Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Bite Me, Oil Barons

Buying gas sucks.
Cars are expensive in the first place. When you really think about it, a new car is equivalent to most people's yearly income.

And then there's insurance. What's up with that? It's kinda like giving the neighbor kid money every month, just in case you need him to mow your lawn one day.

Then they breakdown. We won't even get into that.

On top of it all, you gotta keep the damn tank full to keep it going. It's no wonder people pay such close attention to gas prices. Sometimes TOO close attention, I think. It drives me nuts how my Mom will drive across town to save 10 cents a gallon. That's a total savings of about 1 dollar in her car. Yippee.

I've never really got that excited about paying for gas. You gotta do it, right? I don't think the powers-that-be have a bitch gauge out, measuring the complaints from people, and adjusting prices accordingly. Sorry, people.

Granted, I never had to really worry about buying gas. Even when I bought my full-size Chevy pickup, I only had about a mile to drive to work. I filled it up about once a month. I hafta admit, though, I did ride my bike to work occasionally - with kid trailer in tow. But it wasn't about saving gas, it was about exercise.

Times changed.

I took a new job in Washington, with a commute of about 22 miles one way. I suddenly found myself spending 300-400 dollars a month on gas. Plus, I hated the fact that I was putting so many miles on my nice truck. I came very close to bitching about it. Instead, I did something about it.

Say hello to Otis G Mobile #2.

It's an '87 Toyota Tercel. I bought it from a grandma through a guy I know from work for $1,5oo. She only drove it to the doctor and to the store, so in over 20 years she only managed to put 60,000 miles on it. It's boxy. It's not exactly sporty. It doesn't even have a cassette player; AM/FM radio only (that occasionally works). Weirdest part? I love it. I guess that's a sign of getting old, when economy is more important than style.

So, I figure I'm saving at least $200 a month driving it. It'll pay for itself in a few months, but more importantly - I'm not putting miles on my precious truck. It's actually a bit of a treat when I drive my truck now, as it should be.

I wonder if some oil billionaire somewhere is wondering why he's getting $299,800 a month as opposed to $300,000. Probably not. But, at least I know where it is... okay, where the hell is it? Well, you know how that goes. :)

Monday, April 28, 2008


It's interesting what you come across in the months after a divorce.

While getting my camp trailer ready for an upcoming trip, I found this travel Scrabble with an unfinished game. I don't remember who had which rack, but they both had pretty crappy letters left. Not much of a board to work with, either.

I do know that "pique" wasn't a word I laid down. I don't even know what that is; I must have taken her word for it.

I will point out, however, that I was in the lead - 222 to 163. I'll just tell myself that I would have won. :)

A Brand New Brodwater

7 pounds, 15 ounces. Is that big? I've never quite understood why people get so excited about the weight of a baby. Is it a contest? I guess if I was the one pushing it out I'd be more interested in how big it is.

I got to hold my brand new baby niece tonight. So precious, and so fragile. You can't help but be reminded of your own child's birth (especially when it's in the same hospital room). Such an incredible time, something you never forget.

Welcome to the world, Destiny. You're possibly the last newborn addition to my immediate family. Be a baby as long as you can. :)

Friday, April 25, 2008

Sugar WAS Poured On Me

So, I survived the Def Leppard concert. A few general observations:

There were HORDES of soccer moms, who apparently see something like this as “girls night out” (not a whole lotta husbands around). Great, good to see them having a good time. But, I gotta say, the outfits probably looked okay in 1987… not so much in 2008. I think many of them now have the cleavage they wish they had in the 80’s (and displayed them proudly), but they also had all the other body features that come with big cleavage (also displayed, but not so proudly).

There was a couple in front of me that brought their pre-teen son. During one of the Def Leppard songs, there was a scantily clad woman portrayed on the gigantic on-stage monitor. The mother, at first, promptly covered her son’s eyes. Eventually, she whisked him away to the concession area. C’mon, lady. We’re talkin’ “Cherry Pie” era here. What did you expect?

I saw many REO Speedwagon tour shirts from the 80’s, which were suspiciously crisp and new. Do these people keep them in a climate-controlled room, just in case a “reunion” tour comes up?

I failed to notice a single mullet. It was disappointing.

As far as the bands themselves…

REO Speedwagon

For whatever reason, I remember these guys as bein’ kinda hippies. Either I was confused, or they’ve decided to rock out. I didn’t think hippies wore leather pants.


I have always, and still do, think this is the dumbest band name ever. It just doesn’t feel right but admittedly; I’m from another era. The highlight? The keyboard was mounted on a makeshift merry-go-round thing, and the dude held on for dear life (and played) while spinning wildly. And, were silver ties ever in style? I missed that one. I was pretty bummed, though, that they didn’t play “Mr. Roboto”. I guess you don’t play the song that tanked the band.

Def Leppard

Their show started with a gigantic British flag on the gargantuan stage monitor. First thought? I guess I never realized they were British. Second thought? Oh yeah, there ARE other countries besides America!

They put on a good show, except that I could tell the lead singer was holding back a bit. I’ve seen better Def Leppard singing in a karaoke bar. Granted, their next tour stop was Las Vegas… better save the voice for the big one! And I think the guitar players work out as much as they play guitar. They were pretty ripped for older dudes.

Regretfully, I didn’t purchase one of their 2008 tour shirts. I guess I’ll be out of luck when the 2028 reunion tour comes around.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Pour Some Sugar on Me

A buddy called me last week and proudly proclaimed, "Dude! I've got tickets to Def Leppard, and you're going!" The hearing impaired Leppard will be joined by REO Speedwagon and Styx at the Spokane Arena.

So, I'll hear the classic:

And the ever-popular:

And the best one by far (I had no idea Styx did this song):

Of course, now I'm a little bummed that I chopped off my mullet before it bloomed.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

God Bless the USA

I e-filed my taxes a couple weeks ago. After periodically checking the status, I was pleased to see "direct-deposited" come up. After a week of checking my bank account and finding no such deposit, I was not so pleased. Against my better judgement, I called the IRS "refund hotline". After being on hold for 20 minutes with classical music so loud I think my ear started bleeding, here is the gist of my conversation (and this is for real):

"Internal Revenue Service, Representative # (whatever) here, how may I help you?"

"Yeah, your website says my refund was deposited over a week ago, but it never showed up in my checking account."

"Have you called our refund hotline, sir?"

"I thought that's what this is."

"Oh, okay. Social security number please."

(Gave her my info.)

"It looks like we tried to deposit it, but your bank rejected it. Did you give us the right number?"

"I checked the number several times. I know I put the right one on there."

"Well, we're showing a 5-digit account number."

"Yeah, that's not right. Can we just fix the number so you can try depositing it again?"

"It looks like it's scheduled to be mailed on April 25th."

"Oh, okay. I guess that would be fine."

"We have you down at P.O. Box (whatever)."

"Uhhh.... that can't be right. I've never had a P.O. Box."

"It's in Spirit Lake, Idaho."

"Oh, well, my ex lives in Spirit Lake... but I'm not sure why you would have her address for me."

"Well, let's take a look here... (long pause)... have you done a change of address with the post office recently?"

"Yeah, but not to Spirit Lake! I think she may have done one with my name on it, but I did one too. Can't I just get it mailed to the address on my return?"

"For that, you'd have to fill out change-of-address form 8822 and mail it in."

"I don't want to change my address. I want it mailed to the address on my tax return."

"You'll have to fill out the form, sir, and mail it in."

"By the time I do that and get it to you, it'll probably already be in the mail."

"That's a possibility."

"Are you sure I can't just fix the checking account number?"

"Well, let me check a few things here..." (EXTREMELY long pause)...

"Are you still there?"

"Yes, my computer just locked up."

"Oh, okay." (an even LONGER long pause)....

"Did you get it back up?"

"No, it's locked up, and only a supervisor can unlock it."

"Oh. So where does that leave us?"

"It's getting mailed to P.O. Box (whatever) on April 25th."

"Fine. I guess I'll just call back if my ex doesn't get my refund."

End of transmission.

I love how the government takes something that already sucks and makes it as complicated as possible. Crap, I keep forgetting - I work for the government. Never mind.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Party on, Room 1117

I took my engineer-in-training exam on Saturday. It was at the Spokane Convention Center, where about 150 other wannabe engineers converged for 8 hours of head scratching. Do I think I passed? I'm not sure. The morning session felt pretty good, the afternoon not so good. It didn't help that I had 2 hours of sleep the night before.

Yeah. 2 hours. In the book of practice problems for the exam, it suggests getting a hotel room near the test site. That way, you don't hafta worry about parking, and I thought it would be nice to get a good nights sleep. No such luck.

I spent most of Friday afternoon in a room at the downtown Ridpath, doing some last minute studying and enjoying the view from the 10th floor. I had a friend talk me into going to The Onion for dinner, and got back to the hotel a little after 9. Plenty of time to get a good nights sleep, so I thought.

Turns out, the people upstairs (in room 1117) didn't have a test to take. They got a room for one reason, apparently - to party. I could hear every detail of every stupid, drunken conversation they had. I laid awake most of the night, tempted to call the front desk... but I kept figuring they'd pass out. They finally did, around 4 in the morning. So, 2 hours later, my alarm went off. I figured I was screwed.

Surprisingly, after some coffee and a disgusting gas station sandwich, I was ready to go. The morning was fine. The afternoon sucked. I was exhausted.

Later that night, I waited for the elevator in the hotel lobby. There was a twenty-something girl standing there, also waiting to get on the elevator. When we got in, she sweetly asked:

"What floor are you on?"

"10", I replied. I glanced over as she pushed the 10 button, and noticed that the 11 button was also lit. I couldn't resist asking.

"You're not in room 1117, are you?"

"Yes. Oh God! Were we too loud last night? It's my aunt's room, and she got a little crazy!"

I pondered my response for a moment. I wanted SOOOO bad to say:

"Yeah, actually you were VERY loud. I got a room here just so I could get a good night's sleep, prior to taking an 8 hour exam that I've spent months preparing for. Thanks to you guys, I got around 2 hours, and possibly bombed it."

But, I couldn't do it. I could tell she was genuinely concerned about the whole thing, so I simply replied:

"Nah, it's okay. Sounded like you guys were having a good time. At least tonight I'll know to expect it." Right about then we reached the 10th floor. I smiled as I stepped out, and she smiled back.

I stayed awake until about 3 am watching a poker tournament on TV, figuring I wouldn't be able to sleep again. Funny thing is, room 1117 was dead silent.

All night. :)

Monday, April 7, 2008

I'll Be Back

Sorry about the hiatus, folks. My engineering exam is coming up and I've been pretty busy trying to prepare. I'll be back next week.