Sunday, February 27, 2011

Craigslist is for assholes.

So with our move rapidly approaching we’re scrambling to sell everything we’re not bringing with us.

My step-daughter was supposed to be buying our TV from us…but a few days ago, when she found out her car needed a new transmission, she let us know she couldn’t afford it any more.

So, with less than two weeks to go before we move, I bit the bullet and put in on Cragislist.

When will I ever learn? Craigslist isn’t populated by people who want to buy things…it’s populated by mental patients and people who can’t tie their own shoelaces without losing a finger.

Let me explain some things:

Our TV is in absolutely perfect condition. There’s not so much as a scratch on the casing. It’s even still under warranty.

To buy the same model TV at retail would cost you $350 plus tax. However, because time is so short and we really need to sell it, I put it up on Craigslist at the ‘family price’ I was going to sell it to my stepdaughter for, $250… and I’m even including the $50 HDMI cable we had to buy separately.

For those keeping score, that’s a value of $400 for $250. That’s a great deal, right?

Well, you’d think so, wouldn’t you?

The day after placing the ad, I get a phonecall.

He asks if the TV is still for sale. I say yes. He asks me what brand and size it is. I tell him that all the details are right there in the ad, but explain everything again anyway. He asks how much I want for it. I explain that that’s also in the ad, but tell him again that I want $250. He hums and haws and asks if I can go any lower. I explain that the TV is in perfect condition, still under warranty, retails for $350 and that I’m also including the $50 cable in the asking price.

He hums and haws some more.

Knowing that if I can’t get it sold I’ll end up having to take it to the pawn shop and get offered fifty bucks for it, I reluctantly agree to go down to $230. I make it clear that $230 is my absolute rock-bottom price, that I can’t go any lower, and that if he spends an hour on Craiglist (like I did), he won’t find a better deal…but if he doesn’t believe me, he’s welcome to try and call me back.

So after another five minutes of him humming and hawing and asking me the same goddamn questions over and over, he finally arranges to come over and look it the next day.

Now, as you know, we’re in the middle of a big fucking move. We have places to go, people to see and shit to arrange…however, to work around this ass-hat’s schedule, we end up cancelling our plans and staying in to wait for him.

The next day, the phone rings about an hour after he’s due to turn up. I’m expecting to hear that he can’t find the house, but instead he tells me something about not being able to get a ride, so can he come tomorrow instead? I tell him okay, but that we have plans, so he’ll have to turn up no later than 3pm.

He turns up a four thirty. I already feel like telling him to fuck right off, but I need to get the TV sold, so I let him into the house, show him the TV and tune it to an HD channel.

Now, I don’t want to blow my own horn, but regular readers will know I’m a huge gadget geek. I always do ridiculous amounts of research before buying any sort of technology…and I picked out this TV simply because it had, by far, the best picture in the price range. I also spent more hours than I care to mention fine-tuning the TV’s settings to get the best possible picture. That includes using a special DVD with various test patterns to make sure everything is absolutely spot on. Do you know the exact hex-code of the color your TV displays when it tries to produce pure white? Because I do.

Long story short, the TV’s in perfect condition and the picture is nothing short of fucking gorgeous.

He stares at the TV and hums and haws some more. He asks again how much I want for it. I tell him again that I said I wanted $250, but as I told him on the phone, I’d be willing to go down to $230. I point out that he can see the TV’s in perfect condition, how much it costs at retail, blah, blah, blah.

He stands there, staring at the TV, working his face in a way that made him look like he’d just shit his pants or was trying to hold in a fart. Finally, to break the silence after five solid minutes of this, I say:

“Errr, so, do you want to buy it or not?”

He hums and haws for another five minutes, still looking like he’s shit his pants, and says “Well…Err, I’ve actually got another one to look at today, so I’ll go look at that and tell you what I’ve decided tomorrow.”

What…the…fuck?

Look, dude. It’s fucking TV. Not only does the ad explain exactly what it is, I explained it to you three fucking times. I even included a link in the ad to the same model on the Best Buy website. I told you how much I wanted for it. Then, after making me stay home for two days straight when I have shit to do, and after turning up an hour late when you finally did turn up…you see it’s exactly as described in the ad…and you’re not going to fucking buy it?

You knew exactly what it was. You knew exactly what I was asking for it. What did you expect?

Did you get mixed up about what a TV actually was and you were really trying to buy a microwave? Did you get inches mixed up with feet and thought it would be the size of my fucking wall? Did you think it would come on a platinum platter held aloft by virgins?

It’s a fucking TV…so why the fuck did you dick me around for two days and come to my house if you weren’t going to buy it? I could understand if it wasn’t what I described, or the picture was fuzzy or the case was cracked…but it wasn’t.

Fucking time wasters.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Stupid car...

So, today, Sunny and I were debating on whether to get our car's cracked headlight lens fixed before we try to sell it.

It was going to be expensive, and he car's not worth much anyway, so I had a better idea.

As Jamie Hyneman once said: "When in doubt...C4."


video

Thursday, February 17, 2011

My Missus is Weird

This morning, I got out of bed, showered, got dressed and was just sitting down at the computer to check my email when Sunny walked into the living room.

“You know,” Sunny said, “we’re moving at exactly the right time.”

“Why’s that?” I asked.

“You know the house at the top of the road?” she replied. “They’re tearing that down and building an auto shop, which means if we weren’t moving, we’d have a few weeks of construction to listen to… and then we’d have cars driving up and down all the time.”

My missus is weird.

You see, right now, we live at the back end of her mom’s property, a good quarter mile from the road and where this new auto shop is going to be. On the other hand, there’s a railroad less than 150 yards from our front door that crosses the back of the property.

Oh, and there’s a crossing about a half mile up the track, which means the trains blow their whistles as they pass the house.

So construction work and more traffic over a quarter mile from the house is a big deal…but the trains that almost make the house shake as they blow their whistles at 3am don’t bother her. In fact, that’s one of the things Sunny has said she’s actually going to miss when we move. She grew up on this property, and has somehow never managed to live out of earshot of the train tracks, so she’s going to ‘miss the trains’.

I just can’t get my head around anyone being anything other than delighted to finally move to somewhere where there’s not a 150db whistle every couple of hours.

I wonder if she’d miss it if I screamed at the top of my voice every two hours for a year or so, then stopped doing it.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

An Interview with Evan

Back in 2009, fellow blogger Evan (the guy I tend to steal most of my post ideas from) conducted a series of interviews with myself and other bloggers. It was 2011 before I realized I never returned the favor.

Well, now that oversight has been corrected, so here it is:

My questions in red:

First and foremost: Why did you start blogging?

It’s been so long since I started that I can’t clearly remember why I started. I suppose it’s because I thought I had something to say that wasn’t being said elsewhere. I vaguely remember having some delusions that I’d gain a massive following, but in retrospect, that’s probably a little bit of hubris on my part. After all, who am I, other than another cog in the massive machine of humanity?

To anyone who’s read your blog, it’s pretty obvious you have no time for political correctness or sugar coating anything you say. Why are you such a proponent of plain speaking? Were you always that way?

Let me answer your second question first by admitting that I’ve always considered myself a rather blunt individual. Since I’ve always been that way, it’s kind of difficult to say why I’m so forthright. What I do know is that I find the politically correct movement rather absurd. Where’s the benefit of sugarcoating a statement so much that your words no longer accurately convey your thoughts? It seems to me that the only real way to solve differences in life is to actually voice your opinion, genuinely listen to opposing viewpoints, and see if you can find common ground.

I should also concede that my direct nature is partially a result of laziness. While I have the ability to be diplomatic when I have to, I find that it requires a lot of effort on my part. Expressing myself in a diplomatic way is almost like translating to a foreign language.

Back in 2009 I wrote a blog post about an event involving a 'little Hitler' teacher on a power trip, an event that solidified me as a ‘plain speaker’. At the time you told me you had a similar story of your own. Would you care to share that story?

Seems like a lifetime ago, even though it was only 2/3 of a lifetime ago. I had an economics teacher, Mr. Warren, who was kind of like the teacher you mentioned. This guy played blatant favorites with students in his class. If you were a jock or cheerleader, you could do no wrong. If you were a motorhead or a burnout, you didn’t stand a chance in his class.

During this semester, I really had the hots for this girl… On this day in particular, I found out that this girl wanted to date my best friend. I wasn’t pissed at them per se, after all, the heart wants what it wants. But I’m sure you can understand that I was upset. Being upset, I wasn’t really paying attention in class. I was venting by doodling on a piece of paper, and when the page was full of random scribblings, I started tearing the paper into progressively smaller pieces. After shredding for who-knows-how-long, I noticed that the class was absolutely silent. When I looked up, I noticed that Mr. Warren was staring at me.

“Are you about done,” he asked? I just kind of sat there for a few seconds, dumbfounded. I figured that if I simply sat there quietly enough, he’d get bored and go back to teaching class. No such luck. After a brief eternity, he was still staring at me… so I calmly collected my shards of paper, stood up, carried them to the trash can at the back of the classroom and returned to my seat. Once again, I figured that if I sat there quietly enough, he’d get bored and go back to teaching class. Again, no such luck. By this time, I was getting downright irritated that the teacher was making such an issue out of such a stupid thing. I waited a bit longer, and then I finally spoke.

“Oh, I’m finished now” I said as nonchalantly as possible. “ You can go back to teaching.” I suspect that a minute or so had gone by, but it seemed like hours.

His face started turning a little pink, and he said “Are you looking for a confrontation?” Uh-oh… things had just escalated a bit.

“No,” I responded flatly, “but if you are, I’m certainly not going to back down.” My heart was pounding, and his face turned beet red. He started walking toward me, chalkboard pointer in hand, but he stopped short and swung his pointer against the wall, breaking it into little pieces.

By this time, it was obvious that he was having a difficult time holding his temper. My fear, on the other hand, had completely disappeared. I felt absolutely no emotion as I saw him point his shattered pointer at me and heard him say “You know what? You’re not worth it.”

As he turned his back to me and started walking toward the chalkboard, I said “Mr. Warren, if I’m not worth it, then why are you wasting so much of the class’s valuable time on me?” He was speechless. After taking a few more moments to compose himself, he returned to the lecture.

After class, I waited until everyone left, and approached the (alleged) teacher at his desk. “Mr. Warren,” I said?

“Yes?”

“I just wanted to let you know that what you did during class today was fucked up, and I think you owe me an apology.”

“Well,” he replied, “It was pretty fucked up of you to distract the entire class by ripping up that paper.”

“I hate to tell you this Mr. Warren, but up until you created that scene, you were the ONLY one in class who was distracted by my actions. And if you’re so easily distracted from your job, considering that you’re in a high school, I think that you should seriously consider a different occupation. Now, where is my apology?”

“You’re right,” he admitted. “I’m sorry.”

By the time I got to my next class, a mere five minutes later, word had spread virtually throughout the entire student body. There was one guy who had both of these classes with me. He was also a big motherfucker… a first-stringer on our high school team. He walked up to me just before the next class started and told me he couldn’t believe I stood up to Mr. Warren like that. “You’re crazy,” he finished.

By the way… Mr. Warren never spoke to me again, and I ended up with an “A” in his class.

As I’m painfully aware of myself, being so ‘direct’ tends not to win you many friends. Has your mouth ever landed you in trouble?

Absolutely.

Care to elaborate on that?

There are so many instances of my mouth getting me into trouble that it’s kind of tough to narrow things down to just one…

Many years ago, I used to work at a telemarketing job, selling computer software. Every now and then, middle management would call we the peons together for a pep talk… you know, telling us how important and valued we were… basically blowing smoke up our collective asses. One time in particular, this alleged manager (I say “alleged” because it’s never been proven that he could actually manage anything) called one of these meetings, then postponed it, then rescheduled it again, and eventually just walked up to us at the end of the day and decided to hold his little pep talk right then and there. (For clarification, this scheduling and postponing happened over the course of two or three days.) He gave his little cookie-cutter speech and then opened the floor for comments.

Being the outspoken individual that I am, I did have some comments. I quite bluntly told him that it was apparent to me that he didn’t value us as employees, and his actions demonstrated this contempt quite effectively. I said something to the effect of “Look, you schedule a meeting with us and then postpone it at the last second. When the second meeting time comes up, you again postpone at the last second. Your third meeting time isn’t until tomorrow, but because you have a free minute, you figure that it’s okay to expect us to drop everything to attend a meeting so important that you can’t even make it on time. Furthermore, you’re expecting us to stay past our shift, without even considering the possibility that some of us may have to pick up kids from daycare, go to another job, or something like that. Basically, it seems that taking your daily crap is higher on your list of priorities than we are.”

He didn’t have a response to that, other than to end the meeting so that we could pick up our kids or whatever, but I was written up for insubordination. Quite interesting, considering that he opened the floor for questions and comments. So, let me get this straight, you want to hear what we have to say, but only if it’s full of fucking sunshine and rainbows?

(I can sympathize, I once had a boss who told us we were being selfish for going on strike after our third year without a pay raise. She said we 'needed to sop being selfish and pull together as a team'. She didn't appreciate it when I pointed out that that was easy for her to say, considering she drove to work in a Porche and was paid more than our entire twelve person section put together. I got written up for pointing out that in the theme of 'pulling together as a team', she could take a 15% pay cut and give the entire section the cost-of-living increase we were asking for). Anyway...

After living in the US for seven years, one of the things that’s struck me is that the vast majority of the American people seem to polarize on just about any issue. Obama is either the Messiah or Hitler. Health Care reform is either a magic bullet that will fix anything, or a Nazi regime that will euthanize old people. You’ve always struck me as being more open minded and more open to the middle ground, is that true and, if so, why do you think that is?

It seems to me that our population is roughly divided into thirds, those parts being liberals, conservatives and moderates. The problem is that American “news” is no longer about the dissemination of pure information, (was it ever?) and allowing the public to reach their own conclusion. Like everything else on TV, the news is expected to have high ratings, and unfortunately it’s only the shills on each extreme of the political spectrum that get the ratings. There are a lot of moderates in society, but their voices are never heard, because there’s no flash or conflict in that type of news.

I’ve often found that open mindedness is far more common in people who have actually traveled and experienced other cultures. I know you traveled a lot with the Marines. Do you think your time with the Marines had a significant impact on the person you are today?

Definitely. My travel with the Marine Corps provided a lot of opportunity to immerse myself in cultures that were greatly different from my childhood experience. I didn’t always agree with or understand why certain cultures did things differently than us, but it helped me realize and witness these differences. And by projecting bits of my personality into others, I understood that others are willing to fight and die for beliefs that are radically different from mine.

Speaking of the Marines, why did you join the Military in the first place? What made you choose that particular branch of the service?

I joined the military because I saw it at the best way out of a dead-end life in a nowhere town. When I was deciding, I figured that I’d go all out and become a Marine, or I’d live the cushy lifestyle of the Air Force. In the end, I chose the Marine Corps partially because of the mystique, and partially because there was less red tape involved in becoming a Marine.

As well as the Marines, I get the sense you’ve worked a lot of different jobs over the years. What was the worst job you’ve ever done and why?

I haven’t had a LOT of jobs. In fact, I tend to stay with a job for quite a while. The worst job I ever had was the aforementioned telemarketing gig, and I hated it for a lot of reasons. As a consumer, I hate telemarketing calls, so when I worked there I felt like a hypocrite. The other reason I hated it was because the employees were treated like cattle. There was absolutely no respect from management. It was so bad that every morning, I would wake up hoping that I was too sick to go in, and I had a knot in my stomach the entire time I worked there.

If money was no object and you could do any job in the world, what would be your dream job?

I’d like to do something where I could travel professionally and write about my experiences, but I’d only want to take three or four trips per year.

On the flip side of the coin, what job would you never like to do?

Well, I’ve already mentioned telemarketing. I’m also not a big fan of plumbing. In fact, I don’t think I’d like to do ANY job that involved strong offensive smells. But with that said, I would do pretty much anything I had to do to get by.

We both have strong opinions when it comes to politics. If you had the power to change any three things about the way America is governed, what would they be?

I think that juries should be allowed to ask questions in court.

I’d like to see the line item veto

I would like to see a third political party strong enough to take on the Democrats and Republicans.

Well, there you have it! You can find Evan's awesome blog here

Monday, February 07, 2011

Superb Owl

So, apparently, there was this big important football game on yesterday.

While it seems like everyone other person in the country was glued to their TVs, I was also glued to my TV…although in my case I was watching The Empire Strikes Back.

As I’ve mentioned before, I was born without the competitiveness gene. Oh, I can be competitive if I’m competing for a job or something that’s going to actually make a difference in my life… but sporting events are so low on my radar that the blip isn’t visible with the naked eye.

When it comes to any sort of game, I couldn’t care less. I mean, I like to win, but I don’t get some huge rush if I do, or actually care if I lose. For some strange reason, getting beaten at Scrabble doesn’t put a downer on my day and being able to kick a ball harder and further than someone else doesn’t fill me with pride.

I also find it really difficult to get that invested in something I have no active part in.

Back in England, I remember watching family and friends get really worked up when their team won a soccer match. I distinctly remember an uncle standing with his hands over his head proclaiming “WE WON.”

We? We? You’re claiming a part of this victory? You’re absolutely right. If you hadn’t helped the team in the critical “Shouting at the TV” position, they never would have made it.

One of my brother’s friends was particularly bad about it. He’d plan his day based on whether the soccer team he supported won or lost. I lost count of the number of times he’d be planning to go out for the night, then cancel if his team lost.

I can’t imagine allowing the success or failure of a group of men trying to shepherd a bit of leather into an outdoor cupboard to effect my emotions that much. “Hey, a group of guys I’ve never met turned out to be slightly better at kicking a ball into a net than another group of guys I’ve never met. I’m too depressed to go out. Leave me to wallow in my misery.”

Basically the part of my brain that’s supposed to release endorphins when I win and stress hormones when I lose doesn’t function…and when you don’t have that competitive streak, you realize just how bizarre sports are.

For example, let’s say that one day I discovered I was really good a balancing a ping-pong ball on my nose. Let’s say I was the best in the world.

Would it bother you that I was better at ping-pong ball balancing than you?

Basically, I think my ‘problem’ is that I understand the difference between “I am better than you.” And “I am better than you at this ultimately pointless, meaningless activity.”