Wednesday, February 04, 2009

Chaos Is Contagious

Did you ever hear someone say "It's Been One Of Those Days". I always wondered, which day in particular did they mean by "those". Is there a list? could I trade one of "mine" for one of "those"?

Today I found out exactly which ones they meant. There is probably not a list.

I will not try to describe work. I am trying to start a new business while employed at my current job. My current job sucks for 1 reason - my boss is a disseminator of chaos, He writes nothing down, tells nobody anything he has promised. He is always late, or has forgotten an appointment. He ducks phone calls from people he promised things to. We have to deal with his chaos every day.

He is a pack rat - worse, he is a neurotic hoarder. It's all in piles all over the place. If there is an open space he will fill it with shit and leave it there for weeks. He never finishes anything he starts. He never has the right equipment, or tools, or numbers with him so everything is jury-rigged, permanently. He promises to come back and fix it, but he never has time. He insists on being in control of everything, but he does not control it, barely knows what to do with most of it, and completely screws up 75% of everything he touches.

"Well, (bosses name here) told us that he would fix that 6 months ago (insert embarrassing amount of time here) and we haven't heard anything" A typical phone call. It should be noted that these calls are usually from people who are not in the customer database, and of whom we have never heard. We provide a highly technical service - lots of electronic junk and numbers assigned to things.

These are the things he never records. The things that are essential for us to do our jobs.

So, on top of this I have this gigantic financial avalanche about to consume me (you'll have to read the other blogs for the details). The startup business is screaming for attention which I am not able to give. I have 3 computers to repair, and we have to go repo some expensive equipment from some folks who would frighten the banjo playing MFs from "Deliverance".

I got back to work, and everything was mellow for 8 minutes; that was it, the lull.

Our boss decided he knows all about phones (he doesn't) so he reconfigured our phone system to suit him. This would have been a good idea if he could have got it working again. He didn't, couldn't and our lead engineer is a genius with phone systems. Our Boss will not ask because he is always right, always the smartest guy in the room. Everyone knows he is not, like Tommy Flanagan, there is no point in calling him out on it. So now our high tech business storefront has phone wires draped over the piles of crap.

Around 40 minutes to closing, my Best Friend in the Whole World texted me. She was having trouble with her newest website, so I tried to help her and just made things worse (I fixed it, I fixed it). I looked at the clock and should have closed the office 15 minutes ago. I was going to be late.

It's the "Nice Guy" curse.

I need to explain more here:

I made some big mistakes in my life. Almost without exception they involved me and my big mouth. But I have never done anything willfully mean, and I have never broken a promise to a child. Really.

I have attempted to do nice things for one of my friends, she is a good person and has great children. They were kind enough to accept me as a friend and I have grown very fond of them. I tried little things like dinner. I was a professional cook for 25 years, I am very good. I fucked it up - three times. There were other examples, which I should probably leave out before it's too obvious who I mean. Suffice it to say they were all accidental disasters.

So I purchased and shipped a much desired, often talked about, and recently promised electronic device to their home as a surprise for one of the kids. FedEx couldn't find the place, and no it's not that hard to find. Google maps knows where it is; I offered to send the link to their driver. The phone support lady contacted the site and gave me the address and the hours. That's what I was late for (see the novel above).

Wonderful! I raced to get there before they closed. I am not really a hot-rodder (unlike some folks I could mention), but I needed to get there in time and I was starving. I knew the Street and I could see the sign from a distance, it was big. The address was the one the phone lady gave me. There was a huge line, out the door. I gritted my teeth and parked my vehicle. I was pleased that it only took 13 minute to get to the front of the line (and yes I timed it, what's it to you?). The young man examined the print-out with the tracking number.

"This is for FedEx Ground." he smiled, "they're over on Mission Road." I was stunned. I thanked him (he was quite pleasant about it and gave me directions) and jogged to my car. Hot-Rodding again I drove to the place. There was a large iron security fence and no lights on in the office. There was no sign of a gate or entry of any kind. It looked like a prison.
Frustrated and still starving I wheeled out of the driveway, and stopped at a Wendy's. My choices for food were McDonald's (dear god not that) Arby's (OMG) or Wendy's. They all suck and just barely imitate food, but Wendy's was the least objectionable.

As I left my car and and approached the Choke and Puke, I called FedEx again. I explained the situation to the Customer Service Unit and she offered to call the facility. One of the crew, a fellow named Brendan, offered to get on the phone with me. He gave me instructions on how to get in the place, asked me for the tracking number (which I had now memorized). I thanked him got back in the car and drove back.

When I walked in the Holy Grail was sitting on the desk. It was my package. It really existed, this was not an episode of "The Twilight Zone", or at least it was one that ended well. I signed the scary looking signing device. From the back a tall shaggy headed guy peaked out.

"Are you Brendan?" I queried.

"Yeah" He replied.

"Dude!" It just came out that way, it's from hanging out with kids. The parents will understand. I thanked him profusely, and I hope I made his day. (At home I called FedEx and insisted that they give him a raise immediately.) He had restored my faith in humans.

On the way home, I stopped at my favorite Chinese place. I had not been there in many years and it was quite good, though I hate eating out alone. There was way too much so I ate all the gooiest stuff and saved the re-usables to take home in the clam shell the waitress provided. I tipped the waitress too much and thanked her for the wonderful service.

After having one of those days, I was finally settled, somewhat happy, and done for the day. I was nearly home before I realized I had left my leftovers on the table.

Monday, February 02, 2009


Recording, in general, is a large pain in the ass. I have done it quite a few times and it is much easier to record someone else, than it is to record yourself. There is no end of silly little things that need to be attended to; loose connectors, potentiometers (I love that word), background noise, 60 cycle hum, and my own goofiness.

Click "Record" and -

realize you didn't plug the guitar back in

realize you forgot to turn off the monitor (Echo echo echo)

the headphones slip and poke you in the nose

a freind comes to visit (even with a sign on the door)

Your UPS resets itself and leaves a .4 sec space in the track

you just gotta pee right now

There are a myriad of other things, each equally annoying, each pretty funny if you keep a good attitude. How funny they are is in direct proportion ot the Take #. The same error that was hilarious for take 3, is much less funny at Take 132. The proportion of swear-words to regular language is also directly proportional. The only reason for putting up with it is the end result, which usually elicits at least one "Woo-Hoo" or a similar phrase from me.

Early in my musical life I had to learn to play Rock and Roll, if I wanted to work. I am an acoustic guitarist, first and formost. I like rock and roll, but it is simplified for the masses. For Instance compare Gershwin's "Rhapsody In Blue" to anything by the JGeils band, Grand Funk or the Archies. Compare Knopfler's "Telegraph Road" to Petty's "Breakdown". Compare Yes's "South Side Of The Sky" to to Springfield's "Jessy's Girl" (sorry my dears); Apples and Oranges.

If you play and instrument and you can't hear the qualitive differences in these, you should stop playing right away.

For us purists, any instrument that has to be plugged in to an amplifier, is fake; if it sounds different plugged in. I don't neccessarily subscribe to that theory, but I do empathize with the sentiment. I think it would take less time to learn to operate a drum machine, than it would to train a drummer to play music. Currently, I have little or no affection for drummers. Bass players on the other hand....

Lately though, I've heard drum machines compared to vibrators, and while I agree whole-heartedly with the sentiment, I have never actually used a vibrator.

You can click the blog title "recording" to hear the song