If I knew that updating a .plan file was this entertaining, I would have started doing semi-regular updates a long time ago. Oh well. My web space is located at http://nuthouse.org/~hendersa and I can be reached via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org. ************************************************* * 05 February 2002 - The Religious Terror Begins * ************************************************** OK, OK, I know... you people are not a patient bunch. The amount of pestering I get about my not updating my .plan file shows me that much. So, without further ado, on with the wedding story... Anyway, when we last left off in my 03 January 2002 update, I was in the process of finding a place within the church for me to park myself. I had decided that one corner of the seating area was a good place for me to sit during the ceremony, since there wouldn't be anyone within 5 seats of me in any direction. We heathens like our space. Too bad I ended up picking the worst spot that I possibly could have. So, I sat down. The ceremony was due to start in about 10 minutes, which translates to about 20 minutes in the world of planned events. People were all talking and laughing back and forth as is the wedding was a reunion of a bunch of old friends. Undoubtedly, it was a reunion for these folks, since most of the conversations that I got snippets of were relating to church functions, births, baptisms, birthdays, church dinners, and of course, church. I decided that it would be best for all involved in this event if I said absolutely nothing to anyone there. I passed the time by re-reading the program for the wedding over and over. My choice of seating was really designed with isolation in mind. I made the faulty assumption that people that don't know you will avoid sitting near you. If that faulty assumption had been valid in this case, I would have been fine. After all, in a row of eight chairs, I was on the exit aisle seat. Anyone that wanted to be right up by the center aisle to see everything would be way over at the other end of the row of seats. On about my 14th time through the wedding program, I noticed a large pack of people heading over towards where I was sitting. These folks were clearly a pretty happy bunch. After all, they were in a church, which was probably the highlight of their day. I didn't count them at the time, but logic tells me there were a total of 17 of them. Let me explain how I came to that count of 17. Despite the numerous empty rows in front and behind me, the large group of people decided that it would be a great idea to sit right where I was. Now, I don't know about you, but I find it kind of odd to envelope a stranger with a group of your friends. It doesn't seem very thoughtful to surround a stranger like that. These people, however, didn't seem to think anything of it. Eight of them sat in the row in front of me, completely taking up the row. Another eight sat in the row behind me, completely taking up THAT row. That left one young man. He looked at me for a moment and smiled. He pointed to the seat directly next to me and asked, "Is that seat taken?" OK, this breaks so many rules that it isn't even funny. These people had me boxed in from the front and back, and then this guy wanted to sit directly next to me so that I was stuck on the end and he had a whopping six empty seats to his left. Creepy. Unfortunately, I indicated that the seat wasn't taken. After all, I guess I could have lied to the guy, but it'd be pretty damn hard to come up with a body on short notice to fill that seat to prove that it WAS taken. The guy managed to be quiet for about 30 seconds before he turned to me and started talking. He asked my name, and then cheerfully told me his name was Chris. Chris then proceeded to tell me the names of everyone in his immediate family (the row in front of us), and his aunt and uncle's family (the row behind us). To his credit, Chris was a pretty friendly guy. A little weird for wanting to park himself in the seat right next to me, but hey... everyone is a buddy in church, right? "So, what church do you go to?" Chris asked. I got the feeling that my "buddy" status was soon to be revoked. Boom. Busted. And the ceremony hadn't even STARTED yet. "Well, I don't really go to church," was my honest reply. I've never seen so many jaws drop at once in my life. You'd think that I had just told them I eat puppies. Chris had a look of utter shock on his face. He was working towards a reply, but the net result was a lot of sputtering. Some of the folks in the row in front of me were looking at me and shaking their heads back and forth. The people behind me weren't giving me the most savory of glances, either. My mind started grabbing random pieces of data and mashing them together to form a jigsaw puzzle of a rather unsettling image. I sat on the groom's side of the church. The groom is super religious. His friends and family are probably super religious. I'm not religious. "What church do you go to?" is the church-goer replacement for "hello!". The image forming from the rapidly-assembling jigsaw puzzle was that of me being lynched. I was screwed. "Well, how do you even know the bride or groom then???" Chris asked me in amazed tones. He was starting to draw attention from people other than the band of holy rollers surrounding me. I just looked at Chris and told him that I was a guest of one of the bridesmaids, and didn't personally know either the bride or groom. Apparently, this answer wasn't going to fly without proof. Chris started shuffling around until he found the copy of the wedding program he brought with him to his seat. He fumbled with the program, unfolding it, and then asked me exactly WHICH bridesmaid I was with. He was holding the program up and away from me, so I couldn't cheat by just pointing to a bridesmaid's name and saying "that's her right there!". What a dork. I told him Leslie's name, and then assured him that she was a last-minute replacement to head off further inquiry. Luckily, Leslie's name had been added to the programs at the last minute via a little sticker with her name on it. The sticker had been placed over the previous bridesmaid's name. Chris examined the sticker for a moment, and then gave me a wary look, and then muttered, "well, that explains it. I guess." Chris looked rather vacant for a moment or two before he turned to look at me again. "So I take it that you haven't accepted the Lord as your savior, then?" Chris asked in all earnestness. Chris's holy posse were all staring at me when Chris asked this. People from other rows were peering my way as well. Apparently, the conversion of a heathen is an even bigger event than a wedding. I was fighting back the urge to pop Chris in the jaw. "No, I haven't," was about all I could muster. Getting in a crusade with these folks wasn't going to solve anything. I was a guest here, and I had better keep on acting like it. I could care less if these fruit loops thought I was evil incarnate, but I didn't want to say or do anything that would reflect badly on Leslie. Chris looked at me and slowly shook his head back and forth. One of the aunt/uncle clan murmured something along the lines of "what a shame, and he seemed like such a nice man." In fact, all of the folks surrounding me were murmuring things. I started feeling the way I used to feel when I was in uniform and standing at attention in front of an Air Force review board. The music started playing, signalling the beginning of the wedding ceremony. I shot a furitive glance at my watch and noted that things were starting ten minutes late. Let this be a warning to everyone who is reading this and will ever take part in the planning or execution of a wedding: start the damn wedding on time. The God squad was momentarily torn between forcing God's will on me or paying attention to the event they were actually there for, but the wedding won out. Everyone shifted their eyes away from me and towards the center aisle of the church. I breathed a momentary sigh of relief. The obvious highlight of that evening was when I got to see Leslie come down the aisle wearing her bridesmaid's dress. It almost made up for all the hassle I'd been through so far. Oh hell, who am I kidding... NOTHING was going to make up for the hassle I'd been through. Still, Leslie was certainly a charmer, no doubt about it. It's a shame she doesn't wear dresses more often, because she does look really good in them. Things flowed along fairly smoothly once the ceremony got rolling. I say "fairly smoothly" because I was constantly being directed by Chris during the whole thing, which was rather annoying. "After he's done saying this part, say 'Amen!', OK?" Chris whispered over to me. On several different occasions, I might add. Now, these religious folks might not have thought I was the sharpest pencil in the box because I didn't have God on my Christmas card list, but I think I could figure out the 'Amen' bit on my own. I also noticed that whenever there was singing in this ceremony (and there was quite a bit of it), the people doing the singing up front always invited everyone in the church to sing along. Everyone in the church always knew all the words to the songs, too. Well, I didn't know, but everyone else did. In fact, they all had their faces pointed towards the ceiling, with their eyes closed, and they sang the song while gently leaning back and forth. This was all rather scary to me... all you needed to do was throw some funny hats into this whole equation and the ATF would have been camped outside the church. When the moment of truth came, and the bride and groom kissed at the altar as husband and wife, the groom finally got his opportunity to kiss a girl for the first time. As I expected, it was a monumental disaster. He slobbered a bit and decided to work his mojo with a tongue that was clearly visible to all the people in the church. I guess there's something to be said for practice. Of course, I could understand the whole tongue part... I'd probably be a bit more than eager if I hadn't kissed a girl in 21 years, either. If that kiss was any indication, I bet those two aren't going to be having children any time soon. The premature ejaculation problems alone are going to be a considerable obstacle. As soon as I had the opportunity, I was out of my seat like a shot and dashing towards the great outdoors. I had to get out. I had to get away from the church. Also, I had to get away from Chris before the better part of my judgement took over and I killed him. I managed to get through the crowd and out of the door in a only a few seconds. I backed up a few steps and looked back into the church. An older woman made an announcement that the wedding party still needed to have their wedding pictures taken. I quickly processed that in my head to mean, "You're trapped here until Leslie gets done getting her picture taken." This was not spectacular news. I moved down the sidewalk and across the parking lot at a quick pace. Putting some distance between the holy land and myself was a top priority. I unlocked Leslie's car, hopped in the driver's seat, and began what would end up being a 45 minute wait for Leslie to meet me. So far, this whole wedding thing wasn't all that it was cracked up to be. Hell, we hadn't even gotten to the RECEPTION yet. Next Wedding Update: The wedding reception. It gets worse. Honest. ********************************** *21 January 2002 - Telemarketers * ********************************** For the past two weeks, I've been on business trips all over the countryside. Two trips, actually, each one being a week long. So, if you're wondering why I vanished all of a sudden, well... here I am again. Those two weeks were not without exciting and noteworthy moments, so expect a few .plan updates coming soon with all of the educational and entertaining narration about my life that you've come to expect. Even mundane stuff can seem exciting if you tell the story just right. Right? Anyway, since a .plan update without a humorous tidbit is like a day without sunshine, here's a quick bit about telemarketers: I don't like telemarketers. Actually, one of my very best friends is a telemarketer, so I can't make a blanket statement like that. I don't like on-duty telemarketers. They are annoying folks that don't seem to understand simple things like the word "no" and the phrase "I'm going to hang up on you now". When I was sick at home with mono for a few weeks, I was amazed at the sheer volume of phone calls coming in during the day that were asking me to sign up for stuff, buy stuff, answer questions for stuff, donate to stuff, and explain why I had not yet tried stuff. I try to take the approach of "three strikes and you're out" with telemarketers. I politely tell them that I'm not interested two times. If they still keep pushing me to try/buy/donate something after that, it's open season. Most of the conversations start to turn ugly after they hit that point. They usually degenerate to the point where I find myself saying things like "Do you have a daughter? Is she cute?" and "What are you wearing?". My goal is to get the telemarketer to hang up first. I see it as claiming victory in the face of their surrender. It also usually provides about a minute of entertainment that's roughly above the level of prime-time TV. Anyway, some of these telemarketers manage to make the major mistake of calling me when I'm in no mood to deal with them. This usually results in an immediate hang-up. If I happen to have the materials handy, I'll often pop a plastic bag loudly next to the phone and scream, "I've been shot!!" before hanging up. If I REALLY hit the jackpot and have a sheet of bubble-wrap nearby, I'll twist the sheet and pop a whole bunch of bubbles in rapid-fire succession into the phone's mouthpiece before screaming that I've been shot. Every once in a while, I'll get a telemarketer that suprises me. Those are the folks that don't start right in by asking for you and then telling you what they are trying to sell you. These people try to punch up the usual sales routine a bit before throwing it at you. These are perhaps the most annoying of the bunch, since they think that being a little bit more clever than the average bear will require you to give in and hand over your money in dejected defeat. I just look at this as a bit of a challenge. Cleverness on the part of the telemarketer results in my skipping the "three strikes and you're out" rule. We just dive straight into the torment. Shortly after I returned from my marathon of business travel and sat on my bed, I let out a big sigh. I was finally home. After two weeks of travel, I was finally back in my own apartment. I had a grand total of ten minutes to enjoy it before the phone rang. I picked up the phone. It was a telemarketer. I hung up the phone. Boy, that was easy. About an hour later, the phone rang again. I answered it, and was greeting by a very peppy-sounding young man. "Is this Andrew Henderson?" the guy asked. I said that it was, so his cheeriness jacked up a notch or two before he let me have it: "What would you say if I could give you 3 CDs for just ONE PENNY??!?" was his enthusiastic response to me. If I could have seen this kid in person, I have no doubt that he smiled right after he said that and that there was a little glint of light on his teeth because they were so white and shiny. I hate clever telemarketers. Actually, since one of my very best friends is a clever telemarketer, I should probably say that I hate on-duty clever telemarketers. Damn it, Faith... hurry up and get a non-telemarketing job, will ya? "What would you say if I could give you the block of ham in my refridgerator for only 50 CENTS??!?" was my enthusiastic reply. I heard a slight "err, umm..." coming from the other end of the line. Whatever response this guy was expecting, it sure as hell wasn't this. My verbal machette had just put a big dent in this guy's mental thicket. Much to my suprise, the telemarketer came back with, "well, that's a good deal, sir... but it's not as good of a deal as three CDs for a penny!" Very smooth recovery there, ace, but not good enough. I wasn't going to admit defeat that easily. I was quiet for a split second before responding with, "tell you what... can I trade in that block of ham in my fridge for 150 of your CDs?" I once again heard a lot of "err, umm"ing coming from the other end of the line. This was starting to become more trouble for this guy than it was worth. "Well, err... I don't think that'll work..." was his response. Time for the kill. "Sorry, I can't help you then. I work on a ham-only basis." And with that, I hung up on the guy. Was it a retreat on my part? I don't think so. I just didn't have anything more to say to the guy. I get the feeling that if that particular call was recorded for "quality purposes", it's going to get played back a whole heck of a lot during the office parties at that telemarketing place. **************************************************** *03 January 2002 - I Always Cry Because Of Weddings* **************************************************** Leslie leaned over to me and said, "drive REALLY fast. I'm so late... she's going to kill me." She glanced at the clock in the car's dash and groaned. "She's probably starting to panic right now." I didn't know what more she expected me to do... I was already blasting down I-805 at around 90 MPH. I was squirming in the driver seat, in expectation of the impending disaster that was due to start in about an hour or so. While Leslie was going to be 15 minutes late to this wedding by the time we eventually arrived, I was going to be a whole 45 minutes early. I'm getting ahead of myself here, though. I think I need to back this whole thing up and start this story a little earlier. Quite a few weeks ago, Leslie (my cohort in crime) asked me if I'd go to a wedding with her. She had been invited to the wedding of a girl that she had known back in high school. Other than the bride, Leslie knew a bridesmaid or two that was going to be in the bridal party. So, since Leslie was going and getting dressed up, she wanted me to go along and get dressed up as well. I wasn't too crazy about the idea, since Leslie knew about 3 or 4 people there and I knew no one. Leslie assured me that she'd be there with me so that there wouldn't be a problem. Leslie assured me that she'd even wear a dress, which is quite a suprise since she is decidedly anti-dress, anti-skirt, and anti-high heel. Leslie assured me that we'd have a good time since we'd be there together and we'd get to spend time with each other. So I agreed. Probably not the best choice in retrospect. Flash forward a week or two after that to the bride's bachelorette party. Leslie was invited to this little shindig, and she went. When she came back, she was telling me how tame the party had been, since the bride and her family are hardcore Christians. She also told me that the groom and his clan was even MORE hardcore Christian than the bride and her side. In fact, the bride-to-be and groom-to-be had never even kissed each other. Their first kiss was going to be at the end of the wedding ceremony itself. Even worse to consider, that kiss was going to be the first time the groom had ever kissed a girl. Ever. I didn't know people like that still existed. In spite of all of this rather amusing and kinda disturbing news, Leslie dropped one more bombshell that really put an interesting spin on this whole event. She said that one of the bridesmaids couldn't make it to the wedding, had cancelled at the last minute, and that Leslie had been asked to be a bridesmaid at the party. Leslie, of course, said that she'd do it, since women tend to jump at the chance to do things like that for some odd reason. For the matrimonially defunct portion of the audience out there, being a bridesmaid (or a groomsman, for that matter) means that at the reception after the wedding you sit at the head table where the bride and groom sit. Away from everyone else. That meant that I couldn't sit with Leslie either during the wedding or during the reception afterwards. This left me in the rather undesirable position of: Going to a wedding... ... where I didn't know the bride and groom... ... where I wasn't allowed to sit with the one person I knew... ... where I was surrounded by religious zealots. Alright, enough of the history lesson. Back to blasting down I-805 in San Diego. Let the disaster begin. Leslie needed to get to the church ASAP so that she could get her picture taken with the rest of the bridal party before the wedding. Leslie tends to have her own timezone that lags around 15 to 30 minutes behind the rest of California. This makes her perpetually late for everything. The fact that she had gotten lost on her way back from the hairdresser was the reason for us being so late, but I choose to blame Leslie's personal timezone. Just because I can. Besides, she got to the hairdresser's place late, too. Leslie smoothed out her bridesmaid dress and then started digging around in her purse. She started pulling out various make-up thingies as she told me, "try not to hit any bumps." "Leslie, we're going 95 in a Paseo. If I hit a dime in the road, we're airborne," was my relatively accurate response. Leslie didn't respond to this, but began the process of facial enhancement. At the very least, we were making good time. The freeway was six lanes wide, and I was in the leftmost lane tearing right along. Leslie looked at one of the many signs rapidly approaching us, pointed at it, and said, "that's our exit. Right there." I noted that I had about 3/4th of a mile to get from the leftmost lane to the rightmost lane of a six lane freeway. I was going 90. Things were about to get bumpy. I looked at my rearview mirror before I began my suicide sweep to the exit ramp. I was rather shocked to discover it had vanished on me. Leslie had commandeered the rearview mirror in the name of makeup application. I cranked my head around to look over my shoulder (quite a trick when you are sitting and wearing a suit jacket) as I swept across all the traffic lanes in one quick movement. Suprisingly, I actually made the exit. When I was on the exit ramp from the freeway, Leslie looked over to me and said, "oh, sorry... did you need this?" as she cranked the rearview mirror back to the position where I could actually use it. "Well, I don't need it NOW," I said as I tried to slow the Paseo down to the point where we wouldn't do a Dukes of Hazzard off of the turn in the 20 MPH exit ramp. Leslie said, "Oh, OK!" as she grabbed the mirror and cranked it back to where she could continue to work her makeup magic. We managed to get to the church a few minutes later, and Leslie started to bail out of the car as soon as I approached the curb. As she was scrambling out, she tossed me her 35mm camera and asked me to try to figure out how to load it. She then ran out to the church and disappeared inside. She was only 15 minutes late, and from my experience with weddings I was guessing that she wasn't late for anything. Pictures always tend to start late anyway. That left me sitting in the parking lot, glaring at a rather large and modern-looking church. I figured that I should start fiddling with Leslie's camera, since that would delay my going near the church for a few minutes. I still had 45 minutes until the ceremony started, anyway, so I wasn't in any rush. That much religion in one place gives me the heebie-jeebies. This would be a good time to give you my quick rundown on religion. Despite how it may appear, I don't hate religion. I don't even really mind it that much. What I hate are religious PEOPLE. You know who I'm talking about. The people that preach tolerance constantly because it's in the bible somewhere but can't stand to tolerate people of other religions. The people that feel it is their mission in life to convert anyone who doesn't think exactly like them to think exactly like them. Or, perhaps more directly, the people that mention God or Jesus about 500 times in a 10 minute conversation and use adjectives such as "awesome" to describe them. They quite accurately refer to God as "my God" or "our God", simply because their wacky little views on how to get your afterlife ticket punched varies from all other people on the planet.
God, please be aware that these people are giving you a bad name.Anyway, across the parking lot from where I was sitting was a building full of "religious people". I was going to be in uncomfortable territory on my own for the next few hours, but I was just going to have to suck it up and deal. After taking a quick trip to buy a few rolls of film (since Leslie's previous film-loading effort must have exposed half of the roll of film in the camera), I finished fiddling with Leslie's camera and peered down at my watch. The ceremony was going to start in about 20 minutes, so I figured it was about time to bite the bullet and go check out the church. I got out of the car, brushed a few rogue fuzzies off of my black suit jacket, and walked across the parking lot to the church entrance. The facility itself was pretty nice... apparently the parishoners had tithed a pretty hefty amount of money. The carpet, seats, and paint on the walls all looked brand new. This was a far cry from the Roman Catholic churches I grew up with in my home town. Catholics tend to favor the "our building is going to fall apart any time now" look for their churches. I grabbed a program from the young lady at the door, and noticed that no groomsman were nearby to usher me to a place for me to sit. That wasn't a problem anyway, since the first thing they would have asked me would be, "are you here for the bride or the groom?" Since I didn't know either of them, I guess I could have said I was there for the bride. At least that way I could make faces at Leslie during the wedding while she was doing her bridesmaidly duties. Rather than logically think it out, I relied on instinct. I headed for a section of the seats towards the back of the church where no one was sitting. I wasn't thinking about how that section of the seating was on the groom's side of the church. That meant that everyone around me would be from the super-uber-religious portion of the guest list. But for the moment, I was safe, right? No one else was nearby, so I could suffer through the whole event in relative peace. Or so I thought. Next Wedding Update: The religious terror begins. ***************************************** *02 January 2002 - No, I Am Not Dead... * ***************************************** ... but I sure came a little too close for comfort. You see, over the past month or so I've been battling with mononucleosis. Actually, the mono wasn't too bad in itself, but it wore me out to the point where all sorts of secondary stuff started munching on my insides. In the span of about 4 weeks, I managed to catch and then ditch mono, bronchitis, and hepatitis. Well, you actually can't ever really ditch mono, since it's in your system for life. But I beat it into submission, damn it, so I count it as a technical win for me. So there. Let me be the first to tell you that the worst flu that I have ever managed to get was a birthday party compared to this whole medical adventure. Why, I even went to see a doctor, which is an event I usually reserve for occasions where I need an amputation or I've received a very, very large gunshot wound. Remember kids, only kiss the clean ones. Mono primarily gets passed through saliva, so a smootch might be the that gets you. Or I guess you could just kiss the really drunk ones, since all that alcohol in his or her mouth will have done a number on any mono critters lurking about. Anyway, you came here to be entertained, right? Well, you might as well take a look at some pictures from Thanksgiving and Christmas: Thanksgiving over at yoda's parent's place: http://www.nuthouse.org/~hendersa/thanksgiving Christmas in New York at my parent's place: http://www.nuthouse.org/~hendersa/xmas_pics I hope everyone has a happy (and healthy) new year. ************************************************ *09 November 2001 - Just How Dangerous ARE You?* ************************************************ -----BEGIN GEEK CODE BLOCK----- Version: 3.1.2 GCM/CS d- s: a-- C++ UL++ U P++ L++ E--- W++ N++ o-- K- w++ O+ M- V PS+ PE Y+ PGP t 5 X+ R(++) tv- b++ DI+ D++ G e++ h r++ y+ ma- k F+(++)3(4) x++ ------END GEEK CODE BLOCK------ This is not just your stock "Geek Code" block. The last line of the block sports the "Geek Code Weapons Extensions", of which a description can be found at: http://kuoi.asui.uidaho.edu/~kamikaze/documents/geekWeapons.html The stock Geek Code block can be decoded via a web-based form at: http://www.ebb.org/ungeek Just use the web-based decoder to decode the whole block, and then look up the last line's worth on the "Weapons Extension" web page. The web based decoder will just ignore the extensions. Happy decoding. **************************************************** *08 November 2001 - Everybody Needs A Hobby, Right?* **************************************************** Well, the day has finally arrived... the world is either a little safer or a little more dangerous, depending on your point of view. I was reviewing my extracurricular "police and worst-case scenario" training to date (small arms, penal code 832, tear gas...) and doing some checks against the laws and rules of various states in the US, and I've come to a startling conclusion: I now can legally act as a fully qualified freelance bail fugitive recovery agent in the states of New York, Ohio, Tennessee, and Montana. "Bail fugitive recovery agent" is the official legal term for what people refer to as a "bounty hunter." You probably don't need me to tell you that it would be a good idea to move if you live in one of those four states I just mentioned. If the law allows a freelance vigilante like me to run around your state with a stun gun and handcuffs in pursuit of justice, I would sure as hell think it high time to consider a change in scenery. This will undoubted irk my family to no end, since they are always afraid I'm going to end up doing something dangerous and get myself killed. It's even worse when you consider that the majority of my family still live in my home town, which is located in upstate New York (which, as you can note from my little list above, falls within "freelance bounty hunter" territory). On the bright side, though, I could quite easily make a decent living by just visiting my parents on occasion and then swinging by the local trailer park and bringing my ex-high school classmates to justice. Last I heard, most of them peaked in their senior year of high school and still live in my home town. And only about half of them have been arrested at one point or another for "domestic disturbances". While kicking in doors at the trailer park for $300 a pop doesn't sound like the healthiest way to make a living, I can at least take comfort in the fact that I'm giving something back to my old community. I can also take great satisfaction in stunning and then handcuffing the wife-smacking ex-star center of the football team that decided it would be a great idea to give me a wedgie and hang me on a showerhead in the locker room when I was a high school freshman back in 1993. Oh, and for the folks living in Florida, Illinois, Kentucky, North Carolina, South Carolina, Oregon, or Wisconsin, you can rest easy... freelance bounty hunting is illegal in your state. ******************************************** *17 October 2001 - The BioWare Strikes Back* ******************************************** I bet you thought that the Canadian software company BioWare wasn't going to reply to the "rejection" mail I mentioned in my 04 October 2001 .plan update! Well, much to my suprise, they actually did reply: > Hello Andrew, > > I have to tell you that is the most interesting acceptance/non-acceptance > letter I have ever received. It took me a while to figure out what you > were saying! > > We hope you hang on to the unique sense of humour, and perhaps our paths > will cross again someday. > > Best to you, > > XXXXXXXXXXXXX > BioWare Corp. I have a feeling that my original "rejection" response mail is hanging up by the BioWare water cooler. Or maple syrup dispenser. Or whatever the hell Canadians stand around while they talk about last night's hockey game. OK, BioWare... you guys are good sports (even if you are a little SLOW to respond to resume submissions), so I guess your office gets removed from the list of buildings I am required to pee on each day. It would have been a rough commute from southern California to Canada every day, anyway. ******************************************** *16 October 2001 - My Blind Date From Hades* ******************************************** (If you haven't read the 05 October 2001 .plan update, read that before reading this update.) I had punched my search criteria into Singles.com before and come up with a list of prospective young ladies, but I was somewhat reluctant to try to contact any of them. I was hoping that I'd never have to cross that line, but it looked like it was about time to get with the program and start acting like all the other scumbags on Singles.com. So, I started off at the top of the list of prospective matches. A 19-year old Mexicali girl was the closest match for my profile, and she only lived a whopping 5 miles away. While I was a little reluctant to date someone that young, her interview showed that she was working as a medical assistant at a clinic while working towards her RN. She could actually spell, use punctuation, and capitialize words correctly. I figured that it wouldn't hurt to send her a message. After all, she did have an attractive picture posted and she didn't look like an axe murderer. At the very least, I figured that I'd get a good story or two out of the experience. And boy did I. It was a while before I heard back on my message, but I wasn't disappointed when it arrived. The young lady's name was Paloma, but everyone calls her Lomi. Lomi seemed very happy to hear from me, and she mentioned that I 'sounded normal'. As she put it, "Believe me when I say that sounding normal is a very good thing. I've gotten some messages that were just awful from some people. But you sound like a nice guy." OK. The foot was in the door. Now what? The delay on hearing back from Lomi was because she didn't have net access at her home. She only got a chance to check her mail and surf the web a few times a week when she visited her aunt here in Tustin. She had mentioned this in her mail and "emphatically apologized" for not getting back to me sooner. She also mentioned that she'd be on AOL Instant Messenger the next time that she'd be online and that she'd like to ask me a few questions. Sounded like a plan. Maybe this Singles.com wasn't so bad after all... Anyway, I did catch her online and we shot a few IMs back and forth. She seemed very nice and she was somewhat assured by my responses that I wasn't insane. After 20 or 30 minutes or shooting messages back and forth, she asked if she could have my phone number so that she could speak with me over the phone, since AIM is "great and all, but too slow". Seemed reasonable enough. Ten minutes later, Lomi and I were talking on the phone. She had a touch of a Mexican accent, but her English was just about perfect. And very, very fast. Boy, that girl can talk. After talking with me for about 20 minutes, she really let her guard down a lot. I could tell by the big increase in the number of questions she was asking. She was very friendly, but I could tell that this was not a girl to mess with. At one point, she asked me to hold a second and then began screaming something in Spanish off into the background. Then, she came back and talked in the same tone as before. Yikes. The upshot of this whole phone conversation was at the end when Lomi asked me what I was doing the upcoming Saturday night. When I said that I had no plans, she replied, "Well, you do now!" I guess that I didn't have any choice in the matter. Not that I really NEEDED one. She gave me her cel phone number and her pager number. The plan was to meet up at 'The Block', which is a big outdoor mall, and go see a movie. 'The Block' is known for having one of the few Krispy Kremes in California, so it's a popular place with the locals. It's only about 10 minutes North of Tustin, and I never even knew it was there, so I guess that shows how much of California I've made it a point of visiting. Fast forward to Saturday night. I found myself driving up to meet Lomi while wondering what in the heck I was doing. I had never done anything like this before, so I was flying blind on this one. Still, I managed to calm myself down and convince myself to just enjoy the evening. Oh, if only I knew the suprises that were in store for me. Two suprises, actually. Dinner and Mimi. Since I doubt you've ever dated someone that hails from south of the border, you probably don't know that it's Mexican custom to have another girl that is a close friend or relative tag along on a first date as a chaperone. I sure as heck didn't know. In this case, Lomi's cousin Mimi was waiting with Lomi when I met up with her at the outdoor cafe at Starbucks. Both Lomi and Mimi were dressed to kill... Lomi was wearing tight black everything and Mimi was wearing a tight full-length denim skirt and a tanktop-type shirt. I had not been in the company of one girl that looked as good as one of these two did in quite a while. And there I was, sitting with the two of them. This whole situation was something that I was NOT expecting. Another thing that I wasn't expecting was that Mimi was only 18. She looks at least four years older than that. But, 18 year olds have 10 PM curfews (Doh!), so the plans for a movie got scrapped in favor of a quick dinner instead. Of course, I wasn't the least bit hungry, but oh well... I'm flexible. So, it was off to Wolfgang Pucks for dinner. After a dinner with Lomi and Mimi, I think I could handle myself if I ever had to testify in court. I was hit with questions non-stop once we were seated at the table. One girl would eat while the other questioned me, then they'd swap. Sometimes, they'd both ask questions at the same time. Tag team Mexicali questioning threw me off balance a bit since I was on defense the whole time, but I handled myself OK. It was becoming apparent through the thorough questioning that I probably wasn't what Lomi was looking for. There were enough points of difference between the two of us that I could tell she had already written me off by the end of dinner. Lomi had a pretty good idea of what she was looking for, and I sure ain't it. But, that wasn't all I noticed. Since she had first laid eyes on me, Mimi had been eyeing me the way a tiger eyes a can of tuna. I had been doing my best to politely ignore Mimi's flirting, since I was NOT on a date with her, but it was pretty apparent what was going on. "So, what kind of music do you listen to?" Lomi asked. I replied, "A lot of different things, actually. While I'm working or just spending time at home I usually listen to 80's tunes." Lomi scowled at me and said, "That's strike number one, pal." "Now come on... what's wrong with U2, huh?" I said to Lomi with one eyebrow raised. "Hey! I really like U2!" Mimi chimed in. ... and on and on. I was now trapped in a bad hypothetical sitcom. When the bill for dinner came, I tried to do the galant thing and pay it. I was rewarded for my effort by having Lomi's hand smash into the arm that was holding the bill. She snatched the bill out of my hand and stated triumphantly that she was going to pay it. Mimi was trying to hold back a snicker, and she wasn't doing a very good job of it. I was just trying to hold back the spreading of the massive black and blue mark. I probably forgot to mention that Lomi was offered a college sports scholarship for softball because of her strength and pitching skill with the same arm that swatted me. "Hey man... how was your date last night?" "She belted me!!!" Anyway, Lomi whipped out her credit card and paid the bill. Chivalry ends at the threat of physical pain in my book, so at that point I was more than happy to let her pay it. I'm getting too old for this. Next Dating Update: The blind date horror continues. ************************************************** *12 October 2001 - A Whole New Level Of Rejection* ************************************************** I have come to realize that the computer gaming software companies have joined forces in an attempt to keep me out of the gaming market. Not a single one bothers to notify you of your state in the HR evaluation process for employment without your constant e-mailing and calling. Most won't even return your calls. It oftens takes a few weeks to a few MONTHS for these companies to get back to you with an indication of their interest in you as a job candidate (yes, I'm talking to those people at Bioware, Black Isle Studios, Blizzard, Interplay, and Westwood). In fact, the speediest results I've seen came from a damn web comic: Normally, you have to pay to get embarassed this badly.You game companies need to really revamp your HR departments. I know that you must get flooded by resumes that really aren't up to snuff, but COME ON people, get with the program! At least Black Isle Studios apologized when they finally got around to contacting me (three MONTHS after I submitted a resume) to say that my resume looked great and that they were eager to talk to me. Westwood replied with a "well, we were busy... suck it up and deal" type message when they finally got around to telling me that they wanted me to come in for an interview. Blizzard takes a "contacting us will make us want you less" approach (which I can understand, considering that they must get pestered by people non-stop). You have no excuse, people... what the heck are your HR departments DOING? Do you have a stack of resumes sitting around that you never look at? Do you look at them and then never even give a response? At least give an auto-mail back or something within the first few WEEKS after an application has been made, OK? As for all you fanboys out there that want to "break into the gaming industry", are you SURE that's what you really want? It's not as fun as you think it is... trust me on this one. ************************************************************ *11 October 2001 - Requests For .plan Updates Will Be Eaten* ************************************************************ Yes, I know you all want to hear about my horrible blind dates. The amount of mail I've received ranging from polite requests to out-and-out demands for .plan updates has been pretty impressive. Don't you people have cable or something that you could be watching, rather than camping icculus.org for .plan updates? I've been rather busy lately (hence the lack of updates). I've been doing important things as of late, and they've kept me busy. Important things... like playing Xenogears on the Playstation. Anyway, just be patient. Updates are coming. Stop pestering me. I place the blame on SquareSoft. Oh, and Canada, too.******************************************** *05 October 2001 - The Scoop on Singles.com* ******************************************** I'll spare you the details of how I stumbled upon this site. I'll even spare you the details of why I decided to fiddle with it. What I WILL tell you is the scoop on how this "blind date" web site works, and how I had terrible experiences because of it. The sanity you save might be your own. So, on to Singles.com. Normally, I'd make fun of anyone who would even consider using one of these sites. In fact, I DO make fun of people who use these sites. I'm an equal-opportunity heckler. Since you probably aren't familiar with the way these sites work, here's the scoop. The first step is filling out a basic profile about yourself. This part is pretty easy, since it's the criteria that the search database sorts you by. Hair/eye color, age, race, height, religion, education... on and on. The one zinger category is the 'body type' category. This category leaves a lot to interpretation because the available choices are 'slender' (you are a rod), 'average' (you are a few pounds overweight), 'athletic' (you can crush bowling balls with your thighs), 'full figured' (a few pounds overweight, but all in the right places), 'a few pounds overweight' (you influence tides), and the enigmatic 'other' (which leaves everything to the imagination). There are exceptions to every rule, of course, so there is the occasional person that actually reports truthfully for this category. By far, the most common one is 'average'. Liars. Now that we've got the simple stuff out of the way, it's on to the details. There are two essay-question style interviews that you can fill out to bump up your chances of having someone bite on your profile. The first interview is the 'intimate' interview. This one asks you all the stock questions about what you do for a living, what type of person you're looking for, what you think you're biggest flaws and strengths are, etc., etc.. Pretty standard stuff, and it's primarily what the saner folks out there use as a guide. The second interview is the 'adult' interview. That's the interview to read if you are looking for someone that likes to be tied to the bed or enjoys having sex on the kitchen floor at 2 in the afternoon. So, you've done the basic info and the detailed info. What else? Pictures, of course! If you haven't posted a picture of yourself, you'd better have a pretty amazing adult interview or no one will even bother to contact you. In fact, there is an option in the search criteria that filters out all profiles that don't have pictures. So, if you want to know what you're getting into, check the box and filter out 70% of the profiles out there. There's always a chance that there is a 'diamond-in-the-rough' that you filter out by checking 'profiles with picture only', but that's Russian Roulette dating. Then again, chasing after some woman because she has a cute picture isn't necessarily a mark of sanity either. Caveat emptor. By the way, a note on having pictures in your profile: Apparently almost everyone searches just the profiles with pictures. Once you post a picture, you pop up on the radar of a lot of wacky folks. Be forewarned. I'm not the most ideal physical specimen out there, but I kinda like to think I look a bit better than average. The point when my picture first showed up next to my profile was when some interest stirred up and my stories really begin. A scant 24 hours after the picture was up, I had my first nibble. From a woman who worked in the IT/telecommunications field. Who was 40-something. Being only 23 at the time, this was a pretty scary proposition for me. She said that she really liked my profile and that she wanted to go out and get a drink in the evening sometime. I sent her a message back with a very good-natured and polite refusal. The fact that her picture showed that she had teeth that reminded me of Mr. Ed wasn't helping her case, either. I held back the urge to ask her if she had any cute daughters. A few days later, I received a very odd message in broken English. From a woman in the Philippines. At least this one was the same age as me. While the mangling of her sentences was reaching the Zero Wing level of proportions, I could roughly make out the gist of her message. She wanted a husband in the United States. I wrote her a nice refusal back, saying that I wasn't that interested in mail-ordering a wife at this point in my life. I silently wondered how many other guys she's hit with this request before. I bet she's the type to search the profiles without pictures, too. After another few days, a young lady who seemed to have a lot on the ball contacted me. She seemed to have everything going for her: good job, only 25 years old, and a graduate degree. Her message said that she thought I was a good match for her and that she'd like to get to know me. There were two major snags to this one. Number one was the fact that she didn't have a picture in her profile, so I had no idea what this girl looked like. Still, I was willing to give it a shot if her profile matched me really well. Second, her message said that she was looking for "a GOD fearing gentleman". Yes, the 'GOD' was in capital letters. The 'gentleman' part I think I could manage... it'd be a stretch, but I could handle it. The only reason I would ever fear God is if I thought he/she/it actually had a chance at getting back at me for calling Sister Kate 'Atilla the Nun' in my Catholic confirmation classes back in high school. One more polite rejection stating 'agnostic tendancies' was sent out and was understood and well received. That girl actually sounded very nice, and I hope she finds what she's looking for. I'm pretty sure that what she was looking for wasn't me, though. I tend to start smoldering when I step inside of a church. Strike three, and I was out. It was time to start going on the offensive. I had burned a week already and I wasn't getting anywhere. Hanging out in bars was starting to look pretty good. Next Dating Update: My blind date from Hades. ********************************************** *04 October 2001 - You May Already Be a Loser* ********************************************** This is the e-mail I received when I applied for a job with the Canadian entertainment software developer BioWare: > Hi there Andrew, > > We would like to thank you for your application, however, presently we > do not have any positions available for someone with your > qualifications. > > We would like to keep your contact information in our files and let you > know if something should become available in the future that may fit > your profile. > > Best regards, > > XXXXXXXXXXXXXXX > BioWare Corp. Here is the response that I sent back to BioWare: > To XXXXXXXXXXX: > > Thank you for your somewhat belated response to my 17 January request for > a job with Bioware. After careful consideration, I regret to inform you > that I am unable to accept your refusal to offer me employment with your > organization. > > This year, I have been particularly fortunate in receiving an unusually > large number of rejection letters from the gaming industry. With such a > varied and promising field of candidates it is impossible for me to > accept all refusals. > > Despite your organization's outstanding qualifications and previous > experience in rejecting applicants, I find that your rejection does not > meet my needs at this time. Therefore, I will be starting employment with > your company in a software development capacity immediately following the > finalization of my plans to relocate to the Great White North. I look > forward to seeing you then. > > Andrew Henderson Hear that crackling noise? That's the sound of bridges burning. I have yet to hear back from BioWare in regards to my response. I'm guessing that I probably won't hear anything back. Lighten up, eh? Hosers. ************************************** *03 October 2001 - Moral of the Story* ************************************** It just kind of popped in my head this morning while I was making an attempt to not fall asleep in the shower... I remembered back to my days of my first post-college job. I was working as a systems engineer at a Lockheed Martin facility in Orlando, Florida. Since I was still living in Daytona Beach at the time, I had a massive commute of 150 miles round trip to work and back each day. Aside from my usual 40 hour per week work load, I was also doing management training. That meant that I was also taking masters degree classes at the University of Central Florida after work. So, back then, my days were about 12 hours long at a minimum. I even slept at my desk from time to time. I spent a lot of time working on homework and management project papers in the evenings at Lockheed Martin. Around 8:00 or 8:30 at night, I'd be the only person around amongst the vast sea of cubicles that dominated the development area I worked in. I'd take ten minute breaks and stroll up and down the rows of cubicles, reading the comics and looking at the pictures that people had posted around their cubes. One evening, I was taking one of those breaks when I wandered past a sign with moveable letters that had apparently been part of a tour at one point. Since Lockheed had so many military contracts, it was very common to have colonels and even one or two star generals touring through the work areas to see how the Army's weapon development budget was being spent. This sign's message was pretty simple: LOCKHEED MARTIN INFORMATION SYSTEMS Now, you and I both know that a burnt-out engineer isn't going to leave a sign with moveable letters alone when no one is around to stop him. I started shuffling around the letters and after about 20 minutes, I came up with the following: LMT STOCK SHARE IS NOT MY IDEA OF WINNER I even used all the letters. There're a few important points here. First off, "LMT" is the NASDAQ ticker symbol for Lockheed Martin. At the time I fiddled with the sign, the company's stock was at an all time low. This was great for me, since my retirement fund was composed mostly of stock. So, I was getting a ton of stock for the amount of money I was investing. The old timers that had been putting stock in their retirement plans for the past 15 years, however, were getting kinda nervous. Talk about the dropping stock value, possible corporate take-overs, and even layoffs were common watercooler banter. Anyway, after messing with the sign, I worked for perhaps another hour and then started the long drive home. When I got into work the next day, I found out that the sign had been discovered. My supervising manager didn't even know the sign had been changed, but my manager's manager heard about it and thought it was one of the funniest things he'd even seen. Most employees looked at the sign, snickered, and then went on with their work. It wasn't a real show-stopper at work, but my handiwork was silently appreciated by quite a few co-workers. Upper management, however, didn't think it was funny at all. They smelled dissention in the ranks... possibly someone from Raytheon or Boeing that snuck in somehow for the sole purpose of lowering morale. For some reason, upper management tends to come up with odd conspiracy ideas like that. Anyway, they decided to take immediate action to quell the impending uprising. They sent out a memo. Not just any memo, though... the memo stated that there would be a company wide pizza party to raise morale. I was told by several other employees, peons and managers alike, that the memo was a direct result of the sign getting changed around. Now, if your stock is tanking, you probably shouldn't spend $20,000 of your overhead budget on pizza because some yahoo fiddled with a sign. But what do I know? I had only been doing management for a year or two by that point, and the folks comprising upper management had been managers since the days when flogging employees was still considered acceptable business practice. Moral of the Story: "The squeaky wheel gets the greasy pizza." *************************************** *07 September 2001 - Investment Advice* *************************************** If you bought $1000 worth of Nortel stock one year ago, it would now be worth $49. If you bought $1000 worth of Budweiser (the beer, not the stock) one year ago, drank all the beer, and traded in the cans for the nickel deposit, you would have $79. My advice to you is to start drinking heavily and recycle. "Setzen sie es in das betrunkene deutsche ein und reisen sie ab." (Or, quite simply, "Stick it in the Vogel and go.")