Thursday, March 31, 2011

My Job...

Well, it pays the bills and keeps me fed and clothed to my satisfaction. But sometimes it makes me wish I still had hair so I could pull it out. And I've had a string of those days lately.

I don't even know for sure what the problem is. For one thing, the platemaking machine I work with five days a week has burned some 194,000 plates since the company bought it about eight years ago -- I found that out when the technician who came to work on it this afternoon opened up its own version of Apple's Time Machine on the computer. That's not unlike a car having 194,000 miles on it -- that's multiple trainloads of fucking plates burned. And you don't need to be a physicist to know that entropy happens. That machine is wearing out.

Another issue in that vein is, we currently have seven different plate sizes for the presses we use, but the machine is only designed to hold five at any given time. We can store as many sizes as we want to in the system -- we just have to take one size out and put another in when we have to burn a plate of the latter size. It's a juggling act, and one that I'm accustomed to. But apparently, whoever designed this platemaker never took into account that a print shop that uses more than five sizes of plates would purchase it -- and from what I've heard from people who work for that company, most print shops don't do things the way we do. So maybe a little bit of the problem is on our end.

Then again, I'd like to know why when we do encounter problems while trying to burn plates, 90-95% of the time, it's only one plate size that's giving us trouble? You'd think it would be somewhat spread out over all the sizes. It's not. But you point that out, and you hear things like, oh, it's probably the aluminum in the plates, or oh, the plates probably aren't square.

Yeah, well, pro-tip time: if the plates aren't square, it's the manufacturer's fault, not ours -- the plates come to us pre-cut, we just have to suffer through what they deign to give us. What, I have to measure every plate with a fucking L-square before I try to burn it now? Kiss my ass -- I may not have an engineering degree, but I don't need one to know when I'm dealing with shitheads. Give us square plates, and then if we're still having trouble, I'll listen to your advice. Assholes.

I keep having to not quit my job. It's not getting any easier...


Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Late Night Randomness...

I think I'm finally developing allergies. Either that, or I caught one bitch of a cold several days ago, and now it's beginning to kick my ass. It's insane -- I've probably sneezed more in the last twenty-four hours than I've sneezed in the previous three years. Usually, when I get sick, it's one form or another of the twenty-four hour variety. I don't know what the hell's going on -- maybe it's me getting older, maybe it's the way the weather around here can't seem to make up its mind this year, maybe it's both. All I know for sure is, my ass is getting kicked.

The usual remedies I apply to this sort of thing -- orange juice, ginger ale, chicken soup, vegetable soup, various fruits -- are keeping me functional. Normally, they overwhelm whatever is ailing me, but not this time. I'm simply not up to par. I'm good enough to go to work in the morning and get through the day.

I remember when I first moved down here, talking to the woman from the leasing office of the apartment complex I'd settled upon as a start-up. Turned out she was from Massachusetts like me. She'd been in central Virginia for a long time, and she told me that if I didn't have respiratory problems now, I would in ten years. Well, I didn't have respiratory problems at the time -- hell, I was only 28. But whatever I've got now, I can't help wondering if she knew exactly what she was talking about. Whatever this is, it sucks...

* * *

I put in for a week's paid vacation July 11-15 a little while back. Today, it was approved. And I will be spending the bulk of it in New England. It's been more than four years since I've seen anyone in my family. That's just plain too long. Of course, if I get irritated enough, it could be another four years before the next visit, but still, I've been away too long. There's no excuse for it.

And in recent months, I've been questioning some of my own beliefs. One belief, which I've said several times, is that moving to Virginia was one of the best decisions I've ever made. In some ways, yes, it was. For example, I got a real education coming down here on my own and trying to make ends meet with pretty much no safety net to speak of. I'm going on thirteen years of this, and the verdict is clear: I damn sure know how to go it alone if I have to. And for a second example, I did it through full-time factory work all along. That's another education all by itself, really. I've started telling younger people, hey, if you just want to party and get laid all the time, by all means, enroll in college; but if you want an education which you know for a fact you'll actually be able to put to good use down the line, go work in a factory for a few years. My continuing education in factories is now in its sixteenth year. And it's definitely not getting easier. But Good Lord, the things I'm still learning...

* * *

Then there's the music. I think my muse has given up on me. My personal opinion: fair enough. I can continue on without her. It's just that when I get home from work these days, nothing makes me want to work on music -- I just want to drink some beer and then go to bed. It's bullshit, but it's also the truth. I suppose I could lie to myself, if I thought it would make me feel better -- a lot of people like that line-of-least-resistance nonsense.

Well, I don't. My music has stagnated, I'm stuck in a rut at work, I'm trying and failing to get off the beer, and I'm not happy with the way my life is going right now. I'm not going to lie about it. If I want a chance to break out of this bullshit, I have to at least be honest about it. That's all there is to it...

* * *

I've been on this Hawkwind kick lately. This isn't Hawkwind, but Motorhead featuring Hawkwind alumnus Lemmy doing "Lost Johnny"...


Personally, I prefer the Hawkwind version. But I can't seem to find it on YooToob.

Speaking of Hawkwind, I saw a BBC documentary of that band over the weekend. Man, those guys were beyond trippy back in the 70s. Me, I was primarily into Hawkwind because of Nik Turner -- his style just resonated with my tastes the best. But Lemmy was a piece of work in those days, too. I don't quite get into his style -- he's too loud, too fast, too intense, too often for my tastes. But he's still good. Damn, he's still good...

* * *

Lastly... Fuck Charlie Sheen.

I just thought I'd say that. I don't need to know anything more about him.

Til further on...

Friday, March 25, 2011

What Kind Of Liberal Am I?

This one:



Quiz: What Kind of Liberal Are You?

My Liberal Identity

You are a Working Class Warrior, also known as a blue-collar Democrat. You believe that the little guy is getting screwed by conservative greed-mongers and corporate criminals, and you’re not going to take it anymore.

Take the quiz at
About.com Political Humor



There's a quiz for this sort of thing...

About Time For Bed...

It is, after all, a Friday. Busy day coming my way once I get to work.

I've been quiet here lately. Sometimes, there just isn't enough water in the well to bother dropping the bucket into it. The last couple weeks haven't been bad. They've just been disjointed, at least for me -- not much continuity from one thing to the next, is all. Life does that to me at times.

I put in for a week's vacation in July. Pretty sure it's mine for the taking.

That's about it. later...

...


...

Update (3-26-11): I was at a loss for words when I first posted this, so I just let it stand on its own. For some reason, I really needed to hear it the other day -- and I hadn't posted jack around here lately, so I figured maybe a video clip was in order. I've always liked this song. On one level, this is a song about love; on another, it's about lust (evident toward the end when Bono repeatedly wails, "All I want is, YOU"). We've often been told that love is all that matters and that lust is one of the seven deadly sins. "All I Want Is You," however, highlights something that no one ever tells us, at least not explicitly: there's no fine line between love and lust, just this small but overwhelming twilight region wherein you can't really tell where one begins and the other ends. The strings in this song capture just enough of that twilight to make it work.

As for the video interpretation of it, I can't be sure of what the director had in mind. Most likely, toward the end of it, she had become dead to him -- that could explain why he threw the ring into the grave while the casket was still being covered with dirt. But I got the strange impression that the man with the ring was attending his own funeral, not that of the woman he loved -- or, perhaps, lusted after (or both). In a sense, he probably was. He knew he could never have what he wanted.

And I guess the best you can do in that situation, like it or not, is bury it, turn around, walk away, and not look back...

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

It's Fucked Up, All Right -- But It's Good...

Building on the Gabriel Iglesias clip from yesterday, here's comedian Michael Colyar telling what I think is a funny, if a bit macabre, joke:


The clip comes from a celebrity roast of Football Hall of Fame running back Emmett Smith back when he was still playing professionally...

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Oh, God...

Here's comedian Gabriel Iglesias talking about some messed-up shit he did...


It's funny. But man...

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Once Is Enough...

One thing is really clear now: I'm not the person I was when I moved to Virginia. Come April, I'll have lived here for thirteen years. It's nearly impossible for me to believe I've been here this long.

I've said several times over the years that moving to Virginia is one of the best decisions I've ever made. Lately, though, I've wondered how true that is. I gained some things by doing it, but it took me a lot longer to start realizing some of the things I've lost. I don't know how it all balances out yet.

And then I think back to how the prospect of me moving to Virginia went from an abandoned notion to a real possibility in a matter of weeks in February/March of 1998. It started when I got laid off from the fiberboard factory I'd gone to after leaving the paper bag plant. There was another bag plant in Richmond that I knew about. After a few weeks of collecting unemployment checks, filling out job applications, and getting no offers, I planned out a vacation, went to Richmond for the first time, and filled out more job applications, including the one at that bag plant (and got a tour of it the same day).

Frankly, I wasn't expecting to get anything. My plan was to go back to Massachusetts and continue looking for work until I got a new job. I came down here just to satisfy my curiosity. But then I got the job at the bag plant, during my vacation. That was the only job offer I would get between the lay-off and the day I started working in Richmond in April, even though I still filled out applications in Massachusetts before I moved. I think about that time, and for the life of me, I can't see not moving to Virginia under those circumstances. It's almost as if I didn't have much say in the matter. I may not be sure whether or not there is a God, no matter what I call myself, but I'm reasonably certain that free will is, more or less, a crock.

That, and after a few weeks, the novelty of not having to work starts wearing off. Fast.

But you know what? If there was a way to go back in time to early 1998 and do it all over again, I wouldn't do it. It's not a question of what I would do differently; it's a question of how my decisions would play out the second time. There's no way of knowing, is there? Hell, I didn't know things would play out the way they actually did. How do I know they wouldn't play out worse the second time?

I have some regrets now; I don't want to know what kind of regrets I would have a second time around, on top of those of the first. Fortunately, I'll never know. Nobody can see into the future, but maybe... just maybe... there's a very good reason for that.

Once is enough.

Once In A While, Someone Gives A Damn...

The workload at the print shop has just been staggering lately. And it's been consuming people, and they're acting somewhat strangely as a result -- it isn't just me with the blogging, trust me. But a little after 5 PM today, I was talking to one of the CSRs in between plate-burning sessions, and at one point, I said, "Oh, you know when I got out of here Friday? Quarter to midnight."

She grimaced. Not that I blame her -- if she stays past six, it's like staying until quarter to midnight for her. But when I told her about how I'd been carving up the sixty-four digital proofs that were spitting out of the printer at a snail's pace, her face lit up.

Turns out the client I was carving up proofs for that night was assigned to her -- and boy, was she thankful that I stayed long enough to get most of them done. She had expected to be begging and screaming for them on Monday as 5 PM approached, and instead she had them all in her hands around 1. Needless to say, she likes me a whole lot right now.

And I was all like: "Um... you're welcome. Glad I could be of assistance." Did not see that coming.

As much as I bitch and complain about all the time I spend at work now, I just might have to spend a little more there now. Hell, the whole point of taking me out of the pressroom and putting me in pre-press was to make other people's jobs easier, and I have done that very well.

Might as well keep on doing it. It hasn't failed me yet...