to do some of that “finding one’s self” stuff that I’m not sure I ever got to do. Instead, I’ll be back in the headset for now. For now. At least this work won’t involve entirely abstract concepts about machines I literally can’t touch.

And we’re down a dog, as you might have noticed. Might be down two shortly, as dog #2 can no longer blink his eyes nor control his mouth nor move his cute floppy ears.

Despite all the weirdness and sick and dying dog-friends, I feel hopeful. It is my favorite time of year. I look forward to holidays and am already brewing up my offerings for Zappadan, which is here in like 26 days.

Gosh I love Zappadan.

Ooh La La

At my previous job, here is how I found myself dividing my days.

After two hours, I got a 15-minute break. I would work two hours and take my fifteen minute break, at which time I would pee and then walk the halls scanning Facebook on my phone. At 12 minutes, I’d dash back on to the floor so as to guarantee I would not be late.

After another two hours, I’d go to lunch. I’d generally take my lunch pail out to my car and drive to the far end of the parking lot and eat a baloney sandwich, listening to Hardball on my satellite radio. After 50 minutes, I would return to that hot room and continue my work.

After two more hours, I got another 15-minute break, at which time I would pee and then walk the halls scanning Facebook on my phone. At 12 minutes, I’d dash back on to the floor so as to guarantee I would not be late.

Then I would work one more hour, then would come my last hour.

My last hour was a strong visualized meditation. I would create a large pounding countdown clock in the air, surrounded by all sorts of fantastic noise and beating and sparklers coming off of it. It started at 60. 60. 60 60. 60.

It wasn’t so much clock watching as it was giving me a focal point to sit through the last hour of the job, a place to direct my breathing, my nervous and my angry energy, a place to get me through to the mad last hour of that hideous job.

Today, on my seventh day of training for the new job, the trainer said, hey, you bozos, it’s 2:30 p.m., why don’t you go home.

And I was like WHHHHUUUUUT? It’s that time already?

That’s living right.

17 Days

They can train you for 17 days, they can teach you every system, every TLA in the book, I mean you would not believe what goes into delivering your dose of fresh clean entertainment to your home every day, the systems, from the central facility to the local office to the pedestal outside your house that you always wonder about as walk or jog past it, like, what is that thing for? guess what, it’s probably the thing that brings your cable service to your home, to the aerial wire to the NID to your receiver inside, you would not believe how far that signal travels and how many men and women it takes to get it there, it really is a thing to behold. But they can train you for 17 days, and even though the trainer is dogged and funny and delivers the material effectively, you simply cannot ever be ready for the first days, the first days, when there will be strangers on the phone desiring answers from you, and to deliver those answers you must be in a minimum of four computer tools, maybe more, and they are complicated freaking tools, and the fact is that despite 17 days of training, you do not actually know a darned thing, and you feel feeble-kneed, and you say “uhhhhh” a lot, and you know you’re not meeting the client’s quality metrics, or the time metrics, or the service metrics, or the metrics metrics.

When I’m pretending that I’m a coach, I’m always saying, drop a pin right here because I’m going to tell you something you’re going to need in the middle of that call, in the middle of that call where the person is overly-insistent, or angry, or difficult, get the pin you dropped because here’s what I said when you dropped it: That is the customer who’s going to improve you. That is your breakthrough guy, your light-bulb over yer head, your teachable moment. When you are sweating and squirming and saying “uhhhhh” a lot, that, my friends, is called “learning.” And when you’re done with that call, you will, involuntarily, put your hands in the air like Bruce Friggin’ Jenner, because that feels goooooooood.

I’m just saying. I had one of those today.

I know I’ve been a mess lately, a real big whining pain in the ass making noises like a wounded dog. Sorry about that. I haven’t faced a disappointment that arduous in several years. And circumstances surrounding these 17 days made it more so the bittersweet. But that I’m having moments like that at my job, that is a good sign. The agita is lessening and the clouds seem to be parting.

Pumped Up Kicks

I still don’t know what pumped up kicks are.

The trainer we have is excellent. He tells us little funny anecdotes to keep things moving through eight hours of training. One of his anecdotes he had to mention the band Foster the People, and the song started in my brain again.

I HATE that song.

I remember when I first heard the song, with its catchy beat and its lilting vocals and its crazy pop sensibility. It bit my foot hard and didn’t let go. I couldn’t wait for it to come around again. I think I even bought it off of Amazon.

Some kind of shoes? I guess?

Then I listened to the song. Really listened.

It’s not new territory for a song to cover, certainly. Bob Geldoff did, as did Pearl Jam. But neither of those songs were deceptive about it. Certainly with “Jeremy” the music, the tone of it, the horror pastiche it creates, melds with the subject matter.

The FTP song just makes a kid plotting to kill his classmates seem like a walk in the park.

I always wondered how that band could continue after Sandy Hook.

Anyway. That’s my sideways way of saying that the gig I was babbling about here some weeks ago did not pan out and now I’m at a new gig and still training so that I can answer phones and explain things to people.

So that happened.

The Awful Store: Going Out Of Business

Many years ago, I found a job I actually liked. I got to answer phones and explain things to people. It wasn’t as prestigious professionally as I had expected a job or career to be, but I seemed to be good at it. I soon moved to answer phones and explain similar things to people who lived in the United Kingdom. This was a more elite crew, which was nice.

I will never forget the man who called me expecting our product to open his garage door. Because our product was a universal television remote control. He was furious with me for telling him it wouldn’t do that. I just had this image of this British man sitting in his car alone in a darkened garage, fervently pressing buttons on a television remote, and screaming and shouting because his “GAH-RAJ DOOOOOOR” remained closed. People are so weird.

(I also got to get off the phones sometimes to collate our group’s training materials. I coined a slogan for us in the process: “Helping the world change channels.”)

The company moved from my area to California. I opted not to continue and to move south instead, and of course I often wonder what would have been in store had I done that. I do know I was pretty darned good at answering phones and explaining things to people for a living because when I told my boss I wasn’t joining them in California, she nearly cried.

What went after, well, was pretty bumpy. And so, often, I say to myself, self, maybe you should have stayed with that nice company and continued answering phones and explaining things to people. Even though the company went belly up in five years. It might have been much nicer.

Now I’ve never been a real dynamic job hunter. I think my every job hunt has gone like this: Apply for one job. Get hired. Rochester was really no exception. I had a vague sense at the time that I would like to go back to answering phones and explaining things to people for a living. I found a company that does that. I applied for and interviewed for a job. I didn’t get that job, but the human resources department pointed me toward another job. I interviewed for that job and was hired.

It was miraculous. They needed someone who was familiar with hyper-text markup language (which I speak fluently), someone with experience in content management and e-commerce (which I had), and it helped that I had a previous career answering the phone and explaining things to people. I was on my way to driving to Arlington, Va. to get more stuff when I got the phone call extending the offer. This created a nightmare for my DOD and other loved ones who had to pack up things for me and get them up here or get rid of them, and I am thankful for that help to this day. But I have been at this job now nearly four years, and I have done it well, and I have enjoyed it immensely.

But nothing lasts forever.

We got a visit from the big boss in July. He told us they were striking the tents. We would have six months. But at midnight on January 31, 2015, the program I work for would no longer exist. Will no longer exist.

I do have a job waiting for me; the company I work for is ginormous so there is usually another opportunity around the corner. And the nice thing is at my new job, I will be answering phones and explaining things to people, and the things will be of a more general nature; more practical things then, you know, let’s fix the code in your header template. Virus protection. Printers. Stuff like that. I can’t wait.

But with something like this, there’s always that moment when it feels real to you, when it lingers in the air and you get the visceral cue that yes, this is actually happening.

That was today.

This post’s headline refers to my test Web store, The Awful Store, which will no longer exist as of the end of the week. Every employee gets a test store, and one challenge is to discourage people from actually buying your goods. Part of my approach was to name the store as such and the slogan: “The world’s worst online store in the world.”

I’ll sure miss it, though I am retaining the domain. Not sure what to do with it.

In Other News


Dunkin’ Donuts moves into neighborhood. Police presence in neighborhood increases noticeably. Coincidence? ‪#‎somestereotypesaretrue‬

In which some guy on the Internet vastly improves the theme song to The Gilmore girls, which I always have to mute.

He improved a lot of other ones, too.

Astronauts have to go through customs when they return to Earth.


How Do We Welcome Astronauts Back to Earth? By Making Them Go Through Customs (The Atlantic)

Mmmmmmm….dizzy. Perpetual Pizza