Neighborhood Meat

May 28, 2009 at 1:26 AM | Posted in Journal | Leave a comment
  Since a few weeks ago, when I got the grill for Mother’s Day, I have been disappointed with the meat selection in the grocery store.  Now, maybe another grocery store might be better, but this is the one I go to, and I go there because it’s cheap. 
  We do have some more expensive, high-end grocers in the area, but I don’t need valet parking, concierge service, or someone to wipe my ass while I shop.  Generally.  I go here because it’s cheap.  And that is fine for most things they have.
  But I calculate that the ten years working at a steak restaurant has affected what I’m willing to accept in terms of meat.  The last few times we went to the store to get food for the grill, I tried, I really tried to pick out a steak.  Each time I almost bought something, then just gave up, disgusted, and went for the pork steaks and brats.  The last time I *did* buy a steak, if you can call it that.  Imagine picking up a high-priced call girl and going back to your hotel room expecting a quality experience, and instead you find out that your hooker is a trannie.  Is it too late then to ask for a discount?
  My steak was kind of like that.  It was still good, but I had to work it over and it didn’t end up how I expected, and I sure didn’t want to brag about it.
  I realized that what I needed was an actual meat market.  I needed Sam the butcher.  I knew there was a meat market about half an hour away, past the community college, but I was hoping for something closer.  Using this new-fangled thing called the intarwebs, I did a yellow pages search and found a list of several–all of them even further away than that one.
  Except one.  Lo and behold, there was one more or less in my neighborhood.  If you are the normal type of person who divides up geography according to pizza delivery areas (and who doesn’t?) then this meat market was in the same delivery area as us.  It wouldn’t make a great double, of course, but it was still in the same area.  I decided to go by there after work and check it out.

  First I had to go by Detroit’s work and pig her up.  The company she worked for was being replaced for this contract, so she is either going to lose her job or get picked up by the evil bastards who didn’t even out-bid her company. 
  I go to the school admin building and find the room they are in–it’s the room they hold school board meetings in–and I sit and wait.  There are about two dozen of her employees there, filling out paperwork for the new company.
  These are mostly black, mostly old, mostly women.  My only comment is this, after seeing the comparatively younger men in suits running the meeting:  good luck managing this group.

  I had the address and knew the general location of the meat market, and as we got closer I confirmed that it was where I thought:  this very old strip mall, so old it wasn’t called a strip mall, it was called a "shopping centre."  And of course it had a name, but I didn’t look up at the sign to catch the name.  I do remember that 12 years ago, my tae kwon do instructor moved his–
  [You know, I just had a flash on a dream I had last night.  In the dream, I was trying to teach tae kwon do to my students–my soldiers.  But my commander said tkd was outdated, and I needed to teach them shotokan, a style of karate.  I was miffed.  I said, "Really, what is the difference between the two?  Show me."  I wonder what that was all about?]
  –studio into that strip plaza ever so briefly before closing it down and taking a job in construction.  I remember the time because my daughter was an infant and his wife who was smoking hot was watching Miranda for us.
  Instantly opening the door, it smelled good.  Fresh meat, ahhh.  I love that smell.  Blood.  Hmmm….Blood.  And it didn’t smell old or sour, either, like occasionally they do, so that was a good sign.  There were no customers in store; a woman with an apron came from the back.
  I told her my sad story, and she gave us a fairly extensive tour of the store, explained how they did things and what they had, and pointed out her own favorites and things like that.  We had a good time.
  I’m sure it was all very interesting to Detroit, but she was polite and looked around.  The woman at the counter had just explained that it was family run–her brother owned it, I think, and another sister and a nephew also worked there.  Something like that.  They’ve been there for over 30 years.  Well, I do believe in supporting local businesses, and I told her so.
  She asked Detroit if she like chicken salad.  Since I’m not a fan of any of that crap, I wouldn’t know, but Detroit said "Uhhn…"  The woman got a plastic spoon and said, "Try this."
  Apparently it was good.  Detroit got a pound of it.  The woman said she makes it fresh in the morning, and that’s how she sells it.  Just making people try it.  You KNOW how I feel about mayonnaise.
  I bought a steak.  A porterhouse.  It was about a pound, and it was 9.89 a pound.  It was choice, and looked good.  I also bought a shaker of steak seasoning.
  After the rain cleared at home, I cooked the steak.  Good shit.  Really good shit.  I think we found ourselves a meat market.

Garden Party

May 28, 2009 at 1:22 AM | Posted in Journal | Leave a comment
  Cousin Joey said we were going to "water cure" the concrete patio.  That will make it the bestest and hardest.  So he set up the sprinkler on it Friday evening, and we let it run continuously through to Sunday afternoon.  Joey came over to inspect it and confirmed that it was done, ready to use.  So he took the sprinkler off the patio.
  Just in time for the torrential rains to come rolling in.
  Sunday Detroit and I went to our friends’ house, Joe and Susan.  *I* thought we was havin us some pulled pork, but it turns out the only pork that was pulled was my own.  It was a "brunch."  Since Joe and Sue are going to France in a week, I have to assume that "brunch" is French for "no fucking meat."
  It was still okay, and parts of it were good, but I gave Sue shit about it because that is what I do, in case you didn’t know.  We sat on their patio and drank and ate and talked, and there was another couple there that we didn’t know, plus Sue’s dad was there, making the whole experience like one of those surreal dinner party things that you see in movies that usually end with either someone coming out of the closet or someone getting buried in the garden.  I did neither. 
  Collette was the chicka from across the street, and he boyfriend was…uh, Tim?  She was pretty, and Tim was nice, but quiet.  Since I had an audience, I opened with a story from the previous evening at Domino’s.  Kim wanted me to tell it, and then she tried to start, and I shushed her– "Buh-buh-buh-buh!  It’s my story!"  Never take another hack’s material, especially right in front of him.  I had to start with some background for the folks.

  "So, I work part-time at the Domino’s in Chesterfield.  I’ve been with Domino’s off and on for over twenty years.  Last night, I’m running the shift, and Mike takes this call first.  She ordered online but called because she was pissed that it wouldn’t allow her to use her free bread coupon.  That’s because they are expired.
  "Mike tried to explain it to her, but she was a bitch.  She wanted to talk to a manager.  The store manager was there, and I’m the assistant.  But I said, ‘Oh, let me.’  I get on the phone.
  "’Thanks for holding this is Bryan can I help you.’"  It’s hard to convey in print but I had on my ‘I’m-not-giving-in’ voice.
  "She went through her spiel.  The coupon has no expiration date, blah blah blah.  She had a snooty, snippy attitude, which I just adore.  I told her we stopped taking them in January.  ‘But there’s no expiration date!’  I said, ‘That may be true; however, as you should know, nothing lasts forever.’"
  "And the whole thing was, it was all about her attitude.  She started right off being a bitch.  I would have given it to her if she had been nice."  In fact, later that night I gave a chick at a hotel a free breadstick just because she was from out-of-town and she sounded sweet.
  "So this was all on her.  She wanted to escalate further.  Was there another manager in the store?  No, not for her.  She was going to call corporate then.
  "I said, ‘Please do, because I’m following *their* guidelines.’  She said, ‘I’m sure corporate would want you to take care of the customer first,’ like she can read the minds of a bunch of suits."  What I didn’t say at the garden party party was that she wanted my full name.  In the age of identity theft and looking up people on the internet, I said, "I’m a private citizen.  If tell them my name is Bryan, they will know who you mean."
  "She said, ‘You are making me cancel my order.’  I said, ‘This is not my decision, this is yours.  I’m not *making* you do anything.’"  There was another funny line in there that I don’t remember, and then Detroit was urging me on.  "Come on, get to the punchline already!" 
  I continued.  "She said, ‘I’m going to call corporate and tell them that I am no longer going to be a customer of Domino’s Pizza, and that it is all because of you.’
  "I answered, ‘I always wanted to make a difference in peoples’ lives.’"
  The way I told the story, I got some good laughs.  If I can remember that second-to-the-last-line, I’ll include it.  But I did end with, "And the moral of the story is, ‘Don’t piss off the pizza guy; he knows where you live.’"

  It was a good opening, a good ice breaker.  If I can just do an opening monologue–say five minutes–then I’m good to go, and I can get the party rolling.
  We ate, we drank, we chatted, we had a good time.  First Sue’s dad left, then Collette and Tim left.  Detroit and I didn’t want to hang around too long unwanted–you know how that is.  If you’re the last one, the hosts are secretly thinking, "Fuck me, when will they leave?"  But Joe and Sue were happy to have us.  I heard from Cousin Joey that the patio was ready, though, and I was anxious to get out there and try it out. 
  Even though we had off and on rain, I was compelled to drag the grill out and set it up, and at least cook some hot dogs on it, dammit.  Have my own garden party.  In the rain.

Concrete Guarantee

May 22, 2009 at 6:01 PM | Posted in Journal | Leave a comment
  My Uncle Joe is my cousin Joey’s dad.  Cousin Joe worked in concrete for the union until his hands got fucked up.  He got the job because Uncle Joe got him into the union. 
  I always wondered, by the way, how come none of these guys offered to try to help me get in the union.  After seeing the crap…I’m kinda glad.  I mean, the money would have been better, but I’d rather have my health, such as it is.
  Uncle Joe’s last name is extremely Italian.  And the construction company he worked for–another big Italian name.  I won’t go so far as to say they are "connected," but…
  You do the math.
  Uncle Joe gave me some knowledge one day, perhaps twenty years ago.  He said, "With concrete, you have two guarantees:  It’ll crack, and no one will steal it."
  This is good to know.

Before The Pour

  We are now legal (more or less) in our house.  My dad’s house.  It’s finally starting to feel like ours, but I have trouble calling it that.  I still refer to it as my dad’s house, and the garage is always going to be dad’s garage.
  But now that it is ours, I can see all the projects I want to do to it.  And also some that I *have* to do–why is the kitchen sink always backed up?  Detroit got her income tax refund, and we used a big chunk of that to get the required electrical work done.  The guy gave us a pretty good deal on it, though, good enough that Detroit said, "You know, the difference between what we paid and what we expected to pay is what Joey said a patio would cost."
  Bingo.
  We talked to Joey a few times, and then Detroit alluded to the fact that we better get it done before the money is gone.  So I hopped on board, and we started making concrete plans…for concrete.  (I kill me.)
  The garage is big.  It’s roughly 20 feet wide and 40 feet deep.  It is deeper, in fact, than the house is, and since it sits flush with the front of the house, it extends beyond the back of it into the back yard.  About thirteen feet, I would say.
  This creates a two-wall corner in the backyard that, quite luckily, puts the area we want the patio in the shade in the afternoon.  I am not a sun-dog.  Originally we wanted to make it a sixteen by sixteen foot square, but later amended that, because we agreed that keeping it even with the back of the garage would be aesthetically more pleasing.  We But we could go wider–
  So the final plan became 13 by 18.
  Previously, when we had the big dumpster, I dug out the grill and the lamp that were set in concrete and connected to the gas.  When the gas man came to fix a leak, I had him also permanently cap that line off in the house, so I could remove the lines outside.  We were ready to go.  Over the weekend, or last week, or whenever it was, I helped Joey get his tiller fixed, so now he could use it to till the ground and make it easier to dig.
  Joey knows what he is doing.  I asked him–we want to be able to use it on Monday–when would we have to pour?  And will we be able to?  I had in mind that if it couldn’t be ready on Memorial Day, maybe we should put it off until the following weekend.
  He said, "We need to pour on Friday.  And I intend to pour on Friday."
  Okay.  Good enough.
  Wednesday he had the tiller, and he had Brandon to help.  That may have been the first problem.  But the second problem he came to was a previous foundation in the excavation site.  I said, "Oh, yeah–there was a patio here along time ago that they tore out to put the garage in.  I didn’t realize it had a foundation."  Or a footing, which is more like what it was.  Still–
  Thursday, Joey had Brandon and Alex.  And Joey brought the jackhammer to knock the old foundation down a little.  They dug, they moved old concrete, they shoveled, and they brought in rock and shoveled some more.  The boys have not seen manual labor ever like this in their lives, except on TV.
  I had planned on placing conduit from the back of the house under the concrete and out to the shed for electrical, but decided that I could do it later and go from the back of the garage.  It would be a shorter distance and I wouldn’t have to do it right then and there, so it was a win-win deal. 
  Thursday night I took a meeting with Joey to get the plan and status.  Friday, he was going to come in early and set the forms up, the go to a doctor’s appointment.  The truck would be here at 130.  That’s GO time.
  It’s GO time for a few reasons.  First, when the truck is ready to pour, it’s ready to pour.  We have to pour.  Twenty-five minutes is what we get, a dollar per minute for each additional.
  Secondly, the mix of the concrete itself.  It’s better for the composition of materials to pour it fast also.  Twenty-five minutes.
  Since this is in the back yard and there is a garage in the way, the pour will be done roughly like this:  Truck in driveway, we catch it in wheel-barrows and wheel it back.  Joey estimates 30 wheelbarrow loads. 

KNOWLEDGE BASE
 
  I looked up concrete on Wikipedia, and learned all kinds of things.  For instance, did you know that concrete invented penicillin?  Concrete was the first man on the moon?  And the battle of 1812 was over concrete’s conquest of the Louisiana Purchase.  I trust Wikipedia implicitly, because I’m a gullible moron.
  Actually, concrete was used in ancient Rome, which is why many of those structures still stand today.  It seems to me that they had better concrete than we do now.  Also, the secret of concrete was lost for a few thousand years, and was rediscovered in the sixteen or seventeen hundreds.  Look it up, because I don’t want to copy and paste.  Also they allude to the fact that–and I remember reading this 20 years ago–there is a theory that the pyramids were actually built by mixing and pouring, not cutting and hauling.  Yeah, those stones were powdered, hauled up in bags, poured into a form, mixed and set.  If so, we still don’t have THAT secret…
  The Romans knew that adding horse hair made concrete less liable to crack while it hardened, and adding blood made it more frost-resistant.  So horse hair was the first rebar.  I looked around for some blood. 
  Joey told me there is a difference between "drying" and "curing," but I didn’t really understand it until I read up on it.  Drying is when the water evaporates.  Curing is a chemical reaction in the concrete where the water and cement hydrate to form a crystalline structure.  You want to keep it wet while it cures so it doesn’t dry too fast, that will make it brittle. 
  I also read that in some concrete, it can actually cure for decades, getting stronger and stronger over the course of that time.  Wow.  Concrete is some pretty cool shit.

After The Pour

  Afterwards, I had to come back to work.  The timesheets were already in for the payroll period, and I had to work the time.  So, after the pour, I took a shower and went back to the bank.
  But I was going to leave work at one, since the truck was due at 130.  I decided to leave at noon, in case the truck was early.  It was– it got there about 10 minutes after I got home, before 1245.
  Joey was there, and I met Dan, a friend of Joe’s that he was paying (that I was paying) to help.  Me and the boys were going to grunt the wheelbarrows, and Joe and Dan were going to be the finishers.  Appropriate, since none of us knew what we were doing.
  The truck arrived, the mix was set, and the driver started us off with half-loads–heavy, but not bad.  We used two wheelbarrows, and switched off of them so each of us could rest.  Although some of us rested more than others.  The boys did okay for the most part.  I was red and out of breath, so I’m sure they were.  Brandon gave up and sat down–I guess he’s not used to his heart beating that fast.  A sedentary life is not good.
  Still, it was about 28 wheelbarrows-full, and I think it was about 11-13-14, Brandon, Alex, and me.  Brandon bailed right before it was done, and Alex bailed right after, which means that the work they should have done (picking shit up, washing out the wheelbarrows, shit like that) I got to do.
  While I Dan and Joe were doing the finishing, I was cleaning it up.  Dan noticed and said about it.  "Your help gone?"
  "Yeah, they think they’re in the fuckin union."
  We were down to the finishing, and so I left Joey to his craft and took a shower before heading back to work.  After that, though, I’d like to add a guarantee to the two my uncle told me:
  Concrete is fucking heavy.

Small World

  I talked briefly to Dan, and he seemed like a good guy.  He has delivered pizza in the past, so we had a common ground.  When I got ready to go back to work, he asked where, and I told him.  He said his sister works there.  Hmm–
  I get here and I look her up, she’s over in the title company, whom I do most of my work for.  Her name is Sandy.  Next to Sandy is another chick, and she recognized my cousin’s name.  She is friends with Joey’s sister, my cousin Gina.  And–her sister is the ex of a guy that we all knew and hung around with, Bobby.  I haven’t seen Bobby in decades.  Two of them.
  I never did catch her name–

Overheard In My Office

May 19, 2009 at 8:58 PM | Posted in Journal | Leave a comment
I work in a funny place.  Every day I marvel that I’m not arrested.

When you’re middle-aged, you can go from "I wonder if I have to go" to  "I’m glad I have to go" to "uh-oh, will I make it in time?" in the 20 second walk to the bathroom.

IS THIS FRIDAY?  Really?  It seems like last Thursday.  Of course, last Thursday felt like next Wednesday.  It’s been an odd month.

I am a one-man morale committee. But–I can bring you up, or I can bring you down.  It’s a two-way street.

A zaftig MILF was heating up her lunch in the lunchroom microwave, and talking to another co-worker: We’re going to Florida in about three weeks, I need to fit in my bikini.
Co-worker, noticing her large pasta dish:  That won’t get you ready for a bikini.
Zaftig:  I bought a size 20, so I have to eat up.

I need you to take this packet across the street to the title company.
But…I’m naked.
No you’re not
Underneath these clothes I am.
You know, that excuse doesn’t always work.
Does it work now?

Sometimes when you type, words get mixed around.  For instance the most common one is "teh" instead of "the."  I realize now what it is:  I’m not dyslexic, but my fingers are.

I eat the Banquet frozen dinners for lunch.
You know, you are what you eat.
Well, I am cheap and easy.  And not good for you.

As I’m leaving today I see one of our season help, a young Asian-American kid wearing a belt that says, "In Japan I’m a Legend."

In Plain Site

May 19, 2009 at 8:55 PM | Posted in Journal | Leave a comment
  I have some TV shows that I like, you know–
  Currently, for instance, on USA I like Burn Notice and I like In Plain Sight.  Burn Notice comes back for the summer in June, and I’m happy about that.  It’s like sitting at the beach reading a good book…with pictures of hot chicks in bikinis, and lots of explosions.  Honestly, what could be better?  Plus, Bruce Campbell.
  So Detroit and I are watching In Plain Sight the other night.  It’s about US Marshalls in Albuquerque NM who protect people in the witness protection program.  But it’s in New Mexico.
  In this particular episode, there is an explosion in a building, a guy is trapped.  Rescue and official vehicles gather.  It is mid-afternoon.  The guy in charge of the Marshalls is wearing a long billowy coat, Angel-style.  The Marshall in the story gets there, gets out of her car, and puts a jacket on.
  Again, this is New Mexico.
  I paused the DVR and stood up.
  Because everyone that is important in the world lives in Los Angeles, I understand that at night in the desert it is cooler than it is during the day.  And oh, yes–LA is a desert.  Don’t ever doubt it.  The arid ecological conditions are the perfect metaphor for an area bereft of morality and soul.
  But honestly–an overcoat?
  There went my goddamn willing fucking suspension of fucking belief.  Bullshit.  How am I supposed to believe this is real *now*?  Maybe it does get cool at night in the desert.  But not that cool.  Is everyone a fucking pansy?  I swear to Christ.  Back in 19 and 87 I was in Vegas in November.  November, you fucks!  The ex and I were newly engaged at the time, and we had a fight.  I went for a walk about 1 am.  T-shirt and jeans, bitches.  T-shirt and jeans.
  Maybe my metabolism is just different.  I know I’m a big guy too, but still–I run pretty hot.  I’m at work right now in an air conditioned building, and I have a fan blowing on me.  My ancestors, as you know, come from the land of the ice and snow, from the midnight sun where the hot springs blow.  But honestly–is the show filmed in New Mexico, or on a lot in LA?  Or in Vancouver?  Or goddamn Iceland?
  Either way, I’d like to see more sweating, more heat, and less wearing of coats, because it’s fucking supposed to be New goddamn Mexico, retards! 
  And some chicks in bikinis at the beach would be nice, too.  I know there’s no beach in New Mexico, but if they’re filming in LA, go to the beach.  Go on.
  Tell me, is it *really* cold enough at night in New Mexico to wear a coat?  Detroit says yes.  Telling me doesn’t prove it, babe.  I’m from Missouri; you have to show me.

Helping The Economy

May 19, 2009 at 8:53 PM | Posted in Journal | 1 Comment
  On my day job at the bank, we’re busy.  I work in the mortgage division.  How, you ax, can we be busy when the economy is in the tank, Obama is in the White House, bailouts abound everywhere, and we are days away from cannibalism?
  Well, there are a couple of reasons:
  a) we are a small, local bank
  2) the local economy, I maintain, is actually not too bad
  d) alot of what we are doing is refi’s, because rates are low

  We’ve been so busy, in fact, that we’ve been hiring people, and most are working overtime.  We’ve been so busy, in fact, that for the month of April they gave all of us grunts VISA gift cards as a bonus.  Visa–it’s everywhere you want to be.  Or some such crap like that.  But anyway, getting an extra two hundred bones is pretty cool.  Two hundred!  It’s like Christmas in April!
  I thought long and hard (and throbbing) about what to spend it on, and finally decided that although there were things I *wanted*, I needed some new clothes.  I did also use the card to get flowers for Detroit and her mom on Mother’s Day.  I figured I had about 150 bones clams left.  Sunday, we went to the movies, and then went to Wally-World.
  Walmart is alot like having a threesome with two hot, slutty chicks that have herpes.  Generally you get what you want and have a good experience, although it always seems crowded.  Especially in the case of a super-duper Walmart, there is alot of choice and variety–you can get pretty much anything you want.  But still–once in a while you are going to have an experience that sours it for life for you, and you are going to end up with cold sores.
  This time, the lesions were in remission; it was a fairly benign visit.  I made Detroit come along because what threesome is complete without someone to run the camera?  Actually, I tricked her into going.  We went to the movie (we saw the new Star Trek flick) and when we left, she thought we were going home, but instead I knocked her out with chloroform, stuffed her in the trunk, and drove across the county line to Walmart.  Plus, the tags on the car were still hot.  The difference between misdemeanors and felonies is largely a state of mind.  I felt like Steve McQueen…
  I’m sure this is what it felt like to her, anyway.  "Uhn!  Do I *hafta* go?"
  Yes.
  "Uhn.  Wwwwhhhhhyyyy?"
  Because I said so.  And that’s final.
  She stomps her feet, then does that semi-body buckle and shoulder thing, and then pouts.
  From arrival to departure our time in the store was about 45 minutes.  Longer than I wanted to be there, but quicker than any shopping trip for a single woman’s accessory like a purse that has to be replaced every 37 days.  That included finding the shit, throwing some shit in the basket, and trying on the shit–showing Detroit how it looked to make sure the shirts were long enough.  I bought two pair o’ khakis for work, another pair of denim shorts (I have one pair left after the favorite son ruined my other pair for me), and some shirts.  I effectively doubled my usable wardrobe, and yet I bet all of my clothes will fit in three drawers and 9 inches of closet space.
  Now I need to get a box and go through the closet and my drawers and get rid of all the stuff I don’t wear anymore.  Then I’m either going to burn them or take them to Good Will.  Or maybe take them to Goodwill and leave them behind the building, and set the box on fire.  I like to keep my options open.
  Although–maybe I need to keep all my old clothes.  Not because I have hopes of wearing them again; the combination of fashion and size have caused that ship to set sail and sink right before my eyes.  No, if I keep all of my clothes, I can preemptively hang on to closet space, and fight against the encroachment of Detroit’s wardrobe.  ‘Tis a noble fight, a noble cause.

The Secret Life Of OGX

May 15, 2009 at 10:07 PM | Posted in Journal | Leave a comment
  The seven year old girl interrogated me, and I reciprocated.
  "Who are you?"
  "Who are you?"
  "Katelyn.  What are you doing here?"
  "What are you doing here?"
  "Just playing.  Do you live here?"
  "Do you live here?
  "No.  I live right over there."  She pointed.
  "You live right there?"
  "Yeah."
  "And you’ve never seen me before?"
  "No."
  "Then why would you think I live here?"
  "What’s your name?"  She changed the subject, pretty slick.
  "I’m Bryan.  I’m Joey’s cousin."
  "Okay."
  And she was done talking to me.

  I went back to working on the tiller.  I should have been at my sister’s house working on a project there to get her house inspected, but bees ran me off.  I have a thing about bees.  These were giant monster killer bumble bees with fangs, stingers, and uzis.  And they were off their meds.
  I set up the sawhorses, got out the wood, got the extension cord hooked up in the house, got out the other tools, and went over to the shed.  What I needed to accomplish, according to the inspection report, was:
  "Repair trim and spot paint on shed."
  I grab the all-purpose hammer…which reminded me of a saying I read the other day:
  "When the only tool you have is a hammer, all your problems begin to look like nails."
  I grabbe ye olde hammer and go to the shed to pry off the old trim.  Buzz, buzz, buzz, the bumble bees appear, and I back off judiciously.  I have a thing about bumble bees, okay?
  I make a few more attempts, and every time I go near, the bees come out in formation and hover menacingly until I back off, then they circle and disappear.  Damn bees.  Finally, I does me some givin’ up.  I leave everything out and I go to the hardware store and get some wasp spray that says it kills bees also (because you can never be to sure).  My plan was to wait until closer to sunset, when the bees are "less active."  I’ll show em less active.
  It was only five-ish, and it was going to be light out till close to 8pm.  I wasn’t going back until six or so, I figured.  That was my justification for taking a turn and going to see if Joey was home.  He was, and he was outside talking with a friend–it’s like Mr Rogers’ Freakin Neighborhood over there, someone stopping by all the time, kids running around, people having a few beers…
  The friend–Eric–was explaining to him about a tiling job Joey needed done, and then he left.  But he needed to borrow Joey’s tiller, and it was broke.  Joey and I loaded the tiller onto the back of the golf cart, and took a ride down to the other cul de sac (Joey’s street is one big court with three little courts off of it, so it’s a complete dead end, and one end backs into a park.) where we meet…shit, what was the guy’s name?  I don’t think Joey introduced us.  He was an old guy, probably mid-70s or so, if not older.
  He could fix it. He had a machine shop in his garage.  He looked at it and said to take off the guard and take off the flywheel housing, and just bring that to him.  Oh.  Joey wanted to just leave him the whole thing.
  We took it back to his house and he scrounged up a few tools.  All we needed was a 7/16 wrench, a 1/2 inch wrench, and a 1/2 inch socket.  Not easy.  He has tools, but not normal ones like that.  He also has to drop one daughter off somewhere up the street and a son that has Boy Scouts.  While he runs around a bit, I work on this for him.
  I figured I owe him, plus, I know he can’t handle a wrench very well because of his hands.  He’s good with concrete and building, but I have no idea how he is with engines.  I’m not great, but this was simple.  I got it apart for him, and we rode back down to the old guy.  He was home, and instead of leaving it with him like Joey thought, he fixed it right there for him.  The string on the starter broke, so he had to open it up, rewind the spring, and replace the string and handle.  Done.
  We took it back, and I got to putting it together pretty quickly while Joey did something.  He intended to help, but I wanted to get it done for him.  But he finally did find a 1/2 inch socket, and that was helpful putting it back together, which we worked on together.
  All this time kids are running around randomly (is there any other way for a kid to run, honestly?) and a few dogs.  Everyone knows Joey.  We get the tiller together.  I’m not sure what time it is, but I’m pretty sure I have to go.  Joey gives me some paint to paint the ground with, to mark where we want the patio.  That should be fun.

  I stop by the house to make sure that I missed dinner and pissed off Detroit, then went back to my sister’s house to finish up what I was going to do.  I get the spray out.  Ya-hoo.  I spray under the eave of the shed, and then back off.  I wait, and the formation of bees appears.  I spray them, watching carefully to see if they come after me. 
  My careful analysis of Bee Psychology convinces me this is highly unlikely, for a few reasons:
  First, it’s poison to them, so their instinct is to want to leave.  Second, they can’t necessarily tell from which direction the attack is coming.  Am I right?  Am I right?  I hope so, because alot the bravery I had going into this was based on that assumption.
  I sprayed the foamy matter at them, and the background of the shed gets splattered.  Again and again–they fly away, they come back, I spray.  Eventually, they don’t come back.
  Good thing, too–the spray was empty.
  It was about 730.  I hurriedly ripped the old trim off of one corner of the shed–it was 2-1x4s–and measure.  I made the two cuts, then nailed them up.  Okay, that took about 6 minutes.  I decided to go ahead and prime them, that way all I had to do was paint, and I was running out of days that I could wait for non-rainy weather.  Priming them took less than five minutes because I am fast, inaccurate, and I have low standards.
  I had brought all the tools over there before, working on a different job.  Since all that was left was the painting, I took everything back except the ladder, and loaded the truck up.  While I was loading, a bee floated by me erratically, diving into the grass.  Kamikaze?  Whatever, he had missed, and it looked like he wasn’t going to get up and fly again.  I stepped on him a few times, because he wouldn’t die, like some sort of bionic zombie CIA bee.  Eventually, I got him.

Mudda’s Day

May 12, 2009 at 1:24 AM | Posted in Journal | Leave a comment
  Saturday was Detroit’s B-Day, and Sunday was her M-day, I guess.  That would make Friday the BM-day Eve.
  Friday night and we still had no plans nailed down to celebrate her specialness.  There were no suitable chick flix in the theater, and she didn’t want to see the Star Trek movie.  There was a good comic at the comedy club, but she didn’t want to see that, either.  Why is it *always* about her?  Whatever.
  So Friday we went out to eat at a hybrid combo Long John Silvers and A&W.  Because fish dipped in a root beer float is the best.
  Then we went to Best Buy to peruse.  We actually had a mission, but you can’t go in without looking around.  To me it’s like women in a shoe store:  I want to try on all the computer stuff, all the stereo accessories, and all the LCD TVs.  Detroit got fitted for some major appliances, and tried on some DVDs that she ended up buying.
  Our mission was to get a remote that would work ALL the functions on the TV.  The original remote was long gone, and we couldn’t access any of the video functions to watch a DVD.  We had to have someone explain all the universal remotes, because they ranged in price from 9.99 to financing available.  I wonder if they would have taken a trade in?
  That was our big night out.  Later at home, I got the remote to work for both the TV and the DVD player.  Not easy, let me tell you.  First I had to have batteries that worked.  Then I had to read the really small print and program them.  Turns out it was the first code listed for each device, which is just nifty.
  Saturday morning, I was gonna go get Detroit a Birthday present.  Completely separately, her mom wanted me to take her out to buy something for Detroit.  So me and Bonnie had a day out.  We went to my bank first, and then went to K-Mart.  I got Detroit a B-day present.  Bonnie got her a birthday present, a mother’s day present, and a mother’s day present to be from her sons.  She made out like a bandit.
  Then we went to Lowe’s, and I got a mother’s day present.  Bonnie bought me a grill.  Oh, yeah.  A big ass, whopping, gas grill.  It was pretty awesome.  Even better, it came in box, ready to assemble.
  There is the tired old cliche of men having problems putting stuff together, following directions, and crap like.  Let me tell you, that is an attempt at emasculation and it just pisses me off.  I enjoy putting things together like that, and I have no problem following directions, unless they are stupid.  To me, a project like that is a like a 500 piece jigsaw puzzle for men.  It is fun.
  Saturday night I worked, Sunday I got up early (for me) and ran some errands.  I stopped by Flowerama (sounds like a made-up name, doesn’t it?) and got flowers for Detroit and for her mom.  I stopped by a dollar store and picked up a couple of things, then went to the grocery store.  Detroit paid for the excursion at the grocery store.  If she didn’t want me to spend whatever I wanted, she should have come with me.  Her fault.  Then another dollar store stop, and then home. 
  I wanted to go to Blockbuster, right around the corner, because they had previewed movies 4 for 20 bucks.  But I knew if I went over there, I would buy something.  Besides, I had to go to the bathroom really bad.  I went home.
  Detroit and Bonnie were gone, and the house was quiet.  I deposited the flowers on the ladies’ beds, then cleaned out the fridge and put the groceries away.  I was going to get ready to cook.
  They came back, after retrieving Detroit’s sister.  Oh, yeah–I forgot about that.  I cooked, it was good. and we ate.  God, I am not a drinker.  I had three beers…or maybe two and half.  I fell asleep on the couch.  All in all, it was a pretty good day.

The Italian Job

May 10, 2009 at 9:49 PM | Posted in Riding In Cars With Pizza | Leave a comment
  About 1130 last night at Domino’s. Mike takes a call.  Another store, the Creve Couer store, was just robbed at gunpoint.  Wow.  Okay.  What do we do?  He was getting ready to leave on a run.  For starters, we decided after he walked out, I would lock the door. 
  Two minutes after he left, Tom the supervisor calls.  He says, "Go ahead and lock your doors."
  I started to explain that we already had, since we heard–
  "How did you hear?"
  I told him.  "Who called?"
  "I don’t know.  Mike took the call.  I assumed it was someone at Creve Couer."
  "Have Mike call me when he gets back."
  Because the odd thing was, he couldn’t get anyone to answer the phone at the store.  How did he hear about it?  I never got an answer to that.  Why did they call us first?  Who called?  What’s going on?
  Mike called him back, but still we had no answers.  Although it made Mike suspicious about one thing:  The person working at Creve Couer, and the person working at Long Road, who supposedly called us.  I forget their names, but they are boyfriend and girlfriend.
  Perhaps we need some back story.

  Let’s call them Bonnie and Clyde.  Clyde is the brother in law of John, one of our drivers.  Also a brother in law is Johnny, and he works at Domino’s as well.  Johnny is a younger brother, and Clyde is the older brother.  These guys are all Mexican, which doesn’t matter much except for the fact that they were all living in extended-family lifestyle at John’s house.  That, and the fact that Clyde has "old country" beliefs about machismo and respect.
  John had just recently kicked Clyde out of his house.  Power structure disagreement, plus Clyde wasn’t contributing to the household financially.  Yet he thought the others should trea him with "respect."
  Meanwhile, recently Clyde had purchased a car from Mike.  John had only set up the connection, trying to help them both out:  Mike is trying to get a used car business going, and Clyde needed a car.
  Clyde and his girlfriend both work, Clyde lived with John not paying very much, and who the hell knows where his GF lived.  Between them they couldn’t make the car payment all the time, and it was the only bill they had.  Clyde has a pretty big pot habit.  Something that turns out to be about a grand a month.
  That’s a big problem, for a couple of reasons.  First of all, it’s a lot of money.  Secondly, smoking that much pot makes you stupider and lazier than you normally would be, and being a pot smoker gives you a propensity for stupid and lazy in the first place.
  Good for you if you are for the legalization of pot.  Chances are I’ve smoked way more of it than you have, and I know what the fuck I’m talking about.  Please be offended.
  In addition to all of these other wonderful qualities, he is also mechanically inept.  The fuel pump went out on the vehicle.  He tried to change it himself and broke alot of stuff in the process.  He cut lines to take it out.  What a stupid fucking retard.  John said that Clyde’s father is a mechanic, and a good one.  Why he didn’t go to him is probably another story that is a shining example of his brilliance and forethought.
  Mike told them he could get the part cheaper than what they were going to pay–they wanted him to buy the part and then they would "pay him back."  There’s a reason I put that in quotes.
  Mike’s dad found out that they weren’t carrying insurance on the vehicle, either.  They have to, because Mike and his dad are financing it.   Mike said you have until [this week] to get me a payment and get insurance on it.  They said okay.  Mike sees a repo in their future.

  And now there’s the robbery, involving Bonnie (who got robbed) and Clyde (who seemed to have alot of inside knowledge).  Curiouser and curiouser, said Alice.
  Tom didn’t know about the money issue between Mike and Clyde, and Mike didn’t tell him.  But Mike did ask him, "Are you thinking what I’m thinking?"
  Tom said, "What are you thinking?"
  "It smells suspiciously like an inside job."
  "I have to go."
  Tom called me later to look at the caller ID log, to see from which number we had received the call about the robbery.  I looked it up, and gave it to him.  We shall see what happens.  It’s an on-going investigation.

  Meanwhile, Mike goes on another run.  It’s raining, which reminded me of how glad I am that I’m not delivering.  He calls me, then comes back and fills me in on the whole story.
  It took a while for the jackoff to order.  The caller ID log, in fact, shows about 5 calls from him over an hour.  We just thought he had a bad phone and it kept disconnecting on him.  Now we’re not sure.  He was drunk, which is standard in these cases.  Mike worked with him on the phone over the course of several phone calls to get his information and get his order, and even tried to give him a deal, really just to make it easier on us and get it over with.
  While Mike is en route, the professional ass calls back.  He wants to complain.  He thinks the guy who took his order was rude to him, and he is going to report him "to corporate." 
  "What did he do?" I ask, regretting it.
  He had nothing specific, just that he didn’t like the guys attitude.  Mike has owned a nightclub, been a bouncer, stuff like that.  He knows how to deal with drunks.  He was nice to him, trying to help him out.  Of course, there’s no pleasing some people, especially if they are the stupid-angry-drunk type.
  Mike gets to the house, and as he’s pulling up, he sees a guy standing outside in the rain.  Keep in mind that this is about midnight.  As Mike pulls up, the idiot runs out at Mike’s car, slapping the windshield.
  "Get out of the car, motherfucker!"
  Mike looks at him–he’s a scrawny, pathetic looking little bitch.  Mike is built like me, but shorter.  Like I said, he had been a bouncer.  "What’s the problem, dude?"
  "Get the fuck out of the car!"
  Mike said, "You don’t really want me to get out of the car."
  The punk threw a swing at the door glass.  "Alright."  Mike got out.
  The little bitch took off running back to the house.  He yelled back, "I’m going to call corporate!"  About what, exactly?  That’s my question.
  Mike yelled back, "Make sure you tell them my name is Mike, you little pussy!"
  Needless to say, he didn’t buy the pizza.
  But things like that make me wish I was driving again.

 As an addendum to the robbery–maybe it did really happen they way the
girl said.  Two black guys, wearing hoods and packing heat, came in. 
Demanded money.  They got an undisclosed sum and left, and no one was
hurt.  If that’s they truth, then I feel bad for the girl.  I’ve been
robbed, I’ve had a gun pointed at me.  Let me tell you, it’s shitty.
  Plus, she has a pathetic loser boyfriend.

Another Day In The Life

May 6, 2009 at 9:50 PM | Posted in The Corporate World | Leave a comment
  We had some food laid out for Cinco de Mayo ("Five types of Mayonaisse"?)  I saunter over in my normal style, and some chick–Sharon, I think–is getting some food.  Playfully, I push her out of the way.  Erica is standing there too.  We see lime slices, and wonder where the Margarita mix is.  Typical.
  There is a plate of something that we can’t identify.  To me, it looked like crumbled feta cheese (You should try it, it’s really Gouda!  Hahahaha!)  I said to Sharon, "Just do like this."  I stick my finger in my mouth to moisten it, then advance toward the food.
  She exclaimed, "Oh, Bryan!"
  I turned to Erica and said, "I’m used to hearing that alot."
  Erica said softly, unbelieving, "Oh my God."
  "That too.  Not in that tone, though."
  Sharon said, "You are bad."
  Always leave on a good line.  Time to go.  I depart, saying, "Yes, I am."
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