I think my happy little daydream of working for myself is about over. I'm in serious need of a job. I'm qualified to teach college, do farm work, and anything in between. Some people think I'm a quick learner, so I'm not afraid to try something new.
If anyone hears of any openings, please let me know.
The following is an e-mail I sent to one of my customers. She had ordered prints of her daughter's senior pictures -- I was supposed to leave them on my front porch for her to pick up, but I forgot and left them in my car. My beloved Austrian wife Dagmar helped me remedy the situation...
As you know, I forgot to put your photos on the porch. When you rang the doorbell last night, Dagmar and I were just finishing up a late supper, sitting in our jammies on the couch, eating off the coffee table. Poor Dagmar's all concerned about having a spotless house, so when the doorbell rang she panicked! I feel bad that we made you stand on the porch... Anyway, she ran out the back door in her coat and nighty to get the photos out of the car.
Once you left, she said, "Gosh, that vas embarrassing! The poor lady nearly saw our messy house!"
"Her husband probably saw more than that," I said.
"Vhat do you mean?"
"Did you actually get into our car, or did you just bend over and get the photos out?" I pointed to her rather short nighty.
She thought for a moment, then, "I just bent over... OH MEIN GOTT! When I went outside the motion light came on. If anyone was in the street, I mooned them!"
I have been tagged with this little piece of kindness:
“These bloggers are exceedingly charming. These kind bloggers aim to find and be friends. They are not interested in self-aggrandizement. Our hope is that when the ribbons of these prizes are cut, even more friendships are propagated. Please give more attention to these writers. Deliver this award to eight bloggers who must choose eight more and include this cleverly-written text into the body of their award.”
I put the picture of the award over to the right there... No, a little lower. You might have to scroll down. Oh, never mind...
I actually am pretty honored, actually. This sort of stuff can make my day! Okay, now I gotta find eight more bloggers upon which to bestow this honor. In no particular order:
Yesterday (Saturday) I got an e-mail from the owner of the computer shop where my poor iMac has been held hostage since February 23rd (not counting a two-day period when I was allowed to bring it home). "We'll have your Mac ready for you by three," he said.
After my laughter died down, I wrote back, "Wheee! Happy dance! Happy dance! But don't you guys need to test it for a few days?"
His answer was almost immediate. "No. We'll have your machine put together by two. You can pick it up at three."
I told Dagmar about it. "The computer guy said he'll have my Mac done at three today." I haven't heard her laugh so hard, so long, in months. When she stopped wheezing and wiping giggle-tears from her eyes, she said, "So, what shall we do today?"
"Well," I answered, "since there's no chance I'll have my computer until Tuesday night, let's go to the IRCC meeting, then go to a park or something. We'll make a day of it."
"Oh, you think you'll have your computer Tuesday already?" Dagmar answered as she gathered her stuff. "You won't see it until Wednesday, and that's IF the repairs were done right. Chances are they'll need to replace something else now and it'll take another week."
So without another thought about the computer we left town. At about 3:30 (I think) my phone rang. The computer shop.
"Hello, we have good news!"
"I can pick my computer up?"
"Well, no," the man said, "but we're nearly done putting it back together. I'll load some random software on it tonight and we'll test the hard drive over the weekend. If it all works, you can probably pick it up Monday or Tuesday..." I suppressed a giggle.
"Just out of curiosity," I asked, "why does this take so long? I mean, you're just replacing a cable." I've asked this question about five times, and each time I get a slightly different answer.
"Well, for your model of computer we have to take the entire machine apart to get to the cable, then reassemble the whole thing from scratch. It takes about eight hours if you're not interrupted." ("Interrupted by ME," I thought to myself -- I tend to call the shop several times a day.)
"Okay, so if there are two possible things wrong with my computer, the SATA cable and the power supply, and replacing the SATA cable takes eight hours, why didn't you try the power supply FIRST? That only takes minutes to replace."
"Well, the book says that we're supposed to replace the cable first." ("Yeah," I thought to myself, "so you can charge the customer for eight hours' labor, even though there's a 50/50 chance that's not the problem.")
And so there we are. Tomorrow will mark the one-month anniversary of when I took my machine into the shop to get the hard drive replaced. Tomorrow night will be the one-month anniversary of the first broken promise, as the shop told me way back then that they'd have my problem fixed "by the end of the day." A month ago.
I can't complain too awful much (though I really want to!) -- the shop gave me a loaner iMac to use (though it has a quarter the RAM my machine has so it's awfully slow running memory-hogs like PhotoShop and InDesign and is built with an older architecture that won't run half my design software), and I really like the owner of the shop... But gosh, it seems like every day they give me one or two promises, and have not yet kept a single one. That's the frustrating part! I understand that these things can take time, that sometimes parts get backordered, things go wrong... But gosh, don't promise me things you can't deliver! It's infuriating!
I just heard the bozos at AIG just took OUR tax money and GAVE IT TO THEMSELVES rather than use it to better the economy.
No! No! No! No!
You guys make it hard for me to keep from using bad language.
After we bailed out the insurance company with billions and billions of taxpayer money, the @ssclowns at AIG went and gave away million-dollar bonuses to their executives. These are the people who made the bad decisions that killed our economy -- now each executive that helped make those decisions is walking off with ANOTHER $1,000,000 of our money.
Okay, morons -- I want YOU to figure out how much of MY money went into your company, and I want YOU TO GIVE IT BACK TO ME. NOW.
Give me back my money! Give it! I'm not kidding!
I'm going to call them later today and report it as a claim. I'm gonna tell them to cough up the dough, and I quite possibly might get indignant... Here's there contact info:
Auto/Homeowners Claims: 888-244-6163. For all other inquiries -- USA: 1-877-638-4244 Worldwide: +1-908-679-3150
Yep, I'm working on a "loaner." I appreciate the fix it shop letting me use an old iMac until mine is fixed, but gosh do I miss my machine! This one's got a quarter the RAM and, well, it's slow. A lot of my software won't work because this is a PowerPC iMac and my software needs the newer Pentium models... But at least I'm working!
Now if I just had a little more to work on...
I saw on TV that a lot of Republicans are up in arms over the budget, claiming there are too many earmarks and "pork" projects. Turns out this portion of the budget is less than 2% of the total... They're rejecting 98% good to kill 2% that they perceive as bad.
Well, I can still understand that -- I mean, who wants wasteful spending?
Then I saw Lindsey Graham (R-SC) on TV bashing the budget, saying that President Obama should cut all earmarks from the bill. The TV host pointed out that Graham himself had inserted a measure in the budget that would send over $900,000 to South Carolina. "Yes," said Graham. "And if the President cuts that I'll put it into another bill." In other words, he wants everyone else's pet projects cut, just not HIS. A little more research shows that Graham's state would receive over $75 million in earmarks. (Thankfully during this housing crisis $285,000 of it, or 0.0038%, will go towards improving low-income housing in the state.)
Then I read that in spite of all their complaints, Republicans themselves are responsible for nearly half the earmarks in the bill.
I hope President Obama does take measures to limit pork spending and earmarks. I realize it was too late for him to do so on this year's budget as the budget is already six months behind (which means it should have passed under the Bush administration, who was a strong proponent of earmark spending), but I hope the Obama administration takes this issue to heart next year.
But it just doesn't make sense to me that the Republicans are all hollering at President Obama for a budget THEY put together with THEIR earmarks.
Incidentally, one of the earmarks comes from my own Senator -- Tom Harkin (D-IA). It would give several million dollars to find a way to make hog production less... odoriferous. This sounds funny -- spending money to make pigs stink less -- but if you've ever been within five miles of a hog confinement, you KNOW something needs to be done about this! If someone can come up with a bacteria or something that can help reduce the odor from the waste lagoons, that would make rural areas a much happier place! I mean, if you have 5,000 hogs living in a confined area, you're gonna have waste management issues... It's a real concern.
Same goes to having 435 United States Representatives in a confined area, actually.
The whole thing is ridiculous. Let's just make it illegal to put this kind of stuff in a bill. If you want money to de-stinkify pigs or build a bridge or whatever, make it a stand-alone piece of legislation. These projects are actually all pretty important to the people living in those areas. They shouldn't be dealt with in such a sneaky manner.
It's been a long, cold winter. We've had a few days of warmth and sunshine, but overall it's been a nasty season. The past few days we've had highs in the teens and 20's and lows below zero. It's not supposed to be like that in mid-March!
But thankfully the weather broke yesterday and we got up to about 28 degrees. Today it's supposed to be in the 40's, which is about normal for this time of year.
I WILL be getting the bike out of storage Sunday! It's gotta happen -- I'm getting just a wee bit stir-crazy...
Computer Update (or "The Continuation of My Infinite Woes")
Well, they gave me a loaner, finally. It's got a quarter the RAM my machine had so it's really slow, and half my Adobe software won't even attempt to install on this old iMac (it's a PowerPC rather than Pentium), so I'm working with one hand tied behind my back, but I AM working. Yesterday I was at the computer shop at 8:02 a.m. to pick the loaner up (it was supposed to be ready for me Friday night, then Saturday morning, then Saturday afternoon, then "I'll have a guy drop it off at your house Sunday," then Monday morning) only to find that the tech wasn't in yet. "He's not supposed to come in until noon, but he said he'd be here at nine today." So I go walk the dog and come back at nine. The tech said, "It'll be just seven minutes!" I waited from 9 to 9:30. He came up and told me, "Just ten more minutes!" I waited until 10:30 before he came up to me and said, "I just started to restore the information from your backup now, it'll take at least a few hours."
"Whaaa?" What have they been doing? Why did he tell me it would be "seven minutes" if he KNEW he hadn't even started the restoration yet?
He's done this to me time after time -- last week he promised he'd have my computer fixed Thursday night, then he said I could pick it up Friday. Friday he told me it would be "just a few hours." On Saturday he called me to tell me he was "Starting to run some tests." Man, I can understand that this stuff takes time, but you HAVE to know that you're not going to have a new hard drive formatted, restored, and installed in "a couple hours" if you haven't even started yet...
I didn't get the loaner until after 7 last night. "I had to cancel your backup, so you might not have everything on your hard drive that you need." Fine, fine, just give me my backup drive then -- I'll go through my data folder by folder and find what's missing. Turns out he hadn't gotten around to restoring anything but my apps and photos -- all my data and working files were missing, the apps didn't work because some of the system files weren't there (Adobe's "common" files, notably)... So I had to reinstall all my applications. That led to licensing problems with Adobe, so now I'm on the phone with them...
But I AM up and running! Slowly and staggeringly, but I'm running.
I actually like the guys at the shop, believe it or not, and I'm sure the tech has been working on my problem. It's the false promises that anger me. If, on Thursday, he'd have said, "I'll do my best, but it might be next Tuesday before I can get you up and running," well, I'd have been disappointed. But I would have been able to give MY customers a solid answer when they called asking about their projects, and I could have gone and done something else rather than sitting by the phone for five days.
I know I'm mixing metaphores, but I don't really care...
My worst fears are coming to fruition. The computer people have had my machine for four days now. I just got a call -- "We put a third hard drive into your computer, and it went bad before we could even format it. There's something ELSE wrong that's causing the hard drives to fail."
The guy continued to tell me it could be the power supply, the cord that runs from the power supply to the mother board, or the mother board itself. This is all correct -- these are things that have run through my mind as well.
"So how much money are we talking about?" I asked.
"Well, the cord isn't much," he answered, " and the power supply isn't a big deal either."
"But if it's the motherboard you'd be better off buying a new computer."
I knew that this was gonna cost me money. I knew it. I could have written the script myself, actually. But for gosh sakes I hope it's not the motherboard... I mean, if it's $20 for a cord or $50 for a power supply, I can borrow that much. If it's $2500, I'm outta business for sure.
Maybe this is God's way of telling me to study for my CDL so I can drive grain trucks for the farmers, or to see if Pop's neighbors need help with the hogs this year... Heck, I can't be any more broke, I might as well run for public office. I don't know what to think. All I know is that I hate living this close to the edge. One thing goes wrong, I'm screwed... When I started HippieBoy Design I really thought I'd have at least six or eight months to build up a nestegg before things started going wrong...
Oh well. We ARE healthy (though Dagmar has some tests coming up next week), and I can find other work, I'm sure. But gosh is this ever disappointing. To have my hopes dashed by a lousy short in a computer... Gaaahhh...
My beloved Alpine Snickerdoodle Dagmar and I used to make it a point to go out to eat together (or with friends) once a week. We've found that we really need the time together just to sit and talk, with no TV burbling in front of us, no computer sitting in the other room calling out, "You know you have e-mail... There's work to be done..." So for the past few years we've made it a habit to get out at least once a week where we can talk sans distractions. We rarely went anywhere fancy -- usually Green Gables (a local restaurant, the kind where a little old lady with a cigarette in her mouth would pad over with a plate of liver 'n onions and meatloaf, "There you go honey,") or Da Kao, a Vietnamese place a few blocks away where two people can still eat for fourteen bucks...
But when I quit my job to start HippieBoy Design ("Now offering print design and video compositing as well as phantastic photography and affordable web design!") money got even tighter than it was before -- and lack of bread was the main reason I quit my job in the first place -- so our dining experiences turned from an hour's conversation over a plate of The Daily Special at the diner to an occasional five-dollar footlong from Subway, shared off a paper plate in front of the TV. Then those fell by the wayside as well...
Dagmar's a wonderful cook, and I'm not afraid to eat my own cooking, but we both missed going out every now and then.
So Friday we went with some friends to a local pizza place. We had a great time! I found that I've been so isolated the past few months working at home with no transportation that being around a crowd of lively people was slightly unnerving. Dagmar told me I looked like a prairie dog sticking his head out of his hole watching a herd of bison go past. "You couldn't keep still," she said, "you had to see everting dat vas going on!" Regardless, we really enjoyed being out, being with friends, money be damned.
Then we went on to a local comedy club hosted by a friend of ours (he actually introduced Dagmar and I nearly a decade ago). As a professional comedian himself he MC'd the show... It was really fun! Money be damned.
After that we stopped in a local watering hole, the Chesterfield, and watched Roger and the Rockers play for an hour or so. I guess three members of the band are in the Iowa Rock and Roll Hall of Fame (which is a surprisingly talented organization, actually). I do know that I enjoyed listening to them -- I always like hearing Curt play bass. Money be damned.
So now we're poor, but reasonably happy, in a mild, Midwestern sort of way. (Except that my beloved Austrian Pookiebear Dagmar has had a migraine the last day and a half. Poor girl!)
A Time of Reconciliation
For the last several years we've had friends involved in an ongoing feud. Not just a mild sniping or dirty looks kind of feud, but an active, old-fashioned Hatfield vs. McCoy type feud. Dirty tricks, hateful words, barely contained anger.
Normally this sort of thing wouldn't bother me a whole lot -- I'm not one to stick my nose into other people's business (unless, of course, I want to) -- but this feud has affected three families for years, to the extent where when Dagmar and I would run into our friends all we could talk about was the feud. Nothing else. (A typical conversation in the grocery store might be, "Oh, hey! I haven't seen you in months. How's your wife? How are the kids doing?" with the answer being, "You'll never guess what so-and-so did last week!") It was so bad that one of my friends wouldn't even go to a funeral because he thought he might run into the other end of the feud...
But the first words of apology and reconciliation were spoken yesterday!
I'm happy that my friends can get their lives back in order and quit focusing all their energies on hatred and anxiety!
Sadly, we seem to have another set of friends who are on the verge of falling into this same sort of feud... I hope the season of understanding and reconciliation lasts a little while longer.
Yay! March is Here! It's Spring!
I'm really tired of wearing two or three layers of clothing ALL THE TIME. Ah well...
Life in the 'Hood SUX
I still can't believe our airline designation here in Sioux City is "SUX." Whaddaya wanna guess was the subject of the first joke the comedian told last Friday...?
We got home about midnight Friday night and promptly settled in for the night. Dagmar put on her comfy nightshirt (the one with the little kitties on it) and wandered off to bed, rubbing her eyes. I made some popcorn and made myself a nest on the couch in front of the TV and prepared to sleep through a rerun of Star Trek: The Next Generation that I'd recorded. About the time we all got settled -- the dog on her little bed next to Dagmar, the cat snoozing on my feet on the couch -- Dagmar hissed, "Vhat was dat?"
"What was what?" I hissed back. When someone hisses at you, there's generally a reason, so I always hiss back. It seems polite, somehow.
"Someone's pounding at the back door!"
Hmmm... That's unusual. The back door in question leads from our kitchen through a very small porch (full of junk at the moment) to the alley. We have no yard to the south or east of our house, so the door really does open right into the alley... We locked the door years and years ago and haven't ever used it. I tried to get it open a few summers back for some reason, but it's stuck shut. Needless to say, visitors rarely knock at our back door -- especially at about one-thirty in the morning.
I heaved my flabby carcass off the couch, thoroughly confusing the cat who had up to that moment been happily sleeping on my feet, and went to the front door, thinking to ease the door open and peek around the corner of the house to see what was going on... But I'd forgotten about the three or four inches of snow that had fallen during the night. Back inside trots the hippie. Shoes on feet, I tried again.
I eased the front door open, not difficult to do as the porch door is broken and swings freely on its hinges, and peeked around the corner.
Sure enough, there was a large man in the alley, beating drunkenly on our door. As I watched he paused, took a step backwards, then tripped in slow motion over something invisible and feel backwards gracefully into the snow. He lay (lie? layed? lied?) there for a moment, then struggled back to his feet. I could see several other "snow angels" in the alley where he'd evidently already fallen. He stared doggedly at the door and was getting set to start pounding again.
"Can I help you?" I called.
He tried to stop in mid-pound, which only resulted in his slumping bodily against the door. He looked up the alley, pushed himself off the door frame, and staggered back a step or two. "Can I help you?" I repeated.
"Oh!" he said. "Yeah. I'm just, um, tryin' to get into my house, but someone changed the goddam lock and my goddam roommate won't open the goddam door." The whole time he spoke these words he was again falling in slow motion, gradually twisting around to face me while simultaneously slumping to the ground. I walked up the alley to help him to his feet. As I got closer I could see that he wasn't wearing anything but tennis shoes, blue jeans, and a T-shirt that looked like he may have been ill already that evening. Thankfully he rolled over on his hands and knees and started to right himself before I was close enough to feel obligated to help.
"I'm sorry," I said to him, "but this is my house."
"Yeah," he answered, waving at my back door, "thish is my house."
"No, this is MY house."
"Whaaa?" He looked up and down the alley. "Your house?"
"Where do you live?" I asked. "Do you need help getting home?"
"I thought I lived goddam here," he said, weaving badly enough I thought he was gonna fall over yet again. "Where's goddam Tomás? I live with goddam Tomássssh."
"I think he lives in that house," said a voice behind me. I nearly jumped out of my skin -- I hadn't heard Dagmar come up behind me. "A man named Tomás lives over there," she pointed to a house two doors down. "Do you live there?"
"I'm gonna go that way," the man said, pointing south. "I think I live that way." He then started off up the street, headed east...
Thirty seconds later I was on the phone. "Nine-one-one, what's your emergency?" said the tinny voice.
"No emergency," I said. "But a drunk guy was pounding on our side door. He didn't cause any harm, but he's gonna freeze to death out there..."
Fifteen minutes later a police cruiser drove slowly past our house. I hope they found the guy. I hope they just took him home.