Archive for September, 2003

A Day out Sick

Ever take a sick day from work?  Ever have a creeping, guilty feeling about being out of the office, even when you have a fever?  I do.  I get this hot, prickly feeling on the back of my neck, and I have this fear that people will be angry with me for being sick.  Should I care if they’re mad when I’m running a fever?  I shouldn’t, but I do.  The weird thing is that I also get this feeling if I’ve been out of the office on a business trip, almost like I’ve been slacking when instead I’ve been working (and hanging out in airports).

I think that some of my co-workers feed into this a little bit.  If I’ve been on business, they will tell me, “Man, we got slammed while you were out of the office,” as if I chose to be in Virginia so that they could be left doing all the work. 

Today I’m at home with a nasty little cold.  I can always tell when I have a cold coming on, because the back of my throat and my nasal passages will start to get very tender.  The weird thing about this cold is that I could feel it coming on while talking on the phone with someone who was at home sick with a cold.  I know that this is impossible, but at the beginning of the phone call I felt great, and by the time I hung up 2 hours later (it was a business call), I was coughing and sniffling, and my nose and throat were on fire.  Could someone please explain this to me?  Catching a cold THROUGH THE PHONE??!! 

So, I slept until about 11am today and then went to watch some television, figuring that I would watch in a semi-conscious state.  I flipped on HBO and there was a movie on with Wesley Snipes and Linda Fiorentino that featured Mr. Snipes as a sniper holding Ms. Fiorentino hostage in a public place throughout the entire movie.  I think the movie was called Liberty Stands Still, but isn’t it EXACTLY the same idea as Phone Booth, only with the alien-eyed woman from Vision Quest instead of that Colin “I’m enjoying my 15 minutes” Firth guy?  The movie wasn’t very good at all, but I flipped between it and The Fifth Element (it was apparently Bad Movie Day on the various HBO channels) while waiting for the NY Mets – Chicago Cubs game that was scheduled for 2pm on ESPN. 

At about 1:30pm, my TV screen froze and then the picture went black.  I could see the ComCast channel guide, but there was a message that said, “This channel should be available shortly” on the screen, so I waited patiently.  While waiting, I looked outside and saw a ComCast van pulling away from the front of my building.  I thought it was strange, but figured that the channel would be available shortly, after all that’s what the TV was telling me, so I waited. 

After waiting patiently until 2pm, I called ComCast and spoke with a woman whose name I didn’t write down.  I explained the situation and also told her that my downstairs neighbor had recently moved out, so is it possible that they shut off my cable instead of his?   She explained that that yes, it was a strange coincidence that there was a van in front of the building and that my neighbor had recently moved, but that she didn’t show any work scheduled for my building today.  She also explained that there were no work crews in my area (the van I saw was apparently a rogue group?), so I would need to make an appointment for tomorrow to have a cable guy come and fix my cable.  They are only available during the day. 

Now I feel like I’m in some sort of sitcom.  I wanted to shout, “Your van was here!  It killed my cable!  Now you want me to get the hot, prickly guilty feeling AGAIN TOMORROW so that you can undo what your people just did?  GET OVER HERE AND FIX MY CABLE RIGHT NOW!  I’M HERE NOW!”  But instead I just said, “I’ll call you back to make an appointment,” and hung up in hopes that the cable would magically reappear. 

It didn’t.  I called back and spoke with a guy named Chet.  Chet confirmed that I would need to have an appointment, although he said it in a very apologetic voice.  Lovely.  The Red Sox are fighting for a playoff spot, and I won’t have cable.  Thank you, ComCast.  What am I supposed to do now, READ?!!  That’s soooo 19th century (anyone who knows me is laughing right now because I love to read, but I don’t have any books that are catching my interest at the moment, which probably explains why I am typing this column). 

I could watch a DVD.  A while back, the Megger and I signed up for NetFlix, a DVD rental service that mails the DVD’s to you and doesn’t have late fees (you get a new DVD when you return one).  We signed up for the service because we were constantly renting movies from BlockBuster and then forgetting to bring them back (Is this movie due back by noon on the 8th day or by 4pm on the 3rd day?) and getting slapped with late fees.  I hate late fees.  Anyway, since signing up for NetFlix, we always have DVD’s to watch, but the Megger is the one who specified which DVD’s we were to receive.  This means that my current options are Chocolat and White Oleander.  I’ll pass. 

I could watch one of the DVD’s that I thought were good enough to purchase, I suppose, but it seems like every DVD I own has managed to scratch itself beyond repair while resting it its case in my living room.  I could understand them being scratched if I was leaving them out of the cases, or possibly using them as coasters, but I have been very careful to put them away when I’m done with them.  Somehow, they manage to get horribly scratched anyway.  I suppose this shouldn’t surprise me, though.  If I can catch a cold over the phone, I don’t see any reason why my DVD’s can’t become scratched while sitting peacefully in their cases.

The Day to Day Grind Tim 26 Sep 2003 No Comments

A Relaxing Round of Golf

It seemed like a good idea at the time. My friend BBD mentioned to me that his family was going to run a charity golf tournament, and he wanted to know if I was interested in playing. After I had agreed to play in the tournament, and had recruited a couple of people to play with me, he told me that the course was 70 miles away in York, Maine, and that it started promptly at 8am. Looking back, that is probably the point when I should have realized that this was not going to work out well for me.

But, despite the fact that it would require me to haul my butt out of bed at 5am, I agreed to take the day off from work and play in the tournament with my brother Mike and my roommate Mike. The plan was that since the tournament was a best ball format, and both Mikes are very good golfers, they would take care of any actual golfing that might be required and I would drive the cart and make polite conversation, since I am a horrid golfer. I am such a frustratingly bad golfer, despite my repeatedly fruitless efforts to improve, that I really don’t enjoy the sport. I am probably the only person in the world who prefers watching golf on TV to getting out and swinging the clubs myself.

This leads to the obvious question, “Well then, idiot, why did you sign up to play in a golf tournament?” The answer to that question is that my family has a golf tournament in June every year (The Waggler’s Open), and I thought I could practice for it by spending a fun day in the sunshine with the two Mikes, when there would be no actual pressure for me to do well.

BBD, a character about whom many columns could be written, told me a few weeks before the tournament that his buddy Chris was going to be the 4th golfer for my group. I immediately predicted that Chris wasn’t going to show up, and that I would be powerfully upset. Not to cast aspersions upon Chris’ character and encourage libel lawsuits, but he is not the most reliable person I have ever met (the Vegas odds on him actually showing up on time for this tournament were 3-1 against). He is, however, an excellent golfer, and BBD went to great lengths to assure me that I was being a pessimist and that Chris was definitely going to show up.

Chris didn’t show up. After promising BBD the day before that he was definitely going to be there, he simply didn’t come. He didn’t call. He didn’t write. He also stiffed BBD for the entrance fee to the tournament. The fact that I had predicted it didn’t make me feel any better about the situation.

The sunshine didn’t show up, either. It was rainy and cold when my threesome arrived, and it stayed rainy and became colder as the day progressed. I had listened to Dick Albert’s prediction of scattered showers and wore a light jacket, a long sleeve shirt, khaki pants, and an old pair of sneakers (My golf shoes no longer fit due to the fact that I left them in the back of my roofless Jeep for the entire summer of 2001. Exposure to the rain and other elements apparently caused the shoes to shrink about three sizes).

I want to thank Mr. Albert (Thanks, Dick!) for the fact that the showers were in no way scattered. A constant, driving rain and temperatures falling to the very low 40’s made everyone on the course wish to be somewhere else (maybe Chris is not so dumb). My light jacket, long sleeve shirt, khaki pants and old pair of sneakers were completely soaked through by the third hole. Basically, I was in hell.

My golf game, never good to begin with, began to decline as the early stages of pneumonia set in and I began shivering uncontrollably. Despite a supreme effort on my part, my swings consistently began to miss the ball entirely, instead digging up large chunks of turf and sending them aloft for distances of up to 10 feet. To compound my failure, the two Mikes found my ineptitude entirely hilarious, and began to laugh out loud and point at me every time a chunk of earth took flight. Have I mentioned how much I love to golf?

I wasn’t the only person having problems with my swing. On our first hole, BBD’s group teed off in front of us, each of them wearing shorts (they must have been watching Dick Albert, too), and BBD actually turned his head and looked at the people standing behind him during his back swing. Just watching each of them tee off was enough to send my brother Mike, who is used to playing with people with actual golfing skill, into a hysterical fit of laughter, covering his face with a towel and bending over. The last time I’ve seen anyone laugh harder than that, I was in 4th grade and the kid had soup coming out of his nose. BBD’s team had, to quote Mike, “Absolutely the 4 worst swings I have ever seen.” Their shots were predictably awful, but in their defense, at least each of them hit the ball.

I need to take a moment here and tell you about one of the members of BBD’s foursome. His name is Billy, and when I first met him he was introduced to me as “Fat Billy”. This friendly nickname was apparently meant to distinguish him from BBD’s other friends named Billy, one of whom is nicknamed “Pan Face”. Anyway, my roommate Mike golfed with Fat Billy once, and during the round noticed that one of Fat Billy’s clubs was upside-down in his golf bag. My roommate Mike pointed it out to Fat Billy, who replied, “Oh, it’s ok, that club is on punishment”.

Anyway, on one of the later holes, Fat Billy decided to liven things up. We were all standing in the rain, watching BBD tee off, when Fat Billy wedged a 5-wood between the seat and the gas pedal of BBD’s golf cart. BBD topped his drive and as it dribbled down the fairway, his golf cart lumbered by and slowly headed for the edge of a ravine. BBD put his hands on his hips and began to say things like, “Come on, guys…Somebody get that…I’m not getting it…(cart reaches the edge of the ravine and hesitates, almost as if it’s peeking over the edge)…COME ON!!…Oh @#%#$%@$#!!” BBD dropped his driver and sprinted over to the cart, catching it just before it tumbled down the hill. I’m not sure, but I think that if my brother had been eating soup, it would have begun pouring out of his nose at that moment.

Mercifully, the tournament people halted the tournament after 12 holes. We were about to quit, anyway, but we finished 12 holes and ended up at a respectable two strokes under par (I should say that the two Mikes shot 2 under par. I was not involved). BBD’s scorecard claimed that his group had shot even par, but there is simply no possibility of that being true. My suspicions of their lies were confirmed when Fat Billy saw my team’s card and asked me, “What did you guys really shoot?”

After the tournament, everyone went into the locker room and changed into their dry clothes before eating the lunch that was provided. Everyone, that is, except for my roommate Mike and myself, who had neglected to bring dry clothes (thanks, Dick!). So, we did what any fat guys in danger of missing a free meal would do: We drove to Old Navy and bought dry clothes (you should have seen the looks on the Old Navy employee’s faces when we squished into their store and told them that we wanted to change into the clothes before buying them). The meal wasn’t quite worth what we spent on the clothes, I’ll admit, especially since the only criteria I used to pick out the clothes was, “Are they dry?”

We left the course at around 2:30pm and began the commute back to Boston. It was still raining, but the trip went very well until we came to the lower deck of Route 93 in Boston at 3:50pm. We jumped in the commuter lane and avoided about 3 miles of snarling traffic before having to merge into the mess. I’m not sure what it is about the rain that creates unreasonable amounts of traffic, but to travel a distance of about 2 miles, we sat in traffic for OVER 45 MINUTES!! It was the perfect end to a perfect day. I blame Dick.

The Day to Day Grind Tim 15 Sep 2003 No Comments

Hot Flashes

Some random thoughts and observations that have occurred to me recently: 

…This morning I woke up at 6:00, then 6:09, 6:18, and finally at 6:27.  I find myself doing this all the time, yet I refuse to simply set the alarm for 6:27 and enjoy the uninterrupted sleep.  For some reason, it’s important that I have the option of waking up early and getting a head start on the day, even though I haven’t done it for about 300 straight days.  There should be a study of how beneficial those extra 9 minutes of snooze button sleep actually are, because they sure do seem important at 6:00…

…The news shows are doing their annual stories about the flu vaccine shortage.  The vaccine shortage story is becoming an annual feature in the news, much like the Red Sox equipment truck leaving for spring training.  I quickly looked up flu vaccine shortages on the Internet, and found articles describing flu vaccine shortages in 2000, 2001, 2003, and 2004.  These articles all encouraged healthy people to delay or skip their annual flu shots.  In 2002, when there was no shortage, the articles I found explained how important it was for everyone to get vaccinated…

…Speaking of flu vaccines, there are people who insist that a flu shot gave them the flu, or at least a bad cold.  There is a second group that insists that it is completely impossible for a flu vaccine to make anyone sick.  This second group uses technical terms like “dead virus” and they sound very convincing, but why would the first group lie about something like that?  Maybe they should battle the whole thing out on “Family Feud”…

…I live in Massachusetts, known throughout the country as a bastion of liberalism and a stronghold of the Democratic Party.  Besides the governor, there are very few Republicans holding elected positions in the state.  Despite all of this, the most popular talk radio shows out of Boston are incredibly conservative.  What am I missing here?…

…The Red Sox are in the playoffs again, but the schedule of their games is going to get me fired.  The schedule goes like this:  Leave work early to watch the 4pm game on Tuesday, stay up way too late to watch the 10pm game on Wednesday, leave work early to watch the 4pm game on Friday.  It’s a good thing that my boss is a big Red Sox fan…

…There’s nothing like staying up too late watching playoff baseball, then rushing out the door the next morning, only to have to stop and scrape the frost from my car windows.  It looks like I’ll need to wake up at 6:18 from now on…

…Lastly, I recently found out that a kid who grew up down the street from me in Northborough is now a professional comedian.  Tim Kaelin and I used to make prank phone calls together, and now he’s getting paid to perform in comedy clubs all over New England.  Jealous?  Me?  Naah.  To read Tim’s rants and for a schedule of his performances, check out his web site at…

The Day to Day Grind Tim 10 Sep 2003 No Comments

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