Thursday, May 29, 2008

First In Flight

My mom called last week to tell me that my first childhood friend had passed away. We didn't necessarily stay close after my family moved away, but we were lucky enough to cross paths from time to time as we became adults. One time getting reintroduced to each other in college by members of the University of Washington crew team who were looking for shrimpy guys like us to sit in the coxswain seat.

College was the last time I saw him. And seeing him in the obituary page in the hometown paper really made me look at my own mortality. He was born about 2 weeks before me. He had a daughter about the same age as my son. And my mom said that he was like a son to her. At least when we were around 5 years old. Rest in peace, buddy.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Hurts So Good

You may or may not have had the luxury of hearing me tell the neverending story of my gum surgery. Either way, it's something you don't want to ever experience.

Thanks to my mom and dad, I have gums that don't seal to the teeth too well. So no matter how much I follow mom and dad's strict teachings to brush and floss every night, their genes don't allow me to adequately clean whatever gets way down in there and attacks the roots of my teeth.

And so I had to find this out from a periodontist 20 years after I left home for college. And this periodontist was required to surgically open up the gum tissue surrounding my molars, clean up the bad stuff, and sew up the gums tighter than mom and dad's DNA ever did.

The result has been laborious in terms of me not being able to chew food on whichever side of the mouth that the periodontist decided to work on this month. Two weeks ago it was the lower left quadrant. He took the stitches out last week and gave me an "A+" on my recovery so far.

In the past couple days I've been able to start chewing soft things like pasta on that side. But the thing that seems to be taking the longest to get over is the cold sensitivity. It ain't no joke. Try chewing on a piece of aluminum foil, and that begins to give you an idea of what I go through even when I drink water that's room temperature. But as I found out with LLMB Reader #1 this week, the one cold beverage that doesn't put the deep freeze on my teeth? You guessed it: A frosty beer. Must be the alcohol. So you know what I'll be drinking until this winter in my mouth is over. Let it snow.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Travelling Without Moving

A couple weeks ago I wrote about my TV. My lack of a TV. Well despite my efforts to remedy my lack of a TV, I continue to buy a TV on what seems like a bi-weekly basis. Artificially propping up the US economy is what I'm really doing.

After the whole Sears-returning-the-first-TV ordeal, I ordered a Philips TV from Dell. Two weeks ago in this space I described the liar Dell salesman. I canceled the order. I then ordered the same Philips TV, the one that's called the EcoTV because it uses far less power than regular TVs and enables me to hug a tree by sitting on my ass watching SportsCenter on a daily basis, from Amazon.

I didn't realize this before I bought this sorta big-ticket item from an online retailer, but Amazon actually farms out that type of order to a storefront who can take care of it directly after the money has been spent. Being that I was missing all this great HDTV resolution by having to cancel with liars at Dell, I paid extra for expedited shipping: 3x as much as regular shipping to get it in 3-5 days.

The storefront vendor is ANTOnline, based in Atlanta, GA. I get an e-mail from them updating me on where my TV is. The e-mail links to their website which says "Shipment moved from regional warehouse to local". Great. It's so close now I can smell the High-Definition.

But then a day later, the web message changes to "No information available at this time", and stays that way for the remainder of my 3-5 day expedited shipping process. 5 days turns into 6 and then the jig is up. I call ANTOnline and ask them what the holdup is. The nice lady on the phone tells me she'll find out and call me right back. And when she calls me right back, she tells me that they made an error, I needed to pay another $150 to ship this TV, they don't really have expedited shipping, and I'd receive it in another 7-10 days. After another round of customer service hold sessions, I cancel the order.

The next TV vendor turns out to be is based just south of Los Angeles. Close enough to walk the TV over in a few days. I order the same Philips EcoTV, I check my shipping status online during the 5-7 day period, and the end of the 7 days comes and goes. And on day 8, the shipping message changes to "Estimated Delivery Date: May 23". I can only venture a guess what my e-mail asking why they say 5-7 days when they really mean 18 days will get. Canceled.

Thursday, May 08, 2008

How to Disappear Completely

Because I like to waste a lot of time managing my music in iTunes, I've found yet another way to focus even more of my attention on that application.
I wanted to listen to all the music I have at least once, so I created a smart playlist that holds every song whose playcount is zero. After the song is played, it then has a playcount of one, and it disappears out of the playlist.

Essentially this playlist left me with mostly songs that I really didn't care to listen to. And it turned out to be around 10 gigs worth of music. So it's been a grueling couple of weeks as I listen to the likes of Janet Jackson, The Dandy Warhols, and a metal band called My Dying Bride that co-worker-bee Brady likes to call "church-burners". And Johnny Cash pops up from beyond the grave in chunks of about 7 songs to not only sing in Folsom Prison, but also to take on covers of songs from bands like Soundgarden, Nine Inch Nails, and Depeche Mode.

But in listening to this Underplayedlist, how did I not ever listen a song on Kid A? And how the hell did I acquire every Squarepusher album? Anyhow, I've managed to get the list down to around 2 gigs, and under 400 songs left. But if I have to endure one more Elton John ballad, there won't be anything to read here next week.

Thursday, May 01, 2008


Last week was grueling. I spoke with around 12 customer service reps from Sears when I wanted to return the replacement for my TV of 10 years. The new TV had an amazing picture, but the vertical line running through the middle of the screen didn't look so great. In trying to get Sears to pick up this faulty set, they referred me to delivery, who referred me to the national customer service line, who forwarded me to repair, who sent me to delivery, who forwarded me to the store where I bought my TV, who told me to call delivery, who sent me back to the store. I went into the store with receipt in hand and the Sears employee told me I had to call delivery. He probably saw the steam starting to emanate from my ears, so he called delivery himself and told them to head over to my house to pick the damn thing up.

Later in the week I spent probably a total of 3 hours on the phone with Dell for the replacement for that replacement, after I found out the sales rep had lied to me about how long it would take to deliver the TV. He said it would be the next day. The e-mail said it wouldn't even be shipped for another three. I canceled on the sheer principle that I don't wanna give money to liars.

And the capper of this stellar week was FedEx on Friday. A director friend of mine was shipping a firewire drive that had footage for a music video. Unfortunately for me, the FedEx way is to try to deliver to workplaces before most workplaces are open. I tracked the package and found out that they attempted delivery at 7:40 am, but they would re-deliver by 3 pm. 3 pm comes and goes. No package. 4 pm comes and goes. I was losing a whole day of editing on a music vid that was due on Monday. Sweet. I called FedEx and discovered that the package was still sitting at the facility and there would be no other attempt to deliver that day. Needless to say, it was a fun conversation that ended in me putting on my FedEx hat and driving to the facility and wasting more time there while they attempted to locate the box. Then I got to work all weekend and avoid the nice weather everybody else enjoyed down here.

Not such a great week, eh? I thought so until the IT guy at my work came in with a cast on his right wrist & hand. He had just had surgery on his wrist the day before. Apparently he had to walk to his surgery appointment in the morning because his neighbor had his car towed for blocking his driveway. And he probably won't be getting his car back soon, because he has a bunch of unpaid parking tickets, and he'll have to part with a good chunk of his cash if he wants it back. Oh, and on the walk to his surgery appointment he stepped in dogshit and had brushed some on his pant leg while strolling. But he didn't notice the dogshit until he arrived at his doctor. I'm sure the surgery wasn't much fun either. In light of that, my week was a cakewalk.