Friday, February 23, 2007

Lost in the Delta Quadrant

I've been watching Star Trek Voyager lately.

Back in 1999 when my marriage fell apart because my wife was having an affair, I used to come home from work every day and watch Star Trek Voyager. I was doing mornings at the time and going through the most painful episode of my life at the same time. It's hard enough to go through a divorce and maintain a pleasant demeanor at work but when your job is to be funny and cheerful on the radio every day, it's brutal. I would get home from work every day around 11 o'clock, make something to eat, and turn on Star Trek Voyager. It was a mindless thing for me to watch while my mind raced trying to figure out what had happened and how to prevent it from ever happening again.

Now, here it is eight years later. I watch Star Trek Voyager just about every day. It's an odd sort of comfort to me to watch the show because it reminds me of that time in my life and at the same time reminds me that I survived it and have a life now that is far beyond anything I ever hoped for. I never dreamed I would have the kind of life that I have now, not because I felt it was beyond my grasp but because I never imagined it was a life that I would enjoy. I own two businesses, I have a dozen employees and I'm a stay-at-home dad. These are not things that I ever aspired to. It's way more responsibility then I ever wanted in my life. And yet, this is my life.

Today I was standing at the counter making lunch for Sam and Mac and Sam was singing a song to me that she was making up as she went along. I started showing her my Elvis moves and trying to get her to copy me. She was laughing and flailing her arms around while Mac, sitting in her high chair, giggled and clapped. A few minutes earlier, when I had gotten Mac up from her nap, we had danced a little. Mac and I like to do the tango. We strut back and forth across the room... there's lots of dipping and lots of laughing. When I think back to that time eight years ago.... who I was.... what I was going through... I wish that I could reach out to that person and give him just a small piece of the joy that I feel on a daily basis in this life with this family that I love. If he had only known what was coming, maybe he wouldn't have needed Star Trek Voyager.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

With friends like these....

Having spent most of my life in radio and clubs, I have worked with a lot of unique people. You tend to get a different sort of friend in the entertainment business than you do, say, in the Title Insurance business. Case in point, this excerpt from an email I received yesterday:

That dude called last night after nearly a year of phone tag. Mostly on his part. He and his wife had dinner at Roy’s. I told him that Julie and I had dinner there with the Perry’s a few years ago and that we had a blast.

Of course, I had a couple of Barbancourt’s before dinner so I was feeling a bit ornery. He told me that he saw your sister at the Sarasota Faire a while back. I asked if she had mentioned all of your children. Jef asked “all”? I said yeah, they have the two little girls and the new boy. Then I mentioned that the little boy was VERY dark, not quite black but definitely south of the border. He was buying the whole thing. He asked how that could have happened and I explained that it more than likely had something to do with one of Bobbi’s trips to the islands.

So just in case you ever talk to him, you can be prepared to describe the child with the name of your choice.

Another satisfied customer

I was taking a shower this morning and scrubbing down with one of those scrunchy sponge things on the end of a stick when the stick snapped in half. Seriously, how hard do you have to be scrubbing your own ass to break the stick in half?
But that's not what I want to talk about.
I'm in the process of buying a new car. I decided to buy a Ford Expedition because it's time for me and my family to join the ranks of people driving vehicles that are just way to big. Listen, I spent about three weeks researching every mid sized vehicle I could find and the bottom line is none of them have a third row seat that will hold a person taller than a midget. And it would have to be a short midget. In the world of midgets this guy would have to be Danny DeVito. So I'm buying the family truckster and the next time I buy a Christmas tree it's going inside the car instead of on the roof. We don't buy Christmas trees anymore, we have a very nice artificial tree, but that's not the point. If I wanted to, I could stuff the sucker inside the car.
Before you start preaching about wasting gas, I think I have made my feelings known on that subject before. If the government won't get off it's ass and mandate higher gas mileage standards or make high mileage cars tax-deductible then don't expect me to carry the torch. Also, don't give me a hard time for driving a high mileage vehicle when you drive 30 minutes to work every day. Everybody I know uses more gas than I do no matter what the gas mileage of the car I drive, so suck it.
Anyway, I'm buying my car from the Internet sales guy at the Ford dealership. I actually went into the store and had a salesman take me for a test drive but I refuse to let him make a commission off of my purchase. My rule is this: if you don't know how to make the seats fold, you don't get to sell me a car. I am so sick of talking to salesmen who know less about the car than I do because I have taken the extraordinary step of reading about the car for 10 minutes on the Internet.
I actually had to order my car from Ford because they couldn't find one in dealer inventory that specifically matched what I want. After I ordered the car, the salesman said it would take six to eight weeks for it to arrive and that he would call me every Monday to check in. Two Monday's passed before I finally called the dealership. My salesman wasn't available, but a very nice woman was and she apologized for the fact that he had not called me and gave me some excuses about being sick and bad peanut butter affecting the staff.
The next day I called again and got his voicemail which was confusing because the outgoing message said that it was someone else's voice mail. So I called back and asked if they had sent me to the right person and was told "Yes, he probably just hasn't changed the outgoing message yet." Now, it had been 10 days since he had ordered my car so I know that he's worked there at least 11 days.
A few hours later I called again. I was finally able to get him on the phone and he asked if I had received the fax that he sent me.
"No, the fax number you have is for my wife's office," I said.
"Oh... Do you have e-mail?"
"Yes I do."
"I'll e-mail it to you again."
30 minutes later I called him again.
"I haven't received an e-mail," I said.
"Oh, we're having some problems with that computer, I'll send it from a different computer."
Finally, I received it. It contained information on a car he had found that he hoped would satisfy me. This would enable me to get my car sooner. I called him back.
'I can't believe you wasted my time with this," I said, "This car has options that I don't want."
"Oh, that's right, you don't want the navigation system."
"No I don't."
"But you're flexible on the liftgate, right?"
"No, I'm not flexible on anything. As I told you when we were sitting in your office I want everything in this car that I asked for and I don't want anything in his car that I haven't asked for. The only thing I am flexible on is the moon roof. If you can find this exact car with a moon roof, I'll buy it even though I could care less about the moon roof."
"Let me write that down."
"Why do you have to write it down? Can't you just look at the computer printout of the car that you ordered for me? I'm looking at it right now."
"Well, I don't have it in front of me."
He then proceeded to ask me about what options I wanted on the car despite the fact that I had already given him all of this information and he had in fact already ordered the car from Ford.
"I'm just curious," I said, "When will you have some idea of when my car will arrive?"
"Well, I have already received the build order and usually we get a car about three weeks after we get the build order." We chatted for a view more minutes and I hung up the phone.
Now, if you've managed to read this far I'm going to tell you how things should be:
The salesman at your car dealership should know how to fold down the seats in the back of the car. He should know what options come with the DVD navigation system. He should know that there is a cool little rack device in the back of the car that can be moved into three different positions making the car more useful.
You should avoid sending a customer to voicemail at all costs but if it is necessary, make sure that the outgoing message on the voicemail is from the person they are trying to contact.
If you tell someone you're going to call them every Monday, call them every Monday.
If you are having trouble with the email on a computer, don't use that computer for email until you have fixed the problem.
If a customer special orders a vehicle because he wants it a certain way do not waste his time by trying to sell him cars that do not match the order he put in.
If you tell a customer that his car will take six weeks to arrive and then you discover that it will actually be arriving few weeks early, that's the sort of information that he would like to hear. It will make him happy. Perhaps you could tell him that during one of the quick weekly phone calls you promised to make. In fact, lead with that: "Hello Booray, this is Jerry at the Ford dealership. The bad news is that I haven't been able to locate a car that matchs the one you ordered but the good news is that your car is going to be here earlier than expected. I'll check in again next week. Bye!" Actually, you don't have to call, you could just send an email. After all, you are in Internet sales.
I just wanted to get that off my chest.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

She's in charge

Sam has a little blue easy chair that my parents bought her for Christmas and it sits in the toy room. Whenever Bobbi goes into the toy room to watch the kids play she sits in the chair. The other day Sam approached her while she was sitting there and said,
"Mama, I want to sit in the big chair and play guitar."
"Mama is sitting in a chair right now." Bobbi said.
"Sweetheart," Sam replied, "Sometimes Sam wants to sit in the chair and Mama just needs to sit on the floor."
You can't argue with that.

Friday, February 16, 2007

Conversation with my wife

This post has been deleted because I made fun of someone I'm not allowed to make fun of.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

That's not a good reason

I've been writing the Boolog for some time now and as a result I can no longer remember what I've written. So, from time to time, it's possible that I will repeat myself. I feel like I might have written this before and if I have I'm sorry. But it bears saying again.

Last night on the news they were showing the House of Representatives debating a resolution condemning sending more troops to Iraq. As is the usual case in this debate someone stood up and said, "To not finish what we started over there would dishonor the memory of all those who have died fighting in the war."

I understand the feeling that you don't want the men and women who serve in our Armed Forces to have given their lives in vain. However, when it comes to dishonoring the memory of fallen soldiers I think that the ultimate authority on this issue lies with the families of the soldiers themselves. I feel confident that anyone who has suffered the unimaginable pain of losing a loved one in war has no desire to see that pain visit another American family. They alone know the true cost of this war and I think they would tell you that "honor" is small compensation for the loss of someone you love.

So, if you want to make an argument for us continuing to fight in Iraq that's fine. But let's leave "honor" out of it.

Monday, February 12, 2007

Random Thoughts

Am I the only person who has ever gone into Waldenbooks and bought two autobiographies: Bob Newhart and Ron Jeremy?

Friday night on the way to dinner, Bobbi and I saw a man on the side of the road with a sign that read: Valentine's Day Turtles. I'm not sure which is funnier: the thought that there is someone out there who would buy a turtle for a woman on Valentine's day or the fact that the man selling the turtles thinks he will sell more of them if he bills them as Valentine's Day Turtles.

When you go out to eat and you have a small baby in a high chair you don't get to use the entire table in front of you. About one third of the table, the section in front of the baby, has to be completely free of anything that the baby might grab and stick in their mouth. It's like a little baby demilitarized zone. The 38th parallel of restaurant dining. The "No Fly Zone" of eating out.

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Not to be confused with NCC--1701D.

If you watched "Heroes" on Monday night and then you saw George Takei in a cameo. If you don't know who George Takei is, I'm not going to tell you, and you can just stop reading right now.

Anyway, at the end of the scene George got into a waiting town car. The license plate number on the town car was: NCC--1701.

If you don't know why that's cool, you really should have stopped reading two paragraphs ago.

Is it premarital sex if you're alone?

There was a story on the news last night about a problem down in Texas. It seems the governor has done an end-around the legislation and has prescribed that all girls must get the new HPV vaccine. I wrote about the HPV vaccine in a previous blog post when it was suspected that conservatives would balk at the idea of giving their daughters a vaccine that prevents them from getting a sexually transmitted disease. HPV often leads to cervical cancer and so, basically, it's a cancer vaccine. Preventing HPV just happens to be the best way to prevent the cancer.

Anyway, it struck me as odd that the governor of Texas of all places would be the one mandating that girls take this vaccine. This is the same state that tried to legislate cheerleader uniforms a couple of years ago. Then I discovered that the governor has had big contributions from Murck, the company that makes the vaccine and it all started to fall into place.

Still, the question remains, should the government be able to mandate that you vaccinate your children with this vaccine? While it's true that we vaccinate our children at a very early age, I really don't think it's mandatory. I could be wrong. Anyway, there are some parents in Texas who don't like being forced to vaccinate their children against a sexually transmitted disease. They think it will lead to more promiscuity. You're allowed to make this argument if you yourself were a virgin when you got married, otherwise, shut the hell up. I had sex before marriage, my wife had sex before marriage, every person I know had sex before marriage, and for you to think that your children won't do the same is the height of idiocy. So, good luck with that. Seriously, are you so afraid of your children having sex that you're willing to hold the threat of death over their head as a motivation to get them to do what you say? Really?

Guitar Hero

My old friend Mark sent me an e-mail a while back in which he talked about spending the evening playing a game called "Guitar Hero" with his family. He said it was the most fun he had had in a long time and that it was hilarious to watching his two small sons tried to play these classic guitar songs. I had heard of the game before but never actually played it.

Then, last week in Newsweek, there was a story about the game. It talked about how addictive it was and how so many people were playing it (including real-life guitarists). In fact, it said, the guitarist for the Bare Naked Ladies had once been late on stage because he was playing the game on the tour bus.

So I decided to give it a try.

The game comes with a custom controller that is shaped like a guitar. There are buttons on the fretboard for your left-hand and a special toggle for your right hand. Basically, a song is played on the screen and you have to press the buttons and move the toggle as if you were playing the guitar at just the right point. I tried a couple of songs and I thought to myself, "Yeah, this is pretty cool."

Then, I loaded up "Smoke On The Water" by Deep Purple.

Well, needless to say, once you find yourself playing one of the most recognizable rock guitar riffs of all time (I'd say it's tied with "Layla") you instantly see just how great this game is, which is surprising when you consider that I actually know how to play the guitar.

So, if you ever spent hours in your room playing air guitar, I would highly recommend heading down to your local video store and buying a used PlayStation and Guitar Hero.

Sunday, February 04, 2007

Random stuff

Enough fooling around, let's get right down to the random goodness:

I'm about to buy a new car, which to me is like saying, "I'm about to poke myself in the eye with a sharp stick." I finally made my decision but I will withhold that information for the time being because after weeks of deliberation it's very possible that I will change my mind in the next 10 minutes. Don't worry, when I finally pulled the trigger I will post pictures of the new hotness.

Here are a few things I have learned while shopping for a new car:

If you spend 10 minutes reading about the car on the company website you will probably know more about it than the person who is attempting to sell it to you at the dealership.

It's possible to design a $60,000 car and still put the cup holders in a position where your Big Gulp will block the radio controls. Try not to brag about the cup holders.

Burn this into your brain people: the controls on your steering wheel that operate the radio should be on the left side.

There's no such thing as a midsize SUV with a functional third row seat, unless you're a leprechaun or Prince.

Which brings up another point: Who was the genius at CBS who decided to let Prince do the halftime show at the Super Bowl a mere two years after being fined millions of dollars for the Janet Jackson costume malfunction? When you're watching the game with your kids, there is nothing more entertaining than watching Prince make a 50 foot shadow puppet of himself jacking off. Family entertainment at its finest.

And while we're on the subject of the Super Bowl, please, for the love of God, all you people sitting in the stands and firing off your flash cameras from 300 feet away during the halftime show need to stop. There are professional photographers on the field and they are using cameras with foot long lenses. You are not going to get a usable picture with your $200 Canon Sure Shot and built-in-flash.

I'm thinking of buying a PlayStation 2 just so I can play Guitar Hero.

Thursday, February 01, 2007

Quite simply, the coolest thing I have seen in a while...

The crack investigative team at Publix

At the grocery store yesterday, I paid with my American Express card. The cashier asked to see my card, and then she looked at the back to make sure that I had signed it. After I signed the receipt, she put it in the drawer without looking at it.

Why did she look at my card?

If my card was stolen and I had signed it then it would be necessary to compare the signature on the back of the card to the one on the receipt to see if they match. If I had not signed the back of my card than the person who stole it would have signed it himself, in which case the signatures would have matched so it would have been necessary to check my I.D. To make sure that I was in fact the person whose name was on the card. However, neither of these two things happened. In fact, they never happen.

I can't tell you how many times I give a credit card to a person in a store and they look at the back and never look at the receipt to see if my signature matches. The whole point of signing your credit card is so that if it's stolen the person who steals it will not be able to match the signature on the card. I don't care if you're not going to check the signatures to see if they match but please don't be so stupid as to ask to see my card and then not at least verify the signature.
Seriously, how stupid to they think a credit card theif is? "Hmmmm, let's see, this card belongs to Mr. Perry and the signature on the back is... Bob Smith! Oh my god, you're not Mr. Perry! This card is stolen!"

It bugs me every time.


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