About me

Monday, February 28, 2011

Temptation at work

So I go to not fetch coffee because I'm sleepy and the other peeps beat me to the kitchen. I started a fresh pot, turned around, and saw this agent of evil. Get thee behind me, Satan.

Sometimes we get lucky

Lucky with the weather, at least. Here at the end of February, we had an afternoon worthy of the lake, at least while the sun was out. 80. Mostly sunny. Lightly breezy. About right.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Chili on the horizon

Food Lion had a small mountain of ground turkey going out of date. That means it's extra good, and it all came home with me. Most of it will find it's way to the freezer, but one pack is destined for late season chilli. Yeah, it's already smelling right.

I have a measuring cup

I found this cup while rooting about in the car trunk. It's from my grandmother's kitchen. That she might have once used it will never be known. If she ever did, I never saw the evidence. More likely, my grandfather, more commonly called "papa," used the cup when he milked the goat.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

February's collaboration

February's installment of the Moon Project is up. You'll find it here.

My anticipation when this project started was that some fresh writing would occur. So far, each of the two moons has left me deep in reflection, often following an unexpected something that captures my attention. More like demands my attention. No compromise. No alternative.

I can report that the world appears no better, so far, for this endeavor. However, this world no better is, at least for me, somewhat easier to take now, and I'll attribute that, at least in part, to the association with Diana's creative spirit.

OK, Shannon's unwavering editorial truth telling helps too.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Fast food barbeque

Yeah, we went to Smithfield's for lunch today. Fast food barbeque. This means a bag of skins returns to work for peep snacks. The non-natives do so enjoy finding that bag in the kitchen.

My hint at work

Monday on a Tuesday after a long weekend. Fetch my coffee. What do I see even before the pot? Doom and despair so early in the week.

Sometimes, just sometimes, it works out

AT 11:56 last night, Virgin Mobile came through with a working phone. Of course, I was asleep then, and no, I didn't get up at 4 AM, though I tried, once, a little.

What's that saying about being asleep when opportunity knocks?

I suspect this experience was business as usual. There's no reason to think that someone moved heaven and earth to make my phone work. More likely, number ports are placed in a queue, and the work progresses from there with a litany of excuses provided to customer service to placate people like me. The list is certainly cheaper than real action, and I do recognize that a company is not going to make me special (much) for $60. That company should, however, consider being more transparent. That way, a consumer could make an informed decision, and happier customers, even if they're not getting what they want on demand, make for a more profitable company.

Note to Virgin Mobile: Think Zappos. There's a reason I pay Zappos 10% more for shoes that I could buy elsewhere.

One odd thing did happen when I called AT&T regarding where my number was. They told me the number had been released back towards noon, which would be about right. What they didn't ask is why I was leaving. Do you suppose they'll continue to send me letters about receiving a new phone with a new line of service?

Would I do this again? That depends on which this. There are three at the moment: AT&T, Virgin Mobile, and number portability.

AT&T: Yes, I would absolutely leave AT&T because of the poor treatment of a five-year customer paying nearly $200 a month. How they handled the iPhone only initiated that concern. I'm not sure any person with whom I spoke at AT&T was empowered to make a good decision unless it involved taking more of my money.

Virgin Mobile: I do not have enough evidence to say anything about Virgin Mobile yet, and I cannot tell you that I'd choose them again. I can tell you that I intentionally chose a company with roots outside the US because I was hoping that a different management style might provide a better measure of customer service. This jury is still out.

Number: I'm pretty sure that when the the next time comes, I'll just get a new number, and then send a text or email to everyone regarding the change. There'd be little or no wait for the number, and I'd have more control over the transition.

Imagine that. A consumer in control of how things work out. Oh, but a fellow can dream.

Monday, February 21, 2011

If I lived in Jamaica, it'd be different

Soon come, mon. That's what the folks would say in Jamaica when it was gonna be a while. It might take an hour to get a pound of burger ground. Don't even think of asking for a thicker cut of steak, even if it was goat, not beef.

My transfer from AT&T to Virgin Mobile makes me feel like I'm back in Jamaica. To be able to call VM and find out that nothing is going on, I bought Skype credit, which triggered a security alert on the credit card because Skype is in the UK, and then called Virgin Mobile.

I know the voice bot, Alex, well, and Alex hates me. After some 45 minutes on hold in some 6 calls that were (usually) dropped, I talked to a human, this time not with a Spanish accent. He might have been in India. Bear in mind that I have no problem with people having accents as I have one myself. I do, however, prefer someone who can think and do.

So I'm told that the engineers are working on the problem. I'm pretty sure I could get a report of flying pigs to go with that. Here, some 30 minutes after that report, the status quo remains.

I do not foresee a reasonable end to this problem, though I do hope to be wrong. But for now, it's time for bed. 4 A.M. comes early in these parts. And I (likely) have a(nother) new phone to buy.

Sucktastic cell phone companies

Warning: I am not a happy camper.

Some few years ago, I switched from Sprint to AT&T so that I could have a telephone that worked outside the United States. That was a few days after the ex saddled me with $400 in early termination fees, which only started the sour taste in my mouth.

I was happy with AT&T until 18 months ago when I decided to get an iPhone. I couldn't really afford the technology, but my regular phone was on it's last leg with no paint on the keys, and the subsidized price on the iPhone made it attractive. Within 12 months, I was over the iPhone, and back on the old Moto Q with it's worn keys. At least it would place a call, send an MMS, and otherwise do it's job.

Towards last Thanksgiving, I replaced the Moto Q with a cheap Samsung. Now, you might think that with SIM carded phones you could do as the advertising says, that being to just swap the cards. Nope, not when an iPhone has been involved. A few hours with customer (dis)service on a Saturday night (Yes, I called the emergency number), I was told that I needed to visit a real store for the fix.

All told, I had paid for some 30 days of no and extremely limited service from AT&T using the iPhone. Of course, I was in rather remote places then. San Francisco. New York City. Atlanta. Raleigh. All that in addition to having access routinely throttled. The day after last Thanksgiving, the iPhone needed some 30 minutes or more to upload an email with pics attached.

That Sunday, the young man at the AT&T store finally got my cheap phone to working, though he was clueless regarding why someone would not be happy with the ubercool iPhone. He also cut off my voice mail, something that I didn't notice for a couple of weeks. Also, my bill went up when I dropped the iPhone data plan. No, I still don't get it.


Last week, Josh ported his number to T-Mobile. It took about two hours. Maybe three. By the time the phone was charged, it was done. Lily ported her number also, but to Virgin Mobile. Her port took about six hours. In both cases, they have plans that permit full access, each for substantially less than AT&T charged for minutes and text.

Now it was my turn. I had decided on Virgin Mobile like Lily, mostly because I couldn't get Josh to actually describe his plan of phone's name, though he did tell me he received a military discount.

Off to Radio Shack for a phone. My first trip to Radio Shack failed because of the idiot clerk who has likely drowned by now in his own spittle. I returned this morning mainly because it's the only source of these phones locally. (That might have been my hint.) The fellow behind the desk was ever so helpful. He walked to the back, grabbed the phone, took my card, and then told me I had to buy "time" also. They were not allowed to sell just the phones. My $150 purchase was then $210.

You'd think there'd be a sign about that somewhere...or a law.

Back home towards noon, I unpacked everything, and started the process to activate the new phone. The woman on the other end of the call was very patient and somewhat helpful. She was patient with my stumbling over the buttons. However, she did not know which buttons I should be pressing to get the phone on.

Note: The unlock button on the touch screen works much like it does on the iPhone. The power on and off button is even in the same place. I should have spend more time with the manual, but most of us come to expect intuition to be sufficient.

In time, everything was done, and all I had to do was wait for the number to port from AT&T to Virgin Mobile. No problem. Josh needed 2. Lil, 6. I left the phone while I went for a long walk. On return, still nothing. Virgin Mobile's rep on Twitter says it could be as long as three days. That announcement did not seem to alarm her.

Of course, I could call customer service for discussion. Except that my phones are not working. 7.5 hours now.

Notice how easy it was to spend the money? Notice how hard it is to get something for the money? I wonder who modeled this business plan first. Cell carriers or airlines? They both do it well with little or no concern for comeuppance.

So what will I do? I don't know. Maybe it'll be working by the time I get up. I'm unlikely to go three days without a phone, and that suggests that I might have to do something else tomorrow morning. What that'll be, I do not know. It's not like the reps on-line or on the phone can do anything about it. They're just the worker drones. And Radio Shack made it clear they would not be issuing any refunds.

Perhaps it's time to by soup and string again.

I should put a raspberry on this

I should put a raspberry on this. (It looks like a belly button.) While you might smile over that statement, assuming that you get it, Lily and Josh are rolling their eyes. Dad will never grow up.

One too many disappointments.

One too many disappointments. Three, to be exact, from US Airways. I flew with them a lot, earning first class upgrades regularly. Then they sold out to America West or some such, but kept the name. They should have kept the North Carolina customer service. After the third incident that left me holding the bag, I moved to American. That was a mistake. Now, I fly (mostly) Southwest. Way fewer disappointments. Do you suppose US Air misses me?

Sunday, February 20, 2011


Meta-litter. I picked up what I thought was a lost coin. Perhaps a nickle or quarter. Nope, it's a discarded battery. Not wanting to engage an unnecessary OCD, I put it back rather than start to clean the parking lot. That makes me a meta-litterer, I suppose. Seems like a lose-lose situation.

Abomination prepares to bloom

Abomination prepares to bloom. Grafted in hell. Strew all over this creation by landscapers more interested in making a buck than beautification. Shortly, the world will be filled with pollen and huge snowballs. Days later, the petals hit the ground. If we're lucky, a summer storm or October Blow will crack the trunk at the graft, leaving a man with a chainsaw and honest hour's work.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Smell that smell. Rock and roll ribaldry

Smell that smell. Rock and roll ribaldry aside, it's been a long and complicated week here before this all too short long weekend. To kick things off, biscuits went to work. Yes, with butter and jelly. Warning: Do not rescue the crumbs from the floor outside Shanpie's office. You'll want to eat them and she will object.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Get thee behind me, Satan

Get thee behind me, Satan. Yes, the slings and arrows of the recent fudge-related adventures still haunt me. In an effort to heal, I scooted out for the yeast I'll need for the healing bread. Found it with the flour, turned around, and what is there trying to put out an eye but the Evil Measuring Cup. I ran like the wind.

Some days are better than others

Some days are better than others, and this was one of those days where it seemed prudent to seek out something good, especially at work. This orchid was the first discovery. I also found a second orchid of note, the espresso machine, and a slice of birthday cake. It seemed reasonable to head home at that point. No need to push my luck.

Monday, February 14, 2011

I mopped. Yes, I did.

I mopped. Yes, I did. Of course, I just attached the cloth to my hand and got on my knees. Well, actually I sat on the floor and scooted backwards. It's a small floor, and I'm not worthy of a mop handle anyway. And yes, that floor has been cleaned recently, not that you could tell.

One rocking grandmother

It's a shame this woman is not speaking in the Iowa legislature. I can see her wringing ears and thumping heads right and left as she walks the halls delivering a hefty dose of much needed common sense to those elected officials.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

I love my balls

I love my balls. True green. Earth friendly. Dryer balls. Fluffing my clothes. Reducing static. Softening the fabrics. Between my balls and the orange peeler, I am a truely blessed laundrificator. Yes, that's blessed pronounced with two syllables.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Pig feet

Pig feet, though not for lunch, not today. Bro spent yesterday slicing previously frozen goat feet for sale. To people. Mama and Buck spent that same day gathering spent panty liners from the ditch where someone had thrown the trash. All this discussed during lunch today. In case you're wondering, and I'm sure you are, the goat feet sell for $7.99 a pound, whereas the ribeye goes for $5.99. No, I don't get it either.

It's always about the sex, isn't it?

It's always about the sex, isn't it?

Yesterday, I met my neighbor, a relatively well-educated and generally well-meaning fellow whom I like to be around, and mentioned my now complete life, what with a new orange peeler and all. He scooted to fetch back his, which was exactly like the one I lost. I snatched it from his hand to see it better, and he went (nearly) apoplectic. "I don't know where your hands have been!"

The convo morphed, bent, and twisted as our inane chats often do, finally to settle on last weekend where he was in a hotel with a gay gathering in process. Then settled the Muse of the muses. He fretted for the maids having to deal with all those sheets in the exceptionally soiled condition they were surely in.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Today's out-of-body experience

Today's out-of-body experience arose from walking by this machine, which was apparently disturbed when I failed to insert a quarter. The ensuing beep jarred my deep and methodical post-lunch thoughts. Fortunately, the bathroom was just down the hall.

Some 30 years ago

Some 30 years ago, an Algebra student gave me an orange peeler. I guess I ate a lot of oranges in class. The peeler followed me through the decades until I lost it in the latest move. So here, now, I replace the lost peeler, and a certain feeling of unexpected satisfaction falls upon me, not that I expect to replace the rest that was lost in that move. Some loss, like some change, is necessary.

All that's left of yesterday's ribaldry.

All that's left of yesterday's ribaldry. A still sticky generic adhesive strip with a single dot of blood. And that's about it for my snowy morning and $182 tab. Well, maybe a few more antibodies for which I've so far had little or no use, but maybe one day. Dream on, Dude. At least, the snow melted.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Take it off, Honey.

Take it off, Honey. Those words for which I patiently wait, and where should they be heard? The doctor's office. From the nurse who wants better access to my upper arm where she's about to stab me. I saved the tears, wails, and screams for checkout. The bill, you know, is even worse.

Blinding sheets of death flakes continue

Blinding sheets of death flakes continue to hold west Raleigh in a life-rending choke hold. Doom and despair form our only hope. Reports tell of ice covered guard rails on the interstate. Cars are in need of extensive defrosting. Sobriety ends for the duration. I see no need to carry this memory forward into Blessed Summer.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Rocking and rolling in Raleigh

Rocking and rolling in Raleigh. Well, maybe more rolling than rocking. Behold! The fruit of my $20 LivingSocial coupon at Amazon. Don't tell me Mama failed to rear a party animal. In related news, Danger bought a text book with his coupon. We now return you to your regularly scheduled ribaldry.

Monday, February 7, 2011

If you are going to fly

If you are going to fly, there are two courses you need to take. #1 is How To Sit The Fuck Down. #2 Is How To Stand The Fuck Up. Both are required courses in the How To Stay Of Jim's Way major course of study available at a community college near you.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Me? Get loaded in five minutes?

Me? Get loaded in five minutes? I'll give it my best shot.

Notice the straw from last night

Notice the straw from last night. It was too short for the glass by about an inch. I was forced to lift the straw and tip the glass with each sip. Oh the burden of life on the road! Must I pack my own straws now?

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Sitting quietly after dinner with Danger.

Sitting quietly after dinner with Danger. He didn't clean his plate, and I'm not sure he had ever eaten in such a place anyway. Veranda facing the sea. Candles. Wait staff dressed in formal. With bowties. We're both more Taco Bell folk, but this evening, convenience and ambience won. Now he's back at school for some activity. I face liquid dessert and his empty chair alone. This business of being the dad of adult children doesn't always sit as well as it might.

Lunch perfectly alone. Sorta.

Lunch perfectly alone. Well, except for the seriously ESL waitress. I'd use Spanish, but her English is better than my Spanish, and I sorta like receiving what I thought I ordered. But then a dining companion arrived. He likes fried shrimp tails too. I got lucky!

More form over function in Daytona Beach

More form over function. Whoever chose a four-poster bed with curtains for this room should have hopped on the bed to try out the TV. Perhaps then my neck would have less of a crick.

A monkey eats here. Really. Well, Maybe.

A monkey eats here. Really. Well, Maybe. Something leaves naner peels by that sign on that island between the lanes at a stop light. Right in the middle of tourist land in South Daytona. Go figure.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Fallen warriors on the Southwest Plane.

Fallen warriors on the Southwest Plane. Yep. The flight was tight. So was I.

Gone ass. A devastating and wretched medical condition

Gone ass. A devastating and wretched medical condition. I prescribe a StairMaster. And cheek implants.

Here's what happens when I wake up early

I've long felt it important to have fun at what you do, at least to the extent that such is possible. We have a few summers on Ha Ray's tobacco farm that I'll stack against anything you have and raise you two episodes of MASH. How else might you explain remembering working long days in the top of a 145-degree barn and still be able to manage, not just a smile, but a huge grin with a tidal wave of stories that'll be a kegger in the telling.

Of course, not all my appointments have been so good, and frankly, some have been better than others. I like to think of those less well remembered appointments as developmental opportunities, and I believe you'll understand if I don't list them here, especially since the management, if not the restraining orders, still live.

Nonetheless, there was the one during my first couple of years in Academic Computing at the University of North Carolina, the school in Greensboro, the school they once called the Normal College as you might recall, where a fine group of people came together for a very short time under a management structure with the self-confidence to tolerate a little fuzz around the edges. Bear in mind that I was not one of those fine people, but they did let me go to lunch with them.

Theodore Hildebrandt was the boss, and a fine man was he. He called computer disk drives “rotating media.” Why? Because he was there when they were created. His group figured how to record data to magnetic tape and do so without recording the local radio station. I can hear him bellowing “Neufeld!” as though he were again steaming mad in the chair next to me.

Think Bowling for Bimbos. Endless games of Dungeons and Dragons. Swimming around sucking the moss of rocks. Inspecting condemned houses. Not bringing Yum Yum hotdogs back to work. Salad sammiches. Olive breaks. The Book of Salt. Weekends with Monique. And one difficult Pegasus.

So I wake up this morning after a dream about dead people, some of whom were real at one time, in which the dead people were far more annoying than scary, and started a pot of coffee. Yes, at 2:30 AM. To attend to the reality of rising before many people go to bed, a group that included myself not so very long ago, I opened Facebook to see what I missed during the previous five hours. So what did I miss? Very little. It's Facebook, remember?

Well, except for one private message from an ex-colleague in that UNCG group, she being the gal who could actually ride the Pegasus, and this message made the early wake up worth the trouble. It turns out that life and reality in Richmond had conspired to make her forget my birthday, which she had admitted this in a previous note. Given her world, I'm more surprised that she remembers me at all. What follows here is a description of her JPBBCD (Jim Penny Belated Birthday Celebration Day). Careful: This is not for the weak of heart.

Note: I have changed the names to B and D, mostly because the federal warrants are still valid.

The unretouched Facebook message starts here. Well, I spaced a little after the copy-and-paste, and I suspect OpenOffice did something while I wasn't looking, but everything else is original, lest I be held guilty of Blaspheme. You were warned.

The rules for the day in order to properly celebrate YOU were:

1)no behaving allowed.

2)no vegetables allowed. (I was willing to permit chives if they arrived on the loaded potato skins.. but someone must have given a list of the rules to the kitchen as there was not a speck of green anywhere in sight)

3)the required basic food groups a)very hot grease, b)bacon, c)cheese, d)salt were all amply met

4)fiber for the day was provided by a FiberOne chocolate/caramel/oat bar - it gave an ever so slight nod to behaving but is tastey enough to not really count and we did have to prepare a little for what we knew was coming later.

5)vitamin C for the day was provided by the 1st official Jim Penny Celebration item of the day - a hand squoze lime aid made by a lovely, dear girl named Kat (mobile munchies cart and their site is www.ruffbong.com- seriously - although Jahn the hippie guy who makes the wraps maintains the site I think. The text sounds just like he talks. Kat is his gal - she's great. You'd like her nose ring. She always remembers my name and how I like my lime aids) Kat makes the best Limeaids you ever slurped up a straw. Some days I make it a double - but the cup is about a half gallon cup - seriously. By the time I considered a rematch, it was 4 pm and the cart leaves around 3:30. But the limeaide was a glorious start to JPBBCD.

6)Dinner with B to help me celebrate at O'Charley's. We saved you a seat. We started with Loaded Potato Skins - crispy as advertised. Lots of melted cheddar and real bacon cooked just like you like it. Sour cream for dipping and we got a second cup of it because the first tiny cup was NOT enough for the three of us.

7)the rolls were perfect and took their major role in the celebration seriously. They did not disappoint. They were HOT and BUTTERY yeast rolls and UNSLICEABLE - exactly as advertised. Even when we asked for 2nds and 3rds.. the 3rds came home with us... I think.. or were those fourths.. no one was counting as behaving was not allowed.

8)B was behaving slightly. Well he is the former cardiac surgery patient - so i didn't force him to follow the rules - the rules were really for me.. so he had Baja Chicken - you know with the black beans and rice and cripsy tortilla strips. He did help us with the potato skins (and the rolls) so half of the chicken came home with us. No picture as Baja chicken while tasty - doesn't really stand scrutiny when it first arrives. Maybe the blackness of the beans? and certainly not after migrating to the take home container. I hope I didn't hurt it's feelings by not taking a picture.. but I'm sure you will appreciate it's absence. Day 2 of the celebration will continue with that for Mister B tomorrow.

9)D couldn't find ranger chili OR ranger cookies on the menu - so the next best choice seemed to be the Ranch Hand burger.. with the cheddar and apple smoked bacon that they always cook just right - and the bun toasted just right. I skipped the barbeque sauce it normally comes with as I didn't want to risk my right cheek (face cheek, you goof!) swelling up again as it does when that pesky salivary gland blocks up - often from barbeque sauce. So sad. Amusing for you - painful for me. You'll just have to see it another time. Not tonight - tonight was for celebrating! The pickle slices were good but you know we always eat them separately anyway since they are better that way. Bread and butter pickles I do believe not quite as good as Mama used to make - but a close second.

10)the fries (yes I know more potatoes - but NO BEHAVING!!) were perfection. Hot, crispy, lightly seasoned. You know good fries are rare enough that they must be eaten. Good fries never reheat to be anything other than very, very sad and forlorn having missed their purpose in life. So these fries were consumed with a bit of ketchup and their destiny was fulfilled. They were happy. We were too.

11)The burger looked really really good - but you know it will heat up fine at home and it really needed some Duke's mayo and I didn't think they'd have it at O'Charleys. I know I have it at home and the fries had already made me promise the burger would go home and the fries WOULD fulfill their destiny. But we sliced a quarter of the burger off and ate it just to prove it was perfection also. It was. The applewood smoked bacon was exactly the way we like it. So good I even ate another slice by itself - still leaving 2 whole slices on the burger for tomorrow's phase 3 of celebration!!

12)B was full but will have breakfast as his next phase of the celebration as they brought him 4 cinnamon sugar coated doughnuts - WARM - with cream cheese icing to take home.. I tried to talk him into sampling them because THEY WERE STILL WARM!!! he doesn't understand about food and it's destiny.. probably because he doesn't cook. But he would not be swayed. I was tempted to try a bite - they smelled so good - but I too was FULL and they WERE his doughnuts and his breakfast - and supposedly his blood sugar is behaving again but my guess is he will not pick tomorrow to test it... Good thing he sees the cardiologist Wednesday and not the Nurse Practitioner who probably will materialize in front of him tomorrow as he eats those donuts to smack him about the head and shoulders. I'll know when I see the bruises later.

13)The piece de resistance - the dessert - The best ever dessert. I explained we were celebrating our friend who was afar off but needed a dessert worthy of a special birthday. I am pretty sure I even mentioned that said friend is likely the best southern writer of our time. Erica did her part. She decorated and festooned the Carmel Pie perfectly with whipped cream, tiny delicious chocolate morsels and many many of our favorite pecans (pronounced exactly as they should be). Not sure my phone camera does it justice and I didn't take pictures on the festive plates but in the to go boxes... but I assure you it is delicious.

Looks like I can't put a picture on this message because of the link - but I suspect I'm pushing all sorts of limits so we'll see if this sends.

Try not to go into a sugar/fat/cholestrol coma just reading this. You are worth the indulgence. Jim Penny day only comes around once a year and only lasts two... three... seven days at the most.. so ENJOY! We are!! :) Love ya! *HUGS*