All posts filed under “Commentary

comment 0

Roaches

roaches

They say that roaches are such resilient creatures, they are one of the few species thought to be able to survive a global nuclear fallout. My theory is: perhaps they are not as resilient as we think, and that humans are just too stupid to figure out how to permanently exterminate them. I present to you, as evidence, the following conversation with the leasing manager of my apartment complex.

The set-up: I was having issues with roaches in my apartment. Three times, I requested to have my apartment bombed, and three times, they did not bomb.

Me: John, they didn’t bomb again. You assured me they would bomb, and they didn’t bomb.

John: They didn’t do it? Lemme look here… hmmmmmm… where is that book? Here it is! No… no… they did do it. It says right here, they inspected and sprayed.

Me: John, I’m going to have to stop you right there. You and I both know that “inspect and spray” is not the same thing as bombing. I asked for the bomb, you wrote down bomb, and you posted a notice on my door that said bomb. Please don’t try to pretend that they bombed, when you know they didn’t bomb. Just own up to it. Say you dropped the ball, and fix the problem.

John: Well I wasn’t here yesterday. It was my day off.

Me: I know you weren’t here, and I don’t expect you to miss your day off, but it’s not unreasonable to expect you to delegate the task to someone else. Especially when you told me you would personally make sure it got done after the first two times they didn’t do it.

John: At this point, I think you need to talk to Jason, the Property Manager.

Me: Why do i need to do that?

John: Because I’ve done everything I could do on my end.

Me: John, you just told me you weren’t here yesterday. So how did you do everything on your end?

John: I think you should talk to Jason. You would have more of a chance at getting what you want.

Me: But I just told you what I want. I want them to bomb. What would prevent you from conveying my request to Jason?

John: I don’t understand the problem. You live right next to the office. What’s the big deal? Just come in and talk to Jason. He’s a very nice guy.

Me: Well, John, you WORK in the office with Jason. So technically, if proximity is the issue, then you’re closer. In fact, you LIVE above the office, so again, YOU’RE closer. What is so difficult about telling Jason that I want to have my apartment bombed?

John: Look, Eric, Jason is a nice guy. Just come in here tomorrow, and tell him that you asked to have your apartment bombed three times and…

Me: I KNOW WHAT I WOULD SAY TO JASON BECAUSE I’M SAYING IT TO YOU!!!! AND OBVIOUSLY MY METHOD OF COMMUNICATING DOESN’T WORK BECAUSE I CAN’T GET ANYONE TO LISTEN TO ME!!! SO WHY CAN’T YOU JUST TELL JASON I WANT MY APARTMENT BOMBED?!?! AND WHY DO YOU KEEP TELLING ME HE’S A NICE PERSON?!?!

John: I think the problem is the exterminator didn’t notice sufficient enough activity to bomb. It says in his notes that he only noticed a few dead roaches.

Me: They were dead BECAUSE I KILLED THEM!!! They were “ACTIVE” immediately prior to me “DEACTIVATING” them!!! And why must I have swarms of live roaches everywhere in order to get my apartment bombed? Please tell me why can’t I just get my apartment bombed?!?!

John: I think you should talk to Jason about that.

comments 2

The Honey Wells

theHoneyWells

In 2009, like many people, I fell victim to “economic downsizing”. My job, at the time, involved developing online home business opportunities, which ultimately would be sold over the phone to vulnerable, gullible, and most likely elderly, “entrepreneurs”. It wasn’t the most honorable work, but times were tough. I foolishly left my previous job without having something already lined up. Prior to that I had never been jobless. I thought someone with my skill set could land something right away. Turned out, I was off by 3 months.

Anyway, things at this new job seemed to be going great. The company just began implementing my latest get-rich-quick program, and it proved to be very salable and lucrative for both the company, and surprisingly, the customer. I had been receiving praise left and right from all the higher-ups, I was starting to be asked to sit in on the management brainstorming sessions, and I was regularly invited to join the bosses for drinks after work. All signs pointed to an inevitable raise and promotion.

About a week before Christmas, I was called into the owner’s office; 100% sure this was going to be the Christmas bonus / raise / promotion / ‘Thank you for the New York Cheesecakes you gave everyone for Christmas’ meeting. Feeling excited and confident, I joked as I walked into the office and sat down, “So this is it? You guys are finally firing me? Ha ha ha!”

The problem was, no one else was laughing.

Thinking back on that moment, my little joke probably resulted in the fastest exit interview ever.

“Um.. actually yes we are.”

I soon found myself being escorted from the building, and once again out of a job. This time, however, my unemployment lasted a whopping 7 months. During that time, I diligently applied to over 200 positions ranging in pay from $9/hr to $30/hr. With jobs scarce and applicants saturating the market, I was only able to land about 15 interviews. Of those 15 interviews, I was offered only one position with a company that provided no benefits, no sick pay, no vacation, and paid 25% less than I had been making. I took that job.

A year later, I’m still working for that same company; barely making ends meet and hoping that I never have the need to visit a doctor. From what I still see on the job boards, not much has changed in the job market. So for now, I’m kinda stuck here.

I know I should be grateful that I’m no longer unemployed, but sometimes I think the Universe is laughing at me. Today, I stopped into Circle K after work to pick up a snack. While waiting in line, a brand new, $40k, white Ford Explorer, with custom chrome rims, pulls up in front of the store. A young man gets out of the driver side wearing a white-on-white, flat-brimmed Yankees cap (spun to the side), a white tank top, and white jeans sagging below his ass, exposing his boxer shorts. He’s is in the middle of a call on his cell phone as he walks into the store. Not bothering to lower his voice, he gets in line behind me and continues his conversation about his new job:

Yeah, dog… I been had my orientation already. … Word, dog! … Yeah I’m just waitin’ on my fuckin’, uh fuckin’ ummmm National Security Clearance badge n’ shit! … Yeah, dog, I was scurred bout dat shit too cuz my credit is fucked up, and dey look at dat shit! … Yeah dey check yo record too, dog! … Nah, I ain’t got no felonies, dog! … Nah, man I wasn’t convicted fo dat shit, and dey lowered the charge on dat other shit, so I’m cool, yo. … Yeah, so once I get my clearance badge, I’ll be workin’ up at The Honeywells n’ shit.”

Now I have no idea what position this young man landed with “The Honeywells,” but I do know that while I was unemployed, I applied to Honeywell multiple times for an Office Administrator position, and they didn’t even respond to my resume. I also applied to the Scottsdale Police Department as a Dispatcher, and I didn’t pass their background check because of a past-due credit card from college 14 years ago. Apparently National Security Clearance isn’t as strict as Scottsdale PD.

Young man, best of luck to you in your new career.

FML

comments 2

Welcome to Subway!

“WELCOME TO SUBWAY!!!”

Holy shit that scared me!

I looked around to respond to the man who shouted, but there was only one woman behind the counter.

Another customer walked through the door, an alarm beeped, and from the back office, out bellowed another “WELCOME TO SUBWAY!!!”

As I did seconds earlier, the startled person behind me looked around like an idiot, as if God just spoke to him, and responded tentatively, “Thank you?”

What the fuck is this? I’m noticing that a lot of businesses are adopting this corporate-mandated, exuberant, immediate greeting as customers walk through the door, and frankly, I don’t get it. Whatever it is, I’m sure it all started with some sort of customer service, brain-storming, focus group, initiative bullshit session: “How about we greet everyone as soon as they walk in the store. They hire retards to do it at Walmart, and look how well they’re doing. So we should do it too!”

When I used to sell cars, one of the managers had dinner at TGI Fridays for his birthday, and he thought because the waiters sang Happy Birthday to him, that we should sing to our customers when they buy a car. After the first deal of day, the manager called the entire sales staff into the showroom, and we all gathered around the unsuspecting customer. Then the Manager, clearly oblivious to the customer’s discomfort, proceeded to lead us all in a chorus of, “We sold you a car! We sold you a car! You’re gonna go far! You’re gonna go far! We sold you a c…”

Before we could finish our song, the terrified customer bolted up out of his seat, jumped into his old car, and sped off the lot.

We found out later that customer was extremely racist and didn’t appreciate the black manager patting him on the back and singing in his face, but still, it didn’t excuse our absurd attempt to “enhance” the customer experience.

The bottom line is, great customer service isn’t achieved with songs or mandated greetings. It comes from actually caring about the customer. If you want your employees to be friendly, hire friendly people instead of hiring miserable people and trying to train them to act friendly. Shouting out greetings at inappropriate levels from the back office doesn’t make people feel welcome or comfortable. It just scares the crap out them; not to mention how ridiculously disingenuous it is. You may as well scream, “I’M FORCED TO SHOUT WHEN YOU WALK IN!!!” I’d at least respect you for your honesty.

By the way… the mystery man who shouted “Welcome to Subway!!!” never even came out from the back.

comment 0

Nostalgic Poo

Ok, this may be a bit gross, but have you ever taken a poo and have the odor remind you of some place or time from your past?

No? Neither have I. I was just checking.

comment 0

Manscaping Fail

I’ve never been an avid supporter of manscaping. Every now and then I’ll take the clippers to the ole sackaroo, but for the most part, I like to kick it old school. To me, there’s something kinda unmanly about it. If it were up to me, I would do away with this whole male primping and shaving and waxing and spiking and frosting and styling that seems to have taken hold of our country. I have a feeling, however, that unlike bell bottoms, hairy dudes aren’t going to be making a come back any time soon.

Anyway, have you ever seen those before and after photos of men who started exercise programs? Day 1 is always sad, pale, fat, hairy guy. Day 90 is happy, tan, shaved body guy. Always. No exceptions. But why do the guys always end up shaving their bodies? I’m going to tell you exactly how that happens.

Since October of last year, I’ve been exercising and eating healthy. So far I dropped nearly 50lbs and put on a little bit of muscle. Thank you, thank you! I know… I’m awesome. Needless to say, I’ve been spending quite a bit of time in front of the mirror flexing, touching, prodding, pressing, and measuring (yeah even that too). This weekend, I started wondering what I really looked like under all this body hair. Are there pecs where my man-boobs used to rest? Can I possibly have an ab or two? For answers to these pressing questions I turned to my trusty Norelco Bodygroom and went to town on my chest, belly, arms and nether-regions. I was going to do my back as well, but by the time I was done with the front, I was too horrified to continue.

First of all, my body hasn’t seen the sun in literally 7 or 8 years. Maybe longer. My bare chest and belly are beyond pale. If I were somehow attempt to get some color in my skin, I would have to do it in some secluded place where I couldn’t blind other people. The only scenario where I could see myself getting a tan would be to do some shirtless work in someone’s back yard while they’re away on vacation. I would be open to a tanning booth if it didn’t give you nut cancer, and if I weren’t so vocal about how douchey it is for dudes to go tanning salons.

Ceiling MonsterThe second thing I realized when I was done grooming was the fact that my hair covered a network of ugly stretch marks across my midsection. I’m convinced that the hair acted as some sort of stabilizer or gave my belly more structure than it apparently has now. All of a sudden, I went from hairy guy with a little gut to someone who looks like they spent 10 weeks on the Biggest Loser Ranch with all the loose skin and a deformed belly button. When I bend at the waist, my stomach looks like one of those ceiling monsters from Half Life.

Shaving my arms was also the dumbest thing to do. It seemed like a good idea at the time because the hair on my wrists was covering my watch and it was hard to see what time it was. But after a day, I had 5 o’ clock shadow on my forearms and now it’s itchier than… than… I don’t know… something really itchy.

This wasn’t the first time I ever attempted a major manscaping project, but it was the first time I was surprised by what I uncovered. Like the first time I got my hair cut short after my hairline started receding: I just looked in the mirror and thought, “Holy crap! You’re old.”

comments 2

Don’t Forget To Ask For It By Name

If you’re not familiar with lifehacker.com, I strongly recommend making it one of your daily blogs to follow. Essentially their articles follow the format: “Did you know you could use this to help you do that?”

“This” can range from a piece of computer software to a skateboard, duct tape, and a camera tripod. And “that” could be anything from organizing your appointments to making your own camera rig to photograph insects.

Anyway, today I found a post about how to handle a kitchen knife to reduce the chances of stabbing yourself or severing fingers. That post linked to the source article which went into more detail and also recommended a few kitchen knife brands. I did a double-take when I saw that one of the brands was called “F. Dick.”

Now, I’m sure if you’re knowledgeable about cutlery, you’ve heard of F. Dick before, but for the rest of us (well the rest of us with the mentality of a 12yr. old) it’s comedy gold!

I immediately Googled the brand to see how much their knives were. If they were reasonably priced, guess who was going to be the proud new owner of a genuine F. Dick knife?!?! Me, that’s who!!! What could possibly be more fun, or more juvenile than to show off my new F. Dick to all my friends?

Well, I’ll tell you what could be more fun, and more juvenile, and ridiculously more expensive…

Showing off my new 30lb F. Dick Manual Sausage Stuffer!!!

WHAT THE… WHO THE… WHAT THE HECK?!?!

Some things just make life worth living.

click to view larger image

comment 1

Ads for Ads

Well the Super Bowl is over, the New Orleans Saints won, the devastation from Katrina can finally be put behind us, and the best part is I won’t have to hear about Fantasy Football for at least 7 months. Once again, the world seems balanced.

I didn’t get to watch the game as I was being a good little worker bee and finishing up a freelance web design project. I’m pretty excited, because it’s my very first legitimate client that’s paying me with money, not food. So, pat pat on the back for yours truly.

When I was done being a responsible grown-up, I popped over to hulu to see if there were any new shows in my queue. It was empty, but they did have all the Super Bowl ads posted. Although as a general rule I hate advertising, like many other Americans, I look forward to watching the Super Bowl ads. It’s the one time during the year where advertisers deviate a little from the norm and show off their creativity.

This year’s submissions were nothing to write home about, although I did like the Google ad and the CareerBuilder Casual Friday ad. By far, the worst was a 13 minute short film called “Hotel Hell Vacation” with Chevy Chase and Beverly D’Angelo, resurrecting their roles as Clark and Ellen Griswold. They stay at a hotel, get a really small room, receive bad service, and then are charged lots of crazy fees when they check out. That’s about it. I’m not even sure exactly what it was supposed to be about, or if there was a sponsor somewhere in the film. All I know is it sucked huge sack.

What struck me as both strange and frustratingly annoying was the fact that the ads had ads. The page itself had the Coke logo on it, and before every other clip or so, I had to hear “The following clip is brought to you by Coca-Cola. Open happiness.” I was planning on making this post a giant rant about advertising, but I just don’t have it in me tonight. I’m just mad because if you’re going to voluntarily subject yourself to 61 commercials, it should be without commercial interruption. Except for the commercials. You know what I mean!

comments 2

Grocery Stores Don’t Care About Black People!

grocery

According to Zillow.com, the residents of my neighborhood consist of low income, high melanin content Americans as well as “foreign-language-speaking urbanites”; most with a middle school education or lower. Within a two mile radius, we have, what I would consider, an unusually high concentration of sex offenders. The street I live on is commonly known for its late-night prostitution activity. I have my own personal homeless Concierge who sleeps near my car at night, whom I’m inclined to “tip,” in fear that he’ll start pissing on my tires. On several occasions I’ve had to wait in my car for a drug deal to finish before I could get out and go to my apartment. The complex itself is flanked by a used tire yard on one side and a vacant lot on the other.

Hi my name is Eric, and I live in a shitty neighborhood. It’s not even charming shitty. It’s shitty shitty. But just because the neighborhood and its inhabitants leave little to be desired, does that mean all the grocery stores in the area have to be shitty too?

If you’ve ever stepped foot inside a mega grocery chain in North Scottsdale, and compared it to the same chain’s more “inner-city” locations, it’s easy to recognize a disparaging correlation between socioeconomic status and the quality of goods and services in each respective community. This glaring imbalance begs the question, is the neglect of grocery stores in low income neighborhoods a result of lower quality employees and managers, or do consumers in poorer communities just ruin everything no matter how nice you try to make it for them? I have a hard time believing it’s a direct reflection of the revenue generated by each location. In fact I wouldn’t be surprised to find out that the profit margins are higher in the crappy stores because they sell inferior quality products at the same prices. All I know is all the fruits and vegetables at my local Sprouts are consistently bruised, rotten, damaged, and discolored while the produce at the one in Paradise Valley looks like it could be used for print advertising. It’s seriously night and day, and I think it’s unfair and racist! Granted, I have done zero research, and my conclusions are based only on the premise that poor, dark people are always getting fucked, but still… c’mon!

Do the grungy, low-life inhabitants of my tiny little patch of Phoenix not deserve fresh produce, properly stocked shelves, or dry goods that have yet to expire? Must we remain complacent when we know, good and God-damned well, that ALL the strawberries in the container, underneath the top layer, are moldy? Can a brother get a gallon of milk without dirty fingerprints all over the jug, and with a “sell by date” longer than two days? And how is it possible that EVERY carton of eggs has at least one broken one?

It’s clear that at a corporate level, grocery stores set aside the B-grade products for the poor people. Yet, they charge the same amount. This may sound cynical, but I might go as far as to guess that they actually transfer the unfit-for-purchase produce from the nicer stores to the crappy ones. Either way you look at it, in my mind, that’s discrimination! Why should my bell peppers be wrinkled and soft while others enjoy firm, unblemished ones? Why should I have to throw out 75% of my cilantro bunch because it’s all slimy and brown, while someone just 10 miles away gets to have lush green cilantro that snaps when you bend it? Why?!?! WHY?!?!? And another thing… what the hell is that weird smell in Food City?

In a way I feel satisfyingly self-righteous to finally be part of an oppressed group. Don’t get me wrong, I always think “The Man” is sticking it to me, but I rarely get a platform to express my indignation without seeming like a bitter, angry white guy. This time, however, I think my outrage can not only be justified but supported by my fellow neighborhood cretins. I believe grocery inequality has gone ignored for way too long, and I am going to do something about it! Starting now, I will boycott all grocery stores!!! I will start an Urban Agriculture Initiative and begin planting my own fruits and vegetables in the vacant lot next to the homeless guy! Together, we will use our own bodily waste to fertilize the crops (and maybe use a little to smear on my neighbor’s door knob for disturbing me at night with their loud domestic violence). I will then hire said homeless guy to run our own community Farmer’s Market, and after we put the local grocery chain stores out of business, we’ll move to the next city and show them how to start their own homeless poop gardens! From there, we’re going to South Carolina and Oklahoma and Arizona and North Dakota and New Mexico, and we’re going to California and Texas and New York! And we’re going to South Dakota and Oregon and Washington and Michigan, and then we’re going to Washington, D.C. to take back the White House! Yeeeeeeeeeeaaaaaaah!!!

Who’s with me?!?!?

comment 0

Video of the Week – Dancing Asian Man

This week’s video features a very energetic Asian man dancing. The original title of this video, as it is posted on YouTube, is “Sexy Fail – Fat Dancing Guy: WARNING: Very Disturbing”. But I don’t like that title. I’m pretty sure he’s not trying to be sexy, so FAIL on the usage of “fail”.

The other thing that bothers me is the perception that this guy is fat. He clearly doesn’t have 8% body fat, but he’s far from being blubber. In fact, he looks pretty solid and healthy to me. The kind of guy I’d like to rub sesame oil all over and… oh.. nevermind.

The point is, here’s a guy who is enjoying himself and  just being silly and for some reason he gets undeservedly branded as fat and unattractive. Mr. Dancing Asian Man, I support you, and I appreciate you for who you are.

So without further ado, I give you Happy Dancing Energetic Asian Man:

comment 0

Happy Hanukkah, Jewish People!

Tonight, at sundown, is the official start of the Hanukkah Season. Please join Hanukcat (pictured to the right) as we light the menorah, and take a look back at the origins of this very special time of year.

Hanukkah is an 8 day Jewish holiday celebrating the exorbitant amount of wealth Jewish people make off of the Christian shopping frenzy known as Christmas.

Jews created Christmas nearly 2000 years ago to commemorate the execution of Jesus Christ for impersonating the Messiah. The holiday was originally called “Christ-miss” because it was customary for Jews to sarcastically declare how much they were “really going to miss him.”

To retaliate, Christ’s followers claimed that the Jews never actually killed Jesus, and that Jesus got the last laugh by secretly resurrecting himself. In an additional display of blatant defiance, Christians created two holidays: Easter, to celebrate Christ’s resurrection, and Christmas, to celebrate his birth. They even kept the holiday’s name, but replaced “miss” with “mas,” which is the Caribbean word for carnival; or literally “Carnival for Christ”.

Stealing the Jewish holiday and converting it into two Christian holidays angered the Jews to no end, so the Jewish Holiday Commission voted unanimously to create a new holiday to compete with the growing Christian influence. They called this holiday, Hanukkah. Directly translated, Hanukkah means “Better than the Christians”. Hanukkah is 8 days long because 8 is more than 1, and it is a constant reminder that one Jewish holiday is better than two Christian holidays. Note: Although pro-christian scholars argue that there are actually 12 days of Christmas (making it, in fact, better than Hanukkah,) it is still officially recognized by the World Holiday Alliance as a one-day holiday.

It wasn’t until the late 1800’s that Jewish people stumbled upon the idea to commercialize Christmas for financial gain. At that time, Christmas was synonymous with selflessness, piety, and charity, however, Jews collectively rejected the notion of one day of good will to balance out 364 days of intolerance, violence, and incessant recruiting.

One Jewish shop owner, who was decidedly agitated by the Christians’ “holier than thou” attitude, convinced a man to sell his gold pocket watch in order to buy his wife a cheap hair brush. Not only did the shop owner turn around and resell the gold watch for 5 times more than he paid for it, later that day, he tricked the same man’s wife into cutting and selling her hair in order to buy a gold chain for her husband’s estranged watch.

Word of the Shopkeeper’s scheme spread throughout the Jewish community, and soon other business owners began to follow suit. Small firms called advertising agencies were established in order to promote consumption, excess, and the importance of buying expensive gifts in order to demonstrate and quantify how much one truly loved another. Thus was born, what we know today as, “the true meaning of Christmas”.

Today, Jewish people around the world still celebrate Hanukkah by hoarding the billions of dollars shoveled into their bank accounts each holiday season by willing, yet unknowing, Christians. Economists believe that by the year 2012 over 95% of the world’s assets will be controlled by Jewish interests as a direct result of superfluous Christmas spending.

During the Hanukkah festivities, Jewish adults give children gifts of chocolates which are fashioned to look like gold coins, as it is difficult for Jews to part with real money. Children use the chocolate coins as currency to play a traditional Jewish game in which players spin a four-sided wooden top called a dreidel. On each side of the dreidel are Hebrew symbols representing the current money lending rates based on the borrowers race or religion. Players take turns lending and collecting chocolate money at the designated rates until one player ends up with all the chocolate.

So ends the story of Hanukkah. I hope it was inspirational as well as informative and uplifting. I wish you all a happy and a healthy.

L’chaim!

comment 1

Top 10 Things to Make a “Top 10 Things List” About to Get People to Visit Your Website

The best, worst, funniest, craziest, money saving, most helpful, meanest, ugliest, greatest, cheapest, most expensive, sure-fire, can’t miss, income generating, most influential, underrated, overpaid, top performing, secret, top 10 list to rule all top 10 lists, that top 10 list writers don’t want you to know about.

10. Top 10 things people like

  • Hottest luxury cars
  • Best actors
  • Ways to save money on…

9. Top 10 things people don’t like

  • Worst movies of all time
  • Meanest world leaders
  • Ugliest red carpet outfit

8. Top 10 things people will think is funny

  • Funniest Internet memes
  • Goofiest George W. Bush quotes
  • Most painful videos of people getting punched in the nuts

7. Top 10 things that will cause controversy

  • Most unbiased news sources
  • Reasons why we need universal health care
  • Reasons why abortion is wrong

6. Top 10 things that will make people feel nostalgic

  • Most awesome toys of all time
  • Greatest boy bands
  • Craziest fashions

5. Top 10 things only a 13 year old girl should care about

  • Funniest Miley Cyrus “Hanna Montana” bloopers
  • Favorite Twilight moments
  • Best Jonas Brothers song of all time

4. Top 10 things people should buy because you’ll make commission on your affiliate marketing business

3. Top 10 nerdy computer things

  • Best free web development applications
  • Must have Firefox add-ons
  • Coolest Adobe Flash tutorials

2. Top 10 “secret” things any moron would already know, but would make them think you have something new to offer on the subject

  • Resume secrets that will land you your dream job
  • Sure-fire Internet marketing strategies
  • Secrets to a successful relationship

1. Top 10 things to make a “top ten thing list” about to get people to visit your website

  • Please see numbers 10 through 1 above
comment 0

World of Warcraft

If you could spend the next 2 years of your life doing one thing for 4.5 hours per day, every single day, what would it be?

Surely you could get a firm grasp on a new language, or learn to play a musical instrument, or get an associates degree, or transform your body into peak physical condition, or spend time with loved ones, or start a business, or master a computer programming language, or any of an infinite list of potentially life enhancing activities.

Of all the things I could have done for the past two years, I chose to play World of Warcraft.

I used to make fun of my sister all the time because she spent so much time playing WoW. I could talk to her on the phone and tell that she wasn’t really paying attention; that she was off in some distant world slaying dragons or leveling up her alchemy skills. I’d tell her, “Sounds like you’re running low on mana. Perhaps you need to cast a Level 3 End Conversation Spell.”

I never saw the game as something negative, it just wasn’t my cup of tea. I preferred more “real life” video games such as baseball, basketball, or some first person war simulation shoot em’ up; something I could play for an hour or so then move on with my life.

That all changed when a friend of mine became ill. During a lengthy treatment and recovery process, she was unable to participate in many everyday activities, and was eager to find something to fill those hours of idle time. A friend of hers suggested World of Warcraft; insisting it was just what she was looking for.

Both my friend and I found the suggestion pretty funny, because neither of us could envision the other playing a fantasy game, let alone enjoying it. Nevertheless, she signed up for the 10 day trial, and I did the same. She and I used to chat on Yahoo! Messenger every day, so I pretty much had to play too if I expected to talk to her again. 😛

After the first day, neither of us saw the appeal, and we were both confident our WoW career would end when the trial period expired. After the second day, we were a bit more comfortable with the interface and decided that the game was pretty intuitive and easy to play, but we were still clueless about what we were supposed to do. After the 5th day, we started to appreciate the level of detail and artwork that went into creating such a large virtual world, and we agreed that we could see why so many people liked the game, but there was no way we were going to spend $15 per month to play. After the 10th day, we sheepishly signed up for subscriptions and jumped in with both feet.

I have to say, the folks at Blizzard really understand people and their behaviors. So much effort was put into creating a game that is simple to play yet challenging to master, as well as a reward system that keeps people coming back for more, no matter what their skill level. Adding to the already well-thought-out user interface is an endless selection of third party addons designed to enhance the game-play. When you throw in the social aspect of making friends, creating guilds, and group questing and raiding, World of Warcraft is a potent recipe for a truly addictive gaming experience.

For over two years, I played. I leveled up two characters to the maximum level, achieved virtually all the in-game goals I wanted to achieve, and I even made a few new friends along the way. However, this past Thursday, my subscription expired and I did not renew it. I had decided a few months ago that I would quit the game, and I’m still not 100% sure why. Maybe I don’t like feeling that the game has control over me, or maybe I just want to see what I can do with those extra 4.5 hours per day? Whatever it is, there’s something inside that is telling me it’s time to close this chapter of my life.

It’s been a fun ride, but now it’s time to mount up on my Winterspring Frostsaber and head out into the sunset.

I leave you with one of the funniest World of Warcraft movies ever, “I’m on a Mount”. Enjoy!

comment 0

When Worlds Collide

The first rule of grocery shopping:

You DO NOT talk about grocery shopping.

No, wait… wrong rules.

The first rule of grocery shopping is not to shop on an empty stomach. Everybody knows that, but it leads us to the age old question: where are you supposed to buy food when you’re hungry? Fast food? Try to convince yourself that you’re only going to get the salad and only use 1/4 of the dressing that comes with it? Tonight I took my chances at the grocery store.

My total shopping experience lasted about 2 hours. For the first hour and 57 minutes, my basket contained a bag of seedless grapes, a pack of 60 watt light bulbs, two squishy stress balls, and a new paperback off the best sellers rack. Don’t get me wrong, I touched everything in the store: different cheeses, meats, breads, pastries, cakes, fruits, veggies, pre-made sandwiches and salads, and chocolates (Halloween is coming up and they widened the sweets aisle to the size of a 4 lane freeway).

Grapes were the only edible item to make the cut. I was feeling pretty confident and proud of myself that I didn’t succumb to temptation, but grapes weren’t enough to get me through the night. I decided to pick up a bag of sunflower seeds as well. Wasn’t sure how they’d go with the grapes, but it was the best “not so bad for you” snack I could think of.

With the seeds in the basket, I made my way towards the checkout line, down the snack aisle, and past the Doritos display. I passed it three times already. The first time, I took note of the display’s football theme: two football players running into each other with the word “COLLISIONS” sprawled in high-impact lettering across the top. Football season started up again this weekend, so of course, the consumers need to see an image of two football players colliding, because how are we supposed to know what to snack on during a football game if there isn’t a picture of a football player on the display???

I’m not going to pretend that I’m not swayed by marketing. Believe me, I’ve wasted more than my share of money purchasing products simply because they looked cool or yummy on TV. I just hate the fact that I do. It makes me feel so used.

Anyhow, the second time I passed the Doritos display, I realized “Collisions” wasn’t just describing the actions of the football players, it was, in fact, the name of Doritos’ NEW product, touting, not one, but two flavors of Doritos in the same bag. Oooooh… the FLAVORS were “colliding”!!!! Get it? Get it???

Well, woopdie scoobity doo!!! How ingenious to mix two flavors of Doritos in one bag!

Honestly, who gives a crap, and how stupid must they think we are with their slogan: “With two BOLD flavors in one bag, YOU control the ultimate Doritos flavor combination.”

Wait. What?!? Are you serious?!?! Hold on just a second. You’re not saying what I think you’re saying are you?!?

I control it??? I control the flavor combination???

Holy crap!!! WOW!!! I’m finally in control of my Doritos!!!! Before, I felt so OUT OF CONTROL; like the Doritos were controlling ME!!! In the past, if I ever felt like having two flavors of Doritos, I’d have to buy two bags! But not anymore! Oh no… not anymore!

So the third and final time I passed the display, I gave it one last disapproving glare, and that’s when it hit me. Twice before, I merely looked at the display. All of a sudden, I was actually SEEING it for the very first time. My eyes widened, my lips parted, and the words “No way!” fell out of my mouth and landed right on my shoes. What i was looking at, was NOT, what I had assumed would be, a bag of Cool Ranch and Nacho Cheese Doritos mixed together, but in fact, was a bag of Doritos Brand Hot Wings & Blue Cheese Collisions Tortilla Chips!!!

All of a sudden I was in control of the ultimate Doritos flavor combination!!!

The bag was open before I even left the store.

OMG!!! Did someone order chicken wings? What??? What do you mean I’m not eating real chicken wings?!? Doritos??? Come on!!! Well then how do you explain the blue cheese dressing that I… what??? Doritos too?!? How is this possible??? Waitress!!!

I sat in my car with the engine idling for 20 minutes, widening the hole in the ozone layer, and basking in the flavors of my new favorite snack. Looks like it’s grapes and sunflower seeds for dinner tomorrow.

comment 0

That’s Some Good Grass, Man!

I love grass. Not the sticky icky variety, but the actual green, lush, soft, cool-to-the-touch, sweet-smelling, and (I’m not ashamed to say) quite tasty kind. Don’t pretend you never munched on a blade or two.

Living in the Arizona desert, good grass is hard to come by. Even the nicest looking lawn in Scottsdale is dry and seems to lack the spongy fluffiness one would expect to find in that grassy meadow from your Windows XP default wallpaper.

Not to get all nostalgic or anything, but my grandparents had one of the biggest, nicest, well cared for, lawns in all of Bayside, Queens. I’m sure it was much smaller than it is in my head, but to a 8yr old sports nut, it looked like a football field. Its only flaw was a single tree that always had a knack of preventing me from running back a touchdown. That tree sure could tackle! It did, however, play a pretty decent first base, so I guess I can’t complain too much.

Anyhow, it was this lawn that set my standards for all future landscaping even though, at the time, I didn’t even know what landscaping was. I guess I just assumed my Grandpa planted each blade of grass himself. Since he’s no longer with us, and cannot dispel that myth, I will go on believing that is exactly what he did. In fact, I think George Schneider invented grass. I’ll create a Wikipedia entry after I’m done with this.

So where was I? Oh yeah… Italian Cuisine is to Nigeria as grass is to Arizona. We just don’t “do” grass. For the most part, people here accept and understand this, so they landscape with rocks and the occasional, or not so occasional, cactus. Folks here don’t have yards, they have quarries. Maintenance wise, I’m sure it’s a dream come true, but it doesn’t really stimulate the senses. I mean what senses can rocks really stimulate.

***OUCH!!!***

Fine! They can stimulate our sense of touch, but I’m not gonna taste one!!!

It’s safe to say I’m not a huge fan of “Desert Landscaping“, but given our desert climate, you’re sort of limited in your options. Go figure. I have, however, learned to distinguish between good landscaping and bad landscaping, and I can appreciate the efforts that go into giving one’s home some curb appeal.

I pulled into the driveway this evening, got out of my car, and took a moment to take in the desert scenery. Even someone as anti-Arizona as I am can enjoy a sunset every now and then. As the sun continued its descent below the horizon, I allowed my body to fully absorb my natural surroundings, becoming one with Mother Earth, losing myself in the moment. What brought me back was the abrupt realization of the one sure thing I know will always remain true…

I will never grow up.

cactus-penis

comment 0

I’m Watching You

I was reading an article in PC Magazine today about Government requesting search engine data from Yahoo!, MSN, and Google as part of an effort to reinstate the Child Online Protection Act. The writer, like so many government-fearing Americans, suggests that divulging search engine information poses privacy law issues and is one step closer towards a Big Brother government structure. His direct quote is “I worry that even well-intentioned U.S. actions that place minor restrictions on the Internet are sending the wrong message.” He goes on to insinuate that the advancement in content filtering software is a sufficient substitute for actively monitoring would-be threats on the Internet.

In a day where the Internet has become a haven for child predators and other criminals, it really fries my ass that people aren’t willing to sacrifice some anonymity in order to make it a safer place. Collecting search engine data in order to compile profiles on potential criminals, and other online predators is not only necessary, but long overdue if you ask me. It’s absurd to think that allowing it would be a precursor to having microchips embedded in our skin. It seems that people have become more afraid of secret technology and conspiracy theories than they are of current real threats. What about the fear of child rapists and murderers? What about the fear of people building homemade bombs in their basements? What about the fear of troubled teens plotting to shoot up their schools?

When something terrible does happen, the “concerned” public shakes their head and says “Can’t something be done?” But what they really mean is, “Can’t something be done that doesn’t require me to do anything or sacrifice anything?” For the good of the country, and a safer Internet, I’d be willing to share my grocery list with the Government. I’d certainly give up the ability to remain 100% anonymous.

What really bothers me is the same people who whine about protecting their privacy are the same people who whore out all their personal information to unknown online companies to sign up for “special” offers, or to enter contests, or to see if that “Get a free iPod” thing really works. Hell, if you fill out almost as much information as you would put on a credit application at dentyne.com, you can get a free pack of gum! Wouldn’t you rather have minty-fresh breath than contribute to stopping online child predators?

UPDATE: PC Magazine published my response to their article in their “Feedback” section. You can read it in the April 25, 2006 issue of PC Magazine on page 17 of the PDF (p. 14 of the magazine).

comment 0

A Brief Story

When I went to California in January, I forgot to pack underwear. I befriended the hotel bellman and asked drive me to Wal-Mart so I could buy a few packages. Now I’m not one to bargain shop when it comes to emergency necessities, but I happened to find two packages of undies marked at $3.99 hidden among the $5.99 packages. What a find! I figured they must have been leftovers from “last season’s” underwear before the prices went up. For as smart as I think I am, I truly amaze myself how retarded I can be. 😛

When I returned to my hotel room, it didn’t take long to figure out why they were cheaper. I misread the package! What I thought had read “Boxer Briefs” simply read “Briefs”. For those of you who are not up to speed with men’s underwear lingo, they were tighty whities. Technically they were tighty bluies, redies, and blackies.

I hadn’t worn nut hugger briefs since I was 12 years old, but I wasn’t about to go all the way back to Wal-Mart to exchange them. So I strapped on a pair, took one look in the mirror, and it instantly took me back to the days of Underoos (except with a lot more body hair). I used to have the Batman set, and I when I put them on, I would spin around in a circle, pretending I was sliding down the Bat Pole. The whole time I’d “sing” the Batman theme song: Da na na na, Da na na na, Da na na na, Da na na na na, BATMAAAAAAAAAN!!!! Do you know how hard it is to put your underwear on while spinning in a circle?

Well that was then and this is now. I can’t even comprehend why they would continue to make briefs for adults. Between the elastic strangling my bean bag, the back riding up my ass, and my wiener getting caught in escape hatch, I can’t figure out what was is more uncomfortable.

The only problem I have now is I can’t get rid of them. It goes against my religion to throw away underwear before they have at least 3 holes in them. The briefs have made it into the underwear drawer here at home. I’m even wearing a pair right now. I think I need some sort of underwear intervention.

Da na na na, Da na na na, Da na na na, Da na na na na, BATMAAAAAAAAAN!!!!

comment 1

Gender Bender

So it’s Friday night. I’m home alone with my cat on my lap, drinking a glass of wine and unwinding from a pretty stupid day at the office. I’ve had this job for 7 months now and I have to say it’s the best AND the worst job I ever had. It’s the best because I make decent money, and there’s plenty of opportunity for further financial gain. My office is in a beautiful area, and the clients are pleasant. It’s really not a bad gig.

On the other hand, my boss is a complete nut job. I’m not going to bother giving details because I lack the vocabulary to really express how crazy she is in a way that you would share my pain. Also, I somehow ended up being the designated “computer guy” at the office because once people find out you know how to operate a mouse, all of a sudden they stop trying to do things themselves. It takes me twice as long to get my work done during the day because I’m constantly helping other people with computer tasks. The other downside to my job is I work mainly with women. Actually we just added another guy, but he’s gay.

For most of my adult life, I’ve worked industries dominated by men. In an office full of men, you go to work, you work, you talk about women and sports, you work, you complain about work, you work some more, and you go home. It’s pretty much the same thing every day. Every once in a while there’s some conflict. Maybe you butt heads with a co-worker or someone drops the ball and mess up a task. In an office full of men, conflict is easily resolved by walking up to the offending party and saying, “Hey you fucking retard, you fucked up. Don’t do that again!” He replies, “Fuck you, you fucking fuck!” You call him an asshole. He’d calls you a dick. Then it’s done! Yes, done and back to business as usual. You can walk up that same guy 2 minutes later, and everything would be fine. (Keep in mind I’m talking about lateral confrontation, not how you would go about handling a problem with a boss or subordinate.)

Working with women is NOTHING like that. As I mentioned, I’ve been at my job for 7 months and, at least twice a week, without fail, I have to have a “I’m sorry I hurt your feelings” conversation with someone. Never before, have I had to say apologize to a co-worker for hurting their feelings. Never in my career have I seen anyone cry at work and storm out of the room. And not necessarily because I made them cry. Sometimes they cry when they lose a deal, or when a customer yells at them, or they just remember something from their childhood and they start crying for no reason.

So yeah, my office is definitely a hotbed of emotions and sensitivity. Oh, how I long for the days when I could critique a co-worker’s performance without them taking offense. Now, if I say boo to someone, they think I’m insulting their very being or implying that they can’t do something as well as a man can. And if an argument with someone escalates beyond two or three exchanges, forget about it, they won’t talk to me for the rest of the day. Sometimes longer.

Look, I’m not a bully. Far from it, but when it comes to work, it’s just work, and when there’s a job to be done, you do it. When it doesn’t get done, or gets done poorly, there needs to be a way to resolving issues quickly without having to tip toe around people’s feelings. I kinda look at relationships with co-workers kinda like boxers. Outside the ring, you could be friends with another fighter, but inside the ring, you have to beat the shit out of each other in order to do your job. It’s nothing personal.

I have a feeling I’m sounding like a real douche right now. 😛

So here’s what happened today. The boss walked into our office, and said to Rosemary, “Rosemary, I want you to list Ryan’s property in the MLS Online and have Eric teach you how to post pictures of the property.”

A few hours later, Ryan walked in and asked, “Rosemary did you post the pictures yet?”

Rosemary: “No, I’m waiting for Eric to show me how.”

Me: “I’m ready. I’ve been ready. Let’s do it.”

Rosemary:”Ok, give me like two minutes.”

A few hours later Ryan walked in again and asked, “Rosemary did you post those pictures yet?”

Rosemary: “No, I’m still waiting on Eric.”

Me: “Waiting on me? I’m ready. Let’s do this.”

Rosemary: “Ok. Lemme just make this call real quick.”

The third time Ryan walked in, Rosemary blamed me again for not posting the pictures. I got pissed off and snapped at her, “For Christ’s sake Rosemary, how fucking hard is it to post pictures on a listing? While you were “waiting” on me, did you even try to do it? There are 5 fucking buttons to click on, and only ONE of them says ‘Edit Listing’! Did you even think of clicking on that?!?!”

*CLICK*

Me: “GOOD JOB! Now click on the button that says ‘Add Pictures’!”

Rosemary: “Forget it, I’ll do it myself!”

Ryan:”Oooooh, she’s mad at you now, Eric.”

Me: “Good! Maybe she’ll learn a little self-reliance.”

So Rosemary started crying, got up, sending her chair flying across the room, and stormed out of the office. She came back 10 minutes later, and didn’t say a word to me for the rest of the day. Granted, it wasn’t much of a “punishment”, but what a pain in the ass. Over absolutely nothing!

Monday, I’m going to have to apologize. I’ll have to pretend that I was stressed out over something else, and acknowledge that it was still no excuse for being so rude. Blah blah blah. But that’s bullshit! I go from the person trying to help her to being a heartless prick while she goes from being an incompetent retard to helpless victim. I bet she thinks that she was the one just trying to do her job, and I refused to help her. Whatever!

Anyone know a good florist? 😛

comment 0

A Holiday Message

Hello, readers.

Tomorrow is Thanksgiving Day and the start of the holiday season for many of us. I want to sincerely wish all of you a very happy Thanksgiving and I hope you all are fortunate enough to spend your holiday with the people you love.

I also want to acknowledge those people who may find themselves alone this time of year. Perhaps you live far from your family, or maybe, like many people, you feel like you don’t have anyone in your life who qualifies as a loved one. It’s really easy to get down in the dumps when you start to think about how alone you are, and how much you lack in your life. I know, because I think about it all the time. I want to encourage everyone, including myself, to take some time to think about what you do have. What are you grateful for? What are you happy about? Think about all the things that are right in your life instead of what’s wrong.

I know it’s hard to just think happy thoughts; especially when every time you’re alone with your thoughts, you beat yourself up. Maybe it’s time to give those inner voices a rest. This holiday season, go out and do something that puts a smile on your face. Walk in the park and feed the ducks. Jump in a pile of leaves. Grab a camera and take pictures of stuff that makes you happy. Do something that encourages you to feel good about yourself. Volunteer at a food bank. Spend some time talking to seniors at a retirement facility. Help out at an animal shelter or a food bank. Make a difference in someone else’s life and maybe you’ll make a difference in your own.

Whatever you choose to do these next few weeks, be safe, and enjoy yourselves. Know that you’re never truly alone out there, and know that you are loved. Make it your mission to find a piece of happiness for yourself, and make it contagious.

Until next time.

comment 0

Would You Like a Giant Sack for Those Balls?

Sometimes I wish I had a pair of giant, hairy balls, the size of watermelons, that would hang down below my knees, and when I walked they’d swing with such force, the pendulous motion would first knock down everyone in my path, and as I stepped over the fallen victims, they’d get a nice whack across the nose on the back swing. Perhaps with a set of balls  like those I’d be able to compete with the audacity of the people around me.

I want to preface the following story by saying, I don’t like to complain. I know I’m good at it, and I know it seems like I do it often, but honestly I’d much rather have things go my way. I would truly prefer to log on and blog about how the stars always seem to be aligned in my favor, and how I’m terrible at playing hide and seek with good fortune because it always finds me. Unfortunately, that’s not my path. That is not my destiny. That is not my Ka.

My boss’ son is getting married on Saturday. For some unknown reason, I got an invite to the wedding. I say unknown because I barely know the guy, and maybe I met his fiancé one time. Also, not everyone from the office was invited. In fact the guest list was so limited, it was requested that I not even bring a date. Honestly, why bother? If you aren’t going to allow someone to bring a guest to a wedding, you probably shouldn’t invite that person in the first place.

I suspect the only reason why I was invited is because my mother happens to be my boss’s best (and possibly only) friend. So the way I figure things went down with the invitations was my boss probably insisted on an invitation for my mother and her girlfriend, and just because I happen to be my mother’s son as well as an employee, she probably pressured him into inviting me too. I’m guessing the son reluctantly agreed but with the stipulation that I couldn’t bring a guest. I mean, how else would it have come up? As far as I knew there were no restrictions on any of the other invitees.

Let it be stated for the record, that I never wanted to go to this wedding in the first place; with a date or without one. I don’t particularly like my boss, and her son is a know-it-all, useless-fact-regurgitating, monstrous bore who happens to be marrying a girl who is way too smart and attractive for him. Nevertheless, I felt I couldn’t refuse the invitation and risk the consequences of bad office politics and poor etiquette. I figured I’d show up for the ceremony, stay for the first part of the reception, then bail. No muss, no fuss.

So today, I logged onto the Robinsons-May website to get the happy couple a few gifts from their registry. I’m annoyed that I have to go by myself, but not too annoyed that I can’t get them a nice gift. I’m not a complete douche. I bought them a set of nice martini glasses, a margarita set, and a wooden storage case for some expensive flatware they were asking for. It came out to like $120. Not too much, but not cheap cheap. Nice enough I think that they might feel slightly guilty for not allowing me to bring a date. Feel free to comment if you disagree with my perception of cheap and not cheap. I know nothing about wedding gifts.

I apologize for boring you with the big lead in, but I thought it was necessary in order to get a better idea of the whole situation. Now it’s time to pay attention again, because here comes the big kick in the ass; the balls across the nose, if you will:

Almost simultaneously, as I completed my online wedding gift purchase, I receive an email from the bride-to-be.

This is the actual email with names and other extraneous information removed:

******************************************
Hi Eric,

I was wondering if you would do me a huge favor. I don’t have a videographer.

So I was wondering if you would mind taking some footage for me? I just need the main events – ceremony, entrance/first dance, parent dances, toasts, cake cutting, and the bouquet/garter toss. I have a video camera that you can use and a tripod. Let me know if you’d be interested. Thanks!
******************************************

What the fuck?!?! Seriously, what the fuck??? Can you believe that?!?! I don’t even know where to begin. First of all, how does a person overlook hiring someone to take video at their wedding? Especially considering how I’ve had to listen to my boss brag about how much money she spent on the wedding, and how she also got them a brand new Toyota Highlander as a wedding gift, and how she paid for their trip to Europe for their honeymoon!

Honestly, I don’t know at whom should I be more furious; my boss for obviously “volunteering” me, or the bride and groom for not recognizing how friggin rude it is to ask me to work their wedding. I can only assume the bride and groom were pissed off for having to invite me in the first place, and figured I wasn’t good for a decent gift, and in order to get their money’s worth, they asked out of spite, knowing I couldn’t say no. Again, I don’t even know these people well enough for them to ask to borrow five bucks let alone film their wedding for free. The only other explanation would be they all intended to ask me to be the cameraman from the start, and the initial invitation was offered to get me committed to attending.

Either way, Where do people get balls this big and where can I get a pair? PLUS to have to nerve to say, “I JUST need the main events: The ceremony, entrance, first dance, parent dances, toasts, cake cutting, and the bouquet toss.” Well what the fuck else is there?!?! Footage of the guests chewing on food? The newlyweds banging in the back of the limo?

The shittiest part is, I feel like I can’t say no because my boss is the type of person who holds grudges and plays favorites at the office. I know that makes me sound kinda spineless, but I can’t see how refusing could be beneficial to my career.

I’m so disgusted with everything and everybody right now.

I’m changing my name to Matt so I won’t be so blindsided when people step all over me.