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Speakeasy, acid

I forgot to mention this, but Speakeasy tried to screw me out of $200 while I was on vacation, and of course I found out about it when my phone and internet were destroyed last weekend. See, a little while ago, they offered to switch me from a straight-up connection to a linesharing connection, and the two things that made me hesitant were the startup costs, and the fact that if something ever happened to my phone, I would also lose my internet connection. They got me to pay $200 in startup equipment costs at a time when I was saving every penny for vacation and eating easy mac for lunch and dinner because I really needed the money, by promising me a refund on all of the equipment costs. I got screwed on that. And the second point, well within a month or so, I did lose both phone and internet in one swoop, probably because the geniuses at Verizon got a disconnect order on the old straight-up line and he accidentally disconnected both because as he was leaning over the frame rack, he was smoking crack, bumped his arm and it disconnected both lines. That’s my theory anyway.

The rebate signup page reminded me a lot of the old Juno DSL rebate page, which I think got customer complaints at a ratio of maybe 1 to 1. I filled everything out, and I think they said they would pay me back in 8 to 263 weeks. That really pissed me off, as I thought maybe I could get a check before xmas and spend it on presents, or at least buy myself like four or five of the new Criterion DVDs that are out. So I get back from vacation last week and find a postcard in my mailbox that says “the address submitted on your rebate form did not match your DSL service address.” So if my rebate address is so wrong, why the hell did they send me a card there? Of course, it’s addressed to John Kenroth and they omitted the hyphen and changed the Street to ST and the apartment # to apt# or some other shit that is obviously going to break a diff script or whatever.

In all fairness, I shouldn’t blame Speakeasy. I have had accounts there since 1996, and although they’ve had some fuckups over time, they have also been fairly cool, both at the larger corporate level and at the tech support level. Also, from my experience at Juno, I know that they probably don’t personally handle these rebates. They probably hired some fulfillment center with an office in Delaware or whatever who they subcontracts all of the postcard sorting and data entry and complaint hotline answering. Back when I was at Juno, they mostly farmed this stuff out to high-security prisons, mostly because of a lack of organized child labor in this country. Who knows what they do now.

I managed to call someone a couple of days ago, and he managed to get my shit straight, and said I’d get a check to me in two weeks. I’ll hopefully have that money in my hands before I go to Vegas in January, so I can rent a fast car, some automatic weapons, and lots of ammunition. End of story.

I bought another quart of sulfuric acid and dumped it down my tub drain yesterday. That shit works wonders – I know how I’m getting rid of any bodies The Cleaner-style if it ever comes to that (and I don’t have any quicklime.) A quick aside, speaking of John Wayne Gacy – does anyone remember how the Blimpie’s in Bloomington had that weird, animated clown statue in the front window that looked exactly like JWG? I remember driving by there at night, and this animatronic killer clown was sitting in the shadows, and it always used to be really freaky. That’s my only Blimpie’s story, although everyone in my office has a better one: back when we used to be temporarily located in a bunch of apartments near Penn Station, a bunch of people from the office went to lunch at Blimpie’s, and everyone got totally, completely, shitting-blood-and-praying-to-die food poisoned there. So Blimpie’s isn’t a good word around the company. Anyway, the acid – a while ago, I went to this local hardware store and asked if they had any Drano or Liquid Plumber in like a gallon size, or something cheaper than the grocery store, where it’s like ten bucks a pint and you need to buy like 13 of them to clean even a slow drain. So the dude looks around, pulls down a shade over the front window, and asks, “Are you a cop?” and I say, “no dude, I just want some liquid plumber!” And he knocks me on the floor, and starts checking my jacket, and yelling, “ARE YOU A FUCKING COP? ARE YOU WEARING A WIRE, YOU MOTHERFUCKER?” And I’m screaming, “No! Get the fuck off of me!” So he goes back behind the counter, and says “Okay, check this shit out…” and pulls out a bottle with more warnings and disclaimers on it than a nuclear warhead in California. “You ever see this shit before?” he asks. “No, what is it?” And he’s like “Forget it man, maybe you should go to the Key Foods and buy more foaming Drano.” And I’m like “No dude, let me have it! Nothing else works.” And he’s like, “Okay here’s what you do. You don’t have a weak heart or anything, do you? Anyway, put on some goggles and gloves and a rubber suit. Then open this shit with a knife, and then throw away the knife, but not in your own trash can, or it will eat through it – put it in your neighbor’s can at like three in the morning. Then pour it all in the drain, and run like a motherfucker to the subway and get on a train and don’t come back to your house for like three days. AND DON’T TELL ANYONE YOU BOUGHT IT HERE!”

So anyway, I got some of that acid, and my drain is still slow.

And yes, I am going to Las Vegas in January for my birthday. I think it will be me, Bill Perry, Lon Tierney, maybe Todd Duffin unless he pusses out again, and maybe some other Aventail people I don’t know. So once again, if you are also interested in dropping in, let me know…

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There has to be a better way to wash dishes

Jesus, I hate washing dishes. There has to be a better way. And don’t tell me “a dishwasher,” because I had a dishwasher in Seattle, and I had to wait until I had a full sink of dishes before I ran it, and then it ran like as loud as a god damned Harley with straight pipes for an hour and a half straight, and I spent just as long rinsing off the dishes before I put them in, and then half the time I had to rinse them before I put them away because they reeked of lemony fresh calgon scent or whatever the shit was, and all of that water and energy was wasted and it would have been easier just to hand wash the god damned things. What I’m looking for is a machine where you just put the plates right in it, and it blasts away everything, like the kind of machine you use to take the paint off of car parts before you chrome or paint them.

Okay, here’s the deal. And don’t screw with me about this, because for six weeks, I washed the god damned dishes at Columbo’s in Elkhart, and I spent about a semester cleaning the shit off of dishes at the Collins lunchroom when I was in college. So I’m a professional here. Anyway, I only have one sink. And the usual procedure is that I stack up plates in the sink until I have completely run out of plates. At that point, because I have like 16 or 20 sets of Faberware, the stack of plates has like the Swamp Thing growing on it, with all sorts of slime trails and other growths that a god damned biologist could write a thesis on. Then I get out one of those little things with the sponge and the handle and the dish soap in the handle, and I wash like one or two plates when I get some delivery food, then throw them back on the pile when I get done eating. So it’s like a stack in computer programming jargon, which means the bottom plates are fused to each other like some sort of natural cement, like what some ancient Indian tribe would use to build a fort or a pyramid or something. Plus the stupid handle always leaks the soap all over the place between uses, so a bottle of Dawn washes like four plates total, and costs like $6.79. (I know it costs like a dollar out in Indiana at Kroger, but you have to realize that the stupid, tiny, piece of shit grocery stores here overcharge you on everything and only have the smallest size possible, and like no variety, so like out there you probably have 863 different flavors of Dawn with various antibacteria, antivirus, antigrease, antifood, anticarb, or whatever else, and we only have the old-school blue shit.) Also, the sponge tore off of the handle, and now I will have to buy a new handle and a new set of sponges, since there is no compatability between sponges and handles, because why would there be when we still have a little bit of room in landfills.

So here’s a system for washing dishes the old-school way. Sink A has the dirty dishes, with hot water and dish soap. Sink B is clean and is the “rinse” sink. Then there is a strainer, where you dry them. You soak and scrub the shit in A, then move it to B and queue up a bunch of stuff there. Then when A is done or B is full, you rinse off the items and put them in the strainer thing to dry. Easy enough, right? I used this method at the horrible Italian restaurant, and it worked fine (although sometimes on Saturday nights, me and the other guy John used to have contests to see who could go the longest without changing their water in sink A, because you’re continually adding new dishes to A, unlike your situation in a domestic environment, because unless you have a fuck of a lot of dishes, sink A is like a one-shot deal. Anyway, we’d go for hours, and sink A would look like the Exxon Valdez crashed in it, with oil slicks and chunks of pizza crust and pasta and cigarette butts and who knows what floating in it.)

Well, I DON’T HAVE TWO SINKS. So here is my system. Sink A: water, some dirty dishes, soap. Then a wash tub as sink B. I can stack stuff in there, but I can’t rinse into it, as it doesn’t have a sink or drain or whatever. So I stack everything in there that is cleaned but not rinsed. Then I take it all out, one at a time, and rinse it as I am overflowing sink A and water is going all over the floor and flooding my kitchen, unless I pull the plug and lower the water level and dilute the soap in A. So it works better with less shit in A, and all of those dishes stacked on the floor and the stove and the living room and whatever else. So I did this for a while, and it sort of worked, but I only got like three plates cleaned and then all of the bowls and silverware and stuff. Tomorrow, I will put away all of the shit, and then start over.

I bought a box of brandy cherries from the discount wholesaler store, which is right below where I work. They were horrific. They tasted like they were filled with kerosene. I ate one, and even the faint thought of it makes me want to go hurl chunks. I am never, ever eating another alcohol-based confection again in my life. I am also never drinking any hard liquor again in my life, as I overheard a completely stupid conversation today about the merits of hard liquor because of its lack of carbs. I realize I do not eat that healthy of a diet, but I am hoping to improve it to the point where in ten years, I will be fairly healthy at the same time that everyone who was preaching Atkins is on an organ donor wait list.

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Sadaam is back, and so am I

Sadaam is back, and so am I. I, however, feel a lot worse than he looks. I’m still trying to kick the last remains of whatever I caught from that flu shot, and a week in Indiana didn’t exactly help me shake it. I got back last night at about 8:00, and found that my phone and DSL service were tits-up, and I didn’t even have a dialtone. I suspected either that Verizon had randomly disconnected my service, or my stupid fucking landlord decided to snip some copper pairs in the basement and sell them on the black market or something. After a week of getting by with my Sidekick, I was looking forward to some real web browsing and email catchup, but no dice.

Verizon got a guy out to the house at about 10:00 this morning, and he had to go through the usual bullshit shuffle because out landlord doesn’t have a super (which is against the law) and the phone closet was locked. After a few hours, the repair guy got in there and determined the problem was in the CO, and the pair was fine at my place. He phoned it in, and within an hour or so, I had service again.

So about the trip… the whole thing was very subdued, and I didn’t really do a lot, so there is no trip report and there are no photos. I did see all of my family, see both of my sisters’ new houses, and hang out at Ray’s place. Elkhart in general hasn’t really changed much, at least in my view. Some stores are new, and some buildings have been built, but I had an incredible sense of deja vu for most of the trip. So much of the scenery reminded me of my time driving around Elkhart and South Bend in 1990, 1991. I had this incredible nostalgia, this feeling a step above depression but still a strong pull back into the past. I did not like the year of college I spent in that town, but I wished I was still in that timeframe, maybe so I still had the friends, the job, the old favorite restaurants and hangouts to return to. Being there without any of those things made it all seem like a huge daydream to me, and very unsatisfying.

I also had mixed feelings because everyone had houses, new houses with full basements and spare bedrooms and giant kitchens and lots of closets and driveways and garages, and here I am in a tiny one-bedroom apartment overrun with DVDs and books. When I see this, it makes me wish I could settle down into 2000 square feet and a decent mortgage. But there’s no way I’ll find that in New York for under a half a mil, and there’s no way I could move back to Elkhart. If I could keep my current salary, and keep my current DSL connection, and have a house, and find the perfect woman there, I would move back. But those are four things I don’t think will happen in Elkhart.

I read a big chunk of Summer Rain while I was gone and decided that while I still like the book, it would be a waste of time to try to correct or reissue it. I really need to write another new book, and it won’t be some straightforward, sappy, nostalgic thing. It needs to be Rumored to Exist times two. I don’t know beyond that what it will be, though.

Okay, it is almost 6:00 and I have not eaten all day, so either I need to stall a bit, or think about an early dinner…

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don’t ever get a flu shot

I was supposed to fly to South Bend this afternoon. Adding to the stress of this family visit was the fact that I’d been sick all fucking week due to the stupid flu shot. DON’T GET A FLU SHOT. EVER. Especially don’t get one if you have an immune system already deeply weakened by the fact that I drink a lot of Coke, don’t eat right, and don’t happen to be a marathon runner or mountain climber like everyone else in my office. I’m not going to lay out any kind of ¬†conspiracy about the shots or anything, it’s just that the dead flu stuff got on top of me quickly, or maybe they just took out my defenses and I got infected by some other thing. Either way, I spent all week completely laid out by some kind of fast-acting and brutal flu or viral infection or something. Leaving the house and trying to breathe the air during my quick run to the subway made my chest feel like I was breathing pure kerosene. Sleep helped a lot, but you can only sleep so many hours a day, especially with the whole job thing. I went to a doctor to see if it was maybe some Chernobyl strep throat, but after a swab, he said it was viral. As of today, I’m slowly getting better, but it’s not done yet. I had to cancel a date on Friday which really, really pissed me off, and on Thursday I thought it would be even money that I’d have to cancel the whole trip and spend the week in bed.

So I was sick, and to add to that the fact that organizing anything with my family is like trying to organize a labor dispute between the Teamsters and the WTO or something, and every 7 seconds, I was getting another phone call from another random person wanting to know the obvious. And then, to spice up the whole thing even more, it started snowing.

First, let me say that New Yorkers are horrible when it comes to snow. Yesterday, the stuff was barely coming down, and the ground had the consistency of a Slurpee you left in your car for a few hours in July, and people are running to the grocery store to buy like ten loaves of bread and a few gallons of milk. Why do people buy so much bread and milk? How much do you go through in a weekend? Are they starting a bootleg french toast restaurant? You’d think these Atkins-obsessed health freaks would be buying power bars and backs of bacon or something. Anyway, the stuff was barely dusting down, and people were abandoning their Hummer H2s on Houston or something because they were “snowed in.” Anyway, all day people were giving me shit about how I would miss my flight, and I ignored them, or at least tried to.

I woke up this morning: flight cancelled. I spent about an hour on hold with Delta, hoping they wouldn’t pull some bullshit and say my ticket would not be reassignable and I’d have to pay $27,000 for a new ticket to leave within the next month. Finally, I got an agent, and she was nice enough to push me to a flight that left at 7:00 tonight. So I was happy, it didn’t cost anything, and I went back to bed.

So I woke up at about 2:00, and guess what? That flight got cancelled too. After another hour on hold, I ended up getting on the first flight back I could get, which is… MONDAY. So I get two days trimmed from the vacation, and we have to reschedule christmas, maybe to Wednesday. On the plus side, I get to hide in my apartment and have some time alone to get over this death sickness, and maybe if I feel better, I can reschedule the date for tomorrow.

BTW, the whole low-sodium new diet thing did not work out. It’s impossible to keep on any kind of diet when you’re sick and all you want to eat is soup and grilled cheese. I’ve been reading more about low sodium stuff, and it’s all very depressing. It’s amazing how so much stuff can have sodium in it, even if you don’t know it. I’ll worry more about this when I get back from this trip.

OK, now it’s time to relax…

[Also, please ignore my stupid advice and get a flu shot.]