Monday, April 21, 2008

Rockin' Chicks

I'd have to say that there is a great dearth of female musicians in my music collection and I'm not sure why. Just because I feel like it, here are some pretty kick ass videos featuring female vocalists.

Sara Bareilles - "Love Song" (i know i'm super gay for liking this song but it's pretty awesome)

Dresden Dolls - "Girl Anachronism"

The New Pornographers - "Mass Romantic" (not the official video, but the best version of the song I could find online)

Melissa Auf der Maur - "Followed the Waves"

Metric - "I.O.U."

The Blow - "True Affection"

Cat Power - "He War"

Lily Allen - "Smile"

KT Tunstall - "Suddenly I See" (holy God am I gay)

Yael Naim - "New Soul"

The Fiery Furnaces - "Japanese Slippers"

Liz Phair - "Stratford-on-Guy"

Zero 7 - "Destiny (acoustic)"

Feist - "My Moon My Man" (everyone knows her from the iPod commercial but this whole album is pretty damn good)

And who could forget my future wife, Robin Sparkles....

Techie Bullshit

As I sit here typing this, I am anxiously awaiting my fresh-out-the-box Dell Inspiron 1720 laptop. There is nothing I love more than new toys, and this time I decided to get something that was in my price range, but not so much that I would be paying it off for years and years like I did with my 1999 Gateway piece of crap that cost me $1800 and has a whopping 8GB of hard disk space.

I literally have to go to the DHL place within the next two hours and pick it up, and while I'm completely sittin' on bone waiting for my baby to get here, I can't help but be scared shitless as well.

The last year and a half or so have not been kind to me, technology-wise. I have suffered a rash of strange technology-related mishaps in the last several months, and they are simply too bizarre to be a coincidence. If this laptop breaks down on me, I am moving to Amish country.

Lest I abandon my favorite bullet-point format, let me give you a brief rundown of the electronic and mechanical disasters that have befallen me:

  • My iPod completely craps out on me for no reason in Spring of 2006, giving me a frowny-face and leaving me to actually purchase a CD player so I don't have to sleep in silence.

  • The stereo that I have hooked up to my TV to give me that wonderful surround-sound the kids talk so much about, just completely dies in the middle of watching TV. The sound goes out, leaving me to have to use my crappy TV speakers.

  • I get three flat tires within the last year, all different tires. In addition, I can't get my car inspection done becuause my "Service Engine Soon" light won't go off and no one can find out how to fix it. I end up having to take the DMV's offer to allow inspection if I spend $350 or more on the servicing of the car.

  • When I moved to my new place, I went months without internet service because I didn't have Windows XP and it took the 9th Time Warner tech support person to tell me that I needed XP in order to run Roadrunner. So I bought XP for $100 and finally it worked... but on a slow-ass computer that takes two hours to boot up, let alone download any good porn music.

  • I bought a computer on Craigs List in June of last year. It worked great until about November when it started to be slower and slower to boot up. Soon it wasn't working at all. And when I tried to open it up to see what was wrong with it (which is like a monkey trying to fix a wristwatch) it had some sort of power surge and fried the entire motherboard.

  • I stupidly asked for an iPod for Christmas, even knowing my computer wasn't in working condition. I had to beg friends to use their iTunes to set it up so that I didn't need to run iTunes. About two months into using the iPod, the screen crapped out, even though it played fine. I had to get it replaced, which included having to reload all the songs I had taken hours upon hours to load. (Side note: when I took the iPod back to the Apple store to have it looked at, the guy said, "Well that happens sometimes if you use a music manager other than iTunes." Nice try dude. If that's true, then Apple products are pieces of shit.)

  • Last year on Memorial Day weekend, I got a phone call and picked it up and said "hello, hello, hello" and no one would answer. It turned out that my brand new phone's earphone died out of nowhere, forcing me to talk via Bluetooth or speakerphone only until I got it replaced.

  • Oh I forgot to mention, the phone I talked about one paragraph above? I got it off of Ebay for about $175. It was an exact duplicate of another phone I had gotten for like $50 with my upgrade. Why did I have to get that $50 version replaced? Oh yeah, because I ran over it with my car when it dropped out of my pocket (fine, it dropped out of a dorky belt-clip) as I got out of my car.

I think that's the list, for the most part. And yet, the ancient Toshiba DVD player that I purchased in the year 2000 (for a then-bargain $300) is still going strong after all these years. Of course, by saying that I'm sure I just jinxed it.

I think back to the days of yore when people didn't even have these technological advancements and think, "Well I have it so much easier than they had it and so therefore I should be thankful." But I'm not; I'm spoiled. I would rather have never heard of the existence of the iPod than for it to crap out on me -- twice. I had no idea 15 years ago that not having the internet (which I didn't at the time, I might add) would be as alienating and soul-sapping as it is.

Even when my technology works, something goes bad. One time I was awaiting a very important phone call on my cell phone. In the 5 minute window in which that call was supposed to come in, the bars went away. I happened to notice this and had a conniption. I tried making an outbound call....nothing. It just said "Emergency calls only." I tried calling my voice mail just to get an answer. Not a peep. Of course, it turns out that the phone call I had so desperately been awaiting came in exactly within that 5 minute window, and I missed it, and missed out.

So we shall see if my voyage into the world of laptop computers will be short-lived or whether I can actually get some staying power in this technological world. If you don't hear from me for a while after today, you'll know why.


And one to grow on...

Not off to a good start. I called DHL today to find out when I could pick up my package since I wasn't home to sign for it. The guy at customer service told me to pick it up between 7:45 and 8:15 because the package wouldn't be back at the DHL place until then. He said they were open until 8:45 so I could pick it up then. So I drive out all over hell's half acre (on a soft tire, go figure) and pull up to the place. Yeah, they close at 7. Goddammit.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Ross Gary Glen

From one of my top five all-time favorite movies comes this re-cut version of "Glengarry Glen Ross" with nothing but the curse words left in. This is pound-for-pound the most profane movie in the history of movies, with the F-word uttered something like 143 times. Amazing! So turn up the volume and enjoy.

I also enjoy this preview which re-envisions the movie as a gay love story.

Although I didn't realize that all the characters in the play/movie actually just had Tourette's.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Old Job, New Job, No Job

It has been a long, excruciating time for you, and for that I apologize. The computer with which I usually compose the tomes you are accustomed to reading on this page was rendered woefully inadequate by something Ben Franklin liked to call "electricity." My 5-month old computer was fried after having been acting like a spoiled bitch for a couple of weeks. Finally it decided to give up on life and take the cowards way out. And after all I gave it. For shame.

Anyway, a coworker has graciously allowed me to use her computer for a little while until I can save up the ducats to buy a new one. (If anyone sees a hot price on a good laptop, call me.) Some things have changed since my last post, so I'll just give a quick rundown.

I just finished the third full week of a new job within the company I've been with for the last 7 years. I work for a large health insurance company in Central New York, and I went from the Customer Service department -- where I had served in a couple different functions over the last 3/4 of a decade -- to an internal auditing department. You know how you will complain about how inefficient your insurance company is? My job is to try and fix that.

It is a welcome departure from the previous 5 months, where my department turned upside down. Now that I'm out of the situation, I feel like I can vent a little about it, without naming names of course. Basically, I got a new boss, and she came into the department hating me right off the bat.

I know I know. How could someone hate me? I'm such a sweet boy. The idiot man-child who entertains all around him with his half-witted hijinks.

Basically, I had dealt with this person on a limited basis prior to her being my boss. And though I don't remember when, how or why, I must have pissed her off. I could have said the wrong thing, or stood up for myself at the wrong time in previous dealings with her, but I don't remember what I said or did.

Bottom line: she couldn't stand me. She began micromanaging even the most minute details of the job -- you know, the job I had been doing for the past two years and had actually become quite good at? We had the best January in terms of meeting goals that we've ever had since I started there, and though maybe I'm delusional about this, I took a position that had been routinely loathed within the department and made it somewhat palatable to the other employees. Not to toot my own horn, but I think I had the perfect combination of righteous anger, compassion and common sense to do that job. But I wasn't allowed to do it anymore.

Soon I realized that I was getting yelled at about things that had absolutely no fucking importance, and that my counterpart was doing the same things I was, but he was not getting reamed out for it. I knew it was time to go.

One final point: the person who was previously my boss had arrived with much fanfare, and the reputation for being brilliant and a hands-on micromanaging type. Part of this was true: she decided to basically try to do my job for me, even though I was doing it pretty well, in my own estimation. And considering she had a very high-ranking position in the company, I would think she would have more important work to do than nitpicking every spreadsheet I made that maybe four people looked for no more than 30 seconds. The brilliance, however, was a fallacy. It became apparent that she tries to intimidate people into agreement rather than keep her promise of "open dialogue." And what some saw as shrewd management presented itself to me as petty paranoia. The Emperor has no clothes and more people are starting to see it.

Having put my old department behind me, I am now in the polar opposite situation: a department where I was trained for about two days and then thrown to the wolves. There is no management interference, and I am expected to independently complete all my monthly projects (mission accomplished, so far). It feels like a real job, and I am expected to contribute and be self-reliant, which is an amazing 180-degree difference from the constant looking over the shoulder I had to endure at the old place. (Did I mention that my ex-boss moved her desk right next to mine? And when I left, she moved to another office within about 3 days. Yeah, it's a good thing I got out when I did or I probably would have been walked out by security.)

Bottom line: I'm really digging my new job, and my understanding is that I'm going to eventually be doing a lot of in-depth end-to-end analysis of a lot of the company's processes so I'm really excited. I have also implemented "Suit Up Fridays;" when most people are dressing down, I'm wearing a tie. That will last exactly as long as my supply of shirts and ties does, so probably one more week.

And while I'm still in the first third of my working life, I am happy to say that my old man -- the venerable Robert D. [same last name] -- went to his last day of work TODAY. Sunday will no longer bring the sadness it used to, or the "Sunday blues" as my dad calls it.

No one that I know has ever worked harder than my dad. I won't delve into the cliches of "he always put food on the table" or whatever, but the old man worked his ever-lovin' ass off every day of his life. He worked in a demanding job, dealing with a lot of difficult people (and a lot of scumbags, if you don't mind my saying). And since New York State is in such turmoil, with dumbfuck bureaucrats running amok in many of the departments, he is going to be spared having to be insulted and threatened by empty suits who don't have 1/100th the character or work ethic that he has. My dad is probably the greatest guy I know, and honestly it makes me sick to think of the abuse he has had to take in his job, mostly from pieces of crap looking for a handout. (Bob would probably not agree, but then again he doesn't have a blog now, does he?)

So to my wonderful Old Man, I say congratulations and thanks for all the great gifts you've given to me. You deserve to relax for the rest of your life and I hope you get the chance to do it. Love you, Pops.

So I only have about three more decades left until I can step out of this working life and just kick it for a while. Unless they find a way to extend our lives to 120 like they said they could on a commercial for 20/20 or Dateline or something the other day. In which case I'm gonna have to work my ass off until I'm probably 90 or so. Just my goddamn luck.