Wednesday, March 30, 2005

Don't you know that the dirt's on fire down here

I HATE change. I'm really stubborn, too. However, I recently had to make a change that was actually less painful than I thought it might be.

I'd been doing my wireless phone service with Cingular for a billion and a half years, but I was having serious problems with their service. Every time I would call the local office to bitch about the network being down all weekend, they would pretend that they had no idea what I was talking about. Meanwhile, none of my calls were going out or coming in. My Cingular contract had expired earlier this month, and I knew I would have to get a new phone anyway, so I was faced with a decision. Stay with Cingular because it's easy to maintain the status quo, or make a change. I knew that any change at all would be an improvement. Surely none of the other providers' networks repeatedly go down for entire weekends. However, change is still change, and I don't like it. In the end I decided to go ahead and make the change. At the suggestion of several friends, I went with Verizon. I actually had no idea it would be so easy. I was in the office for about 15 minutes, and I got to keep my old number. The first phone they put me in ended up not working for me, and they happily honored their 15 day return policy, putting me in a much better phone.
Anyway, I made it through the change just fine. So far, I'm happy with my choice.

Speaking of cell phones, does anyone else have Harry Connick Jr. hounding them to sign up for SunCom? I swear he's after me personally. He's on the radio like 40 gozillion times a day, and he's on billboards all over town harassing people in the name of some provider I've never heard of. The funny thing is, I wouldn't consider him to be all that valuable as a "celebrity spokesperson". Maybe I'm out of the loop or something, but didn't he lose his celebrity appeal sometime in about 1993? They might as well use Arsenio Hall or for that matter Anthony Michael Hall or Darryl Hall. They each have about as much star power as Harry Connick Jr.

now playing:
The Shins -- Chutes Too Narrow
The Shins Chutes Too Narrow.

... and she's eating her fingers like they're just another meal

Since I was a retard and I slept till noon yesterday, I couldn't get tired at the normal getting tired time. So I was up until like infinity o'clock just watching teevee and stuff. I was a little late getting out of bed this morning. Actually, I was a lot almost an hour late. I don't seem to learn about this Tuesday night thing. I have to be up and at 'em on Wednesdays, but I've been having trouble with that. I had full intentions of going to bed early, forgoing a trip to Chapel Hill in favor of bed, but that obviously didn't happen.

I've been watching the first season of Six Feet Under on DVD. I stated watching early in season three, so I thought I should get seasons one and two from Netflix. I really love that show, and now that I have more back story stuff, some things are making a lot more sense. Nate makes a lot more sense to me. Brenda makes more sense to me. Claire makes a little more sense. I can't say that I know Ruth any better, but oddly, I think David makes less sense to me now than before. I still don't know when season five starts, but I'd like to be completely up to date when it does. I'll assume that it starts in June.

In the meantime, however, it'll be March Madness out the wazoo. I'm getting really pumped up now. I know it seems bandwagon-esque, but those of you who know me know that I'm a Heels fan through and through. It's also looking like I should come out tops in one of the pools I entered. No money, but the bragging rights are kinda cool. I don't have any chance in the one at work. There's money on that one, but almost everyone picked an Illinois v UNC final, so I can't possibly make up any ground on anyone.

I'm not really a baseball fan, but there's just a few days 'til opening day, and the fantasy leagues I'm in should keep me occupied until fantasy football (and more importantly, real football) starts. That will, in turn, keep me occupied for a few more weeks until the NHL gets the 2005-2006 season going. I'm thinking they'll get started on time, even if it means they have to use "replacement players".

now playing:
Viva Voce -- The Heat Can Melt Your Brain
Viva Voce The Heat Can Melt Your Brain

Tuesday, March 29, 2005

did you give up punk for lent?

Today is the first day I've had off in two weeks. I'm enjoying it. It sure was sunny and pretty today, but I didn't spend much time in the out of doors. Maybe it's time for my to buy a dog. If I had a dog, I'd have been outside all day long. And if a bullfrog had side pockets, he'd carry a handgun, and he wouldn't be afraid of snakes. You all probably think I'm on crack, but I learned that one from Dan Rather. He always cracks me up doing election night coverage. The deeper and deeper he gets into his marathon shift, the more bizarre his commentary gets. He said that last one during the coverage of election 2004.

I went out with Karen again last night. She came to Greensboro this time. We went for dinner, then to see a couple of bands at Gate City Noise. I thought we'd go to Southern Lights because it's nice and not too spendy, plus I can usually eat there in peace without running into fifty billion people that I know. We hadn't been there three minutes when Karen ran into a person she knew, and we were seated right next to my friends Kevin and Jana. So much for that. Dinner was nice, though.

I didn't know anything at all about the bands playing, but they don't have sucky bands there, so I thought it would be worth checking out. The opening band, Viva Voce was really good. They were just a two-piece. I think a married couple. Anyway, during the first song, I thought they were a Helium rip-off band, because the girl was singing a bit like Mary Timony and the guitar was kinda Helium-ish. Later, they started to sound a bit like Butterglory, which made more sense in that they, too are a two-piece. Then, later they played a song that could easily have been a Versus cover. Instead of getting mad at their derivative-ness, I embraced it. I had a really good time.
We killed a little bit of time across the street with a drink (and the use of their restrooms) before seeing a local band, Citified, play for a really short time. I liked them too, but we must have missed some of their set because we only saw them play like three songs.

Anyway, it was a good time overall.

now playing:
Sparklehorse -- It's a Wonderful Life
Sparklehorse It's a Wonderful Life

Saturday, March 26, 2005

... and the four walls, they collide until the blue-eyed girl decides to let me go home

Don't say I didn't warn you.

I said I wouldn't be able to feign indifference forever. I had to give up the ghost last night. I now have March Madness.

We were painfully slow at work last night, so I was able to keep one eye on the NC State v Wisconsin game, one eye on the Duke v Michigan State game, and still work. Although it isn't proper to root against ACC teams, you have to remember the cheer all good Tar Heel fans learn at a young age:

Duke is puke, Wake is fake, but the team I hate is NC State.

I was ecstatic to see Duke go down. In all three of my March Madness pools, I picked this to happen just like that. I had already picked NC State to be done, so my bracket had no bearing on my interest in that game. Just that the team I hate is NC State.
I actually wore my WISCONSIN t-shirt under my work shirt, so I could wear it out after work. This was much to the consternation of many of our regular customers who are Pack fans. "You're not even from Wisconsin! How can you wear that?" I don't really have an explanation of why I own the shirt other than I visited Madison one time and liked the town a lot. Anyway, it was good that State lost, and even better that Duke lost.

I was off early enough to watch the Carolina game in its entirety. I was, admittedly, worried in the first half, but everything turned out just fine.

More later... It's almost time for work.

Now playing:Hayden -- Elk-Lake Serenade
Hayden Elk-Lake Serenade

Wednesday, March 23, 2005

did i strike the right set of chords

You know, you hear a lot of people talk about how lazy and stupid Americans are. You hear it from a lot of screaming Democrats who think the cause of stupidity or unemployment is a President who they didn't vote for. In all actuality, the nationwide unemployment rate has corrected itself within two percentage points over the past couple of decades, and according to the US Department of Labor, is exactly where it was 10 years ago, when a President you did vote for was in the White House. The latest release says that unemployment in the US as of February 2005 was 5.4%.
Many of these same angry Democrats talk about moving to the Great White North, where the unemployment rate is on the decline, but is still above 7%. I don't suppose that has anything to do with anything. Except that moving to Canada wouldn't be a better thing in terms of being able to find good work. The job market is slightly more tight.
That's not at all what I wanted to write about, though. I really wanted to write about the French people, but I suppose there is a connection here (albeit a weak one), with those damned Quebeçois. There was an article in the paper today about how France is abolishing its 35 hour work week. Got that? They used to have a national standard of 35 hours for a work week. Compulsory days off, extended holidays, and the like. According to the new outline, workers will be permitted to work as many as 48 hours in a single week. Evidently, this is the maximum allowable in the whole of the EU. In comparison to Koreans, who work an average of 2,390 hours per year, Frenchmen work an average of 1,431. Meanwhile, Americans are working 1,792 hours. Oddly enough, that American figure comes to 35 hours a week, but at least it isn't compulsory here. Seems the froggies were getting tired of a lagging economy and an unemployment rate of more than 10%. Lots of firms were putting new jobs in other countries where productivity (read : profits) would be higher. This move, of course raises the ire of the left leaning French, who perceive this as nothing more than a Capitalist way to exploit workers. It also angered the folks who had become accustomed to having a gravy work week. So the Socialists and the Lazy have been joining forces by marching, protesting, striking and whatnot.

I guess this post isn't very entertaining.

Now playing: Yo La Tengo -- I Can Hear the Heart Beating as One

she didn't sign her name, she gave an autograph

I went to Durham last night to have some drinks with a woman who I've just met. I had a really good time, and I got to go to a cool place in Durham. I've always talked about Durham like it was the most awful place on earth, but I'd never really been to anything but the Duke campus and the Carolina Theatre. We met up at this bar called The Federal, which I liked a lot. They had some good beers on draft, they have a good menu (although we didn't eat), and the place has a lot of character. But the thing that did it for me was the music. They had really great music. I later found out that they use an iPod to provide the music, which sort of dispelled my "this place has a kickass jukebox" theory. Nonetheless, it was really good. I knew right away it was okay when I heard the Smiths, the Cure, the Dead Milkmen, Bob Mould and the Pixies. But I really knew that they kicked ass when I heard Bauhaus and The Wedding Present. I know it was a Monday night, and the crowd is always going to be really thin on Monday , but the crowd seemed really cool too. The bar isn't trying to be in your face trendy or super nice or anything like that. It just is what it is: a cozy little indie bar. I'm sad that there isn't a place like this in town. The places with my kind of music don't have good beer, and vise versa. Sometimes you can find a place that has a little of both, but this place had them both in full force. Being with a really cool girl made it cooler, too, I guess. I hope I get to go back there. With her.
Today, I was pretty tired at work, but things went smoothly. For the most part. I'm more than halfway through my string of 13 straight days, and so far I'm pretty much unscathed.
I was kicking ass in the "Two fer Tuesday" game. We always have the classic rock station playing in the kitchen because it's just about the only thing we can all endure without a lot of grousing. They have a twofer on Tuesdays, and we've made a little game out of it. During the first song of the twofer, everyone guesses what the next song will be. A correct guess is worth one point. During the second song, everyone guesses who the next band will be. That's good for two points. Each player has to make a unique guess, so only one player can score per round. Whoever scored the last point gets the honors on the next guess. Usually, it takes about 11 points to win the contest (bragging rights only), but it's not entirely uncommon for someone to score only one point all day. Today, I was off and running with early one pointers for "Why Can't This Be Love" by Van Hagar and "I Drink Alone" by George Thorogood, and a two pointer for Boston. Unfortunately, this was one of the weeks where nobody was really trying to play. It happens that way sometimes. I usually have Tuesdays off, so I was excited about playing, and a little disappointed that nobody else really wanted to play. Oh well.

Now playing:Good News!
Modest Mouse Good News for People Who Love Bad News

Sunday, March 20, 2005

bloody your hands on a cactus tree...

Tonight was another one of "those nights". We were crazy busy at work, and we ended up running out of a lot of shit that we'll still be out of tomorrow. As much as I would like there to be, there isn't a tuna tree or a steak tree or a french fry tree out back. We're extremely lucky that our produce company delivers on Sunday, but these are not things they can help us with. I say it was one of "those nights" because people were complaining about everything.
We were getting the kind of people who order their steak well done, bitch about the cook time (sorry, but a one pound bone-in NY strip is going to take 20 minutes for well done), and then insist that they didn't order it that way. We were getting people who were complaining about the size and shape of our plates (11", round), that our water wasn't cold enough, etc. One of my favorites in quite some time came tonight. They said that our slaw didn't have any cabbage in it. I'm not sure what they thought it was, but I'm just guessing that they're not used to seeing Napa.

The icing on the cake was this large group that came in towards the end of the night. First, for some of you who may not know, I'll give some pointers.

Don't go out to eat dinner with a group of 16 friends. Certainly not on a Friday or Saturday night. You're not going to be able to be seated with any quickness. Just give it up and split into two or three groups. It won't be the end of the world if you can't all 17 sit together. You're likely to be having at least 8 different conversations anyway. When you put your name on the waiting list, be wary of the fact that the restaurant needs to wait for 5 side by side four-tops to free up in order to seat your party. This is going to take some considerable time. When that moment finally comes, you need to be wary of the fact that the restaurant generally, and your server in particular, is going out of the way to accommodate you. You need to treat your server well, and be as low maintenance as possible. He or she is already running their ass off (for $2.15 an hour) just to get your drinks to the table. Yes, your server may have chosen this as their career, but that doesn't give you and your friends license to be a dick. You should also be aware of the fact that it's tricky for the kitchen to have all 17 of your dishes ready and hot at the same moment. That takes precision timing to ensure that nothing grows cold waiting for other stuff to be ready. And for fuck's sake, when the food is ready and arrives at your table, remember what you ordered. There's no way your server can carry 17 things by him or herself. Other folks are going to be helping out, and they may need to auction the food off.
If you must go to dinner on a Saturday night with 16 friends, please treat your server and the establishment with respect. If the restaurant is packed, don't bitch and moan when you are told that it'll take 2 hours for a table for 17. Think about it. As a favor, be prepared by bringing cash. This will make everyone's life easier. If all 17 of you want separate checks and you're all paying by credit card, be wary of the fact that your server has to take the time (and it does take time) to run 17 cards through. Nothing is instantaneous. When you are paying your tab, remember that your server had to go out of their way to make your experience pleasant. There's a reason that restaurants usually have tables only for 4 or 6. Those are easy to deal with. 17 is not. 10% is not acceptable. 15% is not acceptable in a situation like this. You need to go at least 20%. If you don't like these suggestions, take your group of 17 to the Wendy's drive-thru.

Sorry again for the rant, but we had this 17-top come in at 9:30. The dining room was packed, we had other partied on a wait, but these people were outraged that they couldn't be seated immediately. When they finally did get seated an hour later, they were complete dicks to the server. I don't know what they did for her, gratuity-wise (we don't automatically 20% them the way some places do), but I'm guessing that they didn't do much.

Now playing:Caution!  Horses!
Cowboy Junkies The Caution Horses

Friday, March 18, 2005

...your picture's in the paper being rhythmically admired...

I haven't caught March Madness yet. I don't know what it is. I've filled out my brackets on line, and at work, but I'm just not pumped up about it.
Yesterday, because of a number of circumstances, basketball was the furthest thing from my mind, so I actually forgot about the games. I'm sure there are games on right now, but I'm just not gonna watch. It's exciting as hell, but I don't like getting worked up over the games. I'm also using some sort of reverse psychology on the basketball gods. I'm going to pretend I don't care. That way, my Tar Heels will win. And if they get ousted, I can say "That's alright. I didn't care that much this year". I know I won't be able to not watch forever, but I can at least do it for these first two days of games.

I've always perfunctorally picked the Tar Heels to win the tournament. Except, of course, that year that they didn't make the NCAA. This year, though, I think they actually have a really good chance. If McCants can get back on his "A" game, and the rest of the fellas can play well. They cannot endure poor defensive play, or an injury to Raymond Felton. As long as neither of these things happen, I think they've got a great shot.

My hair is getting extremely long, and I've been talking about cutting it for over a week now. Today's the day.

Now playing:Grenadine -- Goya
Grenadine Goya

this never was one of the great romances

Last night was indeed crazy busy, and the rookies were out in full force. From a kitchen standpoint it wasn't that bad. For a Thursday, it was insane, but compared to how it could have been, it wasn't that bad.

I'm just the kitchen manager, but even I was getting the stupid questions.

  • No, we don't have green beer. That's a retarded gimmick for fratboys and other jackass-types. We're so busy that you're going to have to wait five minutes for your beer as it is. Asking the barkeep to add food coloring would make everyone's beer take longer. Bring your own food coloring if you're that into it.

  • No, we're not having any specials on that Irish stout. We don't even serve Guinness. We craft our own stout right here, and frankly, we think it has a richer flavor than Guinness and our stout doesn't have that metallic taste that Guinness has. Please enjoy one of our stouts, our one of the other six beers we make.

  • No, we're not serving corned beef and cabbage. Another gimmick. Do you tell your wife that you love her only on Valentine's Day? Fucking putz. However, you can enjoy a tasty Reuben sandwich. That sauerkraut used to be cabbage. You'll like it better, and you won't get gas as bad.

Sorry again for the hostility. It has nothing to do with any of you, dear readers.

Now playing: Luna -- Days of our Nights
Luna Days of our Nights

Thursday, March 17, 2005

ten bucks won't last you a very long way

Yeah, woo.

St. Patrick's Day is upon us. I could pretend to be Irish and have all sorts of pride for the Emerald Isle and celebrate its snake removal expert, but I won't.

I normally have Thursdays off, but this Thursday happens to be St. Patrick's. That means all the rookies come out. We're going to be crazy busy just by virtue of it being a faux holiday, a drinker's holiday, a rookie holiday. A seasoned veteran doesn't need an excuse to drink.

Added to that, we've got an Irish pub across the street. They're having an enormous party that usually brings thousands of people to a building that holds a capacity of 200. This is our first year being their neighbor, and we don't quite know precisely what to expect, but we're surely going to get lots of their overflow crowd.

I expect we will be insanely busy and the crowd will be insanely belligerent.

I'm not having the best of days to begin with, so if I sound cranky, I apologize. Hopefully my next post will have something funny or happy.

Monday, March 14, 2005

i swear to you this is true

You're going to think I'm making this up. To be honest, if somebody told me this story, I would think they were making it up. I swear to you on my life, though, that it's true.

It's a well documented fact that many of the top players on the competitive Scrabble circuit are really strange people. Most of them severely lack social graces or the ability to be gainfully employed or to live anywhere but their octogenarian mother's house. What I'm about to tell you is a shining example.

There's this guy who was at the tournament this past weekend. This guy who loves Scrabble so much that he legally changed his last name to ZXQKJ. Or at the very least, that's how the NSA recognizes him. He's a pretty damn good player, but not in the top 100. I don't know where he gets his money (he DOES have a job of some sort), but he also loves Starbucks, and he tours the world attempting to visit every Starbucks store. He lives in his car, washes up in Starbucks bathrooms, and drinks about (so he says anyway) 20-25 cups of coffee a day. He also goes to shitloads of Scrabble tournaments, trying to combine tournament road trips with visits to newly constructed Starbucks. I swear, I'm not making this up. You can go to his site, which has links to his tournament log and his travel log. Apparently, somebody is shooting a documentary about him, but they weren't present at the tournament. His site also has a link to a trailer for the doc. It's actually worth a look.
Anyway, after Friday night's round of games, I returned to the parking lot to find a car parked so close to my driver side door that the sideview mirrors of the cars had about one inch between them. This forced me to enter my car through the passenger door. I wanted to leave a really nasty note on his car, but for some reason I thought better of it. Because of all the Starbucks gear visible in the back seat, I knew immediately that the car belonged to Mr. ZXQKJ. Although I never met the guy, I'd seen him in the tourney and heard about how bizarre he is. Maybe I was thinking that he would snap if he got a nasty note on his car.

More later.

Sunday, March 13, 2005

silver hands and sliver hair do not an android make

Okay. Tourney over. Today I went 2-2, bringing my record to 8-7, and, well.... we won't talk about my cumulative over/under.

Again, I won the first half of my games easily. At 8-5, I was right up there at the top. I think I was #6, or so. Again with the power-versus-power matchups in the latter part of the day. Again, I didn't win those games.

Again, I was able to bingo in every game. Two each in the first two games, then one each in the last two.

In game 12, I played KERATIN, which drew a challenge. I was hoping it would because I needed a cushion in that game. The lost challenge gave me that cushion. Later, I was able to play TRAINER. I eventually won that game 398-343.

In game 13, there was a lot of action. I opened with the bingo EARNEST, and later played INHALER. I had the phony REMAINER challenged off the board. Later, I correctly challenged RINGLEAD off the board. I ended up winning this game 408-280. That one put me back in the positive on cumulative point spread, but it was short lived.

Game 14 wasn't pretty at all. I was able to get INTAKES, but late in the game I was drawing really poorly, and I was overmatched anyway. He bingoed out, and I was stuck with Q Z and some other garbage. He got the additional 56 points for my unplayed tiles, which brought the final tally to 500-262. I knew my hopes of finishing in the top ten were done.

Game 15 wasn't any better. Again, I bingoed on my first go with a difficult find, ASUNDER. I thought I would be off and running, but I couldn't do anything good for the rest of the game. I lost that one 413-217.

I was ravenously hungry, cranky, and mentally exhausted at the end.

I wish I could have done a little better, but I'm pleased with the results. Most people say that they got decimated in their first tournament and that I should be ecstatic with a winning record. I can also take some relief in the fact that five of my seven losses came to folks who finished in the top 5 of my division.

Now playing: New Pornographers -- Electric Version
New Pornographers Electric Version

Saturday, March 12, 2005

think about the time i kicked a boy 'til he cried

Day two --- much better.

Today I went 5-3, bringing my cumulative record to 6-5. They say tournament newcomers should be happy to win two games, so I'm pretty thrilled with this.
I actually won my first five games today. At 6-2, I was the #4 player in my division. 4 out of 38 is nothing to sneeze at. However, the second part of the day saw me pitted against some of the other top players in the division, and I lost my final three games. I suppose it's all done in a power-power matchup. I think at this point, I'm #11 in our division. Hey, I'll take it.
I'm very pleased that I was able to bingo with ease today.

A lowercase letter indicates the use of a blank tile.

  • game 4: TOADIES, AUNTIES, TEaRING. win 405-361

  • game 5: MEANIES, SERIATE. win 386-301

  • game 6: trAINEES. win 420-263

  • game 7: tASTIER, RAINIEST. win 367-366

  • game 8: RALLIeS, ATONIES. win 385-259

  • game 9: OPiATES, DETAINS. loss 366-357

  • game 10: POINTERS. loss 449-320

  • game 11: RAVINES, SITTERs. loss 372-279

Game 5 was a mystery to me. My opponent was a young boy, probably 12 or so. He's apparently been getting kicked around. Before you start tearing up, remember that this is a competition. There's money at stake here. Nobody cares about hurt feelings or anything like that. He actually played pretty well against me, but he had a reputation that preceded him about a lack of confidence. I didn't take advantage of that by playing bogus words, but other players probably did. In our game, he lost his challenge on my first bingo (MEANIES). The challenge really surprised me because of its commonality. The second one, though, (SERIATE) is pretty uncommon, but didn't draw a challenge. At this point, I realized that I could have thrown some phonies out there, but I didn't get a chance. I could tell he was having a hard time focusing, but to his credit, he was doing well.

In game 8, ATONIES was challenged, and the guy got really pissed when it came back good.

In game 9, I did have one bingo (STAINED) challenged off, but only because I was trying to hook an S to something that doesn't take an S. However, one play later I laid down DETAINS, hooking the S somewhere else. However, my loss of a turn probably cost me that game. I only lost that round by 9 points.
In game 11, I had ZORII challenged off. A gaffe on my part. It was late in the game, and I was holding a bunch of vowels. The Z was already out there, and I know ZORI is good. I was thinking that it took an I to pluralize it, and I needed that second I to double the score on the word. However, it takes an S to pluralize.

Interestingly, my trAINEES in game 6 garnered the lowest possible score on a bingo. 56 points. Hey... I can't really complain. 56 points is 56 points.

Even though I'm barely above water in the win-loss, and below water in the point differential, I'm damn happy about the way things are going.

And I'm having fun.

Don't worry. By Monday, I'll stop dweebing out and go back to the normal me.

you could either be successful or be us

Day one --- not so good.

That's putting it mildly. I got fucking shelled.

My first game was a disaster. My opponent was quite good, and I couldn't get anything going. She opened with DAHLIAs, then three plays later laid down SOPRANI. My opening rack, on the other hand, was really ugly and I could only make a play for 15 points. I had to trade again, then made another mediocre play for 20. Anyway, after five turns, the score was 197 to 64. It didn't get any better after that. I was able to bingo with INERTIA, but the rest of my plays were pretty weak. She finished with another bingo, UNSOILeD, to a D that was already on the board. She more than doubled me up, 542-266. Given that you work with a cumulative point spread, this is a bad way to start.
Second game, a little better. I bingoed twice, with REWRiTES and BEANIES. I missed another easy bingo, SENORES. I didn't play it because I was unsure if it was good. It is. I ended up winning this game 373-341. A win, but still in a deep hole. Third game was another loss. 411-333. I played a lot of garbage in that game. Lots of six and eight point plays. I have to stop doing that. The best thing I did in that game was to spot a place to play what I thought was an orphan bingo. I had AERIEST on my rack, but nowhere to hook anything. I eventually found a Y at O8, from which I was able to play YEASTIER, to the triple. She answered with a bingo of her own, and I couldn't make a late rally.
So After the first three games, I'm down quite a bit, but there's still a bunch of games to play. 8 today and 4 on Sunday. Still plenty of time. And if I can get one really great game, I might have a chance to come out near the top.

Friday, March 11, 2005

this one's different because it's us

19 hours to go.

By this time tomorrow, I'll be a complete mess. But I'll be having fun.

I'm sure lunch will be busy as all get-out tomorrow, and I'm sure my head won't be in the right place, but I'll make it through somehow. Nobody works or goes to school or anything like that during the ACC tournament around these parts. They just go somewhere with a tv and beer. We have lots of both.

After getting some responses to my post about annoyingly stupid customer complaints, and hearing some new ones, I was suddenly reminded of something. Another stupid customer "complaint" from back in the day when I was out of the industry. I was working for an auto finance company. A major one. I was dealing with folks who were delinquent with their payment. I was terrible at it, but that's beside the point. Folks would hear radio commercials and get irritated that they weren't getting the 0.0% financing advertised. They would then call me raising holy hell, and the conversation would go something like this:

me: "Hello. This is David Lee. How can I help you?"
customer:"Yeah. I hope you can, Mr. .... uh...."
me: "Lee"
customer: "Yeah, well, listen. I heard on the radio about this zero percent financing. I wanna get on that program."

(I get account information, pull their paper file, and their information on my computer)

me: "Well, you see. That offer is for qualified buyers only. You might not have qualified."

customer: "What? What are you trying to say?"

me: "I dunno. Just that your credit history made you ineligible for that offer. Besides, I don't set the terms of your loan. All we do at this office is handle the payments on the account."

customer: "Yeah, but don't you work for (company)?"

me: "Yes, but like I said, I didn't and don't set the terms of loans. However, since I have you on the line, your account is over 60 days past due. We need to receive payment or you will damage your credit even further."

customer:"So, I'm not gonna get the zero percent?"

This happened a number of times, and I was always baffled at how dumb they could be to call US raising hell, knowing full well that they were in serious danger of having their car repossessed. In a situation like this, it's usually more clever to make yourself invisible so the car doesn't get repoed.

I don't know why I felt the need to tell that story. I guess maybe to get my mind off of the Scrabble tournament. I think I need to relax a little. Not go in there so high-strung.

Wednesday, March 09, 2005

it's not that simple, this dictionary

For some reason, blogger wouldn't let me post earlier today, so I will try as best as I can, to recreate the post.

I had big plans for today. I was supposed to sleep in a little, relax a little, clean up a little, and study a little in preparation for the Scrabble tourney.

I didn't have to wake up at any particular time this morning, but at 6:30 am, I was aroused from my slumber. "MeEEp, MeEEp, MeEEP, MeEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEP" No, it wasn't my alarm clock going off. My upstairs neighbor's car was sounding its alarm. For about five minutes solid. Thankfully, it stopped, but just a couple of minutes later it sounded again for a few minutes solid. I was up for good at that point. I immediately got online and started playing Scrabble. Not quite the studying that I had planned on doing, but I suppose playing is helpful too. I really do have quite a bit of studying to do. I have a little bit of work to do on the threes and a lot of work to do on the anamonics for the bingo stems. The trickiest part, though is remembering the anamonic device, AND THEN remembering the words that go with it. I can remember that AEINRS and F make a bingo because I remember the device. AEINRS is "arisen" and the device is "Shopgirl loving dick for comfort" Every letter in that sentence can be plugged in to make a valid seven letter word. Remembering that F works is all good and well, but it does me no good unless I can remember that the only valid F is "infares". So there's some work to do.

I don't want to stress out too much or I won't have a good time at the tourney, but I really do want to get some of this stuff down better than I have it now. I'm presented, though, with a bit of a dilemma. Wednesday night would be a really good chance to get some studying done, but a new friend just reminded me that Bettie Serveert will be playing in Chapel Hill. I've seen them a few times before, and I would certainly survive if I skipped the show, but I really like the new record and I want to see them play the new songs. Plus it's been a few years since I've seen them play. I'm actually leaning towards not going, but it'll have to be a game-time decision. Aside from the studying I should be doing, my laundry and dishes aren't going to wash themselves, and my cat is too lazy to do them for me.

I'm fairly confident that I'll do pretty well regardless of how much I study, but I'd like to be more prepared than the next guy. This is, after all, a competition.

I've worked the last two nights. I'm unaccustomed to working weekday nights, but I'm doing so to fulfill the hours I am expected to work. We've been incredibly slow. I don't know what's going on, but it's kinda miserable to be slow like that.

I've got another long day ahead of me tomorrow, and a couple of decisions to make.

Now playing:Neutral Milk Hotel -- In the Aerolplane Over the Sea
Neutral Milk Hotel In the Aeroplane Over the Sea

Sunday, March 06, 2005

kissing just for practice

I'm getting pretty excited about the coming weekend.
Although the ACC men's basketball tournament will be going on, and I'll have the whole weekend off, my excitement has nothing to do with that.

I'll be going down to Charlotte to play in my first rated Scrabble tournament. Since I've never played in an official tournament before, and I have no rating, I'll be playing in the lowest division. Checking the roster, I don't recognize any of the names in that division, but in the next division up, I notice two names of people I've played many times and have had pretty good success with. I think I should do pretty well in the low division. I hope so, anyway.
This is a relatively small-time tournament, I thought. However, I looked at the roster for the top division, and I noticed some of the top 10 rated players in the US. National Champ David Gibson, GI Joel Sherman and Chris Cree, just to name a few. Of course I won't be playing against them, but it's kinda fun to be in the same tournament.

This means little or nothing to most of you, but these are the biggest names in competitive Scrabble. To make an analogy, this will be kind of like playing golf with some buddies, and the group ahead of you consists of Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson and Vijay Singh. You're not playing with them, and you'd get crushed if you did. But you're on the same course at the same time, and you're right next to them.

I'l be playing 15 games spread out over the weekend. 3 Friday, 8 Saturday and 4 Sunday.

For the record, if you're not familiar, tournament Scrabble is nothing like what you're used to. Two players to a game. Each player has a total of 25 minutes on a chess timer.

I don't have a whole lot of free time between now and Friday, but I'll have to spend as much of it as I can studying.

Now playing: MBV -- Isn't Anything
My Bloody Valentine Isn't Anything

are you freakin' kidding me?

Sean May is god.

24 rebounds and 26 points by the big fella in the 'Heels 75-73 thrilling win over Duke. I'm writing this too early for any professional site to have a story about the game, but I don't think Duke even had 24 rebounds as a team. That's just stellar.

This guy is a feakin' machine. 8 consecutive double-doubles.

On a night when the Heels were again forced to play without their best player, and their outside shooting was, well, sub-arctic, the rest of the guys really stepped it up.

Due to some really unfortunate timing, I'll have to miss the ACC tournament, but I'll be pumped up for it nonetheless.

Saturday, March 05, 2005

i missed my stop, but i got it just right

Amanda's birthday was a lot of fun. I got to meet some of her other friends, and the small group of us went out for Thai food and bowling. I don't remember the name of the place we went, but I'm always reminded of the plethora of Thai places in DC and their horrifically anglicized names we always joke about. If we had been in DC, the place would have been called "Thai one on" or "Your Shoes are UnThai-ed".

I must admit, (add this one to the list) that I have a crush on one of Amanda's friends. I'd met her once before, but for some reason didn't have a crush on her then. I sure do now. Sigh. Amanda totally called me out on it, too.

Okay, here's where it gets a little weird. We were putting our name on the waiting list at the bowling alley, and there was a couple standing beside us, getting their shoes and whatnot. I recognized the girl as my freakin' prom date. 16 years ago. We live in different parts of the state, but I see her about once every two years or so, and it's always in a really random place. Where the stars had to be aligned just so. Gas station on the interstate, supermarket in a town neither of us lives in, a bowling alley when both of us are celebrating the birthday of a friend. It's never at a rock show or something like that where I would halfway expect to see her. As fate had it, when we finally got our lane, we were right beside them. So I got a chance to catch up a little, and meet her boyfriend or fiancee or whoever that guy was. Nice guy.

That's it for now.

Now playing:69 Love Songs
Magnetic Fields 69 Love Songs

Friday, March 04, 2005 the yard of blond girls.

For the first time in quite a while, the song lyric referred to in the post title actually has something to do with the post.

I stopped by our friendly across the street bar for a quick beer on my way to the parking lot. Ever since they went through the round of firings a few weeks ago, they have hired a bunch of new people. And by "new people", I mean "blonde girls". Three of them, to be exact. There's never been a blonde there before, and now all of a sudden, there's three. Crazy. As you probably already know, I'm not all that crazy about blondes and I really have a dislike for tall women, but two of the three are quite tall. Somehow, though, I find them attractive.

After reading and contemplating reid's post about crushes, I realized I did something yesterday which had no explanation other than that I have a crush on someone. I went a little out of my way to drive across town to a different branch of my bank (there's a really convenient one right in downtown), and I went in the building rather than using the drive-thru. I didn't even do it consciously. However, as soon as I got back in the car, I thought to myself how silly that was. My transaction didn't require that particular branch, nor did it require personal interaction. I guess in the back of my mind, I knew that my hot girl was working that day. I don't even remember her name, but every time I go in there, I just about melt.

So I guess this is the kind of "from afar" crush. The kind where it's extremely unlikely that I'll ever have any relations with this girl, other than "yeah, I'll take a 20 and three tens."

I'm off to help my friend Amanda celebrate her 25th birthday. You don't know her, but she's really awesome. I'm certain that you'd get along famously.

Now playing: Death Cab -- The Photo Album
Death Cab For Cutie The Photo Album

Thursday, March 03, 2005

... what's a wonderwall anyway?

Have you seen the phenomenal shot made by Manitoba's Jennifer Jones on the final rock of the Canadian Women's curling championships? Click the link to watch the video.
Talk about pressure? Talk about excitement? Duke-Carolina? Not today. Women's curling, baby!
By the way, check out the other videos available on CBC's curling page . I think I have a crush on Ontario's Jenn Hanna. I'll have forgotten about it by tomorrow, but for the time being....
Also from that site, you can download a curling game and there are all sorts of curling resources.

Now Playing:that dog -- Retreat From the Sun
that dog Retreat From the Sun

Wednesday, March 02, 2005

'cause i've got wheels and she wants to go for a ride.

I need a hug.
Or something.

I've been a grouchy groucherson today. I don't know what the deal is. I suppose I just woke up on the wrong side of the bed. I started the day off on the wrong foot by getting to work a little later than I like getting there. I didn't have that much to do this morning, but I still like to get there no later than 7:15. I didn't quite make it until about 7:40. It isn't as if I HAVE to be there that early, or that I have anybody to answer to, but I just like to have a lot of solo time before the morning crew shows up. Wednesdays are always a thorn in my side, so it just messes me up to be there that late.
Things were going along pretty well, despite my grouchiness, until....
These dickholes came all the way back to the restaurant to complain about their take-out food. I don't mind remaking something if it really is messed up, but these people. Grrrrrrr. One of their complaints was that their fries were cold when they got wherever it is they went. Yeah, guess what? Fries get cold quickly. Especially when you carry them away on foot, and the outside temperature is 40 degrees. They also complained that their buns were soggy. I dunno. You folks tell me. They ordered the burger that gets slaw, mustard and chili. In its very nature, that's a sloppy and soggy sandwich. We created it to be that way.
All grousing aside, I remade the food and waited till the last second to cook their fries so they would be glowing hot. Turns out when they were in the restaurant the first time, they paid for their food in loose change, and they sat there for what the bartender described as "ten minutes" counting out pennies and nickels. Not even the courtesy of a quarter. Meanwhile, their food was growing icicles as it sat in front of them. Sure, sure, change is legal tender, but when you come to a decent restaurant and pay with a sackful of pennies, you're being a pain in the ass. Maybe 104 pennies will cut it at the Wendy's 99 cent value menu, but 1500 pennies is retarded. When you follow this with silly complaints, you're just being an ass clown.
If you've never worked in the industry before, there is a category of person that loves to issue complaints about their restaurant experience no matter where they go. Even when they're wrong. Actually, there's two categories: the type that just loves to complain to restaurant managers because it makes them feel important; and the type who go from place to place attempting to never pay for a meal. These categories aren't defined by any particular gender, or race, or religion, or age group, or economic background. Somehow, though, you can usually spot them as soon as they walk through the door. The complainers.

Sort of on the same topic, some of my favorite idiotic complaints (these are all real) over the years have been

  • "My salmon has a really fishy taste to it"

  • "This gazpacho is, um, cold. Could you heat it up?"

  • "I didn't know the aioli would have garlic in it"

  • (on a day when we were giving away FREE burgers and dogs as part of a promotion) "um, don't you have any chicken?"

and my all time favorite... one in heavy rotation:
  • "We're in a real big hurry. Our flight leaves in 30 minutes, so could you have them hurry that up?"

I particularly like that last one because I've never worked in a restaurant that's even remotely close to the airport. They're just trying to bullshit their way into getting preferential treatment. Even if they really have a flight in 30 minutes, fuck them for not planning this thing out better.

Please pardon my attitude. I'll be in a much better mood soon.

Now Playing:Wilco -- Being There
Wilco Being There

Tuesday, March 01, 2005

...and the check when it arrived, we went dutch, dutch, dutch

Over the past few days, I've experienced some strange moments of synchronicity.

Three different times on Sunday, I was trying to make a phone call, and someone called me as I was mushing the numbers. The final time was when one of my friends and I were simultaneously calling each other about being a few minutes late to bowling.
Here's the weird one, though. I might live to be a billion years old, and the stars would never align again to make this one happen. Yesterday, I was leaving work. The song on the jukebox as I was leaving was "The Angels Wanna Wear My Red Shoes" by Elvis Costello. The only reason I made a mental note is that I love that song, and I had forgotten that we have that in there. On my way to my car, I walked across the street to my favorite bar. I swear I'm not making this up, but on their satellite radio -- "The Angels Wanna Wear My Red Shoes". They weren't playing in perfect synchronicity, but there definitely would have been an overlapping period of about 30 seconds with the song playing in both bars. That's close enough if you ask me. Frankly it would have been strange enough just to have Costello coming out of both bars at the same time. But the same song?!

I don't have anything cool, funny, or controversial to post about, so I'll just leave you with this: I don't think that Citizen Kane is all that great. I don't think it's even close to being Orson Welles' best film, let alone the best film of all time.

Now Playing: The Field Mice -- Where'd You Learn to Kiss That Way?
The Field Mice Where'd You Learn to Kiss That Way?