ridiculously overpriced but awesome pen

The other morning I was taking down the stools in the Indy’s carryout when I noticed a nice pen left on the counter, presumeably from someone the previous day (lazy employees can’t clean the effin’ counter). It’s made by Pilot and is a “Dr. Grip” — a very sharp looking writing instrument that makes order taking not only easier, but fun too.

A few minutes ago at the local Target (out of socks, I also noticed they were all sold out of every necktie that was neither purple, pink, or orange) I swung by the office aisle to see if I could get a pack of these “Dr. Grip” pens because, as I mentioned, they not only make order taking easier, but fun too.

They’re not sold in packs. They’re sold individually. For six-bucks a pop.

If I left a six dollar pen on the counter of a pizza/sub shop, I’d be ticked off. But if I found a six dollar pen on the counter of a pizza/sub shop, (like I did!!!!) I’d be overjoyed.

Thank you for leaving your ridiculously overpriced but awesome to write with pen, whoever you are!

Weight Twelve

Twelve weeks, three months, right? Just about, anyway.

Without the excesses of my bing-pig-fest last week, and also without the help of any exercise (I’m laaaazy), I have still managed to lose half a pound: two-hundred and twenty-five and a half pounds (down from two-hundred-forty-eight at the start of January).

Go me!

My Own Kind of Green

The New Guy quit.

Which means, at the Franchise, we are now down to four drivers. Paul quit two weeks ago, and Russell’s last day (although no one knew it at the time) was St. Patty’s Day.

This is one of those “good thing/bad thing” deals.

It’s bad for the store and the drivers because it’ll be a lot harder to staff shifts and meet everyone’s requests. It’s bad for Greg because his manager left at his other store so he’s going to have to work forty hours a week managing there, and then come up here to drive another fifteen or twenty to cover for absent drivers and shifts short on drivers.

It’s good for drivers, on the other hand, because it means we’ll be getting as many hours as we want, and with fewer drivers to work those hours, it means we’ll be taking more deliveries per hour, thusly earning more tips per hour. Plus, we’re heading into the busy time of the year (oddly, the franchise gets busier in the late spring and summer).

Here’s to green!

The Exxon Leak & The Future of Jacksonville

Residents of Jacksonville are suing Exxon-Mobil, the station’s franchised owners, and the contractors who caused the leak — $535 million!

They’re also preparing for the reality that this leak may be the turning point that moves Jacksonville, which has relied on well-water but might now have to pipe it in, from a largely-rural, upper middle class, two traffic light town into — ready for it? — Cockeysville. Run and hide, run and hide!

(Personally, Jacksonville is already fairly developed as much as it can be without some folks selling their farms, and as I understand it, various zoning laws forbid apartment complexes, and I don’t think the roads could be widened much beyond what they are — one lane each direction — so I don’t quite understand what the residents are worried about. Besides, someone in the article suggests that if the sewage lines don’t extend with the water lines, development would be impossible.)

PS – for you city and suburb folks who get your water from Baltimore City, consider — this gas leak occured just a few miles north of the Loch Raven, which is I believe the City’s largest reservoir — how much gas do you think is getting into your water supply?

Lightbulb Headaches

Okay, I don’t know what I did, but my passenger side headlight is now aiming … up (and to the right). I pulled it all apart again tonight and I’m pretty sure I failed to put the retaining clip back in place properly, but when I attempted to look it up in my owner’s manual …

… I realized I’m missing my owner’s manual.

On the other hand — I’ve got headlights. Who cares if only one of them is actually illuminating the direction I’m going in?

US Destroyers Say “Hi” To Pirates

Remember those pirates that attacked a cruise ship a few months ago?

This morning, US warships gave ’em a little “how ya’ doin’?

The early morning gunbattle ensued after sailors spotted 30-foot fishing boat towing smaller skiffs and prepared for a routine boarding, said Lt. Cmdr. Charlie Brown, spokesman for the U.S. Navy’s 5th Fleet.

The Navy said the incident involving the USS Cape St. George and USS Gonzalez occurred at about 5:40 a.m. local time, approximately 25 nautical miles off the Somali coast in international waters.

US Destroyers Say "Hi" To Pirates

Remember those pirates that attacked a cruise ship a few months ago?

This morning, US warships gave ’em a little “how ya’ doin’?

The early morning gunbattle ensued after sailors spotted 30-foot fishing boat towing smaller skiffs and prepared for a routine boarding, said Lt. Cmdr. Charlie Brown, spokesman for the U.S. Navy’s 5th Fleet.

The Navy said the incident involving the USS Cape St. George and USS Gonzalez occurred at about 5:40 a.m. local time, approximately 25 nautical miles off the Somali coast in international waters.

To Replace a Lightbulb

After Supafine! and her boys came over this morning to pick up a bookshelf I had no room for, I drove down to Salvo’s in Timonium for a replacement headlight-bulb for my Celica.

They used to have this big directory the size of a phonebook that you could look up your car’s make and model and year and find out what type of bulb you needed. They replaced that sometime since the last time I bought a bulb myself (December ’04) and it is now a computerized directory — much easier to use, but I think it has flaws. I should have recognized that the bulb it told me to buy was the wrong type, but after over a year, who can remember, right?

The bulb I got had an “L” shaped assembly at the end of it. When I got into the Indy (early), I spent fifteen minutes disassembling the huge cumbersome piece of plastic that covers the engine under the hood (most of that time spent removing the retaining clips). Cute comment from passerby: “Looks like changing that headlight’s an all-day job!” (How little did I know). I unplugged the dead bulb from the electrical, then pulled the rubber stopper, and removed … a bulb without an “L” shaped assembly.

So what the hell did I buy?

I assumed I misread the item number of Salvo’s computer, and walked over to talk to Ken at Brooks-Huff Goodyear. He checked the computer and the verdict was the same as at Salvo’s — according to both, a 2000 Toyota Celica gets a lightbulb with an “L” shaped assembly. (Which, no, it doesn’t).

But the lightbulb I pulled out of my car had no “L” shaped assembly. It was just a regular lightbulb with a plug. It attaches into a socket-extender-retainer thing. It looks nothing like the asembly I bought, or the bulb Ken’s computer told him it should’ve been. I showed him the bulb I took from my car, but he was unable to find a match.

I hurried down to the Toyota dealership because I really really really wanted to have a working headlight. I explained the situation to the tech at the parts counter, and he pulled up the listing, said they had them in stock, then offered to grab it before I paid for it so we could make sure it was the same bulb. He returned with a box and as soon as I saw it I knew it was exactly what I needed. Good, right? Wrong. He wanted sixty-bucks for it. Woah. Nevermind. I told him I only had $15 on me (I’m such a liar, I had $13) and no credit-cards and I’d come back for it Monday. (As if).

I resolved to head back to Salvo’s later after work, but driving back from a delivery, I swung by Precision Tune. I was able to speak with a mechanic, who confirmed once again that the part listed in the computer was the same one with the “L” shaped assembly that will absolutely under no conditions fit in a 2000 Toyota Celica. He recognized the bulb that actually fit in the Celica …

GREAT!

… but had none in stock.

FUCK!

He suggested I run over to check Jiffy Lube. I figured, “What the hey?” and went over and inquired of the girl behind the counter if they carried the bulb. I explained to her that I just wanted to buy the bulb. I didn’t want someone to install it for me. I just wanted the bulb.

After talking with a tech, she told me to pull around back. “I just want to buy the bulb.”

“They’re kept around back.”

Also around back? That’s where you pull to put your car in queue to be serviced. Get where this is going?

So I pulled around back, and sure enough, some little tech comes running over asking what services I want. I explain that I want a bulb, and show him the burned out one that I’ve removed from my car. No, I explain to him, I don’t want to wait in the lobby while he changes it out. I just want the bulb.

He runs back into the shop, and emerges five minutes later. He hands me the box, I had him the cash. “Don’t know why you pulled around back,” he says. “This’d be easier if you’d been in the lobby.”

I resist urge to go back into the lobby and strangle the girl behind the counter.

The History of Violence (Spoilers)

(This post contains spoilers)

I woke up this morning to a commercial touting “The History of Violence” as one of the year’s best films, and on one-hundred and fifty top-ten lists, and all I could say to that was, “Are you fucking kidding me?”

This movie blew monkey chips!

This is what the movie has going for it: gratuitous violence and (partial) full-frontal nudity of the very smokalicious Maria Bello.

This is what the movie doesn’t have going for it: it sucks.

Tom Stall is a hard-working family man who runs a diner in the small town in the middle of Bumfuckingworth, Nowhere. Two serial killers need cash and stop in the diner for some quick bucks, and Tom’s all willing to go along with them, until one of ’em tries to rape his waitress, at which point he goes all gung-ho, and blows ’em both away with the lead-bad’s .45 Automatic.

Well, turns out some mafioso types out east see him on the news, recognize him as a Made Man gone astray, and come around looking for him. They make some threats, and in the end, oh! More violence. He admits to his wife that he is an ex-Mafioso named “Joey” who took off and changed his life without the benefit of a Federal protection program, she’s unhappy and angry, and he returns to his stomping grounds of Philly to settle the score with his older brother (read: he kills his bro’s bodyguards, then kills his bro).

In one scene, the gangsters are driving to the family home, and Tom thinks they’re going to kill his wife and kids, so he calls ahead and Maria Bello gets the shotgun and runs around the house with it. Then Tom gets home, hugs his wife, and their son is calmly eating breakfast in the kitchen asking, “Uh, what’s going on?” This is the point where should’ve Tom backhanded Maria and screams: “Why didn’t you tell him to run for his life?!”

I think there’s supposed to be some sort of moral about “when daddy uses violence, others will too” because his son beats the shit out of two bullies in high school then doesn’t understand why his pops ain’t cool with it. If that’s supposed to be what the movie is “about”, it fails.

Miserably.

A Hunt, Interupted

On a delivery tonight, just past dusk on a side street off Carroll Manor Road, I slowed then slammed on my brakes and stopped as something which appeared to be a little boy ran out behind a parked car. In the brightness of my highbeams, I observed not a child but a huge owl, wings flapping — it had swooped down for an animal behind the car, and was now looking at me with its big round saucerplate eyes. It opened its talons, dropped its (unmoving) prey, and was gone into the air.

Owls are pretty fuckin’ cool, man.

There Are No Such Things as Traffic “Accidents”

They should be called “Acts of Traffic Negligence.”

When I first got my driver’s license, my parents enrolled me in a defensive driving course. It was held at a race-track in West Virginia and taught by professional drivers who trained bodyguards and Federal agents how to drive offensively (for example, backwards at seventy miles per hour while returning gun fire). For an entire afternoon, we spun out on wet pavement in old Crown Victorias, learning techniques for everything from recovering from a series of spins to maintaining control of the vehicle when run off the road. The “final” was a speedy-fast lap around the track, dodging both stationary and mobile obstructions while a retired cop in the passenger seat shouted insults and did everything in their power to distract us.

I am quite certain that the techniques I learned in this class — in addition to the “behind the wheel” there was quite a bit of “anticipation” drilled into thick-heads — provided the foundation that makes me an above average driver today. I would go so far as to say that I think defensive driving classes should be required for anyone who wishes to operate a motor vehicle.

There was a cool fact I read somewhere — that in Germany, automobile makers didn’t start putting radios and cupholders in cars until the sixties, because until that time, they couldn’t understand why anyone would want to do anything but keep both hands on the steering wheel. Anything distracting the operator from the important job of safely operating a car was a foreign idea.

Most accidents are preventable. You look down at your radio and don’t notice the car ahead of you slowing to make a turn. You reach for your cell phone and don’t notice that your car is swerving into the next lane. I work with guys who don’t take just a soda to drink on delivery — they take a whole sub, one hand on the wheel, another shifting and holding their food intermittently. I don’t speed in the rain, or snow, and even before I had a Toyota I made sure my headlights were on before dusk. When it rains, my wipers go on. I signal every turn I make, and do a “courtesy” tap on my brake pedal when I downshift. I check my gauges and mirrors — side and rear — several times a minute. I try to anticipate what other drivers are doing — warning signs include vehicles moving forward at a red light, vehicles over the painted “stop” lines at intersections, drivers looking one way for a clear in traffic but not the other.

Yesterday evening, a vehicle — a Jeep Wrangler — attempted to make a right hand turn onto Southern Ave. from Jarrettsville Pike. The Honda Civic behind the Jeep slowed. The Dodge Ram behind the Civic did not slow, impacted the Civic, and turned it into an accordian against the back of the Jeep.

I didn’t see this. Old Man Frank did and told me after returning from a delivery.

This wasn’t an “accident.” Traffic accidents — true, honest, actual accidents — are, I think, very rare (even rarer than me sharing my bed with a hot chick, so, roughly non-existant). No, this wasn’t an accident — both the Wrangler and the Civic behaved as best as anyone can tell, properly. And to tell the truth, it doesn’t matter if the Wrangler signaled its turn or not — once it began to brake, and the Civic began to brake, the operator of the Dodge Ram should’ve seen the brake lights and applied his.

There are, as I see it, one very good explanation for the “accident” … the operator of the Dodge Ram failed to leave sufficient space between his vehicle and that which he was following.

One of my cardinal rules of driving? Whenever possible (i.e., not stopped at a red light), I leave a minimum of two car-lengths between me and the vehicle I’m following. And when a vehicle follows me closer than that … well, that’s what down-shifting is for.

This “accident” never should have happened. The majority of accidents should never happen. Be careful. More importantly: be aware.

There Are No Such Things as Traffic "Accidents"

They should be called “Acts of Traffic Negligence.”

When I first got my driver’s license, my parents enrolled me in a defensive driving course. It was held at a race-track in West Virginia and taught by professional drivers who trained bodyguards and Federal agents how to drive offensively (for example, backwards at seventy miles per hour while returning gun fire). For an entire afternoon, we spun out on wet pavement in old Crown Victorias, learning techniques for everything from recovering from a series of spins to maintaining control of the vehicle when run off the road. The “final” was a speedy-fast lap around the track, dodging both stationary and mobile obstructions while a retired cop in the passenger seat shouted insults and did everything in their power to distract us.

I am quite certain that the techniques I learned in this class — in addition to the “behind the wheel” there was quite a bit of “anticipation” drilled into thick-heads — provided the foundation that makes me an above average driver today. I would go so far as to say that I think defensive driving classes should be required for anyone who wishes to operate a motor vehicle.

There was a cool fact I read somewhere — that in Germany, automobile makers didn’t start putting radios and cupholders in cars until the sixties, because until that time, they couldn’t understand why anyone would want to do anything but keep both hands on the steering wheel. Anything distracting the operator from the important job of safely operating a car was a foreign idea.

Most accidents are preventable. You look down at your radio and don’t notice the car ahead of you slowing to make a turn. You reach for your cell phone and don’t notice that your car is swerving into the next lane. I work with guys who don’t take just a soda to drink on delivery — they take a whole sub, one hand on the wheel, another shifting and holding their food intermittently. I don’t speed in the rain, or snow, and even before I had a Toyota I made sure my headlights were on before dusk. When it rains, my wipers go on. I signal every turn I make, and do a “courtesy” tap on my brake pedal when I downshift. I check my gauges and mirrors — side and rear — several times a minute. I try to anticipate what other drivers are doing — warning signs include vehicles moving forward at a red light, vehicles over the painted “stop” lines at intersections, drivers looking one way for a clear in traffic but not the other.

Yesterday evening, a vehicle — a Jeep Wrangler — attempted to make a right hand turn onto Southern Ave. from Jarrettsville Pike. The Honda Civic behind the Jeep slowed. The Dodge Ram behind the Civic did not slow, impacted the Civic, and turned it into an accordian against the back of the Jeep.

I didn’t see this. Old Man Frank did and told me after returning from a delivery.

This wasn’t an “accident.” Traffic accidents — true, honest, actual accidents — are, I think, very rare (even rarer than me sharing my bed with a hot chick, so, roughly non-existant). No, this wasn’t an accident — both the Wrangler and the Civic behaved as best as anyone can tell, properly. And to tell the truth, it doesn’t matter if the Wrangler signaled its turn or not — once it began to brake, and the Civic began to brake, the operator of the Dodge Ram should’ve seen the brake lights and applied his.

There are, as I see it, one very good explanation for the “accident” … the operator of the Dodge Ram failed to leave sufficient space between his vehicle and that which he was following.

One of my cardinal rules of driving? Whenever possible (i.e., not stopped at a red light), I leave a minimum of two car-lengths between me and the vehicle I’m following. And when a vehicle follows me closer than that … well, that’s what down-shifting is for.

This “accident” never should have happened. The majority of accidents should never happen. Be careful. More importantly: be aware.

I’ve Got Answers

So this guy comes in yesterday.

“…Ask you a question?”

“Sure.” I’m assuming his question has to do with our menu. Or our delivery area. Payment methods, maybe.

“My dad wrote me this check, but when he was signing it, the pen ran out of ink, so he got another pen of the same color ink and signed over his first signature. Think the bank’ll take it, or give me trouble?”