New refrigerator; Hearts

We got a brand new refrigerator this week! I have never actually owned a new refrigerator, and for that matter have never actually paid for one in my entire life. The ones that I have always had have been the type that are either too small or don’t work very well, so people just give them away. As I am sure you can imagine they have not been the most effecient appliances.

We currently have two refrigerators (well, three now) that aren’t up to par. One of which is a “Sears Coldspot Frostless” model. It is a full size unit and it works just fine, for about six weeks at a time, after which you have to unplug it for a couple of days to let all of the ice defrost. It should also be noted that this particular machine (by the looks and style of it) is probably at least twenty years old. I guess that the definition of “frostless” in the ’80’s was vastly different than it is now. Or it was just a gimmick name, either way that fridge is just a huge paperweight most of the time.

The other fridge that we have is an apartment sized one with a really odd name brand. I believe it is like “admiral” or “general” or some such, it always puts me in mind of the military when I read the name. It works fabulously all the time, the problem is that it has only two shelves, and all of the bars on the door that let you put jars there are long gone. Not to mention that the freezer space can be nearly completely filled with a single bag of ice, unless it was recently defrosted, in which case, with enough pounding, you might be able to fit two bags in. This one is porbably only ten years old, but it just doesn’t work for our purposes.

The wife and I had been discussing a new refrigerator for literally a couple of years before making the decision to buy one. After the luck that we have had buying used washing machines (we have two washing machines on the patio that were bought used, both of them crapped out long before they should have), we decided the refrigerator would be a new appliance. After having ogled many refrigerators in the stores over the last couple of years, we weren’t planning to be all that picky about it, we just wanted one that didn’t smell like mold even after you bleach the fuck out of it.

I actually did have two requirements for the new refrigerator, 1) It had to be full size, 2) It needed to have an ice maker. The latter was my justification for the purchase in the first place. My wife uses a lot of ice in her drinks, which she buys at convenience stores for anywhere from $1-$1.50 a bag. The ice is usually chunky little garbage that is hardly suitable for drinks in the first place. Now, if there is an ice maker in the fridge, and particularly since I have a 5 stage, reverse osmosis water filter which the water will run through, there will be good, clean ice on hand all the time without additional purchase. That will save at least $30-$40 dollars a year on ice alone (of course I still do need to buy the parts to hook the ice maker to the water system, hopefully tomorrow).

I have never really liked Sears all that much, mostly since almost everything they sell is horribly overpriced, yet this time that is where the appliance purchase was made…Well, kind of. The purchase was actually made on the computer I am typing on right now, but it was through their website. The refrigerator a Kenmore, 18.2 cubic feet, factory ice maker, and it has free delivery, if they make good on the rebate that is.

This brings me to the point of this whole story. If you have ever shopped for a new refrigerator you will notice that there are a lot of apartment sized fridges, and some even smaller, but when it comes to full size fridges there are ten 17.9 cubic feet ones to every one that is larger. Now I know why. It is all about math!

It seems that the advertised cubic footage of a refrigerator is the usable inside space of the refrigerator. Why is 17.9 so prevalent? Doorways. When I saw that I could get the 18.2 cubic foot fridge, with an ice maker, for about the same as it would cost for a 17.9 without an ice maker, since the former was on sale, I jumped on it. I didn’t even bother to look at the energy guide, since there is no way a new refrigerator can be less efficient than one that is a couple of decades old. I also didn’t look at the dimensions of the machine, that is where I ran into some problems.

If you have ever read this page before, you have likely seen me mention that nothing about my house is standard. The 18 inch thick walls are great for insulation, yet they make it difficult to standardize doorways; you try cutting through 18 inches of mud and stone to make a doorway one inch wider and tell me how it goes. A quick count while walking through the house shows that we have 16 doorways, of course only about half of them have doors on them, else you would have to open four doors to get to the toilet (no kidding). Only two of the doors are the same size, they are both outside doors (the front and side doors) and they are both exactly 32 inches. The rest of the doors vary from 26 inches (on a closet) to 36 inches (entrance to Arizona room). Keep in mind that the measurements are the actual openings, not subtracting for the trim molding.

If you have a standard tape measure around your house you can look to see that the numbers 16 and 32 are in red. 16 is in red since that is how far apart studs have to go when building. 32 is in red since that is the width of a standard doorway. It turns out that that is also why the standard refrigerator is 17.9 cubic feet, any larger than that and you can no longer slide it sideways through a doorway. My old refrigerator was 31 inches wide and 29 inches deep. I was able to turn it sideways to slide it out the door. The new refrigeratorw was 31 inches wide and 33.5 inches deep. My doorway is only 3/16 wider than 31 inches, and that is not counting the inch thick door or the hinges. There was no way to get it into the kitchen without some work. Thankfully, after taking the door off of the hinges and moving it aside, I was able to line the machine up in the doorway, leave through a different exterior door, come back in behind the machine and push it through. If it had been even 1/10th of an inch wider I am not sure if I would have been able to get it into the kitchen, even with a generous amount of vaseline.

Let this be a lesson to me. I should always measure my non-standard doorways prior to new appliance purchase.

• If you are not a fan of the card game Hearts you might as well quit reading now.

I have been playing the game Hearts (link neglected since I couldn’t find a site without a bunch of pop-up crap) for years. There are a lot of variations of the game, but they seem to follow the same guidelines. You want to take zero points. If you take a heart you take a point. If you take the queen of spades you take 13 points. It is possible to lower your score by taking points, however it is difficult since you have to take them all. This quote on the scoring of the game sums it up pretty well:

Winning the Game
When one or more players reach or surpass a score of 100 points, the player with the lowest score wins the game.
Shooting the Moon
Shooting the Moon is a special strategy in which a player tries to take all 13 Hearts and the Queen of Spades. If you manage to Shoot the Moon you can either add 26 points to everyone’s score or subtract 26 from your own.

Shooting the Sun
Shooting the Sun is even more difficult than Shooting the Moon: If you take all 13 tricks – that is, every card in the deck – you can either add 52 points to everyone’s score or subtract 52 from your own.

While my normal strategy in the game is just to not take any points, I have shot the moon a few times. I had never actually shot the sun though, and thought that it would be impossible. Again, if you do not know the game, you may not understand the difficulty. I have probably played tens of thousands of games without shooting the sun. Until today.

The sad part is that I didn’t have any idea that I was doing it as I played. I just wanted to make sure that I kept control of the cards so that I wouldn’t get stuck with the queen of spades and end up adding 13 points to my score. Oh well, I guess we takes ’em when we can get ’em.

Tune in next time to find out such fascinating things as how to treat a wart on your dog (use wart off), how to boil water (a pan and heat), possibly even how to cheat people out of a lot of money (email scams). Damn, I just gave away my next post…

Feedback; Terri Schiavo; Dinner

The screwy work schedule went about as predicted in the last post. However, it was my wife’s birthday yesterday, so even though I was off work at a very reasonable hour I was not able to post. Her parents, her brother, and her brother’s significant other took us out to dinner. More on that later.

•I got an actual email! An email based on the content of the website, praising the site, and most of all completely unsolicited! I will quote it in its entirety, suppressing the name of course:

I like your site! I have spent much of my work day trying to read as much as I can. I really enjoyed Meeting Arthur Witles! Can’t wait to read more!
Keep up the great work!

I know that my wife played a role in getting the web address to this person, but still, isn’t it this type of simple praise that keeps me typing away? Well, of course it is, else I might have just skipped out on posting tonight. I do appreciate any feedback, as I am sure anyone with their own webpage does, but it seems that few people ever actually take the time to send an email whether they agree/disagree with what you are saying. In my case I know that I usually just never send emails to websites assuming that they will never be read, responded to, or taken seriously. If that is what is keeping you from emailing me, I can assure you that I read all the email, respond to all of the email, and take all praise in stride. I do assume that any criticism is coming from completely whacked out psycopaths (if you think my opinions are wrong then you are obviously clinically insane), but I answer them as well.

There was a bit of a mistake in that last paragrah. When I said that I read and respond to all emails I forgot to mention that I don’t really read the ones that come in with subject lines that read like V|I|A|G|R|A.

(A lengthy phone call from a friend ended the post here yesterday. I am going to continue it today on the same page, if I can get back aboard the train that my thoughts were riding yesterday).

•The wife’s birthday was on Wednesday and her parents had arranged for us all to go out to dinner. We just went to the place we always go to, only this time we, or I really, opted for the outdoor seating since it was a pretty warm evening, not to mention that it put us in the section of our favorite server. The food was excellent and a good time was had by all.

At the start of the dinner, I asked the waiter to bring me a beer, but to put it onto a separate ticket. I was not entirely sure who was going to be paying for the meal or how it might be split up, so I didn’t want anyone else to have to pay for my beer, when the beer is four dollars a pop. When it came time to pay I looked at the check while everyone else was talking and decided to pay for it myself, both everyone’s meals and my beer tab (as the meals added up to about sixty dollars, which was just what I had gotten paid to install a couple of sinks in one of the rentals that my boss owns). I asked my brother-in-law if he would cover the tip if I paid for the meal, and while he offered to split the meal many times, he finally agreed. I did force him to tip a full 20% (which seems excessive to a lot of people, but you must understand that servers in the state of Arizona get paid less than minimum wage and have to claim that they were tipped at least 10% by every customer, lots of people don’t tip even 10% which really screws the server over. When I get good service the tip is always 20%).

The thing that I found funny about this was that then the parents-in-law offered to pay for the meal. I remember a Father’s Day meal that I had planned to pay for, but when I returned to my seat from the restroom, they had a calculator out to figure out who owed what (which was why I bought the beer separate this time, makes those calculations easier). This time I didn’t decide I was going to pay for it until right at the last minute, and, as I found out later, my wife’s parents really did want to pay for it -both because it was their daughter’s birthday and to thank me for fixing their pc several weeks ago. Oh well, I decided to use the money I had made on the side to pay for the meal and I feel pretty good about it. There will be many other opportunities for someone else to snatch the check away from me in the future.

It seems that paying for the dinner was observed by the gods of monetary karma. The next day I bought a lottery scratch ticket, something I do maybe once a month or so usually and purely for entertainment; I really don’t consider it my retirement plan. The ticket I bought was of the three-dollar variety, going by the name of Slingo(on the occasions when I do buy scratch tickets I usually always buy the two or three dollar ones since there is so much more to scratch off, some like crossword puzzles, some like bingo, it takes you a few minutes of anticipation before you eventually lose your money). I scratched that ticket off a little bit at a time while I was reading web sites, it was a twenty dollar winner. Soon after scratching the ticket I realized that I had forgotten to buy cancer sticks while I was out earlier, so I took that scratch ticket and another ticket that I have had laying around for months and went to a different store than where I bought the initial ticket. I tucked the twenty bucks from the ticket into my pocket, but used the three dollars from the other ticket to buy yet another Slingo ticket. Which turned out to be a ten dollar winner. It seems that the gods of monetary karma really did want me to split that dinner bill with someone since they gave me back half of the money the next day. At any rate, it sure was nice to scratch off two tickets and end up with actual cash. Usually I just end up saying “well there went three bucks”.

•The aforementioned lengthy phone call, the one that cut yesterday’s post so short, was with a friend that I talk to kind of infrequently, yet who is the closest of all of my friends. What made the call go so lengthy was our discussion of the Terri Schiavo fiasco.

I had my mind made up on this a long time ago. The woman had been immobile and virtually brain dead for a decade. Let her die for God’s sake. I know that I wouldn’t want to be kept alive in that state, and certainly not to be paraded around as a political wedge tool. Of course the only person in the entire universe that knew of her actual wishes died when she did. The whole issue just seems such a non issue to me that I couldn’t understand why any rational human being could oppose letting her die. Then my friend brought up a few issues (a couple of which I don’t want to get into) that I had never actually thought about.

The first issue is that maybe she never told either her husband or her parents anything about what she would want if she became so horribly disabled. I can see that as a possibility. Then each side invents conversations where her will was spoken when it never actually was. While I see that as a possibility, I still think that it would be more humane to let her die than to fight about the legalities of it, especially since her conditon hadn’t improved in a decade.

The second issue is one that is extremely complex, far too complex for me to try to delve into, but I will just scratch at the surface. My friend’s contention is that the brain damage had completely wiped out any memory of her former self; that she was alive without knowing that she had ever been an active, walking, talking, functioning person. She is alive, she is not in pain, she has no memory of a “better time” in her life, this is her reality. This could all be completely true, the only way that you will ever know is to end up in the condition that she was in. Perhaps you really do have a mind like a newborn child where everything seems so new and wonderfull, unfortunately you will only know this once you get to the state she was in and at that point you no longer have the capacity to make a decision about your life or death.

The third issue is about moving on. My friend’s assertion is that since she wasn’t in pain it was doing no harm to keep her alive. Her husband had finally given up hope and started to move on with his life, while her parents had not yet made that decision. Again, this is a pretty deep philosophical issue, but, on the surface it is a selfish issue on both sides. If the husband has truly come to terms with the fact that his wife is never going to get better, that she is going to be in this state until her life is taken by some process of aging, why doesn’t he stand by her side and let her live? On that same note, if her parents have reached that same conclusion, why not just stand by her side and let her die? In the case of the parents I am sure that the reason they want her to live is simply love; they love their daughter unconditionally and want her to be there as long as possible (regardless of mental or physical capacity). In the case of the husband I am pretty sure that the reason he wants to let her die is out of mercy; he knew her when she was a vivacious young lady with a thirst for life and simply can’t stand to see her like this. The husband was able to make the decision to just let her go, the parents can’t. Does that make either of them right or wrong? If so, who should be the judge of that?

The fourth issue is where my mind started to itch a little bit. Have you ever read a “living will”? I have, my mother made one when she saw her mother slowly dying in a hospital room, and gave copies of it to all three of her sons. While I am sure that there are no surviving copies of that sheet of paper, I am pretty sure that we will all remember exactly what it said. One of the lines in it read, roughly, “In the case of serious injury affecting brain or nervous system function no extraordinary means should be used to prolong my life.” That line is saying, in effect, that if she is ever in a coma and not able to live on her own that she doesn’t want a bunch of machines hooked up to her to keep her alive. But, should a little tube that gives you food and water be considered extraordinary means?

I am currently not sure just how to judge this one. Making a person starve to death/die of thirst over a 13 day period seems inhumane, but, keeping that person alive for a decade without any sort of cognizant existance seems wrong also.

Computer service

Strange posting schedules seem to have become the norm around here. I would like to say that I am planning to change that, but I am not sure if I have any intention of trying to. For the most part I am going to just use this site for what I never really intended it for; random bitching when I am really pissed.

I may actually get back into posting a bit more frequently though, just because one can only play so many on-line games of dominoes before getting really tired of it. That being said, don’t expect much.

The reason that I decided to bang something out tonight is because of yet more computer problems…Not mine though…

To start the story from roughly the beginning, the PC that is used where I work was initially bought in about 1997. The software that is used for the purposes of the store can not operate on any system later than windows 98 (it has to have a pure DOS environment, something that you really can not do with windows me/xp). Sometime around 2000, the owner was trying to upgrade his system. Problem was that his daughter was trying to build him a new machine using all of the old parts (a new motherboard and processor, everything else the same) including the antiquated windows95 operating system that was already on the hard disk. It went horribly wrong.

It took a couple of technicians several days to get the machine to a workable condition, but even then a lot of the stuff didn’t really work quite like it should. Most notably everything related to the files for the store. I wasn’t able to get any support from the software manufacturer for the store files since they went out of business, but I was able to get some support from the manufacturer of the actual PC to POS software, and got it all working again. It took a damn long time and I prayed I would never have to do it again.

One day, in December of 2002, there was a huge power surge in town (for unknown reasons), which shouldn’t have been a big deal since the PC was plugged into a battery backup/surge protector. Problem is that the surge protector was plugged into an outlet that was not grounded. You know where this is going. Thing is, the communication cable between the PC and the Cash Register was connected, and the Cash Register was also not grounded. The power supply in the PC was completely fried, the motherboard in the Cash Register was partially fried, the communication cable was fried, and, as a bonus, all related surge protectors were also fried. It was a bad day.

The Cash Registers are under warranty (service contract actually) so that was not a big deal. The communication cable only actually burned the contacts in the connectors, which was easily fixed. The PC, however, was a totally different story.

The PC was taken to a shop called Computers and Things in Casa Grande, Arizona. They said that not only was the power supply bad, but the motherboard as well. I actually believe that was probably true. After the surge hit you could smell electrical fire from a long ways away from the pc. They were going to build a new tower, using only the existing hard drives. There was a problem. They said that the hard drives were so horribly infested with viruses that they were not even able to complete some sophisticated virus scans, the drives would simply freeze up. After a lot of discussion (and my steadfast gurantee that I had backed up every important file on a weekly basis) we told them to throw away the smaller drive, format the larger drive so that I could use it for backup purposes, and install a new primary drive. When we got the tower back we thought everything was golden.

It took me, again, several hours to get all of the store files reinstalled and the communications between the register and PC to work properly, but I did. The hand held scanner, however, never worked properly. I had to remove that communications port (via the device manager in the control panel) and restart the PC every time I needed to use it. I thought that it may be something related to different versions of DOS on the new system, hell, even now I don’t know why that was necessary. The thing is that it worked for our purposes, albeit a bit laborsome to use it, it worked.

Fast forward to last Thursday…

The PC had been running so slow, and randomly freezing, that I thought that it might be horribly infested with spyware. I attempted to download AdAware, but was never able to since the thing kept freezing. A tech that I know (though more an internet tech, as he owns an ISP) ran a program called HijackThis on it and found that there was some spyware, but not much. I did a disk clean-up on it, then tried to defragment it, freeze again. The bosses called an actual PC tech to take a look at it. At this point I was thinking it was either a worm of some sort that was in the Regedit or a bad hard drive, but since the hard drive was only a couple of years old I was leaning towards the former. I told the tech the symptoms, one of which was a “windows protection fault” during boot, which he said was symptomatic of bad RAM. The RAM test came through fine. He tried to run a hard drive test on it, but it froze before it got 2% into it. He said that he wanted to take it back and put it into a “clean system” to check it for viruses and trojans, which seemed like the next logical step. Problem is that he was trying to take the old hard drive, the one that was there for backup purposes only. When I told him that, he re-booted the system into the BIOS. The guys at Computers and Things had actually installed windows onto the drive that I specifically told them to only put back in so I could backup my files. I never thought to check that when we got the pc back from them, I was more worried about the whole “does it work” factor. It was at exactly that point that I knew the truth.

The guys at Computers and Things had installed windows back onto the old, worn, possibly corrupt hard drive. They then installed a brand new hard drive as a backup. They did exactly the opposite of what I asked. Bleh. I really should have actually checked it myself, if not in the BIOS, I could have simply clicked the drives to check their size and seen what they had done. Let this be a lesson to me to never take the word of a ‘tech’ without using my own limited knowledge to verify. The hard drives, both, went to the shop.

It came as no surprise to me when the tech, who was working with me yesterday, called me to say that the hard drive was bad. Of course the hard drive is bad. It is eight years old, it is used on a PC that is turned on and off a half a dozen times a day, it lived through a power surge that destroyed the rest of a PC, yeah, no surprise there. The only upside being that I have been using the other drive for backup purposes exclusively, thus it was working fine. Installed windows onto it and the PC was all better, to a point. Of course there were no drivers for the devices, took me a good hour to find the modem driver, but the machine runs just fine now. I didn’t try to get the store files running today though, since the one program has a utility on it that stamps something from the hard drive into a file called ‘reset.exe’, which can only be deleted by a tech at the POS manufacturer. I am sure that I will have it all up and working by Monday, but I am so pissed that Computers and Things used the wrong hard drive that I just had to bitch.

The “Computers and Things” that I am talking about is located in Casa Grande, Arizona. They are a bunch of shysters. Do not ever take your PC to them. Unless, of course, you enjoy paying hundreds of dollars for extremely inadequate service. They will take your money for sure, what you get in return is a computer that is just as broken as the day you walked in. Broken a bit differently, of course, but, broken is broken. They also offer the c2i2.com internet access, which is as worthless as they are. I went through c2i2 for internet access for about a year, I could never keep a connection for more than a half hour. Stay Away.

Telemarketers; Pool

My little bitch about yet more people trying to cover (destroy) old songs yesterday did not result in any sort of feedback, which I have come to expect at this point. Makes me wonder if I should actually go ahead and try to write something worth reading, but, then again, that is hard. Much easier to throw out a bunch of dribble that no one ever reads than to actually take the time to write out some eloquent, poignant post that no one is ever going to read. I do pick my battles.

• So you know how the telemarketer’s call you, my stock response is, “is this a soliciting call?”, then, when pressed, the caller will admit to being the hated telemarketer. Today I happened upon a telemarketer that was alomost as smart as your average rock, of course I didn’t know that initially. The pitch was for long distance telephone service, my angle is usually to just hang up on those types of telemarketers, yet, today, I decided to fuck with him. Hilarity was the direct result.

When I answered the phone, there was a voice saying, “are you happy with your current long distance service?”. This would have been the point that I just hung up the phone most every time I get those calls, yet today I felt a bit ‘rowdy’, as it were.

Mind you, I am on the phone with this guy as we are speaking.

I asked him what company he was representing, he replied that he was representing ‘Verizon’, whom I don’t think actually offer home service in the first place. Yet, after watching a bit of ‘Crank Yankers’ last night, I just wanted to fuck with him.

His next question was, “are you happy with your current telephone provider?” Now, what I told him was both a blatant lie, and proof that I was fucking with him. I told him that I didn’t even have a telephone at home (while I was talking to him on it), because they had de-regulated some of the home service, my phone was one that got de-regulated, which caused my rates to triple and I just had it disconnected.

Well the guy seemed to be feeling sorry for me, and offered to transfer me to their wireless sales department, as they don’t offer local service in my area, so that I would at least have a phone of some sort. So, yes, the guy was as dumb as a rock. He did seem to catch on though. While I made him hold to answer call waiting he hung up on me. I sure hope that at some point while he was holding he realized what a complete idiot he was, that thought makes me smile.

That was one of the first times that I have ever decided to go ahead and fuck with a telemarketer, as such it was a pretty short experience. I am thinking now that I might try to do it once in a while just to see how long I can keep them on the phone, and how outrageous the stories I can get them to believe can get. They are the ones that are bothering me, after all, so making them look like complete idiots seems to be a pretty fair exchange. Trust me when I say that if I do this, as a scientific research project of course, you will be the first to hear the results.


It is Saturday, October 9, 2004

The last post got cut short, a bit abrubptly, when I asked the wife if she would like to go shoot a game of pool at the (remaining) local bar. We went ahead and walked on down there (drinking and driving is always a bad idea, even if it is only a few blocks) to find the place packed. Yet, strangely, there was no one around one of the three pool tables, I asked everyone near the table if there was someone with ‘ownership’ of the table (if you have never played pool in an arena where there are a lot of drunk men, you really need to find this out before attempting to drop your quarters into the thing. Men, especially when horribly drunk, can be a little bit less than understanding when you try to breach the etiquitte of ‘pool table ownership’.), but nope, it was ours to use as we pleased.

I had consumed a beverage or two (a lot of beer) before we went down there in the first place, and while I find that the beer does calm the nerves a bit (in small doses), it seems that I might have dosed myself a bit too much to play pool well that night. Of course we only do it for fun, so that is kind of the point.

I have a kind of ‘double-bell curve’ thing working when I play pool. I can not play worth a damn when I am stone sober, that is related to the fact that I am very shaky most of the time. Before you go trying to blame that on the consumption of alcohol, or lack thereof, let me state that I have had this problem since I was in my early teens and had never tasted that sweet nectar. Once my hands stop shaking, (enough of the alcohol depressant to slow my nervous system) I can play pretty well most of the time. I was, unfortunately, already past that portion of the newly created ‘double-bell curve’ at this point, yet not into the fourth part of the it. The third point of the ‘double-bell curve’ is that point when I am actually drunk and can’t hit a damn thing. Once again, and again unfortunately, I can not skirt the edges of that zone to get the pool prowess from the next zone. The final zone, in the ‘double-bell curve’ is absolute incoherence. That is when my pool is pretty much at it’s best. It is much easier to make the shot when you see three of every ball, and three pockets to get them into, and since they are all the same ball, and all the same pockets, all you have to do is sink it.

Last night’s pool play was dominated by my inability to make simple shots (indicative of the first or third levels of the double-bell curve), but ended with me playing pool with a man, whom I had never met, that wanted to “win” the table from me. At that point I was not able to hit the ocean with a rock, and wanted to just let him take the table, of course he would have none of it. Damn, those (we) drunkards do have our values. I did eventually lose that game, which was not much of a “throwing” of the match, since I couldn’t make a damn shot to start with. It did allow my wife and I to hobble home though, and I say hobble because I am pretty sure that walking kind of implies that you are on an invisible track, while hobbling could take you from curb to curb.

• This thought will be taken up in a future post.

John Saul; Watches

Well, Yesterday’s post actually resulted in two emails. While I would like to think that it was all a result of myself writing better, or perhaps more controversial, things, that is certainly not the case. Both of the emails were asking me the same question: If you don’t really like John Saul, why have you read so many of his novels?

I expected this question to come from Flux at the BlackChampagne website when I originally wrote the message to him. When he didn’t actually ask the question, I kind of gave up on looking for an excuse to give him. Then, when two people emailed the question that Flux never asked, I was forced to start to try to come up with a reason why. I have found that reason, basically put, I don’t know.

The year was roughly 1991, I was riding with my oldest brother from Oregon to Arizona. Speed limits at the time still being in the 55mph range on much of the road, while being 65mph on others, it was taking us a while to get there. The only tape that we had in the car, at least the only one that I would agree to listen to, was Europe: The Final Countdown. That was what we listened to for about 20 hours of driving time and it really, really, really got old.

My mother, while we were at her home in Arizona, offered us a book-on-tape version of Saul’s first novel “Suffer the Children”. Being that myself and my brother would rather die than to listen to that godawful ‘Europe’ music again, we took it and plugged it in as we were leaving Phoenix. The strange thing is that I am not able to find anywhere on the official John Saul website that there was ever a ‘book on tape’ version of that story…ever… I know that this was the story that I listened to, and I know that it really did sound fresh, but I was also about sixteen, and I didn’t really know anything about anything. Of course that knowledge (the knowledge that you never knew anything in your teens) really only starts to come to you much, much later.

Probably about four years after the previous incident, I realized that I actually wanted to read the works of Saul. It was certainly not an ‘epiphany’, or anything of that sort. I just happened to check out a book at the local library, by Saul, and read it. The book-on-tape versions of the books are either far better, or I have really low standards. At the time I was living with a dear friend, and we would kind of juggle the books to make sure that we were both able to read them before they had to go back to the library. It was during that period that I read every novel that Saul had ever written.

There are certain requisites one must reach before becoming a ‘good author’. Saul, in my opinion, did not meet a single one of those requisites. What Saul did do was keep me reading his books.

So, here we are, many years later. I have read every book that Saul had written, prior to the “blackstone chronicles”, of course I read that all as well. The thing is that some combination of age/experience in life tells you what is going to happen long before the question ever comes up. I, now, have an autographed copy of Saul’s latest novel. I will read it, every page. Not just for the story, but for the fact that a very dear friend bought it for me.

The other question, via email, was regarding the dual watch photos that I placed in yesterday’s update. The question was; “are you sure about the prices you attribute to each watch?”.

The answer is pretty simple, “NO”.

I have never bought a Rolex, ever, and I don’t plan to…

This person’s issue was with my saying that the ‘armitron’ was under a hundred dollars, while the Rolex was over a thousand… Well, it turns out that I chose the wrong ROLEX to pick on. The Armitron watch in the photo is still under a hundred dollars, the ROLEX watch is (prior to my previous beliefs) only about 800. Thank you for clearing that up. So that, the Rolex, watch will keep time only 8 times better than the three-dollar watch that you can get at the local 7-11. To follow that up, your average cheap-ass-watch can keep time, being off by only thousandths of a second, for years. The more expensive watches have to be repaired by ‘jewelers’, the name itself cost money.

Buy the cheap watch and there will be no need to negotiate later,.

Rolex Vs. Armitron; John Saul Vs. Stephen King

First off, I just want to go ahead an mention that I only waited until the fourth day of the month to get around to changing the date on my watch. That might be a new record for me. My watch is very often a day off just because I am too lazy to change it. Not that I am necessarily too lazy to take the fraction of a second to actually change the date, more that my watch has a certain issue when I try to do it (or I have an issue with the watch, or both).

The thing about watches is that if you happen to be a man, and not a metrosexual type man, you only really need one. That being the case, you want to have one that is quite durable, yet that looks respectable enough to wear in semi-formal wear; A plastic digital watch doesn’t look very good when you are trying to dress nice. This leads to you (hopefully) having a watch that is much like mine (which is an Armitron. Of course the website does not let you actually browse through the designs, except by category with a representative picture of each, which makes that link all but useless.), for those on a budget, or a much more expensive one that is just as utilitarian (of course the link to Rolex is every bit as useless as it does the same “Flash Navigation” crap that makes it impossible to link to anything within the site.).

For your consideration, I offer the following two photos. I apologize for not being able to get them to the same size, but the Rolex got too blurry when I sized it down, as did the Armitron when I tried to size it up.

Now, I know for a fact that the Armitron is stainless steel, not just the back of it, but the band and everything else as well. I know that because it has been on my left wrist every single day for about three years. The Rolex appears to be damn near identical to the Armitron, so I am going to go ahead and assume that it is also made of stainless steel.

The stainless stell allows me to dip my hands into heavily bleached water without fear of damaging it, makes it quite easy to clean, and also gives it a simple silver and black look that you honestly could not get with your average Swatch. The fact that blood rinses neatly off of it is something that I really adore, but that may be just for people in my chosen profession.

I can wash the blood of of the watch once the day is over (much like washing your hands) and wear the same watch out to dinner in semi-formal wear. In fact, I am pretty sure that I was actually wearing this watch while I was at my Wedding. As for the fact that the Armitron watch in the photo is under a hundred dollars, while the rolex in the photo is over a thousand, I got nothing. Some People (idiots) will simply pay more for the name. I am glad that I am not one of them.

I have gone way, way off topic here, I will try to get it back into focus now. I don’t like to change the date on the watch because (on any watch that is a chronograph) you have to pull the winder (or what used to be a winder) out about half way to get to the part that changes the date alone. Nearly half of the times I try, I pull the damn thing out too far and end up messing the minute hand on the watch up. That is really not that big of a deal, but I do like to keep my watch as close as possible to three minutes ahead of actual time. I suppose that is yet another one of my weird obsessions, but it does pretty much gurantee that I am to work a minute or two early, and since I never leave work until at least five minutes after (as a precaution), I am guranteed to never arrive late or leave early.

• I sent an email to Flux over at BlackChampagne.com a couple of days ago. It was a pretty simple, short email, in which I just pretty much ripped on John Saul. Of course, as luck would have it, he went ahead and posted my email, then linked to my site. I am not opposed to that in any way, I mean you don’t really start typing on your own site if you aren’t looking to have people read it. Posting your thoughts in such a (potentially) public venue will make it so that a lot of people read it.

In case anyone out there actually reads both his site and my site, I want to make one point clear. I have read over 20 John Saul books, the most recent was the 6 book series called The Blackstone Chronicles (I do apologize for not linking to the amazon.com or other sellers of the books, but those reviews are pretty harsh…Albeit deservingly so). Most every book that Saul wrote I read before I had come out of my teen years. I read the “blackstone chronicles” only because I felt an obligation to read the rest of his work. I knew then, as I know now, that the ‘Blackstone Chronicles’ was a direct attempt to rip off the Green Mile serial series that Stephen King did.

I would likely not even be reading this latest Saul novel were it not for the fact that a friend took the time to buy a copy of the book (in hardcover) and got the author himself to autograph it, with my name in the message. It is not even formulaic crap, no, to call it formulaic would imply that he uses a formula. He doesn’t seem to use a formula at all, instead he just writes the same damn story, over and over again, changing names where necessary. But, that is why I actually quit reading Saul in the first place.

I don’t have it in me to bitch any more about this subject, but trust me, I stand behind my decision that Saul is not a real author.

Shoe size; Sex pills

My day at work yesterday involved unloading a truck. I must say that this process has been made much, much easier on me since the change in distributors sometime in July. I used to have to pick every case off of a roller and set it on the floor to the side, now I just have to check in the perishables, which are carted in by the driver, and actually count the rest of the stock. I had never realized just how much work it was to pick up the several hundred cases (ranging in weight from 5-80 pounds) and set them to the side until the point where I didn’t have to do it. Damn that used to be a lot of work.

The unfortunate side-effect of the new system is that If I happen to miss damage to any of the persihable items while checking them in, we can not return them, and can not get a credit for breakage. What this means to me, personally, is that I have to pay a lot more attention to the boxes that the items are shipped in; If the sides of the box appear to be smashed a little bit, it could be that the product inside the box is completely destroyed. Still, having to do less lifting and more careful examinations is something that I welcome, having had problems with my back for the last ten or twelve years.

Unfortunately for you, the reader, I have no intentions of talking about my lack of lifting over the last couple of months. I have more sinister motives. It is all about the shoes.

In my last update, I mentioned that if my new shoes performed perfectly it would be akin to me getting a Pulitzer Prize for the writing that I put into this site. The thing is that the shoes did perform flawlessly, yet I have not heard any mention of my little bitch site being in contention for said Pulitzer. I suppose that I am a humbled man. I am a humbled man who no longer has sore feet every fucking day though, so that should count for something.

What I really want to know is how can a man reach the age of 30 without anyone ever saying anything about the poor fitting shoes? Sure there is not a lot of opportunity for that kind of thing when you buy your shoes at warehouse outlets and the such, but when the guys are fitting you for a Tuxedo they measure everything. Come to think of it, those rented tux shoes didn’t hurt either. Perhaps I should have asked the guy what shoe size I actually was. Bleh. Now I know the problem and I will be able to address it in the future.

One more thing that I must say about the whole ‘shoe size’ issue is that the reason that I used to buy the oversized (so it seems) shoes was that they were the only ones that didn’t horribly hurt my toes even in the showroom (that seems to be based on the shoe getting a fraction wider for every size; assuming that the foot is just a bit wider for every inch longer it gets). The side-effect of that was that they did not bend where my foot bent, which led to further discomfort, well pain usually. If you are a poor/cheap person like me, and you have a lot of foot pain, have someone actually measure your damn feet before your next shoe purchase. The difference is not like night and day, but more like sunshine as opposed to the endless void of the nether realms of a black hole.

I still wish that I could have found a brand that I knew a little bit better, perhaps the better fit of the shoes will keep my feet from busting the seams quite as quickly? I better go ahead and bookmark this page for the inevitable letdown in a month or two.

• In a bit of non-shoe news, for a change, here is a story that I really enjoyed:

Sex Enhancement Pills Fall Short?

I had long thought that no one believed the commercials for those damn ‘penis enlargement’ pills. Well it turns out that enough people did, and enough people are mad about it, that they are going to try to sue the makers of the pill ‘Enzyte’. You see, the thing is, I have to watch at least a dozen commercials for that pill every day. Not once, ever, in the commercials does it actually say that it will make the little willy bigger. It does say that it will give you a “big new spring of confidence”, it also says that it will give you “a little well-deserved respect around the neighborhood”, what it does not say is that it will make your penis bigger.

I think that they go to great lengths to try to make you think that they are saying that it will make your penis bigger, but they never say anything of the sort. Other commercials say that it will give you a “big, new swing of confidence” as well as a “happy woman back at the ‘club-house’.” None of that actually says, or implies, actual penis growth. Sure, some men would think that it implies they will get a larger penis if they take the pill, but aren’t there thousands of people who buy ‘penis pumps’ in the hopes of getting a bit of ‘natural male enhancement’?

The very last line of the article that I linked to at the start pretty much says it all, and it said:

“Enzyte is more successful subtracting from the male wallet than it is adding to the male organ,” Schardt said.

I may not be the biggest horse in the stalls, but I would rather eat my own shit than to pop sugar pills in the hopes that little willy would grow.

It is like my Mother always told me (and no that was not from her personal experience), “It is not the size of the wand, but the magic within.” Come to think of it., That might not have been my Mom, might have been my friend’s mom (the same non-sexual rule still applying), at any rate, someone said that to me enough times that I still remember it. Of course the small wand might make me remember this particular quote all the more.

Now that I have told everyone that has an internet connection that I have both huge feet and a small member, I think I am gonna call it a night.

Tune in to the next post to see how I can turn very innocuous ideas into horrible things that you would rather not read. I am ready.

Shoe size

Well, just a bit more shoe discussion today (dear random fluctuations of time and space, I hope I eventually come up with some actual content). The shoes that I bought on Sunday performed quite admirably in their first full day of use. Of course you can’t judge a shoe by the first ‘full day’ of use, but I can certainly tell you that most of the downfalls of the other shoes were non-existant in these ones. So much so, in fact, that I think I may finally understand why I can never find a comfortable pair of shoes in any price range. It turns out that I have wide feet.

The latest pair of shoes that I purchased are in a 9 1/2 size, but they are ‘extra wide’. It turns out that all of the foot discomfort that I had been getting from the other shoes might be directly related to the fact that I have wide feet. You see, your average Payless Shoe Source doesn’t have any person working for them that actually cares about your shoe size. The only thing that those type of stores care about is selling the next pair of ten dollar shoes (of which maybe 3 cents per shoe go to the kids in the warehouse that built them). I mention this only because I found it a bit humorous that the women at the shoe store I went to seemed a bit, I will say, less than educated at their craft.

There is a thing called a Brannock Device that can be used to measure the foot, in length and in width. There is always at least one of the damn things in every shoe store. The unfortunate thing is that they never use them, even worse, they don’t know how to use them. Using the device by myself, after I had already purchased the damn shoes, I found that I am actually a size 9 1/2. Beyond that, and not knowing how to use the device properly, I was not able to confirm this until I just googled up the link to the Brannock Device. It turns out that I really do have wide feet.

My usual shoe purchases are in the 10 1/2 to 11 range, and they seem to fit pretty well (after a week or so of expansion). The 9 1/2 extra wide shoes that I got, however, still seem to fit perfectly, no need for expansion or other weird shit to make them fit. The extra wide shoes just fit. If I had known that I had really wide feet when I was in high school, I may have been able to make my dad buy me shoes that actually fit onto my feet. Of course Dad was more ‘old school’ and would likely have told me to grin and bear it.

At least now I know that I have really wide feet and as such will make sure to mention that fact when I am trying to purchase shoes in the future. Honestly, today might be the first day in damn near a decade that I have not felt pain in my feet. Who knew that the pain could have been caused by the limited selection of shoes at the local Payless? Beyond that, who knew that if you wear a shoe that is a couple of sizes too big (if you have a wide foot) it will expand to fit the foot? This is all quite irritating to me, I am not blessed with a huge ‘Johnson’, I am not as tall as an ‘NBA’ player, I just have really wide feet. And you know what they say about people with really wide feet…They have short ‘Johnson’s’. Which is also not helpful.

If these shoes make it through the unloading of the truck tomorrow, then through the remainder of the day, I might call them the ‘Perfect Shoes’. Of course the odds of that happening are about the same as my odds of getting a pulitzer prize for the writing on this website…Not likely, enough said.

At the very least, even if you hate me, my feet don’t hurt and it was the discovery of extra wide shoes that made this all possible.

I don’t have anything to put after that. In the interest of making more readers turn liberal, I offer you this; The Washington Monthly. This site will give you the democratic view of the issues, like them, hate them, this is how we/they think.

New shoe discussion; Neighbor ships to Iraq

This weekend left me without a lot of desire time to write anything. That is of course not true, but as the whole world now seems to just accept lies at face value I am gonna go with it. Today I will make up for the lack of any posting over the weekend by making sure to bore you to tears, and thus make you thankful that there was not any of this crap for the last couple of days. If all goes as planned anyway.

• Sunday was a day that I really dreaded. It was new shoe day. I dreaded it so much in fact that I have put off the occasion for the last two months, even though it was quite necessary. My old shoes have ripped to the point that it is possible to put my entire fist through the side of one of them where the leather meets the sole. In fact the only thing that kept my foot from slipping out through that enormous hole was the fact that it hadn’t quite made it all the way to the toe of the shoe, just damn close. Of course the rip was almost as bad two months ago, I just hate shoe shopping so much that I kept putting it off.

It hasn’t always been like this, no, no, I actually used to enjoy shopping for shoes. Of course I used to enjoy shopping for shoes when I was following the trends that everyone does in their teens. Back then I would intentionally add unnecessary wear to shoes so that I could go and find the latest ‘in’ ones to replace them. That was when it was still on dad’s dime, so of course I never got the shoes that I really wanted, but I could usually get a cheap knock-off copy of the ones that I did desire. Strange that now that I am buying them myself, and can buy any damn pair I want, I so loathe the experience.

I only own one pair of shoes at any given time, well technically two, but one is a pair of dress shoes that might make it out of the box once a year at best. The other shoes are my everything shoes. Some people have a different pair for things like work, hiking, yardwork, digging ditches in horrible rainstorms, etc. I use the same pair for everything. Sometimes I will wear flip-flops when I am using the weedeater, which is a really stupid thing to do, but it does keep me from having to pick all the little bits of grass out of my shoelaces. I guess if I ever get careless and amputate a toe in the process I will look back at how foolish it was and laugh, or not, depending on what kind of medication I am on at the time.

So why do I hate shoe shopping so much? There is just no longer any selection. I know that you can walk into any random shoe store and see several hundred different shoes for sale, ranging from a couple dollars to a couple hundred dollars, but they never have anything even approaching what I want. So am I some uber-picky shoe snob? I don’t think so. All that I ever ask for is a pair of leather shoes that are black (at least mostly black) and hightops. That’s it, just black, leather hightops, wouldn’t seem that tough to find would they? I haven’t actually acquired a pair of the elusive things in at least four years.

My preferred brand of footwear is Nike, not that I have actually had a pair of them in a few years, since they just never seem to release anything that meets my meager criteria. I prefer Nike not for the fit (as they are always too tight and hurt my feet badly for the first week or two) nor for the name, but for their durability. The last pair of Nike’s that I had kept my feet covered for about a year and a half, I still actually have them and I do actually wear them sometimes when I know that I am going to get really dirty. For comparison, my last two shoe purchases have been something called “Tuff Grip” that I purchased at Wal-Mart, and which lasted about two months, and some “Tx Traction” shoes (a christmas gift from the wife that we never got around to picking up until late January or early February due to the aforementioned hatred of shoe shopping. And while I could have had any shoe in the store I took the 29 dollar traction ones since they were the only ones that came even close to what I wanted), which lasted about four months, though I put off buying new ones for a couple of months after that. As you can see the Nike’s just last longer.

My job actually dictates what kind of shoes I must wear. Not like a dress code, more like something that I have discovered over time. First off, I cut meat while I am at work, this tends to leave the shoes getting blood dripped on them. Try going out to dinner sometime wearing just jeans and a T-shirt along with a pair of blood-stained white sneakers, maybe people aren’t actually looking at the shoes at all, but it does make me feel pretty self-conscious. For that same reason I am not able to wear shoes that have any woven fabric in them, sometimes the blood will actually seep through woven fabrics also and that is quite gross. That is why they need to be both black and leather, and I mean leather not suede. While Blood and Suede might make for a good Ray Stevens song, it is pretty nasty on shoes. I can get away with faux leather, as long as the tongue of the shoe is also made of the same material, but it rarely is in those faux leather shoes. The reason for wanting the shoes to be hightops just comes with the amount of lifting/pushing/pulling that I do while working. I don’t really believe that having the extra lace or two around my ankles is going to save me if the four-hundred pound cart that I am pushing up the ramp comes back on me, but they do keep my shoes from slipping off during that scenario. The worst thing that could possibly happen when trying to control an out of control cart would be to lose traction when a shoe slips off, and low top shoes seem to slip off a lot more frequently than the hightops.

I haven’t been able to find a decent pair of hightops in the last six or so years, all the ones that they sell now seem to be white with many other colors on them. Did the NBA actually start to require players to wear white shoes or what? The only way I was able to get black hightops was with basketball shoes. Also, all of the shoes that even approach midtop height these days, at least the black ones, seem to have both leather and suede on them. So it seems that I am destined to never have a pair of shoes that I really feel comfortable wearing.

To anyone who is now thinking, ‘why not just black work boots?’, the reason is that while I do all of the lifting, pushing, meat-cutting, etc. I also stock the shelves. This means that there is a lot of squatting and kneeling as well. I tried those black work boots when I first noticed how difficult it was to find the shoes I wanted, and a lot of kneeling and squatting in those boots will leave you with horrible bruises on the front of your ankles. That is not even mentioning how horribly uncomfortable they were in the first place.

The particular shoe shopping experience, this time, resulted in a pair of New Balance lowtops. Out of the available selection of shoes that were both black and leather, there were either these or a pair of Reebok’s that felt like they were an inch higher in the toe than they were in the heel. I had at least heard of New Balance, so hopefully the shoes will last longer than it takes me to write this damn post.

Completely on a side note, I was gonna link to the pair of shoes that I bought, but the New Balance website should be a poster child for how not to do website naviagation. You have to be a couple of page-loads in before it gives you the search option, the search option does not actually seem to allow you to search for the actual model number (or whatever it is that they print on the tag in the shoe), and on top of all of that you can’t even browse all the shoes; You have to select a category to browse by. How in the random fluctuation of time and space’s name am I supposed to know if the shoes are walking, running, training, cross-training, basketball, tennis, extreme sports or other? If it said it was a “CT190”, for instance, I would assume that the “CT” stood for cross-training. Yet every shoe on the damn site starts with an ‘M’, that makes it impossible to tell even what category the shoe I bought would be in. Since I browsed through about fifty shoes from the site though, I would guess that they just slap any random number on any damn shoe, as they all look exactly the same.

Well, at least I got some new shoes.

• In other news, the war in Iraq just got a whole hell of a lot closer to home. Right next door, in fact. It seems that my neighbor, who is at least six-and-a-half feet tall, has just re-signed into military service. He was still on Active Duty when the Desert Storm conflict was going on but never got shipped over. He has decided to go ahead and serve his country in the current war to (I suppose) fulfill some sort of patriotic duty. I really believe that that is an admirable thing to do, at least in most cases. I am certainly not going to fault any person that wants to defend our country (regardless of how wrong I think the conflict may be), I don’t have the courage or fortitude to do it, any man who does is either a better man than I, or possibly a bit insane, or both.

I certainly wish him the best of luck in his new endeavor, I believe he ships to a special training course in October and will be in Iraq by late December or early January. I guess he is only doing two years this time, and there will only be one year on the front line, while the six weeks of training and the reaminder of the two years will be stateside. Best of luck to you.

It is impossible for me to understand his logic in signing back up. When he was serving in the military back in the desert storm days, he was likely single and ready to give his all to defend his country. I am sure that he has the same mindset now, but a decade has passed. He is in his thirties, married, has two beautiful children, and has decided to ship off again to fight the baddies in the middle east. Again, I must admire his…well whatever it is that made him make the decision, but what happens if he doesn’t make it home? He will leave behind a widow and a couple of children that will likely spend the rest of their lives wondering why he decided to fight this fight. There is a very famous line from a movie (which I think was ‘Johnny got his gun’) where a child asks his father “Dad, when it comes my time, will you want me to go?” The response from the father being, “For democracy, any man would give his only begotten son.”

What happens when you are a father? You leave two generations to mourn if you don’t manage to make it back. I do admire the courage that it takes to go into a war, especially when you don’t really have to.

Here’s to hoping the neigbor makes it back in one piece. Best of luck to you.

IHOP; PC issues; Assault rifles

Diving right back in where I left off yesterday, let me just say that I really, really, really hate Microsoft.

There was recently an enormous update released for windows XP, I just tried to find it through their website and I honestly don’t know which one it was. I have the new computer set to automatically search for and install windows security patches, perhaps it was one of those. Anyway, I can no longer open .shtml files with internet explorer. Or, more accurately, I can no longer open them on my local machine with internet explorer, while I can still open the same file from a website with it. The reason that this irritates me is twofold. The first reason is that I liked to check my linkage before I uploaded a recently written page, the second is that it had always worked before the most recent security update. I just hate it when you fix one thing and break something else in the process.

I have tried all that I can think of to try to circumvent the problem, no go. I simply have to use the MSN service for the purposes of testing my coding now. It is not really that much of a hassle, yet somehow I find that it really pisses me off. At least that was how I was feeling when I started to type this late last night, through some experimentation I was able to make Internet Explorer open the files, though it will first open it as a text file, then if I refresh it a couple of times it will show the actual html page. Is that really supposed to happen? Am I just an idiot? If you know how to fix this, send the answer here.

• Monday night the wife and I went to check out my Brother-in-law’s new apartment. I will say this, it is a very clean little place…Emphasis should be placed on that word little. Of course he is only twenty, and I can remember some of the dives that I lived in at that age so I guess he is doing better than I did at that stage. Living on your own for the first time is a very liberating thing, so much so that I believe we all go into the process with some of those ‘rose colored glasses’ on. Not to mention that the whole place is now yours, while living at home you just got the one room. I am pretty proud of him for actually getting his own place so quickly after getting a decent job, I only hope that he is constantly looking to improve those accomodations, while still staying within his means, of course. I remember the little apartment that I moved into shortly after I turned 21, no one ever wanted to visit me there, it was just too small to comfortably fit more than a couple of people, but it is those little places that start us all on the journey into eventual home ownership.

• We were going to have dinner, and lacking any solid ideas of what anyone wanted we ended up at IHOP. I was initially thinking about trying out their chili cheeseburger, but since the wife was having a breakfast for dinner, and since I really do enjoy the staples of breakfast food (even though I never eat breakfast) I figured I would go with an omelette instead. The particular omelette that I ordered was called a “Tex-Mex”, and, strangely, is not shown on the menu at the website.

I chose that particular omelette since it had both chili and cheese, the two major driving factors in my initial chili cheeseburger selection. Here is the thing, it just didn’t seem to reach my plate quite the way it was described in the menu. The menu said it was “a fluffy 3 egg omelette with a zesty blend of chili, cheese and jalapenos.” That was more or less true; it did have all of those ingredients. Yet, in the preparation it seemed to lose some of the description. There was not really a ‘blend’ of anything. There were a total of (I would guess) roughly six large, sliced jalapenos in the omelette, as well as a little bit of cheese. On top there was a scoop of chili. It was actually pretty tasty, but I was assuming that the ingredients would all be placed together and put inside the omelette, isn’t that what an omelette is? Also, had there been some chili inside the omelette there would have been less room for the jalapenos.

I have no problems with the peppers. When the wife or mother-in-law make salsa they will intentionally try to find the hottest types of chilis that they can to try to make me cower. The best they can ever get out of me is a bit of a runny nose while eating it, but still wanting more all the same. That is regarding fresh peppers though. The jalapenos from the IHOP were pretty clearly canned, and in vinegar no less. If there is one thing that I really can’t stand it is the taste of vinegar. I can eat jalapenos all day long, but when they throw in a single ‘pickled pepper’ I have to have some other flavor to take away the nasty vinegar taste, which I had some pancakes for at the IHOP so that was fortunate.

I have seen those little diagrams showing the human tongue, the type that show that certain parts of the tongue can taste sweet, while others taste sour. I think the whole tongue can taste hot (like pepper hot, not temperature), but the part of the tongue that tastes sour seems to rule over every other part of the tongue. Don’t think that is true? Try eating a raw jalapeno, remember the heat, then try eating a pickled jalapeno. I don’t like the sour taste, while I really do enjoy really hot peppers. When you pickle a pepper you are just destroying a perfectly good, very toasty little pepper. That is no way for a pepper to end! The goal of the pepper is to make you breathe fire now, and really regret it tomorrow. Pickled peppers don’t do either of those things. Though there may be times that they do make you regret not just ordering the damn chili cheeseburger.

• Yesterday’s post actually resulted in an email. What is unusual about this (beyond the fact that that meant that someone actually read it) was that this email was asking for my opinion on the expiration of the ban on ‘assault weapons’ (which I could not find a really good news story on, but I am crutched by a dial-up connection and impatience, so knock yourself out).

First of all, the email came from someone that I do not know and who had never emailed me before. I sent that person a pretty lengthy email explaining my exact position on the subject. It is certainly a struggling little site that will send longer emails to readers than the posts that are put up in the first place, and that is me. While I am not going to quote any of either his email to me, or mine to him, I do want to touch on this subject for but a single reason. I am both for and against it.

In my senior year of high school this issue started to hit the news. Whether or not the weapons that they were calling ‘assault weapons’ were actually assault weapons, whether they should be banned, all of that sort of garbage. While in Government class the assignment came that we would break into pairs to debate the issue (one person debates for, one against, in each pair. We were given one day to prepare our arguments). There were an odd number of students in my class, but they were so evenly split on the issue that I volunteered to debate for the issue (which was my first choice) then to debate against the issue with the odd man out. The debates would be decided by a vote from the rest of the class, supposedly based solely on how convincing the arguments had been.

I was not exactly the most popular kid in high school, lots of the people in this particular class especially, didn’t like me a whole lot, but I was pretty confident that I could debate it both ways. This was in Oregon, after all, every living being (at least the male ones) in the state of Oregon really think that they should be able to have whatever guns they want for whatever reason they want them. In fact every single argument against the banning of the assault weapons was the winning one, with the exception of my opponent when I had to argue it the other way.

Having to argue for the banning of the weapons was a real stretch for me. I still believe in the U.S. Constitution enough that I know that it is our right to ‘bear arms’. I focused on the negative usages of the firearms in question to get my victory in the debate. It was not a fiery speech about the evils of guns that I used to win, it was cold, hard facts. I brought in copies of newspaper stories from the last month about gang shootings in L.A., and noted the weapon choice in each. While many of the killings were just with normal handguns, the majority of the killings of children and others that were not involved in a gang at all, were done with ‘assault weapons’. They can fire fast, but they aren’t really that accurate. Show them a few photos of dead children, who are dead because of ‘assault weapons’, and it is a pretty easy group to sway.

That all being said, I still think that it is your right to have the weapon if you want to have it. It is not like the guy who is going to spray bullets through the local day-care actually bought the gun at a store, he stole it or got it from a friend who had already used it in a murder. There are only so many of these ‘assault weapons’ that are not accounted for (at least the ones sold in the U.S.). I tried to sell a little rifle, which was mine, to a local gun store and they actually had to run the serial number on it before they would take it. These ‘assault weapons’ are easy to buy in any country other than the U.S., if we try to fool ourselves into thinking that not selling them in the U.S. is going to make safer then we are delusional.

Much like the current leadership of the Country.