Tuesday, October 30, 2007


Yes, gentle readers, the results of my pre-employment physical (cough, drug test, cough) were satisfactory.
Yours truly has a brand-new job starting November 12th!

Bye-bye, McWages and non-existent benefits package!

Hello, 75% salary increase, two weeks of vacation, affordable medical plan and 401(k) with matching employer contributions!

I'd just like to thank everyone for their prayers, support and well-wishes!

I'll have plenty more to post about later, but this has been building all month and it has finally come to pass as of today.

Right now, I'm exhausted and I'm going to bed.


Monday, October 29, 2007

Review & Signoff Flowchart

Click on diagram to enlarge.

Inspired by Lee's Doodles. Thanks, Ms. Lee!

Still awaiting test results...

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Halloween Humbug, Part 2

I posted my first Halloween Humbug last October, and thought I'd do a second one this year, as well.

My trick-or-treating career spanned the years 1962 - 1969, age 4 through 11. Not a bad run, on the whole. I grew up in the suburbs; Tonawanda,NY then Kenmore, NY.

Halloween meant picking out a costume, making construction paper jack-o-lanterns for the school Halloween party and then trick-or-treating on that night of nights.

It was fun and once you were past a certain age, you were allowed to go out without parental escort. Oh, there'd be schoolmates and siblings in the group, but the lack of parental supervision made it really special.
Like everything else, Halloween has been co-opted, amped up and run through the de-funneriser.

Carving pumpkins? Love it!

Cardboard black cat cut-outs? Classic!

$300 front-lawn animated "snow globes?" Uh, no.

$200 sexy french maid adult costumes? Sorry, guys.

Door-to-door trick or treating with happy kids in costumes? Nearly extinct! What we get are groups of sullen teenagers holding out pillows cases. No costumes, no "trick or treat", no fun.
It's HALLOWEEN, dang it!

Now, I remember going to a Halloween Party at the Church of the Advent as one of my last childhood Halloween Hurrahs. The youth group had the basement all done up, there were games, donuts and ciders, the whole nine yards. What they did not have was some sort of "Harvest Festival" euphemism for the thing. It was a HALLOWEEN party!

I love and respect many folks who have taken exception to Halloween as an evil, satanic celebration of "All Hallows' Eve." I may be missing something here, but my "take" on the subject is this. Celebrating Halloween makes you no more a Satanist than celebrating Christmas makes you a Christian.

As a result of the Halloween = Satanism movement, many churches have started having "Harvest Festivals" and "Trunk O' Treat" nights as an alternative. These are basically "Halloween Parties" in every respect but the name. In fact, we'll be taking Mariel to on this Wednesday.

It just seems that the holiday is less "fun" and more "commercialized" every year.


Coming soon... Big Announcement (pending results of test taken on Friday!)

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Spoilers: Reposted from 04/17/06

I've recently been experiencing some exasperation on one of the message boards I frequent, so I am re-posting this entry from April, 2006.

Why? Because I can!

Something I haven't yet done, as of this writing, is fill in my interests as part of my profile. Here are a few of them, some of which are in remission:
    The Beatles
    Garage Bands from the 'Sixties
    16mm Film Collecting
Anyone with any sort of specialized interest will sooner or later come into contact with other folks who share these same interests. This could happen through answering ads, meeting folks at special-interest conventions, bumping into like-minded people around town, reading fan publications, and, most recently, cruising the Internet.

Seems there are always those people who feel the need to mark their territory and be the "alpha" of the pack. I've seen this played out amongst cartoon fans, comics fans, sci-fi fans, music fans and even cereal box collectors(!) to name a few. No doubt there are Square Dance Record Collectors who experience the same kind of people, as well.

These are folks who may very well have a solid background on the subject at hand, a decent-sized collection of artifacts and know all the right people, but then they squander this capital by being rude, arrogant and condescending towards anyone who can't enhance their status among the special-interest community. In at least two cases that spring readily to mind, there are people who actually have a product to sell, and yet they persist in alienating their target audiences.

'Twas ever thus, I suppose, but the speed of the Internet makes it all the more easier for such folks to locate an audience and curdle a hobby for hundreds of people in one fell swoop. At least in the "old days" of fanzine letters columns there would be a month or more between issues for someone to cool off and reconsider before going on the offensive. (Although anybody who has ever read The Comics Journal knows that even this is not a safeguard!)

Here's a link that describes the phenomenon known as the Internet TROLL. [Note: The original "troll" link is no longer active, so I have inserted a different one.] Here's a brief quote from [the original] site in answer to the question, "Why do they do it?":

Trolls crave attention, and they care not whether it is positive or negative. They see the Internet as a mirror into which they can gaze in narcissistic rapture.

If you want a deeper analysis than that, perhaps a psychologist can shed some additional light on the matter

Towards that end, here's another link that describes something called Narcissistic Personality Disorder.

There seems to be a common thread running between these two bits of reference. Here's one quote from the NPD page:

Some narcissists are flamboyantly boastful and self-aggrandizing, but many are inconspicuous in public, saving their conceit and autocratic opinions for their nearest and dearest. Common conspicuous grandiose behaviors include expecting special treatment or admiration on the basis of claiming (a) to know important, powerful or famous people or (b) to be extraordinarily intelligent or talented.

Postscript - October, 2007: Something else a TROLL will do, if left unchecked, is to overload a message board and turn it into their own personal blog. No other message-poster can escape their comment. That is the situation that has prompted this flashback post. The bully dearly loves to rule "his" sandbox!

Thanks to all my bloggin' buddies for being so good-natured and courteous, even if or when we might disagree about something!


Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Activate Tractor Beam...

So, one day I'm minding my own business and... what?

Huh? Oh. Yeah.

The Ghosts of Job Searches past have decreed that I write about yet another interview from heck. There. OK? Can I get on with it now? Thanks.

So, one day I'm minding my own business when the phone rings. It's from a company we'll call "ContractCo." They're a contractor who handles incoming parts quality for a tractor manufacturer that we'll call "Centipede Tractors" just so I don't get flack from the "Caterpillar" people!

Now, I'd been out to "Centipede" a while back to interview with a different contractor for a different contract position, so I had been there before. I also knew that this tractor company tends to contract out nearly every possible phase of their operation, so there seems to be a welter of different companies suckling off their corporate teat. That's really neither here nor there for the purposes of this tale, though.

I set up an interview with the ContractCo Quality guy. He gave me directions to the building where we were to meet that ended with, "we're right on the corner of Route 24 and Industrial Drive. Just park in the visitor section and tell the receptionist you want to see me, 'John Doe.'"

Comes the big day, I don my suit and tie and hit the road. Yeah, I had been out to this plant before, but I forgot what an inconvenient drive it was. Mile after mile on a Route 24 that went though small town after small town. I pulled into the specified parking lot about two minutes after the agreed-upon appointment time.

"No biggie, " I thought as I headed toward the reception area.

"Hello, " Itold the receptionist. "My name is Craig Davison; I have an appointment to see John Doe of ContractCo."

"Oh," she replied. "You're at the wrong building. This is just a warehouse"

"I am?" I asked. "He was pretty specific that I meet him at the corner of Route 24 and Industrial Drive."

"No, no, no. You need to turn right out of the parking lot and drive about two miles to the end of the road. Take another right onto Butternut and then a quick left on Malarky Drive." she instructed. "It's the big building at the end of the road."

Now, I'm starting to get worried. It is now five minutes past my arranged interview time and I'm not even at the right building? Shaking my head, I high-tailed it back to my car and started navigating the maze through the Industrial Park.

At about ten past the hour I had located the "main building" and was breathing heavily as I approached the reception desk.

"Hello," I panted. "I'm Craig Davison and I have an appointment with John Doe of ContractCo."

The receptionist buzzed an intercom, relayed the message and then indicated that I should have a seat. Gladly, sister! I need to catch my breath.

After about another ten minutes or so a fellow came out to see the receptionist. She pointed in my direction and he approached me with his hand extended.

"Craig Davison?" he asked in an East Indian accent.

"Nice to meet you Mr. Doe," I responded.

"Oh, no," he replied. "I'm not John Doe. He is back at building seventeen. What you need to do is turn left out the parking lot, take the street all the way to the end, turn left and then turn left again, just before you get to Route 24."

Exasperated, I fretted, "I am now a full half-hour late for my interview! What are the chances I'll make a good impression now?"

I followed the latest set of direction and I ended up right back where I started from!

Hmmmm. The receptionist already shooed me away once. What to do? What to do?

Oh, yeah! I have our crappy little TracPhone in the car! I'll call John Doe's cell phone number and explain what's been happening.

"Hello," said the voice on the phone. "This is John Doe."

"Hello, John," I blathered. "This is Craig Davison, the fellow you were going to interview today."

"Oh, yeah," he replied. "You went to the wrong building!"

"Well, here's the problem. I went to the building you directed me to about forty minutes ago. The receptionist had me drive over the the main building and another fellow had me drive right back to where I started from. All I want to know is, am I where I'm supposed to be?"

Chuckling, John asked, "Well, where are you now?"

"I'm in the parking lot at the corner of Route 24 and Industrial Drive."

"I don't see you," replied John.

I looked up and saw a man at the far end of the parking lot with a cell phone.

"Do you see a guy frantically waving his arms?" I asked. "That's me!"

He came over, we shook hands and went back into the reception area. The receptionist had been made aware of her mistake and just kept repeating "Oh, I'm so sorry!" over and over.

Yeah, I didn't get the gig...


Monday, October 22, 2007

Mutating Genre Meme - What The..?

Red mojo has tagged me for The Pharyngula mutating genre meme.There are a set of questions below that are all of the form:"The best [subgenre] [medium] in [genre] is…".Copy the questions, and before answering them, you may modify them in a limited way, carrying out no more than two of these operations: You can leave them exactly as is. You can delete any one question. You can mutate either the genre, medium, or subgenre of any one question. For instance, you could change "The best time travel novel in SF/Fantasy is…" to "The best time travel novel in Westerns is…", or "The best time travel movie in SF/Fantasy is...", or "The best romance novel in SF/Fantasy is...". You can add a completely new question of your choice to the end of the list, as long as it is still in the form "The best [subgenre] [medium] in [genre] is…". You must have at least one question in your set, or you've gone extinct, and you must be able to answer it yourself, or you're not viable.Then answer your possibly mutant set of questions. Please do include a link back to the blog you got them from, to simplify tracing the ancestry, and include these instructions.Finally, pass it along to any number of your fellow bloggers. Remember, though, your success as a Darwinian replicator is going to be measured by the propagation of your variants, which is going to be a function of both the interest your well-honed questions generate and the number of successful attempts at reproducing them.
My Ancestry:
My great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-grandparent is Pharyngula.
My great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-grandparent is Metamagician and the Hellfire Club.
My great-great-great-great-great-great-great-grandparent is Flying Trilobite.
My great-great-great-great-great-great-grandparent is A Blog Around the Clock.
My great-great-great-great-great-grandparent is archy.
My great-great-great-great-grandparent is Why Now?
My great-great-great-grandparent is Hipparchia.
My grea-greatt-grandfathers are Archaeopteryx and Kiefus.
My greatgrandfather is Catnapping.
My grandmother is BirdAnonymous
My Mom is red mojo.

My version of the questions:

• The best silly movie in comedy is: The Big Lebowski.
• The worst genre in pop music is: Gangsta Lounge.
• The best alt-country album in country music is: DANG ME! by Roger Miller.

To keep the meme alive, I'm passing it along to:


Rocky-This Is Me


EDIT: I'm taking a lot of heat from the various parents and grandparents of this meme. Simply stated, they don't like my original picks for "keeping the meme alive!" I dunno, if the leader of the free world isn't good enough for ya...

I hope the three bloggers I chose will be able to respond, mutate and propagate the meme.

Here are my original, unacceptable picks:

George W. Bush

Soupy Sales

My Brother, Scott

Cartoon Dump #6

Forgive me, folks. I really wasn't going to embed any more of these "Cartoon Dump" shows, but...

Today's episode has two awesome things going for it!

1. The featured cartoon is a TV Pilot that cartoon pioneers Hugh Harman & Rudy Ising created in 1960! These guys go back to Walt Disney's silent-era cartoon studio. That they were still out there pitching this sort of stuff forty years later is amazing to me.

2. Buff Badger, rageaholic animation historian, is back and I *heart* Buff!

So sue me!

Friday, October 19, 2007

Turned Back At The Gates

Yeah, yeah. Ghosts of Job Searches Past. Gotta blog about it. Yadda yadda yadda...

One time there was an ad for some sort of a position that sounded like a half-step above vacuuming the farts out of the cushions at the local Greyhound Station. Let's call the company in question SwillTekInc.

It was 35 miles away, in Lillington, NC, but I had applied (twice, unsuccessfully) to a business out there so I knew where it was.

I put on my suit and tie and went down to the staffing agency to apply.

I walked in the front door to find a reception area with one of those "office windows" in the wall.

I walked up to me window, and ventured a meek, "Hello?"

A young woman, who was standing near a desk in the rear of the area behind the window replied with a frosty, "Can I help you?"

Me: Yes, I'd to apply for that SwillTekInc position.

Her (not bothering to come to the window): Huh. That's in Lillington, you know.

Me: Oh, yes, I know. It said so in the newspaper ad.

Her: That's kinda far away. Do you have a car?

Me: Oh, yes I do. In fact I drove it here!

Her: Because it's kind of far.

Me: I've been out to Lillington before. Believe me, I've had longer commutes.

Her: Well, you'd have to fill out an application and watch a video. It's usually a three hour process.

Me: That's fine. I'm unemployed and I was expecting to have to fill out some sort of paperwork.

Her (still not coming to the window): Well, that job's been filled.

Me: Oh. Well, my unemployment benefits are contingent on applying to at least two employers a week. Could I maybe fill out one of your applications for you to keep on file. That would really help me out.

Her: Yeah, that would help you, but not us. Sorry.

Me: Oh. Well, thanks any way.

Could she have been any more dismissive?

If the job had truly been filled, then what was all that BS about needing a car and spending 3-1/2 hours filling out an application?

What is it about me that inspires such hatred amongst the nation's employment gate-keepers?

I can only hope Ms. MegaFarce ended up with that gig down at the bus station.


Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Hosed in Erie, PA

The Ghosts of Job Searches Past apparently have not been appeased, so I'll relate a magical trip I took to Erie, PA.

It all started with an on-line job application to an agency that was representing a company that manufactures fire hoses. They needed a Quality Assurance guy, so I figured, "What the heck - maybe this'll be our ticket back North!"

Now, I forget the name of the company, so let's call it HoseCo. (How many fire hose manufacturers could there be in Erie, PA?) Let's call the agency WarmBodiez Services.

I also forget the names of the people involved, so I'll make them up, as well.

"Nancy" called from WarmBodiez one day to let me know that they received my application and resume for the HoseCo Quality position.

She was pleasant enough and we had a little chat about my employment history and my desire to move from NC to PA. "Nancy" said she'd forward my information to the HoseCo rep and someone would be in touch shortly.

True to her word, "Herbert" from HoseCo called. He was the Quality Manager and was eager to set up a formal speaker phone teleconference interview.

Swell! We set a time and date.

Of course, all I knew about fire hoses were what I had gleaned off of certain bumper stickers over the years, i.e. "Firemen have giant hoses that squirt all night long!"

I was pleased to find there was enough info available on ye olde internette so that I could at least get a cursory knowledge of the manufacturing process, buzz words and associated specifications.

Came the day of the phone interview I was prepped and ready to roll.

The phone rang and "Herbert" was there with two other guys who I'll call "Larry" and "Jeff." We chatted for about 45 minutes and I gave the performance of my life!

I batted around specs and materials as if I invented vulcanizing. I painted such a glowing picture of my previous work experience that I was ready to go shopping for an expensive frame.

By the end of our call, "Herbert" said he get back in touch with me shortly.

I'm usually pretty skeptical about these things, but I had a good feeling about this one.

An hour later, the telephone rang again.

It was "Herbert."

He wanted to know if I could fly in for an in-person interview with the VP of Operations. We'd do a tour of the plant and then go out for lunch, so we could all get better acquainted. They'd have a check waiting for me at the plant so I could be reimbursed for the airline ticket.

I told him I'd book a flight and get back to him with the day, time and ticket price.

Wahoo! Am I a player, or what?
A quick word about flying out of Fayetteville, NC.

I can be done, there is a municipal airport here. It is very difficult to co-ordinate a "sensible" flight plan out of Fayetteville, NC.

The other option is the Raleigh-Durham Airport (RDU). That is a ninety minute drive from Fayetetteville, but the Park-n-Ride lots are convenient and, overall it's not all that bad.

Of course, to get to Erie, PA so as to attend a morning meeting meant booking a 6:00AM flight.

The math on this works out as:

  • 90 minutes to drive to RDU to arrive...
  • 60 minutes before boarding time, plus...
  • 30 minutes allowance for shuttle to the airport, plus...
  • 60 minutes to eat, shower, shave, get dressed.

So I'd better plan on getting up four hours before my flight leaves. That's 2:00AM!

I arrived at the ERIE INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT and was met by "Herbert." He was an older gentleman, complete with hearing aid.

"Craig, there's been a glitch with the reimbursement for for ticket," he explained. "I had hoped to have a check here for you but the accounting guys say I'll have to submit the paperwork after our meeting today. I guess they got tired of cutting checks for people who dodn't show up, or something."

A minor matter, but that old spider sense was beginning to tingle.

The trip to the plant was brief and I was soon in a meeting room with "Larry" and "Jeff."

Yep, these were the guys I had "wowed" during the phone interview.

"We'll get started once 'Bill' gets here," said "Herbert.

In the door strode the Executive Vice President, who I call "Bill" in honor of his body bouble, Bill Lumberg.

"Well," quipped "Bill", "Let's get this show on the road!"

What followed was a 45 minute, nearly word-for-word replay of the earlier teleconference. I was getting the feeling I flew in and was going through the exact same paces for the pleasure of this "Bill" character. I guess it would've been too inconvenient for him to have been part of the first phone interview.

The meeting broke up and "Herbert" took me down the plant's break room for a cup of coffee, while the power-brokers went over their notes in the star chamber. I sat there, reading a discarded copy of the local paper and drinking tepid, watery coffee for an indeterminate period of time.

"Herbert" finally came back for me.

"Let's go get your suit coat and notebook," he said.

We returned to the now-empty meeting room and I retrieved my jacket and executive binder. "Herbert" escorted me to the parking lot and we got into his car.

"Hmmm, it's a little early for lunch," I thought to myself. "And what about that plant tour?"

"Well, you didn't do too bad," he said none-too-cryptically, as we pulled into the airport parking lot. "We'll see that you get that check to pay for your ticket."

Yep, there I was, back at the ERIE INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT with only seven hours to kill before my scheduled flight back to Fayetteville.

No Lunch.

No plant tour.

Just a forty-five minute non-meeting and a bad feeling in the pit of my stomach.

I arrived back home at 11:00PM that night. Ah, I just love putting in a grueling twenty-one hour day for nothing!

PROLOGUE: The reimbursement check did come in the mail, as well as one of those form-letter rejections.

"Nancy" from the WarmBodiez Agency started calling my house and leaving urgent messages on my answering machine. I needed to call her back!

My window for calling anybody back was very limited, but I managed to collar her on the phone.

"Listen, Craig, we have another opportunity opening up here in Erie," she said. "Would you like me to submit your resume to them, as well?"

"Gosh, that sounds great, 'Nancy'," I replied. "But what happened with that HoseCo job? I bought airline tickets, flew in for the interview and they gave me the bum's rush out the door without the promised plant tour or business lunch."

"Oh," she replied. "They said you came across differently in person than you did on the phone."

Now, what the heck does that mean? The meeting was nearly a verbatim replay of the phone interview! Was I too old? Too fat? Too bald? What kind of friggin' code words am I dealing with here?

"Well, by all means, go ahead a submit my resume to that other company," I replied.

"OK," she said, "now before I go ahead and start that process, I'm going to have to have you take an on-line personality test."

"An on-line personality test?!?!?" I moaned.

My resume and twenty-seven years of Quality / Engineering work experience aren't enough?

I have to pass some sort of personality test?!?!?

The HELL with this!!!

"Look, 'Nancy', I'll have to get back to you on this," I said. "Thanks for your time."

I immediately went to near-by a tattoo parlor and had the word "LOSER" written on my forehead.

I figured it would save time on my next interview. (It has also come in handy for many other life experiences, as well!)

This might have saved me some time and aggravation!


Cattle Call

I've been visited by the Ghosts Of Job Hunts Past recently, and they have commanded me to blog about them. Anything to silence their rattling chains!

Here are some notes that I made to kill time during one of the lowest points of my unemployment.

It is dated 11/29/05...

It is 5:25PM and I am sitting in a "training room" at the Danaher Controls plant in Elizabethown, NC. There are twenty other hopefuls waiting here with me. We have filled out our Youngblood Staffing applications in anticipation of being interviewed for a handful of "assembly and test jobs" that have opened up in the plant.

This is, by far, the most ineptly executed cattle call I have yet seen. You would think a staffing agency would solicit resumes, review them and the arrange for scheduled interviews. Oh well, I guess that's my [own] personal fantasy.

I can't believe the dress of some of my fellow applicants. While no one is wearing swim fins or a propeller beanie, there are lots of T-shirts, shorts, sandals and "bling-bling" in evidence. Maybe I shouldn't have bothered with a shirt and tie. [Actually a business suit!]

I can only imagine the $6.00/hr w/no benefits jobs they'll be offering. "We'll expect you to work 6PM - 6AM, 10 days on, one day off, weekends and holidays included."

Well, theoretically, I'm next [to be called], so we'll see.

Best of all, it's my daughter's birthday. She turns two today, and Daddy is sitting in some fluorescent-lit waiting room for a job he probably won't get instead of watching her open birthday presents. Oh well. At least my in-laws are in town to share the joy.

It is now 5:40PM and several others have been called ahead of me. So much for being "next!"

Who knows? This could be the job I've been praying for. Danaher might just be the most enlightened employer of the 21st century! Flex time! Child Care! Full Medical benefits with no co-pays!! Periodic reviews with pay increases pegged to your actual job performance!! Management and supervision that actually understand and care about their products and processes!!! Maybe I'll get a free perpetual motion / anti-gravity machine just for coming in!!!

There's a reason why DILBERT is so popular. The "Office Space" movie has sold millions of units for this same reason.

Perhaps I shouldn't have aspired to mediocrity. I thought that would ensure my acceptance into the mainstream...
Well, it's after 6:00PM and I have just had a brief meeting with a Jamey Robbins, Value Stream Manager [WTF?]. He feels the 2nd shift assembly job they're offering isn't a good fit for me. I appreciate his candor.

He has shunted me to another office, so I can meet with someone named "Liz" who has something to do with "EVM." I wonder if that is anything like "EVA", i.e. "Economic Value Added?" I notice that the rooms all have automatic ON/OFF switches for the lighting. That smacks of EVA.

If they do have such a program one hopes it is being used to affect actual process improvements and to increase profits.

I just talked, informally, with the HR Manager and the Plant Manager. They asked for my resume.

Maybe they can help me?

They have an electronics position open.

Maybe I'll get to talk to the mysterious "Liz?"

I never did get to see Liz. The Plant Manager, instead, decided to talk to me.

"I'm a straight shooter," he growled, "So I gotta ask. You've been out of work for seven months. Why hasn't anyone hired you?"

Taken aback, all I could muster was, "You tell me!"

What I wanted to say was, "Because straight-shooters, such as yourself, would rather hire people with no experience, who may or may not speak English and who wear cut-offs and T-Shirts to Job interviews! That's why, Mr. People-Skills!"

Postscript: My resume was left for the apocryphal "Liz" to review, but, of course nothing was ever heard from them.


Tuesday, October 16, 2007

A Return To Form

Well, I got that computer in the mail yesterday.

My fantasy was that I'd use the 3.5" Windows 95 boot disk to get it up & running and then load the W95 operating system off the MS CD-ROM.

Oh, foolish Earthling!

The BIOS is crankin' and everything but the boot disk deal just isn't happening.

This is one of those things that had to work right out of the box or it would go onto my heap of time-consuming future projects.

Hello, heap!

The fact that Mariel was practically foaming at the mouth with excitement over the big box that came in the mail made things just that much more difficult. There I was, staring at a blank screen and she's chanting, "We go to pbskids website? Play games? Play games on pbskids website?"

Yep, that car stereo victory was but a blip on the graph of life.

I'm back in the groove, people!

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Let There Be Music

Well, I finally had a window of opportunity to work on my van's dead music system. As mentioned earlier, the fine folks at AAMCO pronounced my stereo DOA after they fixed my transmission. In fact, they had pulled it out and left it sitting on the floor when they returned the vehicle to me.

I was able to negotiate a $150 deduction on the repair bill to subsidize the purchase of a new deck. Schweet!

Then, as noted here, the new deck didn't work when I installed it, causing me to think that something in the van's electrical system was compromised.

Well, I grabbed my tool box and multimeter on Saturday and went out to do battle. I pulled the panels off the console, yanked the stereo and started hunting for that elusive +12 Vdc amongst the various connections.

Elusive is right! Nada, nothing, zip! Just to be sure, I verified that there was voltage at the cigarette lighter. Yep, there it is, twelve whole volts.

I had taken out two Chilton manuals to see if I could gather any insights into how the circuits were strung within the beast. Hah! Basically what these manuals said is that there are two fuse blocks and assorted relays and you're on your own.

I poked around a little more and decided to call it quits.

Just for laughs, I figured if there was going to be a non-functional deck plugging the hole in the dashboard, it might as well be OEM. I hooked up the old stereo and bolted everything back into place.

As a final act of desperation I started the engine and pushed the deck's power switch.

Sweet, sweet music, such as I had never heard, came blaring from the van's four premium Infinity speakers.

Why? I don't know and I don't care. I finally came out on top!

Thank you, AAMCO, for buying a new stereo for our other car!

Cartoon Dump #5

In continuing with my least popular series of entries, I give you Cartoon Dump #5!

And, yes, I do remember watching Spunky and Tadpole 'way, 'way back when...

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Hope Spings Eternal

You know, I haven't spent nearly enough time complaining about my computer. At least here, on this blog.

In the "real world" it's about all I talk about!

I bought a PIONEX system from Sam's Club just after we relocated to Fayetteville, NC. That was in 1998, people!

This system was already outdated before I paid for it. The stickers on the lower left-hand section of the tower proudly declares it has a PENTIUM PROCESSOR (note the lack of roman numerals) and was designed to run Windows 95.

It has been dying a long, slow death for the past couple of years. The TWAIN thingy has crapped out, so that scanning is no longer possible. The non-upgradeable 48 Megs of memory can no longer handle any contemporary programs. There are no USB ports. Etc, etc, etc.

Now, something I have complained about here is that I can never get the money put aside to actually buy a new computer. It's always one house repair, car repair or medical emergency after another that usurps my PC fund.

Well, thanks to my oldest pal Bill, I'll be getting his cast-off computer in the mail any day now.

The hard drive is totally wiped clean, but my plan is to install the Windows95 (with the W98 upgrade) from my system discs and see if it'll come back to life for me.

Oh, that would be sweet.

There's at least one other "thing" blowing in the wind right now, but it's too early to tell what's going to come of it, so I won't even go there.


Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Night Terrors

Early Monday morning, around 12:30AM, I was awoken by the sounds of Mariel crying and Mommy trying to comfort her.

"Honey, what's the matter?" cooed Michelle. "Tell Mommy what's wrong."

Mariel just cried harder.

She didn't want to be held.

We took her downstairs to the living room.

"Mariel, does something hurt?" Mommy asked. "Tell Mommy what hurts."

(In her toddlerhood, Mariel would wake up, screaming and it would almost invariably be due to an ear-ache. Nuh-huh. Not this time.)

Mariel just flopped on the floor and started kicking and continued screaming. Her eyes were little, arched slits and tears rolled down her face. She could not be consoled.

Michelle kept asking her if something hurt or if something was wrong.

At one point, in between sobs, she staggered to the front door and croaked, "We... go... see... doctor?"

We hurriedly got dressed, put some clothes on Mariel and hustled out to the van.

Once she was strapped in her car seat and we were underway, she seemed to calm down.

No longer crying she asked, "We go to WAL*MART? See puppies?"

Relieved, we drove past the ER entrance and looped back home.

By the time the three of us snuggled into bed, Mariel was making up stories about Mister Puppy Puppet until she finally crashed, around 2:30AM.

Our conclusion is she was suffering from a condition known as "Night Terrors."

Apparently, when a youngster wakes up, screaming like this, the worst thing you can do is to try physically comforting them and communicating with them. Looks like the common wisdom is to try to safely guide them back to bed and make sure they do no harm until they fall back to sleep in ten or twenty minutes.

If I think back to when I was Mariel's age, I suffered the same sort of symptoms. I remember one time waking up, screaming like a banshee while clawing at my closed bedroom door.

This is very unnerving for the kid's parents!

Has anyone else out there experienced this with their own kids?


Tuesday, October 09, 2007

$100 Right Out The Window!

I mentioned a few posts back that our front picture window had developed a pretty nasty crack in it. Since I have zero time to even try replacing this chunk of glass, my wife started calling around to get some glasers out to quote the project.

Whoops! This is Fayetteville, a magical place where contractors cannot be bothered to come out and quote jobs. We've been down this road on a couple of other projects, so at least we're somewhat used to such indifference by now.

Finally, on Thursday morning we were able to wring a quote out of the people from AAA Glass. In addition to the big picture window, there was also a storm window in the family room that needed a similar repair. They quoted us $240 for both windows.

When I called Michelle at lunch time she relayed this info and also said she scheduled AAA to come out and do the job Monday morning. We both agreed it was a "tad pricey" but since AAA was the only company to respond to our plea, we might as well do it sooner rather than later.

That was Lunch time.

By the time I came home for Dinner, someone from ALLSTATE GLASS had come out and looked us over. They'd get back to us with an estimate, they said.

As Michelle had to work from 8:00AM until 8:00PM on Friday, she suggested I call ALLSTATE the next morning and see if they had the price quote ready. The idea being that if they were significantly lower than AAA, we'd cancel our Monday gig and go with the lower bidder.

On Friday morning I dutifully called ALLSTATE to see if they had the quote ready.

"Oh, yes, sir, Mr. Davison," the reply came. "We can fix both windows for you for $140."

"Great!" I replied. "When can you come out?"

"We do most of our residential repairs on Tuesdays, so we'll put you down for then."

"All righty! We'll see you Tuesday."

I called Michelle at work to relay the good news that we'd be able to spend one hundred fewer dollars on this project than we originally expected.

"Oh, that's great!" she replied. "Call Harvey at AAA GLASS and cancel our Monday appointment."

I immediately called AAA GLASS and got Harvey on the line. I explained that my wife had scheduled them to come out and do some work for us on Monday morning, but we have to "reschedule."

After some phumphering with his computer system, he finally found the work ticket (Yep, nobody can spell "Davison!" It always goes into the system as either "Davis" or "Davidson!")

"OK, here it is, Mr. Davison, "said Harvey. "I've cancelled out Monday and put down that you'll call to re-schedule."

I thanked the nice man and hung up with the glow one can only feel from "saving" $100 on glass repair work. Sure glad that's taken care of! (Hey, what's that foreboding music I'm hearing in the background?)

At lunch time on Monday, I called Michelle to see how her day was going.

She sounded, oh I don't know... flummoxed. Here's why:

The ALLSTATE GLASS office called at 8:20AM to say that they could fit in our glass repair that morning. They'd be over around 9:00AM to get started. Cool - a day early and $100 short!

Michelle went into fast-forward mode. She got dressed. She got Mariel dressed. She rounded up the cats and locked them in a bedroom.

Right on cue, the glass repair truck pulled up and the contractors went to work.

A few minutes later a second truck pulled up.

Yep - the crew that had shown up first and was already replacing the glass was AAA GLASS. You know, the $240 guys who were NOT supposed to have come out after I had called and cancelled their service call!

The ALLSTATE GLASS folks were kind of, shall we say, perturbed. One of the guys apparently started waving the $140 quote in my wife's face.

Michelle was mortified that she hadn't noticed that the first truck was from AAA GLASS and all she could do was apologise to the ALLSTATE guys.

Well, the AAA guys finished the job, we paid the extra $100 and life goes on.

One of these days maybe, just maybe, we'll catch a break on this sort of thing.


Monday, October 08, 2007

Cartoon Dump #4

Well, here it is.

Cartoon Dump #4.


Buff Badger.

If you like REAL CARTOONS then you need to visit THIS site:

Friday, October 05, 2007


Folks, are you ready for Shemptoberfest?

Well, are you?

It's a concept I came up with years ago and for some reason it just tickles my funny bone.

But what the heck is Shemptoberfest? I can only guess it's like a Shemp version of Octoberfest, but what does that even mean?

Beer, bratwurst and knuckle-heads? The mental image of Shemp in leiderhosen cracks me up, but, again, what does it mean?

While I continue to mull this over, I'll direct you folks to shempcompany.com, a site created and maintained by tha man's granddaughters!

Eeeep eeeeep eeeeep eeeeeep!

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Buying, Bringing or Going Home?

For whatever reason, I woke up this morning with a question on my mind: "Will I be buying, bringing or going home?"

This question was asked every morning at Longfellow Elementary School. It was the first order of business right after the Pledge of Allegiance. The subject at hand concerned Lunch Period.

A tally of how many students who were buying lunches was needed so the cafeteria staff knew how many grilled cheese sandwiches they had to make that day.

The number of children who had brought their own lunches were needed so they knew how many cartons of milk were needed in the "milk only" line. In those heady days a half-pint of white, whole milk cost two cents. It was pretty heavily subsidized, I later found out.

I guess they needed to know who was going home for lunch to ensure a proper head count in the cafeteria. I guess it would also be nice to know which students were leaving the building for a half-hour that day.

Boy, can you believe there was a time where grade-schoolers were allowed to leave school and walk home by themselves for lunch? Wow!

I lived a scant block away from school and many were the times I'd trek home for soup and sandwich at noon. Mom would have JEOPARDY playing on the TV set.

(The real Jeopardy; the one hosted by Art Fleming!)

I don't know what prompted me to think of those long gone school lunch breaks this morning, but there you go.

So how about you?

Are you buying, bringing or going home for lunch today?

I brought mine.

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Mister Puppy's Playhouse

Last Christmas season, my daughter became fixated on a series of animated plush dolls that were being hawked at various department stores in our area. They were basically various doggies with a little mechanism stuffed inside that would blurt out a Christmas tune while making the figure appear to gyrate and mouth the words.

She had maybe a half-dozen of these critters! And she continued to play with them long after the tree had been taken to the curb for pickup.

At one point, this past Summer, the glue that held the jiggly music machine inside one of the figures finally gave out. The music box, and a fair amount of stuffing fell out the bottom, leaving a limp, lifeless Christmas Dog carcass in its wake.

Daddy's solution? He stuck his hand inside and created a puppet!

"Hello-o-o-o!" he announced, using a Stewie-meets-Dr. Smith voice. "Welcome to 'Mister Puppy's Playhouse.' I'm your host, Mister Puppy!"

Mariel thought this was just the greatest thing ever!

The whole "Mister Puppy" concept immediately became my daughter's obsession! I couldn't walk into a room without her chanting, "Want Mister Puppy Puppet. Daddy put on Mister Puppy Puppet. Want Mister Puppy Puppet."

Then, a month or so later, a second Christmas Pup lost his guts. He became "Mister Other Puppy!"

M.O.P. ended up with a nasally George-Sanders kind of voice and would hector his brother, Mister Puppy, endlessly about his lifestyle and other dark family secrets. Here's a typical exchange:

Mister Puppy (MP): You know, boys and girls, the holidays will soon be upon us and it's not too early to start planning for them.

Mister Other Puppy (MOP): Oh, yes, Brother! You know all about that, don't you? You like planning little holiday surprises.

MP: Whatever do you mean, Brother?

MOP: Oh, I seem to recall a certain Thanksgiving Dinner, where you just had to make 'an announcement' in front of the whole family.

MP: Oh, why do you have to bring that up now, and in front of the boys and girls?

MOP: I seem to recall Aunt Shirley actually turned blue and passed out in the oyster dressing. Mother's favorite gravy boat got cracked in the ensuing chaos, as well!

MP: Please, please, Brother! That's such a painful memory!

MOP: And what was his name? All I remember is that by New Years Eve, he was history. Hardly worth ruining a family dinner over, I'd say.

MP: Oh, you are so cruel, Brother. (sobbing) So very cruel...
We even made up a theme song that goes like this:

MP: It's Mister Puppy's Playhouse...

Mariel: It's the place you want to be!

MP: It's Mister Puppy's Playhouse...

Mariel: It's the place for you and me!

MP: Mister Puppy, Mister Puppy, Mister Puppy, Mister Puppy, Mister Puppy, Mister Puppy's Pla-a-a-a-a-y Ho-o-o-o-use!

Oh, how I hate those puppets!

Monday, October 01, 2007

Weekend Wrap-Up

Been busy with tons of minutiae, as of late. None of it is particularly interesting, but, hey, this is a blog!

Thursday PM: Looked at my pay stub and discovered the company "docked" me for .05 hours! I can only guess this was the one day the VP forced me out "early" by turning off the lights in the plant and telling me to go home. Even though I clock in five to ten minutes "early" every day, that doesn't "count!" Note to self: I will make sure my clock out time is no earlier than 5:30PM. I can make this happen, believe you me.

Friday: Another 12+ hour Father-Daughter Day. Mariel was in bed and asleep by the time Mommy checked in. The fact that she worked late and wasn't able to get home until 8:45PM helped.

Saturday: Had a meeting at church at 9:00AM; was home by 10:00AM.

Wife noticed a big crack in the front picture window. Not good. Not cheap, either, I'll bet.

I raked and mowed the front yard until 12:45PM. The Summer-long draught has turned my lawn into a dust bowl of Steinbeck proportions. I inhaled 'way too much sediment in the lawn mower wake. I was also covered in silt. Took shower #2.

The whole famn damily hopped in the van to run some errands and check out Halloween stuff at the local nursery. I dropped of an Rx at the drug store and Mariel fell asleep in her car seat. We went back home and the Li'l One woke up crying because she didn't get to see the pumpkins.

So, back in the car and back to the nursery. We then took a quick hop to K-Mart so Daddy could buy new shoes. Emmett Kelley called and he wanted his old pair back.

Dropped the Wife and Kid off at the house and at 4:30PM ran back to the drug store.
Pharmacy Clerk: That'll be $78, Mr. Davison.

Me: Whoah, whoah, whoah! I guess you don't have my health care plan in your data banks. Here's the card.

Pharmacy Clerk: Just have a seat and we'll take care of it.

[Five minutes later...]

Pharmacy Clerk: OK, Mr. Davison, that'll only be $50, now.

Me: Uh, well, that's OK. I can't afford that either, this month. Thanks, any way.
(It was for a prescription allergy medication. I'll go OTC, thank you!)

Drove across town to the Fantastic Sams that gives the $6 "Bald Man Special" haircuts.

Stopped at the Library and took out a couple Chiltons Manuals to try to figure out what's wrong with the van's electrical system.



Amuse Daughter.

Daughter's bed time.

I transferred some old cartoons from VHS to DVD until 10:30PM and then called it quits.

Sunday: Church. We had a "combined service" at 10:30AM which brought together the "early" and "late" service congregations. October is "Pastoral Appreciation Month" and we all surprised Pastor Cook with a vase in which every family placed a single carnation. He was touched. He was speechless! Pastor Cook and his wife, Shirley, are good friends!

12:00PM, we're back home from Church and our friend, Morgan called. She's on her way over with her daughter, Trinity and infant son, Justice. Great - a play date for Mariel and some company for Mommy!

12:30PM - 2:00PM found me mowing the back yard and spraying weed-killer on the last of the poison ivy.

Between 2:00PM - 3:30PM I was sweaty and zonked out from the latest round of yard work. Owing to our company, I was able to sneak off and flake out for a bit.

The rest of the day consisted of dinner, dishes and daughter. I set the DVD recorder to get part five of the Ken Burns series on WWII. I checked my email and hit the sack at 10:30PM

Monday: The alarm went off at 5:15AM. Mariel tottered into the bedroom and wanted to "snuggle with Daddy." I finally got up around 5:40AM and let Mommy look after the Li'l Angel. Hi-ho, hi-ho, it's off to work I go.

...and how was your weekend..?

Cartoon Dump #3

I'm still busy, busy, busy! (Note that I did not say "productively busy.")

Since I seem to be in a cartoon-y mood, here is a brand-spanking new episode of Cartoon Dump!

Word on the street is that Joel Hodgson is now associated with this show and he plays a character named... wait for it... Dumpster Diver Dan! Well, this blog is thematic, if nothing else...

A big "thank you" goes out to dorky dad for including me in his "Daddies Who Blog" round-up! Dewd!