June 29, 2011

Going Apeshit

This is my second to last day of work and predictably, everyone has stopped talking to me.  People that I interacted with every day for the last two years now treat me like I never existed.

Having been a contractor for the last ten years, this is nothing new to me.  In the business, this is called “The Stink of Death”, where merely being in the vicinity of the affected party almost assures that, you too, will suffer the fate of being laid off and the economic ruin that accompanies it.

When I leave tomorrow afternoon, my cubicle will first be ransacked by office jackals; then the “regulars” will spray it down with disinfectant, have it exorcised by a priest and then most likely burn it to the ground to assure that all traces of me are gone.

So, today I’m letting my imagination run wild, since I have no regular work to do.  And what occurs when I let my mind run free?  Well, naturally, I think about the reasons why people need full face transplants.

I’m sure there are a lot of reasons, but the only two I could think of were full frontal shotgun blasts and monkey attacks.  And to get some more information on these causatives, I sprang to the internet, where frankly, I didn’t find a hell of a lot on full frontal shotgun blasts.

But I did find a shit pot load of information on how to avoid a monkey tearing your face off.  And for your convenience, I’ve taken what I believe to be the most important prevention measures and condensed them into something I like to call: 

Ten Tips On How Not To Have A Fucking Ape Tear Your Face Off
  • Whatever the situation, never heckle a monkey.  They have feelings and get irritated, and they are very instinctive. So if you anger or annoy a monkey it will bite, scratch or tear your dick off and shove it up your ass sideways.
  • Take proper precautions, depending on the situation.  Look around and think to yourself:  “Hmmm, are there monkeys around here?  If there are, take shelter immediately.  Don’t answer any knocks to the shelter’s door, as these are probably monkeys who want to tear your dick off and shove it up your ass sideways.
  • Recognize that even if the monkey is in a cage, you need to stay a safe distance away from the enclosure.  Don’t put your hand in the cage, or as my father used to say, “Keep your hands off the chicken or you’ll pull back a bloody stump”.  Dad was always so charming.
  • If you are in a situation where the monkey is not in a cage, you're playing a whole different ball game.  Think, "Is the monkey loose?" If so, go back to Step 2.
  • Step back and look at yourself. If you find you have actually done this, the monkey has probably killed you and your soul has become separated from your mortal remains.  Okay, seriously … Do you have food, shiny jewelry, glasses, children or toys with you? If so, you should offer these to the monkey in consideration for it not tearing your dick off and sticking it up your ass sideways.
  • In the unfortunate event that you are attacked.  If the monkey charges you, don't fight back.  The monkey can punt, pass and kick better than you, which is why you see them so often in Ford sponsored youth football contests during the halftimes of NFL championship games.  Find something to get in between you and the monkey … preferably a Thompson submachine gun on full automatic fire.
  • Protect yourself by barricading yourself somewhere.  If the monkey has escaped from his cage, hide in there.  Be sure to turn the tables on the little prick by throwing feces at him.
  • Notify the owner first and then animal control, but only if absolutely necessary.  “Absolutely necessary” might best be defined by the question “Have you had your dick torn off and shoved up your ass sideways or is your face just missing?”
  • Never get within the monkey's reach.  Fucking “Duh?”.
  • Many monkeys roam wild but are frequently in contact with humans. Check your local ordinances to see if this is true in your area.  Ordinance obeying monkeys are frequently taunted by children throwing stones and other objects at them.  In these cases, encourage the monkeys to attack these little bastards.
In conclusion, monkeys are particularly vicious little motherfuckers.  But by following the above “Ten Commandments”, you can be reasonably sure that you’ll never end up faceless on a very special Oprah Winfrey Show.

June 28, 2011

It Isn't Easy Doing Nothing

This is my last week here at Giant Pharmaceutical House.  Actually, I’m not even going to finish out the week since my contract ends on the 30th and they don’t want to pay me for another day.  I’d call them cheap shits, but I can kind of understand it for accounting reasons.  Besides, it’s like having a four day July 4th holiday … and I don’t even have to go back to work on Tuesday.  Score!

This time I was here for a little over four months after being laid off for about a month.  They had overshot on layoffs and their ace-in-the-hole employee had been unexpectedly called up by the National Guard to serve in some God-forsaken place for a year.  He wasn’t really crazy about the job , so I think he was just as happy to be assigned to a war zone rather than do this shit.

So, I was called back, because I already knew the job, and mostly because they figured that all of the nifty CEO jobs in my area were filled and I’d be available.

People ask me if I like working off and on like this, but I tell them I don’t mind.  Except for the last week of the assignment.

That’s when there’s nothing to do.  And trying to look like you’re doing something when you actually have nothing to do is almost harder than working.  This morning I have totally meaningless paperwork strewn across my desk, and I have all of my programs up on the computer.  However, I’m really just messing around on the internet.  But once I’m tired of facebook and Twitter and the newswires and the magazines and the store ads … there’s still about 6 goddamn hours left in the day.

And that’s when time really slows down.  Remember when you were in grade school and it was a sunny day in Spring and it was 2:00 in the afternoon and school didn’t let out until 3:15 and for some fucking reason they had put that Simplex clock up right over the teacher’s desk in the front of the room and it just “ticked” away the seconds and you got so bored that you kept timing yourself by it to see how long you could hold your breath, but then that got old and it was only 2:10?

Yeah, it’s kind of like that.

But, at 3:15 in the afternoon on Thursday I’ll be a free man for a while.  Thinking about that is nice …

But it doesn’t make the fucking time go any faster.

Tick … Tick … Tick …

June 23, 2011


When I was a kid growing up in the 50’s and early 60’s, I didn’t have a lot of shit.  My parents were lower middle class and I had two sisters, so I guess it was pretty common for kids like me not to have a lot of shit.  Oh, I had some things … a baseball glove, some marbles, a cloth sack full of plastic army men and some comic books.

My best friend Mike had a lot of shit.  He was an only child, his Dad worked for the Post Office and his mother worked in a factory.  I’d always go over to Mike’s and play, partly because of all the good shit he had, but mostly because I liked him.  My Mom always complained that the Montgomery’s were “privileged”, but I think she was just pissed off because she’d had one kid too many.

After I reached my teens, Mike and I grew apart, he got into drugs and before his twenty-second birthday, he had his head bashed in with a baseball bat during a drug deal gone sour.  So much for being privileged and having a bunch of shit.

Anyway, even though I didn’t have many things, I still got tired of them.  And without any money to speak of, about the only thing we could do at that time was to seek out other kids who didn’t have a lot of things and trade them.  Pretty brilliant concept.  Trade your tired shit in on someone else's tired shit, and it’s just like you have all new shit.

This worked well, but after I became a teenager, and started to have money … well, I just started throwing my old shit away and buying new shit.  And all of my contemporaries did the same thing.

Wow, just think of all the cool shit that got thrown away, never to return.

With me, this kept up for about 30 years.  Then, during the last ten, all of my old shit started ending up in the basement.  To me, this is even a worse solution than throwing the stuff in the trash.

So, early this Spring, I started to remove these “old” things and set them out by the curb on Sunday afternoon.  That way, at least other people could get some use out of my old stuff.  But, this wasn’t a really good solution for two reasons.  Number One:  I wasn’t getting anything in return for my shit.  Number Two:  Almost everything I set out was being snapped up by my next-door neighbor, “Hillbilly Ron”, who would immediately pile it by the side of his house.

What to do?

A much better solution presented itself while we were remodeling our kitchen.  Jan and I had up-graded several things in the kitchen several times in a cheap-ass attempt to make it look newer before we finally realized we were pouring our money down a rat hole and just had the whole thing re-done.  The casualties of this remodel were two almost brand new range hoods, a three year-old refrigerator, an almost new dining table and chairs … and a four-month-old microwave oven.

On the first day of the remodel, the contractor asked us what we were going to do with the refrigerator.  I told him we were going to get rid of it, which really meant that we were going to have the appliance store pick it up for free, and then they would re-sell it for over a hundred dollars.  Pretty stupid when you think about it.

Turns out he wanted a refrigerator for his basement and he liked ours.  So, I told him he could have it … if he took a hundred dollars off of our bill.  And he agreed.

Hey … I just traded.  And I kind of liked it.

And just last week, a woman at work was complaining that her daughter needed new stuff for her first apartment, but couldn’t afford it.  Particularly, she wanted a microwave oven.  Since mine was sitting in the basement, I told her she could have it.  Since I sort of knew how the person thought, I figured she’d want to pay something for it.  And when she did, I told her I didn’t want any money, but I’d trade her for DSLR camera that I knew she wasn’t using.  And this suited her just fine.

Why did I ever stop doing this?

I don’t know if it’s the economy, or what … but I suspect that it is … more people are bartering and trading for material items and services than they have for a long time.  Amazing.  In some ways we advance economically as a society, and in some ways we go back to the things that worked for the people who founded this country.
Some things never lose their simplicity.

June 17, 2011

The Changing Landscape

This morning I was getting ready for work, as I do 5 days a week, for now.  After I had my shower, I dried off and went to the bathroom counter for the usual round of teeth brushing, shaving and hair combing.

Being Friday, I thought I’d spiff myself up better than I usually do, when I realized something.  I’m quickly becoming unspiffable.

As I approach 60, it’s becoming more and more difficult to keep up with things that are adversely happening to my appearance.  And it’s becoming depressingly apparent, that there are some things I’m just not going to be able to keep up with.

Like brown spots.  They started about 20 years ago.  At first they were just on my arms, and then they started moving to my wrists …then to the backs of my hands.  One day I woke up and there was one on my forehead.  A quantum leap.  And it can only get worse.

Like hair.  Hair suddenly showing up missing from where you want it … only to reappear somewhere you don’t.  In my case, missing from the back of my head.  Not so noticeable from the front, but standing out like a sore thumb from the rear-view.  And when it falls out, it must be landing in my ears and taking root.  And recently, all hair growth must be concentrating on my eyebrows.

I never considered myself good looking, but I would admire my image in the mirror once in a while when I was younger.  I avoid that if all possible now.  Jan says I’m still handsome, but I think there’s some hidden clause in the marriage contract that requires her to state that out loud occasionally.  Our maybe she’s trying to delude herself into believing she doesn’t inhabit the same space with a troll.

Honestly, I can sort-of see now why older guys grow beards, wear their hair long and tie it up in pony tails.  Anything to distract from the disturbing truth about themselves.

Fortunately, for me anyway, my aging doesn’t bother me all that much, or all the time.  It’s just part of life.  And I have about 5 more years to work on that “stately” thing.  Sometimes, I think I’m almost there.

This morning I walked into the men's room at work and glanced at myself in the mirror while I was washing my hands.  Not to admire myself, mind you, but to look to see if I had anything hanging out of my nose.

And while I was looking, there it was … a two inch hair sticking out of my ear lobe.

Very stately.

June 09, 2011

The Worst Job I Ever Had

As my current contract assignment nears its end (at least I think it is), I have some time to think back on the positives and the negatives of the job over the last two years.  However, since there’s still the possibility that I might get renewed, I’d better leave those thoughts unsaid just in case someone I work with has accidently run across this blog.

Instead, I’ll take the opportunity to think back over the decades to the jobs I’ve held and try to pick the one that was closest to a living hell.  I’m sure a lot of people feel that they don’t have to go back that far, as they probably consider their present position to be the fiery depths of Satan’s lair.  But ... I’d venture to guess that most people would look back to the part time and summer jobs they had during high school and college.

I can immediately point to two jobs that I disliked with extreme prejudice.  The first was during the summer of 1971, prior to the start of my sophomore year in college.  It was at the Dayton Rubber plant in Springfield, Missouri … and I made V-belts.  I was never particularly good at production line work, so if you had a car made in 1971 and the V-belt broke, it was probably one that I made.  I really sucked at it, so ….sorry.

But as bad as that one was, it wasn’t the worst.  The runaway winner in that category happened during the summer of 1969, at the Kitty Clover Potato Chip plant.

My best friend at the time had worked at Kitty Clover for several months and was gushing about what a great place it was to work.  He encouraged me to fill out an application, so I did.  And I was hired.

However, where my friend was working 1st shift and enjoying working in the warehouse, I was given the ungodly 7 p.m. to 3 a.m. assembly line/clean-up shift.  I spent the first several days trying to decide which was worse … the assembly line part, or the clean-up part.

On the assembly line, I alternated among dumping potatoes in a peeler, cutting potatoes to size that were too big for the slicer, and picking burnt potato chips off the line just after they had come out of the fryer.  It was summer, it was hot, it was humid, and a constant mist of fryer oil hung in the air and accumulated on my clothes, my skin and my hair.  One evening, I cut off the tip of my finger with the razor sharp knife they gave me to size the potatoes.  I managed to get a dressing on it, but then I was shifted to burnt chips detail, and I spent several hours picking up red hot salty chips with my bleeding finger exposed.  I don’t think I’ve said the word “fuck” before or since that evening it such a short period of time.

But after production shut down about 9 in the evening, it was time to clean everything up and get ready for the next day.  I quickly decided that clean-up was far worse than assembly line.  After being sliced and prior to being fried, the wet, limp “chips” are sent through a centrifuge basket, to dry them and remove excess starch.  The water is drained from the centrifuge … but the starch isn’t.  That had to be dug out with a shovel, and after a full day of washy/centrifugy stuff, there were thousands of pounds of it.  After that was done, it was time to drain the fryer and clean it by hand with a mixture of water and foul smelling, corrosive soap.

At about 3 or 4 in the morning, it was done.  I would go home covered in a mixture of sweat, oil, starch and cleanser that never really came out of your clothes, or anything else for that matter.

I lasted a month, then I quit.  I didn’t give a shit what my friend thought, or my parents thought … I couldn’t handle it anymore.  I also didn’t eat potato chips again for 10 years.

But one good thing came out of the experience.  I was still in high school at the time and was unsure about my future.  That one month in potato chip hell convinced me that I had to go to college and make something out of myself. 

Well, that … and the Vietnam War … and a low draft number.  Great motivators all.

June 08, 2011

Empty Threats

Since I’ve been old enough to understand words and how they are put together into sentences, I’ve been fascinated by catch phrases.  These are'nt meant to be confused with quotes, famous or otherwise, but just random things that people put together and have spread through society over the years.

They include among many other things, descriptions of one’s activities, how one feels at a certain time or one person’s opinion of another.  The really good catch phrases cause me to conjure up an image that makes me laugh.

Some of my favorites are:

“I’m so happy, I could just shit.”

“Busier than a one legged man in an ass kicking contest.”

And the wordy, but very descriptive … “He’s so cheap that he walks around trailing a rock on a string so he can catch the grease off his own farts.”

But I save my catch phrase devotion for … Threats

One of the first great threats that I recall was “I’ll kick your ass up between your shoulder blades.”

So, it’s only fitting (especially after that terrible post yesterday) that I offer you, what I consider to be, a delightful collection of threat catch phrases.  If you’re at work, don’t even bother.  But if you’re someplace all by yourself, then enjoy …

June 07, 2011

True Lies

Okay ... the rennovation of the kitchen is done.  Well, it's done as far as the fact that all of the carpenters, electricians, plumbers, tilers and helpers left us last night at about 7:00.  There's still more to do to make it look absolutely finished, which may take longer than the seven solid days we had our downstairs taken over by strangers.  By "solid", I mean Saturday and Sunday too.

Here are some thoughts after the mental and physical toll subsides (slowly ... very slowly).

  • Having a room or rooms redone is not in anyway, shape or form, FUN!  No matter what you see on television.
  • Speaking of television.  Don't believe any of that shit you see on HGTV.  You know, where entire houses are totally transformed in one-half hour, while everyone laughs, giggles and cavorts around while tearing the living fuck out of their house.  I'm not watching HGTV again for a long while.  I'm going back to the Food Network, where a half hour is just about right to make a meal.
  • Speaking of HGTV, and especially that horseshit show where they transform rooms for two thousand dollars.  Here's the way that happens.  The crew goes around on trash pick-up day to supplement the measly pittance they had to do the rooms.  "Oh, and here are my receipts to prove I only spent 2 grand".  Never mind that the labor was 16 fucking-thousand dollars.
  • Your house will smell like sweat and farts for days afterwards, unless you buy Glade apple cinnamon air fresheners, then it will smell like sweaty, farty synthetic apple cinnamon.
Enough of the fucking bullet points.  I'm tired, unclever, unfunny and downright homicidal right now.  Where's the wine bottle?  Oh yeah, over there ... I think I'll go take another pull or two ....

Once we have the new table and chairs, the banged up wall patched and repainted, and all the dirt and grime cleaned up, I'll post some pictures that will make the kitchen and dining area look like something out of fucking Country Living Magazine.

Or not.  I really don't give a shit.  Where's that damned therapist's number?

June 02, 2011

The Siege - Day 3

I can't believe that after 3 long days, my contractor still hasn't finished my kitchen. Some people told me that wouldn't happen, but I didn't believe them.  Jan and I are still living like prisoners in our own house.  Jan has it worse though.  She's at home with the artisans, listening to their noise and cursing.  I get to stay at work all day, and all that greets me when I get home is chaos and the smell of stale farts.

This is all supposed to be done next Monday night ... indeed the workers are even coming in on Saturday to try to catch up to their (obviously) impossible schedule.  We won't be here, so I wish them luck.  Here are some pictures so I can share the misery.

Living Room and Some Kitchen Shit All Jammed In a Corner

The White One Goes ... The Stainless Stays.  New Dishwasher and Over-the Stove Microwave Hiding In the Corner

Kitchen and Dining.  Floor In, But Cabinets Untouched

Oven in the Family Room

And ... I Guess the Cars Won't See the Inside of the Garage for a While Longer

The experts say that the mind doesn't remember pain.  I wonder if that also goes for a gigantic pain in the ass?  If we don't go crazy first, I'll be back in a week or so with the finished product.  Just thought I'd share.

June 01, 2011


Several years ago, Jan and I starting toying with the idea of moving far away from Northern Illinois when she retired.  Lately, we’ve started to dress up the idea with a bit of reality.  If the housing market doesn’t improve, we won’t be moving anywhere for quite a while, but it’s always useful to plan ahead.

One of the questions we’ve been grappling with is how much room do we really need?  Right now, we range around in about 1900 square feet of usable space.  There are times we think it’s too much (like when we’re cleaning) and other times when it doesn’t seem like enough (like when we’re at war), but the general consensus is that we have one room too many.

In the last few days, I’ve found a way to “test out” how to really know what it’s like to live in a smaller house.

Tear one of your main living areas to shreds.

This week, we’re doing a long overdue kitchen remodel.  And it is unusable.  It also is empty and all the shit in there had to go someplace.  We have our refrigerator and a bunch of furniture stuffed into our front “living room” and our stove and the rest of the furniture smooshed into our back “family room”.

And things are pretty damn tight.  Plus we have no table to eat at, no dishwasher and no running water in the kitchen, which we can’t get into anyway.

So, not only are we experiencing what it would be like to live in a smaller, ill-conceived house, we’re learning what it would be like to live beneath an underpass and scavenge for food.

With the way things are going in this world, that may be where we end up anyway.