Monday, February 28, 2005


For those of you that work in offices that have lay in flourescent lighting and have ever experienced a power outtage, you may have noticed that one or more of those fixtures stayed lit allowing you to make your way out of the room without clearing your desk of that mad collage of pictures, collecter coffee cups and whatever doo-dads you have scattered around your desk to remind you that you have a life beyond the cubicle.
You can thank an electrician for saving your prized collection of glass kitties holding balloons from a fate worse than death.
I had the honor of wiring in 3 emergency ballasts today...I won't go into the boring details, but it is a royal pain in the ass. But we do it for you, and your safety, and your inability to carry a lighter or a flashlight, just in case you find yourself in the dark. Don't laugh, I carry both. At all times. In case I find myself in the dark. And being a FNG electrician, darkness happens sometimes. It's the learning curve. Sometimes it follows an explosion, but not always.
Anyway, back to the emergency ballasts. Wires...lots of wires, everywhere. The mission is to figure out which wires off the ballast go to the wires already in the fixture. That depends on the type of fixture you're dealing with. The emergency ballast comes with instructions covering at least 10 schematics. You have to figure out what kind of ballast you have, is it instant or rapid start? How many lamps do you have in the fixture? What's the voltage? 120? 277? Did I mention the people who wrote these instructions also were responsible for the translation of gideons bible to the head of a fucking pin? It's true. And the lights are off.'s fucking tiny tiny writing and diagrams, and you can't see them because it's fucking DARK. (That's why I have a flashlight...but that eliminates a hand, which opens a whole new door of frustration ).
I'm ok with up to 6 or 8 wires, provided they line up color wise. But the wires coming out of the emergency ballast are like medusa. Orange or black? Yellow or yellow with a black stripe? Blue or blue/white? Red/white...there's 2 of those...white? AAAAAAUUUGHHHHH! I am overwhelmed.
And today is the day my journeyman decides I need to learn how to read and translate schematics and hook these emergency ballasts up on my own. He didn't help as much as he challenged my questions about what goes where. He answers my questions with questions of his own, he tries to trip me up. Needless to say, I traced and wired the third ballast on my own with no questions asked, and there was no explosion. It worked.
So, the next time you look up at the pencils you've lodged in the suspended ceiling and notice that little red light inside the fixture and say to yourself " I wonder what that is"? It's your emergency ballast bitch. The one that's gonna save your sea world magnetic paper clip holder from flying across the floor in case the lights go out. And you've got me to thank for it.
You can call me.
Thank you journeyman, for making me think.
Sometimes my job makes me laugh
By far the most amusing thing about my job is the assumption that most customers make about my age. I'm constantly told that "old age ain't for pussies, just wait until you hit 40" or that things which occurred in oh, say 1974, "happened before you were born." For the most part, I no longer dispel their notion of my youth unless asked directly about my age. In case you don't already know this, I'm 43 and while I'm not quite dust with boots on, I'm a still a bit older than many of the folks that call in for tech support. And I've learned over these past few months that customers are much more comfortable with the notion of a young whippersnapper having superior knowledge about computers than the reality that someone their own age or older might have some mastery of the subject. I won't lie about my age if asked directly, but what that does happen I can almost hear the bubble burst. There's always an awkward silence as the customer comes to grip with the realization that I'm not the person they thought I was. Fortunately those situations are rare and it's a pretty good bet that a customer who demands to know my age is also one of those customers that's behaving like an asshole so that moment of silence can be pretty sweet at times.
Another day, another dollar
Today I realized why I hate the DSL calls. It's not so much that I'm a noob and bumbling around, but the fact that I never seem to fix the problem for the customer and it has to be escalated. I completely misunderstood what the level two employees meant when they said DSL calls are "easy". It's not that they are easy to fix, but that you only have to try a few things before it's out of your hands and becomes someone else's problem. In that respect, dialup customer calls are much harder. So maybe with this newfound knowledge the next two days will be less of a grind. I'm starting to suspect that the reason I ended up with this job in the first place is because I need a good lesson in "do what you can and ignore the rest".

Sunday, February 27, 2005

Schedule strategies
I've had my eye on some of the more, um, well-adjusted staff at the place where I work hoping to glean some insights into that "zen-like nature" they seem to have achieved after working there a year or so. One of the interesting trends is that they all have an unconventional schedule. Some work a steady two days on, one day off, three days on, one day off; some work four ten hour days with three days off; some work a rotating four days on, two days off; some work a rotating two days on, one day off. No one on a day shift ever seems to work five days in a row and having done that myself a few times, I'm not sure it's actually possible to do that on a regular basis and stay sane. So I have decided to experiment and have scheduled myself a week of four ten hour days with a three day weekend. I'm sure this is a big mistake, but I'll try it at least once. Then I've switched to the more popular two on, one off, three on, one off schedule for a couple of weeks to see how that goes. From there I may try the rotating shift ideas. Fuck, why not? This is probably the only job I'll ever have where I have the opportunity to experiment with alternative work schedules. Might as well take advantage of it.

We crept up like a virus through the tall grass, making our way to destiny one step at a time, each of us as one climbing higher and higher towards our fate. Slowly at first, and as the cover of tall grass subsided and the small arms fire increased we increased our speed and hopefully our stealth until we reached the ridge. Another 100 meters and we would be exposed. Exposed on an an open plain for the final run up to the top of the hill. The hill we had been ordered to take. And just behind that line of tall grass we gathered under the thunder of increasing small arms fire and mortars, mortars that ended your life in a second if they met their mark, their schrapnel ripping you to the essence of flesh and blood. But we stayed at that line of tall grass and bullets and blood, waiting for the order to move on, to take the hill from the enemy.
And as the night wore on, I remembered my time in Colorado, in the Rio Grande National forest. Hiking there with my friends, and my son and my wife. And I remembered the tree line. 10,000 feet and you are barren,nowhere to hide. Just open feilds and rocks and the undeniable feeling that you are exposed, defenseless. In the rockies the enemy is the thunderstorm, here the thunderstorm is inherently different. It is a thunderstorm of bullets and rockets and men coming down the mountain that want simultaneously to kill you and survive. You are hardcore, but they are too.
And as you wait in the border of the tree line you wonder if you are more hardcore than the man that waits for you on the other side. He has the advantage, being on top of the hill you have been ordered to take. But you can't help but wonder if he's as scared as you are. Has he been able to wear you down with the lucky shots and lucky mortars that have thinned your number down on your journey through the tall grass before tree line. And there you sit and wait. And you try to reconcile your life before the war. You look around at the others who have made it this far up the hill and wonder what you have in common. Are you patriots, brothers in a national cause? Or are you just a bunch of guys that have murdered your way up a hill in the middle of some fucked up country for some fucked up reason-and then you shut that shit down in a hurry because it's not how you were trained.
And then the call comes in.
You and yours rush the hill leaving behind the relative safety of the tall grass...the tree line. And as you shoot your way up the hill, you are consumed with a feeling of mountain climbing- it makes you feel better somehow. It's funny how the mind works like that, in reality, you are charging up an open space with the members of your squad killing everything you see. But in your mind you are making the summit of sheep mountain with your buddy and your dogs in colorado. And it's 1984. Until your squad starts dropping around you. Ripped to shreds by the pigs on the summit. it's amazing what a pig can do to the human body. 50 caliber slugs , rapid fire into a body is so very different from what you've seen in the war movies you've watched over and over and over again. You think you know what to expect, but you are wrong. Dead fucking wrong.
When hit by multiple shots the forward momentum stops and the most important parts of you fly out the back, spraying your squad mates with the memory of you. The more that sprays on you, the more you try to pull of the razzle dazzle zig zag to avoid the bullets and the viscera that is turning your jungle camo blood red, all the while trying to aim and shoot and kill. And trying to keep your mind on those glory days, before the killing. when you were a young man playing in the woods with your friends.
And then it hits you. You're not sure exactly what it was, but one minute your charging up the the hill and the next you're on the ground with a hole in your shoulder that burns like the fires of hell. You hit the ground with such force that your gun and your helmet go clattering away back down the hill, and you are moot at that point, game over.
Laying there on the ground, screaming for the medic, until you realize that screaming attracts the snipers, you reach back into your memory as the fight rages on around you. After the tenth or so soldier jumps over you and you finally have the time to look around you and see the other bodies scattered on the ground, you realize there is no medic. Not anymore anyway, he's a few feet away from you...he no longer has a chest, but you can still make out the cross on his helmet. They're not suppose to shoot the fucking medics you think to yourself, but you quickly realize the difference between the movies you watched and the realization that this is fucking war.
You try to melt into the ground as the fire increases...helicopters fly by and blast the ground with mini guns and napalm. It's the middle of the day at this point , but the sky is nightfall gray from the smoke.
And then, all of a sudden, it stops. The ground below you is soaked with your own blood, it's like you're laying on a sponge. You figure you're a deadman and release yourself to light.
You wake up in the field hospital days later, you took a 7.62 x 39 round to the shoulder it turns out, hollow point, no less. you'll live, but that dragon tattooed on your shoulder will never look the same...curiously, this is what you focus on. You almost bought it, but you're pissed that whoever shot you fucked up your art. That's when they tell you who shot you. But after they give you a purple heart and a silver star and an increase in rank and a form to sign that says you won't seek further compensation from your government for the injuries caused by friendly fire. Friendly fire? That's right. You took the hill, only you took it from your own people.
And two miles away the real enemy was wondering where you were, and what was all that action on the other hill?
And when the gunfire stopped and the smoke cleared they moved out. Blessing their luck and our stupidity.

Friday, February 25, 2005


They're protecting us. Trolli pulled the controversial "Road Kill" Gummi candies off the shelves today in response to protests from the new jersey society for the prevention of cruelty to animals...their protective web now apparently encompasses gummi candies depicting snakes, squirrels and some other animal frequently squashed by us and our cars, flattened replete with tire tracks on the body.
The horror...the horror...
Thank god PETA had the good sense to not get involvedgot beaten to the punch by those keepers of the faith in Jersey, could you imagine the protests and billboards? Protesters dressed as run over snakes pelting store patrons with road kill gummi candies chanting " gummi gummi-it's not funny! Let the road kill LIVE!" But wait, roadkill can't's been crushed by a car! So much for the PETA angle...fucking idiots.
Is this really what it's coming to in the rights zeal to sanitize american society? Have they rabidly worked their way through all that is offensive that they are resorting to attacking fucking candy? Say it isn't so...but it is.
Apparently it's more important to get this atrocity of a gummi off the shelves than it is to put a stop to dog fighting or cock fighting and that scourge of the 70's cat juggling. Moving outside the realm of animal rights, how about addressing the continued epidemic of kids killing parents and grandparents and siblings and peers in a similarly energetic fashion that seems to be dedicated to boobs exposed on television, and harsh language, and off color humor on the radio, and today...candy. Fucking candy.
This move to all that is good and pure and right is wearing me the fuck thing you know they'll be trying to repress homosexuals...oh...wait...

The roll off arrived today, between 10 an 11 am as promised (10:15ish actually). At 2:30pm I came into the house for a shower, the job done and the dumpster almost full. 10 cubic yards of shit that had been residing under my carport and on my porch was gone in just over 4 hours. My journeyman and MB came by at lunch to see how it was going and hung out for a bit, that was cool.
After, Ann and I went and got our loveseat/sleeper/futon thing at Eurway, which is on the north end of town. Since it's Friday, and most folks leave work early, it only took us an hour and 45 min. to complete our mission, winding our way snakelike across town...mopac to enfeild, enfield to west,west to 26th, 26th to guadalupe, guadalupe to 45th, 45th to burnet,burnet to rutland, rutland to metric, metric to kramer,kramer to breaker and we were there. It pays to grow up here, as the main roads,even on early friday move like old people fuck.
We pushed chairs and ottomans and the new thingy around for awhile before settling on a pit group kind of config. I don't know if it's a keeper (the arrangement, I mean) but it works for now.
All in all a very productive day, I think.
Have a great weekend!

Thursday, February 24, 2005


Every payday the guys play check add you net pay with your check number and that's your hand. You bet 5 bucks, if you win, you're up by 30 or more or less depending on how many play. I don't play check poker...because my 5 bucks goes to scratch tickets, yes, I admit it, I'm a scratch head...that's what the mohawk boy calls us. morning break, our foreman was asking who was in for check poker, I, as always declined. And nothing was said about it, but when mohawk boy declined he got alot of shit from his journeyman and the foreman. We left, but the shit continued, and when mohawk boy shot back to the foreman "Rob didn't play and you didn't fuck with him" The foreman replied " That's because Rob's alot bigger than you" and the fucking with MB (mohawk boy) continued.
I am 90% positive that this statement was just more of the same game, giving MB a hard time, but when I was telling Ann the story tonight, she shared with me comments from a coworker of hers who has seen me waiting in the Rodeo in the parking lot and I made him nervous. I'm sitting in my Rodeo, listening to talk radio, waiting for my wife, probably 100 feet from this guy and I make him nervous.
I have never said a word to this guy, and at 100 feet enclosed in a vehicle, he's afraid. That's some fucking power I guess. That i can decline check poker and not get fucked with about it? I think that's my foreman protecting me, or continuing the fucking with MB. At least I hope that's it. Strangers being afraid of me I can deal with, in fact I kind of like it. But people I've known for years being afraid of me is kind of bothersome. I'm not out to hurt anyone, never have been. Then again, the people who really know me know that I am a threat to no one but myself. And I think my foreman knows this, he should, I've known him for years. This "intimidating thing" has followed me around all my life, and it gets old sometimes.
Maybe I'll play check poker next payday...just to throw them off.

Wednesday, February 23, 2005


With a bang on the ear.
How about those Waterboys?

My son called me today, and he had an interview at Amy's Ice Cream, a stop on the road to nintendo, but a cool place to work. I supervised people who had worked for Amy's back in the day, and the memories were fond. Back in the day, they would hand you a delivery bag and instruct you to be creative, it was the application that bag, and you could write, draw and otherwise convince them you were worthy of employment. Things have changed since those heady days, but the interview was at least similar in tone and according to Kyle, went well. He should know by Sunday, lets all send him, and Amy's good job getting vibes. And for the record, he did all the right things in his interview.
How does that me lucky? Well, I have a kid who calls me and lets me know whats happening in his life, That's how it makes me lucky. Things were'nt always so good between us not so long ago...he's alot like me, just like me and my mom, and while I'm glad he's got that constitution, it hasn't resulted in the major conflicts me and my mom had...yet. Time will tell.
It might seem kind of weird to be singing the praises of a sucessful father/son relationship, but when you factor in his singular willfullness coupled with my background, it truley is a good thing.
I don't know exactly what he thinks about my performance as a dad, but I think we did OK. Neither one of us is in prison, yet.
And this leads up to the newest addition to my circle, another journeyman became a father yesterday...a boy, and to him I say welcome to the game. He is now a parent, I wish him luck and the same joyous experience I had with my son in those early days.
It's hard to reconcile the infant to the toddler to the teenager to the adult, but in my case, it was worth the trip, and I wish him that joy of hindsight.
DSL Hell
I was tempted to think there were no other techs taking DSL calls today because call after call was a DSL call which made for a challenging day. It wasn't just that I'm a noob when it comes it DSL calls, but the call volume was so extremely low that I could barely make out what the customer was saying on each and every call. That has a tendency to make me sound stupid even when I DO know what I'm doing. I think if I hadn't started the day out with a pay raise and a compliment from my boss then my ego would have been completely deflated by the time I left work. As it is, it's only partly deflated and is also propped up a bit by the thought that tomorrow is my Friday. I know I can survive one more day of DSL Hell. If I were looking at two... well, I'm just glad I'm not looking at two. For all the moaning and groaning I've done about this job, it does have potential and there are things about my employer that I really like. Things I won't find if I go work for Mega-Corp. I'm hoping once I get past the learning curve, I'll settle into that "I like my job and it's cool" attitude that some of the longer term staff have. I haven't decided if it's experience or personality that gets a person to that point, but if I can achieve that almost zen-like experience that those staff seem to have then I'll work there forever.

Tuesday, February 22, 2005


(and still rob...)

Austin was a cool town to be in in the early eighties, and the plethora of bands during that time defined regional tastes. But what's weird is to have lived through it and witnessed the permutations that have occurred from that freshman crop of bands that embraced the punk thing and be spit out on the other end, forever altered wondering what the fuck actually happened.
The Big Boys hold a special place in my heart. They spun off as Cargo Cult (Biscuits band), Poison 13 ( Gates and Kerr ) , The Lord high Fixers ( Kerr) and via LA, Junkyard ( Gates...with a Roach boy on vocals) I saw them at the back room with a band called Rhino was loud, it was awesome, I was late to work the next day and caught a load of shit from my girl at the time, and while I thought momentarily I deserved said load, I realized later on that she believed her job was to break my balls.
Then there was Scratch Acid...I think I saw the first show at Club Foot, just based on how shitty it was. I know I saw them at the opera house in 82 and they billed themselves as No Trend...The bass players mom was a nurse at the treatment center I was working at...They were reborn as The Jesus Lizard...singer and bass player taking the show to chicago and creating some of the ugliest music known to man. We love the Jesus Lizard to this day, they put out an impressive catalog but eventually imploded. And the list goes on...
The Dicks, The Huns (short lived but incendiary), Standing Waves, D-Day, The Judies ,The Offenders and The Band from Hell, all central Texas bands and most of them from Austin. Many I saw but have forgotten the names in the haze of those heady days.
"Maybe the stitches should be removed...I'd like to see the opening again"
(David Yow...The Jesus Lizard)
Now what do we do?

(rob posting under ann's profile)

I would want to be one here in Texas. Weather in Texas is always a crap shoot, except for may through october when you can phone it in everyday with two words...HOT and every other day throw in RAIN. You could be Johnnie Winter junkyfied and still make a decent living in Texas as a network weatherman...seriously. All you'd need is a dart board with weather shit on it instead of numbers, and between shots of jager just lob a dart and PRESTO! There's your fucking forecast. It was suppose to rain today, after a few hours of gray and dreary with a mini pissing of drizzle, the fucking sun came out. Now while this would not normally bother me, I was geared up for rain, rain being preferable to sunny and HUMID. my knee is acting up again, I guess I have to just suck it up and accept the fact that I am officially dust with boots on and have the ol' rhumatize...hand me the jug granny!
And where's that cold front? It's been a mild winter and last night the crane flys were thick...not a good sign for the insect to human ratio this spring and summer.

Monday, February 21, 2005


Recent events over the pond have gotten me to thinking about the dogs that have graced me with their presence throughout my life. I will forgo the childhood family dogs details and just say the there was Murphy, the most awesome Irish Setter EVER. Sometimes you go get a dog, you adopt it, you rescue it from the pound, you might even buy it from a breeder. I have bought one dog from a breeder, Skeeter, a brindle boxer who was fond of bass amps and bass drums and died before his time because, I believe, he was a bred dog.
But the best dogs find you. Take Sunday, for example. He came into my life quite by accident, and stayed with me for 3 or so years. He chose me. And during our time together, he was the best friend I ever had.
There was no need to train him, it was like he knew. In a sense, he trained me. He was an awesome dog, and a great chick magnet. I would take him to zilker park and brush him...he was a border collie mix, with a lush coat of black and white...hence the name Sunday,that and the fact that we found each other on a Sunday. Then one day he was gone. I saw him again a year and a half later on the trails in pease park. He remembered me, but he was with someone else then, our time was done.
Then there was Buddy, he was and is the dog love of my life. I got him at 6 weeks when I was living in coloration (I meant Colorado...jeez!) on my lonesome own. He went everywhere I went all of his life. He was the most connected pet I have ever had. 115 lbs.... of love. He lived with me for 14 years...I could just look at him in a certain way and he knew what it meant. We said goodbye on the floor of a pen at my vet on the wrong end of a needle,I'm not sure, but I think he knew what was coming, he knew his number was up and he went down with his head on my leg. With the first snap of winter kicking his hips ass, we both knew. And after all this time it still breaks me to think of my Buddy...the travellin' dog, companion, protector and really big scary looking dog who wouldn't hurt a flea.Unless I told him to. And I did a couple of times.
This bunch we've had now for awhile...the three black dogs. It's the same thing really if you think about it. I love these dogs and they love me. It didn't start out that way got to get to know each other, learn the boundaries, come to an understanding, maybe even bite each other a couple of times so to speak.
But when Theo's in his favorite chair looking at me and that tail of his begins to bounce, you better believe I know I'm loved, and he is too.
And I wouldn't trade those moments for anything.

We lost our internet connection at home, so I'm blogging from the field, and by that I mean Maudies. Hope to have it cleared up soon, but till then blogging will be light.
That's about it really. It was nice to have a whole weekend off with Ann...come to think of it, didn't really miss the lack of connectivity...internet, I mean. :)


Back in the comfort of home, albeit with the wireless antenna hanging just outside the patio door from the rolling cage, but so be it. Deal with what ya got, right?
It's been a long time since we've been able to have an actual calander of events beyond work work and work followed by brief periods called paydays where we gave it all away
to "the man", ( well, it hasn't been all that horrible, but to go from not having to really worry about money and bills to having to scrimp like yer 18 again it is ). But we have plans baby!
#1...Picked up the vacation fund check today, and surprise! It was paid through december, so it was a bit bigger than we had anticipated.Yay!
#2...We were able to go to our beloved Maudies...I've been a couple of times over the last 3 months thanks to the kindness of friends, but Ann and I have not been able to have a dinner there
for quite some time. It was a nice treat.
#3...We can finally complete our living room with the purchase of a matching couch, it's been almost a year in the waiting/making and I actually think I'm more excited about this than Ann is...
But maybe not.
#4...Last but not least, the roll off will be delivered this Friday. The shitport will become a carport again, and white trash central will become the backyard we once had.
And after that, we will be back in the moment. But to have a week completely in our control, and to finally put some of the finishing touches on the house is a welcome return to order.

Oh yeah...The second annual Texas Independence Day Cordite Fest is fast approaching. The usual gun toting malcontents will be in attendance, with some guests, one of whom is in posession
of an old 45/70 rifle...the kind you have to pull the hammer back to shoot. The kind that has a bullet the size of longneck bottles neck. The kind that prompts the owner to say "maybe I'll bring my 45/70
and see who has the balls to shoot it, which prompts me to say " shit man...I'll shoot it. I'll shoot anything once".
Speaking of gun toting malcontents....Hunter S.Thompson...RIP. Shot himself in the head yesterday.Major bummer.Hunter was one of my favorite writers from way back. Hopefully, when it happened he was on his porch in Colorado, butt nekkid and full of mescaline.
Everybody knows that nothing goes better together than guns and drugs/alchohol...But some people (and maybe Hunter) forget that it goes in that order. Go shoot your guns, put them away safely and then eat that 4 way hit of blotter chased with valium laced tequila and kind bud.
See ya!

Friday, February 18, 2005


As you loyal readers might recall, my buddy Joel sprung for rocks no salt at the hallowed Maudies, and after a multicultural visit to the twilight zone courtesy of my neighborhood Jihad Mini mart which is a bubbling mix of culture, we retired to my house for a serious bout of drinking that included vodka, crown royal and beer.
The CD player was in constant rotation although I'm not clear on the selections...I know there was alot of Cracker in there, but the rest is a bit fuzzy. During the course of the evening, we devolved to the trading licks ( that is, hitting each other on the arm over and over again) and arm wrestling, much to the amusement of Ann. Joel is alot bigger than me and handily beat me in the arm wrasslin', but I matched his punches with the same ferocity as his...after all, I'm not small-just wrapped tighter.
As with all drunken testosterone fests, this one went to the invariable. Joel gloating about his prowess in the arm wrasslin' zone, and me warning him that he should "fear me". Although the jury is still out, and he has the size advantage, I believe that in a real knock down drag out between us I would prevail. I believe this in a most feral and primitive way. Why? Because I have a bigger axe to grind than he does, not that we would ever come to no shit blows because at the heart of it all we are friends, and while it's fun to muck around, neither one of us wants to really hurt each other.
He called me on sunday and asked if my arm hurt...we laughed about how stupid we were but how much fun it was being so stupid.
No harm done.
The last real fight I had was broken up, if you don't count the thousands of "restraints" I did when I was a soldier in the psychic wars. But arriving for 8 hours of angry kids possibly trying to kick your ass for whatever fucked up reason and you have to contain them without hurting them ( as a sidebar I learned that extreme pain puts an end to this kind of bullshit in a me/us animals if you want, but in the end, I finally accepted the fact to end hurt sometimes you have to hurt right back in a measured "therapeutic" sort of way).
Sure, he could win a arm wrasslin' contest everytime, no problem. But if it came down to it, and I had to tap into that 15 years of unreasonable and spontaneous violence thrown my way I would so crush his ass.
And I think he knows it.
Alchohol is a funny thing yo.
Is it 4:00 PM yet?
TGIF - for real this time
It's been so long since I had a "real" Friday - as in the day of the week is Friday, it's my fifth work day in a row AND I have the weekend off, both Saturday and Sunday. However, it seems like the time at work is ticking by very slowly. I guess this is similar to that anticipation response that kids get on long trips because I have this urge to check the clock every 15 minutes which is very much along the lines of asking "Are we there yet?" constantly. I don't have any big plans for the weekend other than savoring the experience of sleeping a bit later and having a REAL breakfast of eggs, sausage and hashbrowns instead of microwaved stuff, all the while lounging around in my nightgown. It looks like the weather is going to be nasty so it might even involve a nap or two. Oh, I'm am soooo looking foward to this. Now if that clock would just speed up for the next four hours and THEN slow down again making the weekend seem to last at least as long as this day has so far.

Thursday, February 17, 2005


Today, my journeyman had an appointment that would require him to be gone for a couple of hours. We had a another IJ with us ( his journeyman was off ) who is green, only doing the IJ thing for 2 months. Usually when this happens, I get dropped off with the foreman until my journeyman returns, not this time. Since the circuits we're pulling are not hot yet, there was no danger of electrocution, so he lined me out on what needed to be done and left me in charge, with the blessing of the foreman. The new IJ and I did what was lined out and our efforts were met with approval upon his return.
This was significant to me because my journeyman trusts me enough to leave me unsupervised. He trusts me to not fuck it up, and believe me, when you fuck up while running circuits the results are fourth of july spectacular when energized and embarrassing, and above all, dangerous.
I feel fortunate to be able to work with this guy, an excellent electrician and a more than adequate teacher. As the adage goes " Just last week I couldn't even spell electrician ". Except in my case, it was 9 months ago. 9 months into a job that started out as "maybe a couple of weeks, but, hey, it's money, right"? I can't wait to terminate this maze of circuits into the sub panel I installed last week and fire it up!


Ann and I are notorious packrats. We have 1600 square feet of shit in a 1000 square feet space. Our carport is and has been since last years reno a shitport. But no more! we say. Being a member of the local IBEW union has many benefits, and one of them is the way they deal with vacation time. It's a bank. Contributions are made each week and you can draw from it twice a year, for any reason. That's right, put in your request by friday, get a check the following monday after 3 pm. So...I'm cashing in my vacation fund and having a roll off dumpster delivered to the house next week. All of the shit under our carport and in the back yard(or as I call it, white trash central) will go into this dumpster plus a fair amount of shit that's been piled up in the back addition, hey its a 10 yard dumpster. We are shedding ourselves of clutter. The new rule around here is if you haven't need it or wondered where it was for the last year, fuck it...landfill here it comes. To actually park under the carport will be a dream come true. And we can finally convert the back addition into a studio again, which will clear out the office of extraneous musical equipment allowing us to renovate it. We can also get the matching couch for our chairs, completing our living room, and I might even be able to get a new pair of workboots! WooHoo!

See ya! Hey! Tomorrows Friday again! Already!

Wednesday, February 16, 2005


Unless it's just the low sodium teriyaki sauce I used to cook the turkey burgers tonight. Who knows? It sure looks like blood. Why are my thumbs cracked and seeping blood and or low sodium teryaki sauce? Because I burned through a box of 100 wire nuts in less than three days and cooked teryaki turkey burgers tonight, thats why. I'll admit it's not as glamorous as chasing down 14 year old girls on runaway from a psych hospital through traffic, but it's part of what I do now. Probably the funniest part about using wire nuts is that the box comes with instructions..."grasp the wire nut firmly between your thumb and index finger and turn clock wise". Yeah, OK, I got it. What they don't say and should is a warning that "excessive wire nutting can result in severe cracks in your thumbs resulting in the seeping of blood, please wire nut responsibly". I can't wait until my third year when my thumbs will be impervious to the hell that is the wire nut, when I can wire nut 5 (yes! FIVE wires inside one red and yellow wire nut) and scoff because my thumbs have achieved monster thumb status and are impervious to seeping anything and void of all feeling. I will no longer relate to Zappa's Dynamo Hum like I used to, but I won't care anymore because I can be the wire nut guy on the crew, the envy of all with my horribly calloused yet impressive thumbs. So impressive that I no longer need my kliens to twist four 12 gauge wires together, I can do it with my bare thumbs and index fingers ( also horribly deformed ).
That would be awesome.

Not many years ago, my only wish and hope for my son was that he make it over fool's hill intact. For a few years it seemed, he was intent on ruining his life before it really started. Even I, with my vast "knowledge" of adolescent dysfunction, could not turn this boy around. You see I was lacking something, and that something was a security room to lock him until I broke his spirit. I had to rely on him, that some of what I had said, and for that matter all of the adults in his life (well, maybe not all) had sunk into his brain somewhere on the cerebral bench until he decided he was good and ready to use it.
I'm happy to say it did...he even told me so once.
But on to the point. My son wants to be a game designer. He's always been very talented in art and computers, not to mention electronic music ( which you can check out at battlestar dream ). He's on the downhill side of school with 6 to 8 months to go.
Last night he brought over an assignment to show us, the guidelines of the assignment was to generate a 30 second animation of credits. He had created over three minutes of animation, a trailer if you will. With credits and self composed soundtrack. It was awesome! If he posts it online I will post a link (Hint-hint bud).
With this kind of talent and the education behind it, my son can write his own ticket and in the process make a very good living for his family to be. And isn't that what every parent wants? For their child to exceed their own success? To live a more comfortable life than they have lived? I think so. For me anyway.
I could go on, but I think I nailed it. And besides, to gush further would just be...oh I don't know, kind of "girly".
See ya! Damn tomorrow's payday again already!
A quick post before I eat, sleep and work again
Hopefully this was the last of my ten hour days at work. I'm sure other starving employees are not so happy that the overtime is ending, but I am grateful. Also today I got trained on DSL support and what a nightmare. I start taking DSL calls tomorrow and it's going to be like starting this job all over again - I'm sure I'll have no clue what I'm doing for the first month or so. Maybe the extra training means I'll get a raise eventually, but I'm not going to hold my breath. I've got two black marks on my record (actually, in our employee files, the marks are red) for not tracking calls properly, something which I still struggle with after three months. I guess I'm just going to have to get used to being a mediocre employee since I don't think I'm ever going to excel at this job. Then again, is there really any logical reason to excel at an $8/hour job? You know the old saying... you get what you pay for. ..

Tuesday, February 15, 2005


I have had cats, she showed up in the driveway one night a long time ago and checked me out. She then proceeded to drop kittens in my garden secretary in the back yard. I also had dogs at the time, Buddy, a 115 lb. great dane/ Husky mix and Sadie, a football dog I mean a lhas apso (sp? I don't know...maybe football dog was more accurate, but she was cool). They discovered the kittens. They wouldn't leave them alone. So we moved them into the house and introduced everybody. It worked. Turned out Momma Kitty was kind of a slut, and we had another litter that was recieved with loving arms from all involved, human canine or otherwise. We kept the first litter and adopted out the second...well, one of the second. The other two went to the humane society. The remaining cats stayed with me for a decade. There was mama kitty and her daughters, Ginger and Mary Ann. Mama eventually shined us on for somebody down the street who had a better brand of food and left us. She would come back every year or so to visit and finally fell off the radar. Ginger fell victim to antifreeze ( cat crack ) and I found her stiff in the yard one morning. Mary Ann was the wanderer of the cat family, disappearing for weeks at a time and not very attached. She was seriously injured by another animal at some point and after the vet saved her she hung close to the home for about a year and was a much more loving cat. And then she fell back into her old habits...gone for 3 days, a week, a month and then just gone.
Sadie went back to Ohio with the woman who robbed me of 8 years of my life 11 years ago, I'm sure she has passed through that arch of milkbones by now and is shitting on clouds. Buddy died in my arms in '93 at the ripe old age of 14 and is buried in our back yard.
Then there was Diamond, the boxer, that I got from a treatment center. She demonstrated her loss of her other dog friends by chewing up my sons action figures. So we got her a friend from the pound, Cypress, and it was all good. Ann, Kyle and I picked him out and Diamond loved him. Ann and I took Diamond and Cypress with us on our honeymoon. Three weeks in the Rio Grande National forest in Colorado. It was so awesome to watch Cypress running through the mountains of southern Colorado, and awesome to feel him snuggle up in the tent at night when it got cold, me and Ann and diamond and Cypress all snuggled up. We were a pack. Two weeks after we got home, Cypress was killed by pit bulls from down the street that came into our yard uninvited, diamond was seriously injured but survived. I killed said pit bulls. When Diamond was ready for another partner she let us know by chewing up more of my son's action figures. Enter Skeeter, a brindle male boxer with a penchant for bass and drums. We were lucky to have him for five years and then an aortic anuerism killed him, I found him dead on the kitchen floor one morning.
In short order, we got our current crew. First, Theo, born on the side of IH 35 and whelped at our vet. Then Irene, abandoned on a ranch in south Texas, and then Sullivan, from our vet, because we are suckers for black dogs...he is the hardest case, survivor of parvo, lived in a vet pen for a few months, didn't like men for the longest time.
So we were up to 4 until Diamond died, in my arms at the vet, at the age of 8.
Since then it's been the five of us...five distinct personalities under one roof, not always harmonious, but always family.
And as we go gray together and by virtue, closer, I understand the difference between cats and dogs, and I prefer dogs.
C'mere Theo...gimme a hug.

Monday, February 14, 2005


It's late at night, I see a rest stop comin' up on the right...And so begins our song Rest Stop, a musical storyboard of a serial killer who stakes out rest areas and picks, robs and kills, then incinerates his victims. This was a spontaneous recording, at one of our practice/jams here at the house somewhere in the neighborhood of '95. Based on a riff our guitarist LT had been playing with, the peices just all fell together, and the story just fell ( or flew ) out of my mouth. I hadn't intended to "write" a song about a fire bug serial killer thief, it just happened.
When I sat down with the cassette to write down what I had spewed forth to do a rewrite, there was no rewrite to be done. Rest Stop became our set opener ( and sometimes closer ) for the duration of our life as an active performing band. With it's kinda crazy horse gallop and rolling bottom end it was just fucking fun to play, and especially for me because I got to sing it, much to the chagrin of some made them uncomfortable, and I enjoyed that. For years.
So, why am I blathering on about this? Our band is coming up on it's 10th anniversary this April. We got so into working on our sets that the creative process that made being a band so much fun took a back seat and eventually lost patience and left the room entirely. Now, back in the creative stage of the game material was easy, most of the lyrics were me just spewing out failed relationship bile with an occaisional "I'm just a pathetic drunk" ballad ala' Uncle Tupelo, throw in a dash of punked up covers ( Delta Dawn, Gypsies,Tramps and Thieves ) some bleating harmonica and you had us, Wolves@th'Door. And our one shiny little peel the paint off the place gem, Rest Stop.
I need to write some new songs. Lord knows enough has happened personally and topically in these 10 years.
We'll keep you posted.

Sunday, February 13, 2005


Bear with me, this will be a meandering post. But worth your meander miles, I hope. On friday I stopped at our corner haji mart, known to us lovingly as Akbar and Jeff's. It was busy, filled mostly with the residents of the projects just north of the main road. It seems that these folks have discovered the store, much to the discontent of the yuppy pricks who have been invading our neighborhood just south of the main road. The owners of the haji mart have become used to the upwardly mobile white customer base from our neck of the woods, and increasingly intolerant of the ethnic folks that tend to have drunken, crack addled confrontations in the parking lot and want to argue about the cost of the icehouse 40 oz. that for some reason goes for 99 cents on the east side, and paying 1.29 is just an insult. was busy. There was a black family in line in front of,dad and a kid around 11or so. After they finished their purchase, the kid decided he wanted a scratch ticket, mom tried to buy it and haji shooed her on quite rudely, saying nononono!We very busy! Ushering me to the front of the line. She was offended, I was offended, Haji was unphased. I happened to have a two dollar winner from earlier in the day that I traded for two of the one dollar scratch tickets that the kid wanted. I stopped them at the door and gave the kid one of the tickets. I went home and shared my philanthropic moment with Ann and scratched my ticket. It was a three dollar winner! WooHoo! I was a cool guy to the poor little kid and I was up by a dollar, it doesn't get better than that.
But it does.
Jump to buddy Joel and I had plans to hang at my house and drink some beers. He called enroute and asked if I had my travelling clothes on, cause he was springing for rocks no salt at Maudies. I couldn't refuse that offer don't you know...and in my excitement over a trip to Maudies, I completely forgot that I was wearing my shirt until we were on the way.
Four rocks no salt later and we are on the way back to my house, with a pit stop at the haji mart for OJ and smokes. It's busy again, crazy busy inside and the (now) usual chaos of crack whore disputes in the parking lot. I have a decent buzz and have completely forgotten that I am wearing the white devil shirt until we are inside and many people of color are looking at it. And at me, and at my friend who is wearing a worldwide terror shirt with an AK-47 screened on the front with the caption "happiness is a warm gun". We make it out of the store alive, and as I step into the lot I see the mom and kid from friday. I approach and inquire about the scratch ticket I had given him, again forgetting about my shirt. Turns out the kid won nine dollars off that! I proclaim.She's looking at me strange, she's confused, here's this skinhead lookin' tattooed guy with a racist T-shirt inquiring about her sons luck with a scratch ticket I gave him the night before because the arab guy at the store showed them no respect. I wish her a good day and head to the car. Her son catches up to me and gives me a dollar and says thanks...also cool.
Can't judge a book by it's cover indeed.

Friday, February 11, 2005

Up, up and away
Thanks to this blasted tooth, I was miserable this morning after a night of little sleep. I suppose if there's anything good to say about feeling completely miserable it's that you've got nowhere to go but up. I had the car today and that meant I could go to Jack-in-the-Box at lunch and get their onion rings, one of my favorite comfort foods. I ordered not one, but two orders of onion rings and after spending 30 minutes attempting to eat the burger, I was really glad that I'd decided to treat myself to some extra rings because they were a hell of a lot easier to eat. Work was... well, it was there. I made it through the day and managed to make it home in a much better mood than when I left. Maybe it was due to the magical power of onion rings or maybe it's the bounce back effect of hitting rock bottom. Like I said, there's nowhere to go but up at this point.

While I was channel surfing yesterday, headed to the usual reruns of, or, gasp, an episode of Law and Order I hadn't seen ( although I don't think that's possible ), I cruised by the TCM channel and there was this movie in progress. An old post WWII movie involving a mother and son seperated by the holocaust and after the liberation of the camps continually miss finding each other by a series of events. Enter an american army engineer ( Montgomery Clift ) who finds the lad wandering around in rags, barefoot, sporting the number of the beast ( an Auschwitz tattoo ). He takes him in and cares for him. Finally in the end Mother and son are reunited at a camp for child survivors of the holocaust enroute to "Palestine". I was intrigued by this film, and coming into it in progress had no idea what it was called, but thanks to BartCop Entertainment listing movies on all the cable networks daily I was able to learn the title and the date of production (1948) . It's called The Search and it was a fun view. All black and white, not only in film, but in dialog. People said what was on their minds and that was it, a bit simple really but refreshingly so.
But there was more. I have a history with this history. My mom was a nurse during the "big one" and her brothers served as well, my uncle Frank was seriously wounded at Dunkirk, and apparently lanquished on the beach there for a couple of days. My uncle Tommy served as well, but managed to have" pretty boys luck"* and emerged unscathed.
*Pretty boy was a character in a really fucking awesome Viet Nam era movie called "84 Charlie Mopic"...back to topic.
My mom regaled me with stories of this war, she was there when the germans tried to bomb england back to the pre stone age, she was decorated for her service. She had seen the horrors of war and was determined to instill in me the right frame of mind to avoid it again at all costs, while it worked for me, it didn't work for the world and we have made the same mistakes over and over again. Korea. Viet Nam, and now for the second time, the middle east. And interestingly enough, a little spit of a country- Palestine- is at the center of it all.
And in my fractured mind I think about this movie and the settling of orphans in Palestine in 1948, a new start-a new home-a new beginning and for a moment I wonder what the fuck went wrong, I mean in the movie, these kids were marching off to the trucks with their rucksacks singing the praises of the promise of a new life in a new country free from harm and full of hope. And then I remembered it was just a movie. Make believe. Or maybe not.
My Mom loved these old movies and I used to wonder why. I don't wonder anymore.

Thursday, February 10, 2005

Just call me batshit crazy
Well, the daily grind continues at the call center. Things haven't improved much, but it's not for lack of trying on my employer's part. They are hiring and training people as fast as they can, but it's hard to hang on to staff with these sort of workloads. I've got a variety of reasons for sticking it out, some of which could even be considered logical such as the fact that I desperately need the money. However, I went to work today with an abscessed tooth and a migraine headache so it's pretty clear to me that money isn't the main reason. There's no amount of money worth working at any job, much less working the phones at a call center while experiencing those health conditions. It's not my loyalty to the company since I've only been there three months. It's not any great fondness for the staff there as I haven't had the chance to get to know anyone since I'm on the phone with strangers all day long. It's not any great love of the work and today at one point I was really tired of talking to stupid people. Ignorant I don't mind at all. Everyone was ignorant about computers and the internet at some point even if these days such ignorance is limited to time spent in the womb. However, it's come to my attention that some people are just dumb as dirt. There's no amount of training or explanation that will get these folks to realize that email doesn't just magically appear on their computer screen each day without any effort on their part. Apparently it does do that when they have AOL, but we are not AOL. If they like AOL so goddamn much, I wish they would go back. In fact, if I were rich I would gladly PAY them to go back to AOL. But I digress. I suspect the primary reason I went to work with a migraine and an abcessed tooth is because I'm a stubborn old fool that doesn't like anything to get the best of me whether it's a splitting headache or a shit ass job or a combination of the two. Which I think qualifies me as being batshit crazy.

I was over at Kaetlan's earlier and reading her latest post. It hit home for me and I realized that it would be really cool if she like, lived across the street from us or something. Sure, this blog thing is a great way to connect with like minded people all over the fucking place, but nothing beats a real face to face conversation with someone you connect with. And if K lived across the street, and she was over here helping us kill a bottle of vodka and sharing the details of the day, I could of shared a similar story that would have ended in a hug, and the realization that we as a species are very much alike when it comes to relationships, failed or otherwise.
Having had my share of the failed variety since puberty, I can tell you that I remember them all. The clarity may be a bit fuzzy, but it's there. Sometimes the memory is crystal clear and resolute, as in "there's eight years of my life that I'll never get back...damn it".
I may have told this story here before, I'm not sure. I know I've mentioned Wendy here on a couple of occaisions and I'll spare you the history beyond the pertinent facts, they are...Wendy and I went to school together, we went "steady" over and over again throughout jr. and high school. I always loved her and I beleive that she almost always loved me. I hurt her and she hurt me, mostly in that adolescent way that all of us do, but we were drawn together. School ended and I didn't see her for years. Then one night I was with a group of kids from the treatment center I managed at an AA meeting in westlake, where Wendy and I grew up. I was talking to the staff at my center on the phone in the coffee room when i heard a voice behind me say "Rob?", I turn around and there she is...Wendy, I recognized her right away, she recognized my voice. I got off the phone, we embraced, and with that embrace a flood of memories were released. The way she smelled, the way she felt. That sparkle in her eyes. It was all still there. I loved her all over again, or rather the memory. We exchanged numbers and promised to keep in touch. I never called her, she never called me. And after a long time I realized what we had really promised each other was to keep in touch with the memory. And I do. I will always remember her as the girl in the jeans and the flannel shirt, pigtails under a matching bandanna...and that sparkle in her eyes. I'm lucky to have this memory and it reminds me of where I've been. And that experience helps me value what I have now, because without Wendy I wouldn't be where I am today. There are others with not such a happy ending, but they were necessary too.
And here I am, with all the lessons learned trying hard to continue moving forward.To learn some more.

Wednesday, February 09, 2005


I gave myself a ride home today, actually, mohawk boy gave me a ride home since Ann was working late and dropped me off at the ungodly hour of 5:55 am so we could wreck out some light tails without interupting classes. By I digress, The ride home was filled with the glory that is punk rock. First the Unseen followed by The Exploited. He was me in '83 and he has only a slight clue of who he was giving a ride home was about when I was his age. It was heartening. Punk's not dead after all.


I installed a sub panel today on my own. I would go into a long boring description of this process but will leave it at another milestone in my training as an electrician that instilled a sense of pride and accomplishment.


I saw the guy I clocked with the door yesterday this morning and he averted his eyes...I smiled a little evil smile to myself as we passed...he said "how's it going"? I said "It's goin' ". But I thought " the bridge of my nose isn't sore and I don't need to by a new pair of glasses this payday and I didn't have to explain a goose egg on my forehead to my wife last night fuck-o".


A homeless woman quizzed me about my tattoos at McDonalds this morning...we went for breakfast after the early wreck-out of the light tails. She was in her sixties (at least) and could have been any texas woman in her sixties of substance based on her jewelry and clothing. The back pack and sleeping bag gave her away. I was polite ( I'm used to this line of questioning...How long did that take? Did it hurt? Whats the design mean?) I kept my responses to the facts, instead of the usual snippy/sarcastic responses I offer because she was a sixty something homeless woman, who was probably living quite comfortably until she lost her job or her husband died and suddenly she has no income and no home and she has been reduced to living out of a backpack. It made me sad...and angry. but mostly sad.


"Augie Electric Inc. We Rule." Fucking hysterical. Something I will explain later (well,maybe not) but trust me, it's hysterical. It involves incompetence, cardboard, duct tape,keyhole saws, a plumb bob and the patent office. And a misguided sense of what is and is not a good idea.


G'night kids! Hey! Tomorrows payday! :)

Tuesday, February 08, 2005


There is a place where we get our material to do the electrical magic that we weave. It's like a big hardware store where we are the mosquitos and the men staffing it are the molasses slow people that they are. Part of it is just the karma of the place, the other part is the lethargy of government employees, people who have been doing the same fucking thing for years, have their eyes on that magic number for being fully vested and retirement. They are slow like old people fuck, and over the months we have gotten used to it. Now don't get me wrong, these guys running this store are good people.
The boss is one of the coolest over 50 guys I have ever met...a real people person, he should have been a politician what with all the hand shaking and heartfelt gratuities offered to any and all that cast a shadow on this counter. He is also the most excellent at fucking with people, a skill we have observed while waiting on his old people fucking staff to gather our material, inevitably to come to us saying " need your help with this wire mold stuff" and we go back into the warehouse to help them find stuff they have have been issuing for YEARS, yet they cannot or will not learn what the fuck it is despite their tenure. Ahhh, the joys of government employment...make your six months probation period and it takes an act of god (or sodomy in the middle of the parking lot) to get you gone. Make your probationary period and you have permission to join the slow and stupid club. Not that any of these guys are slow and stupid, it's the system that is and they have just been sucked into it. They are state employees and state employees are expected to be slow and stupid, just like the organization they represent. Higher ups spends hours in meetings constantly redefining and fine tuning the stupidity by applying that tried and true fosterer (is that even a word? It is now:)) of all that is stupid and useless. The byproduct of many intellects gathered together in one room on the premise of making things run more smoothly, failing on a grand scale almost every time. Management, thy name is sloth.
Up until today today we would enter the store and fill out our own order forms. Today we were told that we should give a list of our needs to the staff and thay would transpose it to the order form and we could come back to pick up our pulled order later. We placed our order at 10am, we were told to come back after lunch to pick it up (12:30). Remember that "we need your help with that wire mold stuff" line in the last paragraph? Yeah...that happened, only 2 and a half hours after the fact. Instead of the usual 45 minutes to an hour it took us to get our material, it took over 3 hours.
Hooray management! Hooray effeciency!! Hooray for people who cannot find their ass with a map and both hands on said ass.
Productivity was a lie today, and we choked on it.
Along the same lines, but funnier, was something that happened to us this afternoon. Yesterday we first entered the electrical room that has the transformer, main panel, etc. for the job we are on. Inside this room , on the floor, was a chair cushion propped against the wall with a double layer of cardboard the length of a man beneath it. A place to crash, in other words. Some resourceful maintainence man had found a place to ride the clock while enjoying the blissfull sleep that is reclining on cardboard on that neverending quest to being fully vested without putting in the actual fucking time.
Today we went to this electrical room and met him...I placed the key in the lock...I turned the knob and's a heavy wooden door, right into the face of a government employee. HARD, I clocked his ass with this door, and the light came on AFTER I clocked him. I knocked his glasses askew, but to his credit, he rebounded on the obvious saying "hey, guys, how's it going? Working hard? " And he blazed down the stairwell like a raccoon making it's escape after being interrupted liberating your trash can. My journeyman felt the cardboard and it was still warm. BUSTED. For the rest of the day I was "maintainence man killer".
You gotta love it.

Monday, February 07, 2005


Get the skinny at FULL METAL JACKASS.

Here in Texas, while many other states are limiting or eliminating this practice of setting insurance rates (all manner of, health,homeowners etc.) based on the applicants credit rating because it makes giant assumptions about said applicants that ultimately protect the insurance companies from loss. The very business that they are in. Insuring against loss. Some government whore here in Texas sent a recommendation to our gub'ner Donny Osmond, I mean pRick Perry saying he say no reason why Texas should discontinue this practice. This practice has been denounced as racist, hence the attention it has recieved in the media. Blacks and latinos are poorer, more likely to have "credit issues" and this is just unfair to those poor terminally repressed minorities.
I don't disagree with this notion on fact. minority groups are, by and large, still struggling with the notion of equality and equal opportunity in america. Sure, we don't lynch them anymore for looking at our women ('s a rare occurance) but that white hooded approach has been largely replaced by the soft bigotry (thanks Bill) of shifty shit like credit scoring, and loads of other barely under the radar ways of keeping people down.
You'll notice I said "people" in that last of ethnic designation. I submit there is another trend developing in this country, actually it's been brewing for years. But in these days of "economic recovery" it doesn't matter what color you are anymore.And here in texas, we can thank credit scoring to a large degree.
Let me recap our own story to underline the point.
Once upon a time, Ann was a high paid IT manager and I was a well paid manager. Ann got laid off and after awhile her unemployment benefits expired and she still couldn't find a job even close to the one she had. No matter, I still had a good job, and although we were struggling, we kept up our bills (read: credit score) well enough to qualify for a home equity loan at a decent locked in interest rate. Time passed, still no job for Ann.Then, finally the luck of our "recovering economy" and a friend connection landed Ann a job, albiet at less than half what she had made doing the IT thing. At this point we had fallen behind in our (what I like to call) "extraneous debt". We had been reduced to paying the essentials and blowing off other stuff thanks to laws that afford protection from collection in Texas (now that's ironic, innit?). But now Ann was employed and we could begin digging out and "repair our credit". But, alas, I lost my job to circumstances that can only be explained as wrong...I am still praying for a pox on his family to this day...a really nasty fucking pox. I essentially paid for the "sins of the father", but enough about that. I, by virtue of a friend landed on my feet and got a job that paid 2/3rds of my former salary (without the benefit of lolling on the dole for awhile...damn it!:) ) . So we adjusted again, and fell further behind. Then, Ann got laid off again, as a result of the "recovering economy" and gross mismanagement of the part of her employer. Sure, people didn't have the extra cash to spend on training their dogs, but you don't fuck around the one's that do, intentionally or not.
There were other elements at play in this situation, eerily reminiscent of that other shit company we worked for, but in this case it was, in my opinion, misguided trust and not addiction/bipolar disorder, but I said I wasn't going there, so I won't.
At any rate, the end result is our current credit score sucks and that means our car insurance rates could triple...our home owners insurance could triple. All because of the "recovering economy". The playing field is being the opposite direction.
Let me just say for the record, that while I spent a fair amount of time and energy feeling sorry for us and our situation, I'm not feeling sorry anymore. I'm angry...and focused.And responding as opposed to reacting. These credit scores are just a scratch of the surface. The middle class is closer to being a memory than ever before. Bushco has a choke hold on us and the world, one that will surely backfire. And the lower/middle class are paying the price. Again. And this time color isn't the only issue. It's all of us, and for the focus to be on minorities in the case of credit scores...that they be trotted out on display as victims is fucking wrong. We're all victims here.
What can I's Monday :P.

Saturday, February 05, 2005


After I posted the 70's section of this I had breakfast with my journeyman, his friend the guy with the KKK antenna ball and his IJ, a kid with a mohawk (21) who shows up on mondays more times than not with a black eye...he's fucking hysterical. Since we had some time to kill I brought up the post I saw at snarkland regarding 100 favorite songs and I was met with immediate and complete derision. It would appear that the mass consumption of beers and the resulting stupidity far outweighs the notion of maintaining a I do. So I avoided that little detail, and my journeyman did not expose me as one of those people who share thoughts and feelings here in the blogosphere.
There were many comments about the 100 favorite songs, but the predominant one was "who gives a fuck what some jackass's favorite 100 songs are and anyone who would read something like that is even more retarded".
While this could point to an inability to pick favorite songs beyond" that 38 special song" or "I like hair band friday on KLBJ man...Skid Row rules"...they had a point. My journeyman did say that my fingers were so sore from doing the internet thing that I had to put on wirenuts with my teeth. It was funny. But what really gave me pause was that none of these motherfuckers knew who Roky Ericson is and or money was on the mohawk boy, but he was clueless.
So in the spirit of this experience....
In the 80's I was all about the punk rock, until I suddenly remembered my affinity to the it was punk and blues, until I suddenly remembered my affinity to music, as long as it was good. And that explains the 90's to today. If I really put my mind to it I could list 1000 plus songs. And no one would read it, because I'm not interesting in that way, if I'm interesting at all.
Clutch rocks by the way...I just had to say.

Friday, February 04, 2005

A long December

A long December
and there's reason to believe
Maybe this year
will be better than the last
I can't remember
the last thing that you said
as you were leavin'
Now the days go by so fast
And it's one more day up in the canyons
And it's one more night in Hollywood
If you think that I could be forgiven...
I wish you would
The smell of hospitals in winter
And the feeling that it's all a lot of oysters,
but no pearls
All at once you look across a crowded room
To see the way that light attaches to a girl
And it's one more day up in the canyons
And it's one more night in Hollywood
If you think you might come to California...
I think you should
Drove up to Hillside Manor
sometime after two a.m.
And talked a little while about the year
I guess the winter makes you laugh a little slower,
Makes you talk a little lower
about the things you could not show her
And it's been a long December
and there's reason to believe
Maybe this year will be better than the last
I can't remember all the times
I tried to tell my myself To hold on to these moments
as they pass
And it's one more day up in the canyon
And it's one more night in Hollywood
It's been so long since I've seen the ocean...
I guess I should

Words & Music by Adam F. Duritz


Especially when it comes to the music and lyrics of Counting Crows. I don't know what it is, exactly, but this guy Duritz writes to my heart, and this song especially gets the water flowing. So imagine my duress when this song came on the radio on the way to break this morning. My journeyman changed the station much to my relief, but my relief turned to panic when there was no other acceptable song on and we ended back at this fucking tear jerker. I spent the whole trip eyes right, staring out my window at the world passing by trying hard to think about anything else but the heartbreak of this god damn song. I managed to pull it off with just a few leaking out, that if questioned, I could pass off as an eye hit of in " no, I'm not crying...just caught an eye hit off this fucking gig, why?No, I'm not crying...about this song??? Fucking dreadlocked goofball way!" ( It didn't come to that, or anything at all, but I was ready by god, to defend my manhood). I was so relieved when this song ended and was followed by the Allman Bros. "Ramblin' Man"...Thank you Greg. Really.

Electricians, the Texas one's anyway, are an interesting breed. And I'm not saying that because I am in training to be one, really. In my many years in the "helping" profession I have come across this little triangle many,many times and used it to explain all manner of fucked up human being. But not electricians, until now. Since joining this elite group I have tried to diagnose why they are who they are, and it suddenly occured to me that I could cross reference this handy little pyramid and well, alter the shit out of it for a laugh or maybe a chuckle...or maybe not.
1.Physiological needs.
Just like the rest of us, electricians need food and shelter to survive. They however, require certain other essentials to remain sated in this, the first layer of the pyramid. They are, in no certain order: Alchohol, drugs, cigarettes, A truck or jeep like vehical (4 wheel drive), and Nascar paraphenalia. Some older electricians are reputed to swear off these things and are born again. I have yet to meet a born again electrician, and according to my foreman I am "lucky...but it'll happen eventually"
2.Safety needs.
Aside from the generally accepted entries into this catagory, electricians require insulated tools, an ice chest full of beer and a 12 pack waiting for them at home.
3.Belonging needs.
Everybody wants to belong (just ask R.E.M). Electricians have the IBEW or International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers to meet this need. Here it's kind of like a frat for guys who went to trade school instead of college only low brow,'s not, I take that back. It's more gang like than a frat, no...I take that back too. When you distill the essence of the IBEW down to its working members and the true spirit of the union it's pretty cool actually, unless you happen to be black or hispanic. Ignore that last statement.
4.Esteem needs.
There are two classifications of electrician that provide 45% of the esteem needs for journeymen electricians and they are: Apprentice and IJ (Intermediate journeyman, or, I didn't take algebra in high school so I'm an IJ). Journeyman have the responsibility of teaching the apprentice/ IJ the trade. They also have the joy that is achieving esteem needs by duct taping the apprentice/ IJ's tools together or placing a gay rainbow sticker on the bumper of their truck. One journeyman I know took a jack in the box antenna ball and attached one of those paper oil funnels you get at the gas station, drew some sinister eyes on it and the phrase "what are you looking at?" on one side and "KKK" on the other and presumably stuck it on some apprentice/ IJ's truck antenna. We work in east austin and have to park back in the hood, which is predominantly black. My truck was not in flames or surrounded by angry residents at the end of the day, so it wasn't me he'd picked to get the klansman antenna ball. I check my bumpers everyday too. The remaining 55% comes from mastering a skill that is dangerous and requires multi layered abilities. We may be drunks with an odd grasp of what's funny, but we know what were doing when it comes to that bitch electricity.
5.Self actualization needs.
Generally not being bothered by the intellectual self masturbation of the people that worship at the base of Maslow's pyramid and have a vintage collection of Skinner boxes they get out at night when no one else is around, electricians self actualize by looking at their pay stub.

Thursday, February 03, 2005


Because there's nothing really happening , I found it at snarkland following a link from Jane. Your favorite 100 songs and why they are. I will try to break this down in a sort of decade format ( the decade I heard it in ) . But first, a joke about that woman here in Texas who killed her husband by shooting 3 litres of sherry up his ass:
She remarries, and on her wedding night, as she pops the cork on the bubbly, looks lovingly at her new hubby and says sensually "Bottoms up, honeybuns". all I have to say about that. On to the list.

The 70's...

Gypsy...Uriah Heep Live...The moog synthesizer man! And Mick Box played an SG.
The Wizard...Uriah Heep, Demons and wizards...Made me wish I had met him one night wandering, a hopeful song.
Pictures of home...Deep Purple, Machine Head...Cruising to school in the morning, smoking out on the way, with my best friend Pat in his badass 66 mustang fastback.
Dark side of the moon...Pink Floyd, DSOTM...What a great make out in the dark song.
Fearless...Pink Floyd, Meddle...A source of comfort, and those
Nantucket Sleighride, Mississippi Queen, Silver Paper, Don't look around...Mountain, various...Because they rocked.
Sweetleaf...Black Sabbath, Master of Reality...Sweetleaf,that's why.
Hole in the Sky...Black Sabbath,Sabotage...That
A National Acrobat...Black Sabbath, Sabbath Bloody Sabbath...Again with the riff.
Lights Out...UFO, Lights out...I'm all about the riff. Saw this tour in the old auditorium and Micheal Schenkners flying V glowed in the dark, how cool is that?
Cowboy Song...Thin Lizzy, Jailbreak...That damn riff again, Saw this tour at the armadillo, they kicked our asses ass that night.
Loser...Trapeze, You are the music...we're just the band...Glen Hughs incredible voice, saw them at the 'dillo as well
Bridge of Sighs...Robin Trower, Bridge of Sighs...The lyrics "Why so unforgiving, and why so cold? Been a long time crossing...bridge of sighs" Breakup melancholy catharsis I tell you.
Long Misty Days...Robin Trower, Long Misty Days...Another good broken heart song.
Problem Child...AC/DC, Let there be Rock...Bon Scott was the shit, saw them at the 'dillo too. Plus the lyric "and my mother hates me"...priceless.
Just got Paid...ZZTop, Rio Grande Mud...The way that guitar just fucking snarls at you is enough.
And then, one day in 1977, I was in Disc Records in Dobie Mall and I spied this single by a band called, of all things, The Sex Pistols...It was Pretty Vacant b/w No Fun. I bought it because of the buses on the sleeve, one headed to boredom,the other to nowhere.
I got on the bus, and it wasn't boring and it did'nt go nowhere. I'll tackle the 80's tomorrow.

Tuesday, February 01, 2005


I arrive at work like I normally do around 10 past 7 am, contractors aren't allowed to park in the plant lot. You gotta park in the neighborhood behind the plant. So I have at least a block walk to the back door of the electrical plant, which is really kind of demeaning if you think about it too much. Today I walked that block in the rain, a COLD fucking rain. My journeyman is almost always there when I walk in, and he always has a cuppacoffee, and he always says "whats up Robbo"? I like that, because one of my buddies at hines called me robbo, well, El robbo. But you get my drift. This morning there was no cuppa and no "whats up Robbo"? My journeyman was lookin' a little punk. Turns out he was more than a little punk. He was sick, as in things flying out of your ass every two minutes sick. There were no tacos at morning was sprite. He was useless. I wired up the ceiling lights solo (cool) and he laid low. Finally, the nausea got the best of him and he went home, dropping me off with the foreman. He tried to rally, I could see him willing himself to ruck up and be there, but he just couldn't do it.
And it was then that I realized that these months together have been more than just an experienced journeyman putting up with an IJ like me, he trusts me to wire in lights without blowing shit up. He teaches and I learn ( we had another apprentice with us the other day who has been there almost as long as I have and it was litmus that I am head and shoulders ahead of the game because of what my journeyman has taught me, and I've been able to learn). Our conversation has moved beyond the day to day bullshit of the job steadily. Dare I say it? Do I risk the jinx? My journeyman has become my friend and coworker. If we had met at a bar or a party, we would have shared the beers and walked away none the wiser, but in these six or so months we have discovered that we are not so different. Sure, he's a 40 year old redneck and I'm a 45 year old mix of redneck/hippy/punk, but we have struck a balance. My social work background and some of the comments I make because of it still make him raise an eyebrow on occasion, but by and large I think we are a team.
I encouraged him to go home, and he did, because it sucks to be sick. And it's good to have someone watching your back.
I just hope I don't wake up with it tomorrow...Bastard:).