Sunday, August 29, 2010

August Angst

Wow! Has this month kicked my butt, or what?

Well, every dark cloud has a silver lining, so let's do a month-end inventory and see...

Leading the suckage parade were some major lay-offs at work. The reason I was called back at the end of April was that our customer had reactivated two production lines and more workers were needed to meet the demand.

Well, their need for those racks has come and gone, so we shipped the last batch about mid-month. The lay-off meeting was held just after Michelle and Mariel returned from their Buffalo trip.

The Silver Lining? I haven't been canned - yet. I also have to remember that I was only promised a six-week "temp" gig and, four months later, I'm still on the pay roll. Woot!

Further bad developments came when the customer canceled a few shipments of the remaining product due to their own, internal issues. This amounted to my working two four-day weeks and one two-day week. The net result is that I've lost a full week's worth of pay this month.

The Silver Lining? I managed to score two extra days of pay by working on two days' worth of special projects at the plant. See? It could've been worse!

Of course what's diminished income without immediate major expenses? They go hand-in-hand, like Abbott and Costello! Like Leopold and Loeb! Like my groin and the toe of a well-aimed Army boot!

During my three-day lay-off this week, Michelle took our 16-year-old Dodge Shadow to an orientation class. Now, this is the car I've been driving 82 miles a day to-and-from the dish rack factory, folks.

Michelle got two doors down the street before the transmission turned into a solid mass of smoking metal.

I drove her to work in the family van and had the car towed to a local transmission shop.

"Good news," the mechanic informed me. "These old three-speed transmissions are relatively inexpensive to rebuild."

"Whew, that's great," came my reply. "So what're we looking at, here?"

"It should only run you $1,300."

I don't want to be a grammatical pedant, but I feel "only" and "$1,300" should not be used in a sentence this way. Especially since my savings account currently looks like the amount of loose change one might find in the cushions of a couch. (Did I mention this couch was in the lobby of a homeless shelter? Well, it is!)

Reeling, I told the man I'd have to call him back.

I've previously blogged about my hatred of used car shopping and transmission repairs. The last bout was three years ago and this was before my most recent financial Armageddon.

I looked at car that was for sale in my neighborhood. It was a 1999 Lumina with only 74,000 miles on it. The $2,300 price tag was appealing (though, I don't know where that amount of money was gonna come from!)

Upon closer inspection I found out the A/C was tepid, the FM on the radio didn't work, the glove box latch was missing and there was a crack that ran the entire width of the front windshield.

Upon reflection, it was concluded that I could either pay $1,300 to get my old car fixed or I could pay an extra grand to buy another car-with-issues.

Yep, I called the garage and told them to go ahead and fix the Shadow.

The Silver Lining? Well, for starters, the car broke down within 100 yards of our house. There is a very real possibility I could've been stranded miles and miles away from home, had I not been on a mini-layoff.

Also, the mechanic knocked $300 off the transmission repair to help sway my decision. Thanks, pal - there's a dozen donuts in your future!

Of course what's diminished income without immediate major expenses? Oh, wait - I said that already.

Just to put a cherry on top of the old by-product Sundae, the electric bill showed up in our mailbox Saturday afternoon.

An electric bill that indicates we had used consumed more electricity this month than we had in the previous six months combined! (See chart.)

An electric bill for $662.60!

The Silver Lining? The Public Works Commission stopped by the house this past Thursday to install a new meter. The old one, the technician explained, couldn't be read form the street. These things now have transmitters built into them, so the days of a meter-reader writing down the actual number have gone the way of rational political discourse. Obviously, there is a meter-reading issue here, so we'll just have to white-knuckle it until we can discuss it with PWC's customer service department on Monday.


Saturday, August 28, 2010

Let's Play LIMBA!

Here is a prototype for a hot, new game that I hope will soon be sweeping the country.

Since the Tea Party movement currently represents 71% of all people who have ever lived, are currently alive, or are yet to be born, I figured I could cash in on the all-important "Ditto-Head" market.

I've done my market research.

Every extremist, reactionary, right-wing book that is published shoots right to the top of the New York Times' bestseller list, right?

Case in point, Glenn Beck's "The Trapezoid Conundrum" (or whatever the heck it's called!)

But I digress...

"LIMBA" is based on the old "BINGO" or "BEANO" concept.

It is simple and fun to play.

1. Spend three hours of your day, every day, listening to The Rush Limbaugh Show. (So what if he's on between noon and 3:00pm? If your boss is some sort of Alinksy-ite and tries to deprive you of your First Amendment Right to listen to the show, you shouldn't be working for such an America-hating commie in the first place!)

2. Every time you hear one of Rush's hackneyed, well-worn phrases, cross off the corresponding square on your card. (Note that the center square is the traditional "free square." If you don't hear the phrase "MEGA-DITTOS" at least a zillion times in any given show, then your radio is broken.)

3. When you get five squares in a row crossed off, either up-and-down, across or diagonally, you yell "LIMBA!"

Now, chances are you are listening to the show, alone, with the curtains closed, so step number three is really pointless. But that's the dirty little secret that Obama, Reid and Pelosi don't want you to know about!

So, place your orders now, my America-loving friends. 100% of the proceeds left over after meeting production costs (and my own greed is sated) will go to the Wounded Unicorn Foundation.

Or are you a Radical, Marxist, Business-hating, Alinsky-loving, Nazi, Islamist like the non-Supreme-Court-appointed "president" of the United States?

Well, are you!?!?!?