Ake's Pains debuted in the University of Akron Buchtelite in September of 1977. The school's reputation as an institute of higher learning has still not recovered. Ake's Pains returns after a brief 32 year hiatus. It's back, baby!

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Father of the Bride (The Wedding Chronicles – Part 1)

From the moment you first hold your infant daughter, you take on a set of very important responsibilities of which you are totally unprepared for.  Raising daughters is often like driving an old truck full of highly combustible materials down a very bumpy road.  You can drive masterfully and still end up smoldering, holding what’s left of the steering wheel.

The responsibilities get easier and less taxing once the teen years are over, but one major responsibility remains. It lurks out in the shadows, waiting to pounce when you least expect it.

Then one day something called a “proposal” is made and if accepted, this transforms you into an almost mystical being which our society labels “Father of the Bride” (FOB).

But this FOB thing is a really odd responsibility. And whenever you are given a title that you did not seek, you can be sure you are being set up in some way.  “Here’s a nice, new, title.  My aren’t you special!” (Stupid sap you are!)  I was told to “save your money” but I was not told how much money to save or what it would be used for.  In reality, nothing can prepare you for the financial beating you are about to receive.
One part that did not cost
any money!

As far as I can tell the primary function of the FOB is to write frequent and sometimes enormous checks for everything and anything wedding related, checks that have many zeroes and commas.   You are playing the role of the superhero “Father of the Bride” and bills and invoices come flying at you from all directions at warp speed.  You must suppress these evil forces by all means necessary, using the super powers at your disposal; checks, credit cards, loans, whatever it takes!

The difficult part is that you are paying large amounts of money for things which under normal circumstance you would never, ever, buy.  Weddings would be so much different if men planned them, which is of course is the reason men do not plan them.  If they did, it would be a disaster.

However, weddings provide the opportunity for the women folk to go slightly insane doing extreme woman-type activities.  The wedding planning is a series of estrogenically driven actions without any limits.  It is estrogen unchained, it is estrogen unencumbered, it is estrogen overflowing!  This results in things such as discussion and planning of every inch of the wedding dress. Women break down the details of the wedding dress similar to the way guys break down the details of a football game.  The dress’s train is discussed with the same enthusiasm and preciseness as a “Cover 2 Defense”.

And this obsession with precise detail is repeated over and over again with the cake, the flowers, the attendants’ clothing, the music, the table settings, the napkins, etc.  The intensity of this effort reaches a crescendo the week of the wedding as the estrogen reaches dangerously high levels.  It was so strong in my house I had trouble breathing. Now in some circumstances high estrogen levels are a good thing (right guys?), but elevated amounts of estrogen always result in men paying some price. And this time the price was enormous.

In the case of wedding planning, each attention to detail results in added expense which the FOB is naturally expected to pay for.  Fresh banana cake! Ba Ching!, Top Deejay! Ba Ching! Special Flowers! Ba Ching. Etc., etc., etc, Ba Ching, Ba Ching, Ba Ching!  That giant sucking sound was the money flowing out of my savings account.

And you have to pay it because it’s your daughter’s wedding, for heaven sake!  It’s like a female version of Mafia demanding extortion.   It’s a chance for payback against the male species and oh you are going to pay up big time.

I used to laugh when reading about FOBs who had to take out home equity loans to pay for a daughter’s wedding.  I thought the poor saps got suckered into paying for a very extravagant affair.  I am no longer laughing.  The average wedding today costs $30,000. Ours was a modest event and the cost of living here is low, so the total was much below that.

Yet, I am not laughing, I am crying. And it had nothing to do with the blessedness of the ceremony. I thought we were being prudent by serving chicken at the reception, but it was Chicken Cordon Bleu.  I figure they had it flown in from France because the Chicken Cordon blew a hole in my bank account! 

And just when I thought it was over, my wife asked me for a blank check on the day of the wedding to cover “extras”. Extras? What could possibly exist that I hadn’t paid for already?  She said maybe this was in case someone drinks too much. Drinks too much? I was raised a Baptist, in my view everyone is going to drink too much! 

As I walked my daughter over the bridge to the gazebo where the vows were exchanged, I tossed 10 pennies out into the lake.  The official story is that I did this to bring the couple good luck.  In reality it was the last 10 cents I had
Where I deposited my last 10 cents!
left, so I figured they may as well have that too.

But I made it through, I did fulfill my obligation and most importantly, none of the checks bounced! And I will be able to quit my new second job at the telemarketing firm as soon as I get my sales volume up.  So if anyone needs some new aluminum siding for their house, please let me know.

Monday, July 14, 2014

My Team Is Red, But Not Very Hot

I have been a life-long fan of the Cleveland Indians. From the time I was old enough to understand baseball, I have cheered for The Tribe.  Much of the summers of my youth were spent following their games either in front of the television (beginning with a black-and-white variety) or staring into a transistor radio.  Part of learning to read involved following the exploits of my favorite team every day in the newspaper.

Unfortunately the Indians usually lost.  I don’t know when I came to the realization that my team didn’t play very well. They weren’t just bad, they were awful.  During my “youth”, the team usually ended up near last place and never finished closer than 14 games behind the league leader. One year we finished in third place in our division (still14 games behind) and this was considered “a great year”.

Over these really bad seasons, Indian fans had to deal with the following:

-        For several seasons our best pitcher was an alcoholic and missed a few games due to hangovers (pitching for a team this bad probably drove him to strong drink)

-        Another year our best pitcher was famous for throwing illegal “spitballs” (and we loved it because it was the only way we could get anyone out)

-        We paid a gazillion dollars for a free agent pitcher who lost 20 more games than he won before blowing out his arm.

-        We traded players that didn’t stink (or who later played great) for players that really stunk.  Year after horrible year the roster was full of awful players who really didn’t belong in the majors but found their way onto our team. (If a player was mediocre, then we considered him a star!)

-        The owner thought about moving the team to Tampa, but Tampa didn’t want us, better to have no team then a team this inept.

-        We had players who swapped wives

-        We had a wife who swapped players

-        The most significant game of the era was on “ten-cent” beer night when a drunken riot occurred in the ninth inning causing the Indians to forfeit.  (Even Cleveland rednecks could figure out ten cent beer was a good deal).

     Because the Indians were so bad, my boyhood friends and I each chose an “alternate” team to root for.  A team that didn’t suck, a team that actually won games, a team that would sometimes play games all the way into October, called “playoff” games.  Russell’s team was the Pirates, Freddie took the Reds, and my choice was the Dodgers.  All these teams were National League clubs because it would be blasphemous to cheer for any team that competed against our Indians.   If you don’t believe this, here is visual
evidence.  If you think it is pathetic for a middle-aged guy to dress like a 10-year old kid, you are correct, but that is the wonderment of baseball.

     Even as an adult I have faithfully followed The Tribe, sometimes maybe too faithfully.  The Indians by some incredible fluke actually made the playoffs in 1995 for the first time in 41 years. The first playoff game went into extra innings.  It was getting late and I had an important meeting at church very early the next morning.  I had never witnessed the Cleveland Indians win a playoff game in the 30 years I had cheered for the team, but if I stayed up to watch the end of the game I would have to miss the church meeting. What should I do?
     I still remember praying: “Dear Jesus, please forgive me for what I am about to do and while you are at it, please help the Indians score the winning run, amen.”  And Jesus stepped up big time by blessing the bat of Tony Pena.  I was ecstatic, my pastor much less so.  But even though the Indians were better, they still sucked when it counted.  The Atlanta Braves played horrible in many World Series but they managed to play well enough to beat Cleveland that year. Two years later the Indians made it to the World Series again and lost to an expansion team that had existed for only 4 years.  We are pathetic, we are horrible.  We suck, we suck so incredibly bad.
     However we have one thing that is the best in baseball.  It is our logo.  It is that grinning "Cleveland Indian” who cheers his team on to victory. Okay, so he just cheers.   The Yankees, Red Sox, Cardinals, Braves, etc. may be much better teams but no team has a logo as impressive as the Cleveland Indians.

     And now, and now… some people want to ban this logo because they say it’s offensive and somehow disparages them.  Do you understand why Indians fans might take exception to this? Our logo is our only source of baseball pride, spirit and hope we have left.

    Let’s clear up some misconceptions. It is a logo, not a mascot.  People can laugh at a mascot as he entertains, but people do not laugh at a logo. They call it Chief Wahoo, but he’s not a chief because he only has one feather.  He doesn’t represent the Indian race nor is he a caricature that makes fun of Indians. However, he does represent the Cleveland fans who passionate love their pitiful baseball team.

     Please examine the logo in detail. His skin is bright red. The only people with skin that color have spent too much time at the beach.  His eyes are triangular; no one has eyes anything like this.  His grin is huge. I don’t think having a large, toothy, smile is characteristic of any particular race.  His hair style is similar to Moe of The Three Stooges.  His nose is “hooked”, but it is not out of proportion compared to his eyes and mouth. So the only distinctive feature is the feather.  Imagine the logo without the feather and he looks like my Italian Uncle Lenny, with a sunburn of course.

     And I don’t understand how people can be offended by a single feather when some Indians dress up in full headdress today.  Note: Other people in America also dress up like their ancestors; usually this happens at the end of October.  If this cartoonish logo truly upsets and disparages you, then you are not the brave, strong, people you purport to be.  I think the “Cleveland Indian” represents enormous inner strength.  The poor guy’s team loses repeatedly yet he’s still smiling after 60 years! 
     If you want to argue that the team plays so bad that you don’t want the name “Indians” associated with it, then you have a legitimate beef.  But in this case, you just look more pathetic than this team and that is difficult to do.

Monday, June 30, 2014

Bad Team Names That Will Turn Your Skin Red

People seem to be getting all upset about the names of some professional sports teams. Now remember what sports really are: A group of people (called a team), throw, kick, strike or carry, an object (ball or puck) to a designated location (goal, zone, base) in a restricted space (field, court, rink).  Another team tries to prevent the first team from placing the object there.  If the team is successful in placing the object in the desired location, it is awarded points.  These  points, which cannot even be used for free gasoline, have magically been transformed into something that is now deemed worthy of billions of dollars by our culture.

This is not a criticism as much as it is an observation.  Please, I have season tickets for two college sports at my alma mater. However, regardless of how you view the sports world, you do have to admit some teams have terrible, really terrible names.  Here is my list of the worst team names in the professional sports:

MLB Baseball

3rd Runner Up – (Tie) Chicago White Sox, Boston Red Sox.  It is not very manly when your team is identified by their attire.

2nd Runner Up – San Diego Padres. Padres spend all their time studying scriptures and performing religious duties.  They have no time for recreation and thus make lousy baseball players.  Plus they are always tripping over their robes.

Trying hard to avoid being hit by the ball!
Winner – Los Angeles Dodgers. This is great name for a dodgeball team. But a baseball player is supposed to catch the ball, not run away from it.  I picture some “girly-man” running across the field, arm flailing, screaming “Please don’t hit me with the ball, please don’t hit me!” 

NHL Hockey

Dishonorable Mention – New Jersey Devils. Sure, name your team after Satan.  If God does really care about who wins, your team is toast in the close games.

3rd Runner Up – (Tie) Carolina Hurricanes, Colorado Avalanche. Let’s name our team after something bad that kills people.  You wouldn’t name your team the Denver Diabetes now, would you?

The new Columbus mascot?
2nd Runner Up – Columbus Blue Jackets.  Who names there team after formal dinner attire? Why isn’t the mascot a preppy wearing a blazer?

Winner – Nashville Predators.  The use of this word is now almost exclusively to describe sexual criminals.  I don’t even want to think about what an appropriate mascot would look like, but I sure as hell am not taking my kids to any games!

NBA Basketball

3rd Runner Up (Tie) Detroit Pistons, San Antonio Spurs. You name your team after a car part or a boot part?  At least spurs is slang for the whole boots.

2nd Runner Up – (Tie) Miami Heat, Oklahoma City Thunder. Let’s name our team after something negative associated with our city!

Winner – Cleveland Cavaliers. Don’t name your team after an attitude, especially a bad, irritating, attitude.  This is the equivalent of naming a women’s sports team the Boston Bitches.

NFL Football

3rd Runner Up – New Orleans Saints. The team is named after a song.  But there are extremely few saints in the NFL and any news report that starts out: “The Saint was arrested for possession of” is just plain wrong.

2nd Runner Up – Cleveland Browns. The team was named after an old coach.  Good thing the guy’s name wasn’t Rebinowitz! But now you are associated with the color of something that describes how the team has played for the last 50 years.

Winner – Well you know where this is going. Yes, the worst team name in the NFL is Redskins.

But I don’t think the name is racist, I think that it is just plain stupid, really stupid.  You named the team after a skin color. Would anyone name a team the Blackskins? Try the Yellowskins, the Whiteskins or the Brownskins. No you wouldn’t, that would be stupid, just as stupid as Redskins.  It was a dumb name at the beginning and it is still a dumb name.

However, the team has had the name for 81 years.  It is part of team history and is ingrained in the team’s culture and tradition. Because sports are so esteemed in our culture, the earnest sports fans treat it like a religion.  Changing the name of the team would be akin to telling Christians that the name of the savior will be now changing to “Frank”.

A few Indians say they find the name Redskins “disparaging” which means to belittle or bring reproach on.  But I can think of no better way to bring reproach on yourself than to bitch and moan about something this trivial.  If you have survived this “atrocity” for 81 years, guess what, it ain’t going to kill you!  You are belittling yourself, Chief Whinyass.

But I’m a uniter, not a divider. So I propose a 25 cent “stupidity” tax be placed on every Redskin ticket sold and every piece of Redskin merchandise.  The money would go to provide counseling services for people who need guidance about how not to be “disparaged” by this dreadful team name.

Monday, June 23, 2014

A Phoenix (not Arizona) Experience

Note: This is a very rare “serious” Ake’s Pains.  Occasionally I use this blog to share personal experiences that I hope will help others in their life journey)

A year ago, I was so bewildered. I had a job I hated, in a company that was a terrible match for my experience, temperament, and skills.  I had no job prospects and a decreasing motivation to even find any.

Four years after I had been ingloriously dismissed due to the Great Recession, I could feel my “useful” career dying a very slow death.  Yes the pain was abating, but at the same time hope was fading that anyone anywhere would ever again want the skills that had lain dormant all this time.  I felt numb and tired. At this point, I was willing just to wander aimlessly and accept the results.

When I was downsized, I was at the top of my field.  Now it was a small field, and you didn’t get rich being at the top.  But I had mastered it; I was an “industry expert”. Getting downsized meant that I went from the top to the bottom, and the human psyche is not designed to fall that far, that fast.  Worse yet, I did not start a slow climb back to the top. Due to the continued weak job market, I could find decent jobs that I “could do” but opportunities to fully utilize my skill set were very few and hard to get. I couldn’t get “back in the game”.

I had tried long and hard to recover, but I had failed.  I was sick of swinging and missing.  By this time, I had come to expect getting rejected.  After four unsuccessful years, I was ready to concede defeat.

Then a colleague sent me an e-mail saying he wanted me to talk to me that weekend.  I was expecting it to be another disappointment, so I put the call off to late Sunday evening.  Why ruin the weekend with bad news? However, he said his company had seen an increase in business and he needed someone to do a list of tasks that sounded as if he was reading them off my resume.  And then he asked me if I would be interested in the job.  I was stunned. I wanted to just blurt out a “Yes”, but fortunately there was no air in the lungs. I swallowed hard, sucked in a breath, and answered as calmly as I could.  “Yes, I might be interested is something like that”.

This was unbelievable.  By nature of the company and the position, I wasn’t just back in the game. I was back at the top of the game.  This time I was in the elevator going up and it was going to the top floor.  This was restoration and usually the only time it happens after a four- year gap is when some dictator seizes power in a
military junta after being exiled.  I know how the Phoenix feels, because I have risen from the ashes.  

I did have to wait over four months before actually starting the new position, which was a good thing.  The human psyche is also not designed to rise this far, this fast.  I needed time to mentally prepare.  I had been out of the industry for over four years.  How long would it take me to get back?  And then there was that horrible question that is so stupid and is the epitome of self-doubt: Can I ever get back? 

It turned out it took seven weeks of hard work to get “back”, however I am still striving to reach my previous high level of competency.  But after eight months, I love this job and this has been one of the best, most exciting, years of my life.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Even Jack Bauer Couldn’t Restore My Internet (Log On Another Day, Part 2)

In Part 1, my Internet was down as I started my work day at my home office. This caused a series of unfortunate events. I detailed, by the hour, my struggle to log on. Now in Part 2, I have just called my Internet provider’s “customer service” for help.

The following takes place between 11 a.m. and 12 p.m.

Customer Service: Hello, this is Katie. How may I help you today?

Me: (In the most serious, Jack Bauer like voice I can muster) Katie, I want you to listen very carefully because I’m only going to say this once.  The survival of my workday is in serious danger.  Unless you can connect me to the Internet immediately, important spreadsheets will not be created, essential documents will not be forwarded and critical reminder emails will not be sent. Do I make myself clear?

Customer Service: I’m so sorry Mr. Ake.  There has been a serious Internet outage and we are doing everything we can to restore service.

Me: Listen Katie, unless you hook up my Internet right now, I am going to have to break into your facility, get past your five security systems, injure several of your guards and plug the Internet back in with my bare hands.  Do you understand? 
Jack is upset because he has no Internet

Customer Service:  Ha, ha, Mr. Ake.  We should have your service restored very soon.  I will make sure you get an automated call as soon as the problem is fixed.

I conclude Katie is a stupid bitch.

The following takes place between 12 p.m. and 1 p.m.

I realize I may not get Internet at home today, so I call my technologically-advanced friend Tim to find out the best place to go for free Wi-Fi.  He suggests BW-3s. While this may appear legitimate, it is in effect a trap. 

I would be at 3-Dubs and just logging in when I know Tim would just conveniently show up and suggest I buy him some wings.  This would be fine except that Tim can devour an enormous amount of chicken wings.  Of course there would have to be mass quantities of beer consumed to put out the fire from the wings.  There would probably be showing women’s sand volleyball so I would be distracted by women shaking grains out of their cracks on the big screen in H.D.  My waitress would probably be some young buxom chic who would be all flirty-flirty because she wants what’s in my pants. And that would be my wallet, where I keep her tip.  

Yes, I would be able to log on, but my mission would be compromised.  I decide against it.

The following takes place between 1 p.m. and 2 p.m.

I leave for my lunch appointment.  Glad to be out of the house and away from the stress of not being able to connect to the Internet.

However, my associate doesn’t show up.  He was either shot on his way there by a Serbian assassin or he sent me an email cancelling the lunch meeting which I didn’t get because I HAVE NO INTERNET!  I would have called his cell phone except I didn’t have his number because it was in an e-mail that I couldn’t access because I have no #%&*@ing Internet.  

The following takes place between 2 p.m. and 3 p.m.

I return to my house and the light on the answering machine is blinking.  Maybe it is my Internet provider telling me that service has been restored.  With the anticipation of a young squire receiving a message from his lover, I push the button.  Hallelujah, the Internet has been restored.

I run up the stairs like the young squire being reunited with said lover after an exasperating separation. Feeling rapturous, I click the browser and, and, ……….. nothing. I still HAVE NO #$%!@#, NO #$@*&ING, INTERNET.

The message said that you should call tech service if your Internet wasn’t back up by now.  I call and am connected to a tech service representative named Kadeesh.  Kadeesh is very enthusiastic, understandable and polite, and we begin to tackle the issue.

First we reboot the modem. Click browser, fail. Then we reboot the router, click browser, fail. Reboot both at the same time, and then wait a minute. Click browser, fail.  Let’s shut down everything and then repeat everything again! Click, fail. Click, fail. Click, click,click , FAIL, FAIL, FAIL, @&*!@$%^# FAIL!

We do this for nearly an hour.  At some time during the process I started singing to myself in order to preserve my sanity:

You plug your modem in
You plug your modem out
You plug your modem in
And you click it all about
You do the netty getty
And you turn yourself around
That’s what it’s all about!

Just before our final attempt I think I hear Kadeesh mumbling to himself, “Theese eese bad, very, very, bad. Please werk, please werk.”

But it did not werk. Kadeesh is defeated.  He apologizes for his failure and tranfers me to Jim, the “Advanced Tech Service” agent.

The following takes place between 3 p.m. and 4 p.m.

Agent Jim starts off by telling me to reboot the modem. I have to keep from laughing.   I know the definition of insanity, but at this point I am already insane, so I comply.  Right now agent Jim is my best bet to restore my Internet, so I don’t complain.

And Agent Jim is more advanced than Kadeesh.  It took Kadeesh almost an hour to determine I was screwed, Agent Jim was able to realize this must faster.

After only 15 minutes of playing the Netty-Getty, Agent Jim (referring to the modem) declares, “Sometimes when you keep trying to turn her on, she just freezes up and you end up getting nothing.  Do you understand what I’m saying?”  I tell Jim I have been married for a long time and I understand completely.

Agent Jim says the modem needs replaced.  I can either have a technician come out and install it Monday afternoon (it is Thursday) or I can pick up the modem myself at the service center six minutes away.  I don’t need the Internet’s help to make this decision.

I drive to the center, but I keep watch for Serbian assassins who might be trying to prevent me from obtaining the new modem.  The service center handles all issues for the cable company, include billing issues.  The line is not long, but is moving slowly. I soon determine the problem.
At one counter the guy keeps saying “But I don’t owe this” to which the customer service rep keeps responding with “Yes you do”.  At another counter a very elderly lady is disputing her cable charge to which her rep replies, “But you haven’t had cable service since 2011.”    I would love to know what she has been viewing on her television for the last three years, the “Snow Channel" perhaps?

I am tempted to disarm and disable everyone in front of me in order to get my modem. But I don’t, however I am still keeping a keen eye out for Serbians. Maybe the old lady is actually an enemy agent providing a diversion. 

 I finally work my way up to the front of the line and get my modem. As I am walking out the door I hear one last time: “But I don’t owe that”, “Yes you do”. I wonder how long this will go on.

The following takes place between 4 p.m. and 5 p.m.

I arrive home with the new modem, but I have not eaten anything since breakfast.  I am tired, weak, and cranky.  The work day is nearly over.  I still have no #*!@ing Internet, but I am too tired to care. I eat two pieces of bread and collapse in defeat. I have lost my work day.
These women tried to reboot me!

The following takes place between 5 p.m. and 6 p.m.

Two beautiful Serbian women agents break into my house, have their way with me, and steal my modem. Oh sorry, that was just a dream. 

The following takes place between 6 p.m. and 7 p.m.

Dinner and some relaxation

The following takes place between 7 p.m. and 8 p.m.

Hook the 30 wires up correctly and reboot the modem and router.  It works, sort of.  Kadeesh would be proud of me.  However, now the phone service doesn’t reboot properly, requiring another 25-minute call to tech service.

I retrieve my e-mails for the day including the one at 10:30 a.m. from my associate saying he was canceling the lunch meeting.  I now have Internet, but I am exhausted.  I will have to log on another day.

Epilogue: I found out from my friend Scott (after he chastised me again for not having a smart phone) that the Internet actually went down just before midnight.  So it wasn’t exactly 24 hours without the Internet (20 if you’re counting), but it seemed like much longer than that. 

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Log On Another Day (I Have No Internet – Part 1)

The following takes place between 6 a.m. and 7 a.m.

I am up at my work computer earlier than usual.  I have much to do and a lunch meeting planned, so I want to get a fast start on the workday. I click the browser to open my e-mail program and … nothing.  I move across my home office to my personal computer and click that e-mail program and …. nothing.

Okay the Internet is down, minor inconvenience.  It usually only stays down 15 minutes max.  I’ll just do some other stuff and come back later.

The following takes place between 7 a.m. and 8 a.m.

Ate breakfast, read newspaper, productive meeting in the executive bathroom. 

This is the first time the Internet has gone down in the seven months I have been working at home.  My computer, I-Pad and business phone are all dependent on the Internet. I realize there is a serious problem if the Internet stays down for an extended time.

The following takes place between 8 a.m. and 9 a.m.

I return to the office, attempt to log on, … nothing.  Click the second browser on the work computer, … nothing. Spin back to the home computer, browser one, browser two, e-mail program – ….. nothing. 

Reboot work computer, reboot home computer, (rinse, repeat) fail, fail, fail, fail, fail.

Must have Internet, want Internet, need me some Internet, please give me Internet!

Text my boss to let him know that I do not have Internet; therefore I will be totally worthless until I do.

I then realize that when I am at work, the Internet gives me purpose. The Internet gives me power. The Internet sustains me. The Internet gives me pleasure.  In other words, from a business perspective the Internet is my god.

What it feels like to have no Internet!
Obviously the Internet was angry with me for that “funny” post about how nice it was to go without the Internet for three days.  And now the Internet is punishing me.  As my friend Paul would say, I am the Internet’s bitch. 

The following takes place between 9 a.m. and 10 a.m.

Time to try to log on again.  Work computer – no. Home computer – no. Reboot, retry, click, click, click, click, and click.  …… rejection.

Realize that I can start a writing assignment that does not require the Internet and begin typing, but I find it impossible to concentrate because I keep thing about not having the Internet.

Me need Internet. When will Internet be back?  Me miss you Internet, please come back.

There are old girlfriends that did not cause me this much anguish (are you reading this Cindy?)

I really needed the Internet now, so I devised a plan.  Maybe I could hack into a neighbor’s wireless network?  I look at the available networks. Unfortunately most of my neighbors’ networks are off, except for the older lady two doors up the street.  I know it is hers by using my espionage training.  The network is named “Catlady” and that woman owns several cats.

I know this is wrong, but this is a desperate situation.  I’m not really stealing the Internet, I’m just borrowing it.  And can you really steal it?  I bet this is how Edwin Snowden got started.  One day he hacked into his neighbor’s wireless network and the next day he was hacking secrets from the U.S. government.  But some people consider it him a hero, so if I can just figure out her password … 

Get your hands off my Internet!
I try every version of cat-related phrase that I can think of, even some that would be censored in a James Bond movie.  In this battle of Internet security, I have been defeated by the woman and her cats.  The old bitch has bested me.  And I still have no Internet.

                                                       The following takes place between 10 a.m. and 11 a.m.

Ah, the chance to actually do some productive work.  There is a “Go to Meeting” scheduled to discuss graphs for an important presentation.  I can call in using my cell phone and participate.

Boss: Let’s look at the two graphs under consideration; I’ll just bring them up on the screen.  As you can all see, except for Don who has no Internet, Jon’s graph looks so much better than Don’s graph so I think the choice is clear.

But Jon does terrible graphs. He uses pie graphs when he should be using bar graphs, and his choice of colors is horrendous. He is the worst graph maker in the history of PowerPoint.   

Me: But I don’t think Jon’s graph is very good. I think mine is much better.

Boss: Can you tell me exactly what is wrong with Jon’s graph?  I mean that is a very impressive pie graph and his use of those unique colors is sharp.

Me: Ah, eh, uh, uh ….

Boss: Great, then it’s settled.  We will go with Jon’s graph and totally scrap Don’s graph.  And Don, you should look into getting that Internet fixed.  You are losing valuable work time.

But I spent a lot of time on that graph.  I could fix it. I know I could. I just would need to use the … the …Internet, but I have no Internet. My Internet is down.

Click, click, click, …. Fail


The following takes place between 11 a.m. and 12 a.m.

I do what any man would do in this crisis situation, I complain to my wife.  She suggests that I call the service provider.  It seems pointless, but I have nothing else to do – BECAUSE I HAVE NO INTERNET.  I’ll just look up their number on the Int….  I’ll just look up their number in the freaking phone book the way cavemen used to do it.  But we have rearranged the kitchen and I can’t find the phonebook anywhere so I have to text my wife to get the number.

I call the service provider and get to listen to a commercial about “great new channel options”.  I don’t care about any cable channels; I only care about the Internet because I HAVE NO INTERNET!  I make it through all the menu options and then this:

“There is a major service outage in your area ….”

No $h!t Sherlock, I haven’t had Internet for over five hours!

“Press 1, if you are screwed”
“Press 2, if you are very screwed”
“Press 3, if you are so screwed, you can’t see straight”
“You can try pressing 4 through 9, but after you do, you will still be so screwed”
“Or press “0” if you would like to speak to a representative.

You bet I press “0”, because I have no &#$!*ing Internet!

(To be continued)

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Why Owls Are Better Than Viagra

I was busy working away at my computer in my home office early on a Tuesday, when suddenly …

Rat-tat-tat Rat-tat-tat Rat-tat-tat RAT-TAT-TAT-TAT-TAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAT!

What the heck is that? I thought.  The loud, mind-numbing, noise stopped for a while, but then periodically returned.

I looked out the window almost expecting to see a road worker with a jackhammer, but nothing.  A house up the street had recently advertised auto repairs and I thought it could be an air wrench.

The noise stopped later in the morning and I could finally work in peace.  But the next morning, about the same time, Rat-tat-tat Rat-tat-tat Rat-tat-tat RAT-TAT-TAT-TAT-TAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAT!

This time it sounded as if the noise was coming from right above me.  I ran outside, but as soon as I got to the corner of the house the noise suddenly stopped.   I repeated this process several times that morning. However as soon as I got to the same spot, silence.  Something evil was happening on my roof, but what?

The next morning the racket returned eerily about the same time.  But this time I quietly slipped out the door at the other end of the house and moved stealthily like a ninja (okay like a tall, fat, middle-aged, ninja) and approached the roof from the other side of the house. It was then I caught the culprit red-handed. Or should I say I caught him red-headed?  Sitting right above my window was a red-headed woodpecker, pecking the hell out of my roof.  I made eye contact with the bird.  He looked angry, but not as angry as I was.

Stupid pecker. Stupid, stupid pecker, I thought. 

The morning peckings continued.   It was very difficult to work with the pecker frequently going Rat-tat-tat Rat-tat-tat Rat-tat-tat RAT-TAT-TAT-TAT-TAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAT! right above my head at random times every morning.

Stupid, stupid, pecker!
This was ironic.  For many years I had to deal will stupid peckers at work.  Some of these peckers had the title of director, some of them vice president, and yes, some of them I even called “boss”.  Now I was not in an office, I was working from home, and I still had to deal with a stupid pecker.
But why was this stupid pecker hammering on my roof every morning?  Of course I complained to my wife about it.

“I know why the woodpecker is doing this”, she explained. “He’s mad because you stopped feeding him”.

I initially thought this was ridiculous.  Who is she, the bird whisperer?

I had been putting corn, seeds and nuts out for the birds and squirrels during the brutal winter.  This had attracted a significant number of cardinals, blue jays and yes, woodpeckers to my deck.  The power pecking had begun the week after I had stopped the daily, morning, feeding.  The racket always started just about the time I put the feed out and the birds would show up for breakfast.  Somehow that hungry pecker had figured out the exact spot in the house where I worked and was pounding the hell out of the roof right above me.

This wasn’t a stupid pecker!  This was a nasty, intelligent, savant-type of pecker and boy was he pissed at me!  This was equivalent of an angry customer pounding his fist on the counter.  I was playing a real life version of Angry Birds.

I was not about to give into this pecker intimidation and resume the feedings, but the morning peckings continued.  This was until the stupid pecker let loose early one Saturday morning awakening my wife.  Like many problems in my home, they persist until my wife gets upset and then things happen.  That afternoon she went shopping and returned with two large, expensive, fake, plastic owls which were intended to scare away the woodpecker. She placed the owls at opposite ends of the house.

I thought this was the most stupid idea ever.  I was not happy about it at all. This pecker was surely smart enough not to be fooled by ridiculous fake owls.  But very soon after that, the peckings stopped. 
Owls scare the hell out of nasty peckers!

So what did I learn?

Woodpeckers hate owls

Owls dominate woodpeckers

Stupid peckers, wise owls

Stupid husband, smart wife.

If only I would have known about this sooner, I would have gladly taken an owl to work with me to scare away all those nasty peckers I encountered over all these years.

And so concludes the story of how my wife getting two large fake plastic hooters took care of my pecker problem.