Wednesday, October 31, 2012

The German Part Two: Car Fire

A few days ago I let the world know about my German co-worker, Chris, who had a tendency to smell cooked poop.  We established that he is gross, or weird, or a combination of both.  Since that time he wanted it clarified that he never actually cooked the poop himself, he merely smelled it occasionally and knew without a doubt that it was not a particularly delicious smell.

But this article isn't about that.

The other day I saved him from being stranded at work for an eternity by giving his dead car-battery a jump.  At first glance, this seems like a relatively easy task.  Pull the cars side by side, hook the batteries together with the cables, crank the engine, and boom - you have power.

Exhibit A:

But not so fast.

The simple but non-negotiable rule of jumping a car is the red cable connects to the positive side of the battery, clearly marked by a red covering.  Then the black cable connects to the negative side of the battery, clearly marked by the black covering.   Having entrusted the cables to my German friend, I looked away and failed to notice that in Germany there are basic education gaps such as color coordinated instructions, paint-by-number, the proper use of belts to hold up pants, etc. 

Exhibit B:

When I looked back at my car-battery, a miniature fire had sprouted on top of it.  Between myself and the German there was a moment of pause and reflection as we watched the fire flicker to life. 

I paused in pure shock.  

I think he paused out of curiosity to see what would happen if he let the fire continue.

My other co-worker, Ryan saved the day and patted out the flames. No harm, no foul.

Clearly, I will need to keep my head on a swivel while working with this man, belt-less heathen that he is.  

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Hurricane Sandy is a B@tch!

In Florida we get pelted by hurricanes all the time, to the point where we get numb to hurricanes. Unless it is a category 4 or higher, I barely flinch.

I don't board up windows, I don't buy hurricane supplies.

Every year there are about three or four that are supposed to come close and never do. I guess it is better safe than sorry when trying to predict the route of these things.

I get it. I really do.

But as I listened to the news about Sandy and her route along the eastern seaboard, I tuned out. Another hurricane. Another attempt to sell stories. Except this time, it really is a MASSIVE storm. From what I can discern, the largest storm to ever hit the U.S. It is a merger of three large storms.

The Perfect Storm?

Maybe I am late to the party on this story. But I think the blame really sits with the media on stories like this. They sensationalize even the smallest storm. Each one seems to be the "craziest" storm for some reason or another. When the real crazy storm comes along, I am already tuned out.

I have heard the story before.

It is never as bad as it seems...until it is.

I wish that responsible journalism existed, perhaps so I wouldn't have to be a responsible consumer of whatever passes as journalism these days. In any case, this storm really is something to see. The satellite image says it all.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Cat Poop and Germans?

My co-worker is a German who recently married into becoming an American.  He met his high school sweetheart while on a foreign exchange program in the United States.  I am sure it is a lovely and romantic story complete with falling in love at first sight and the idea that crossing an ocean to be with someone has a currency in this fucked up world that is worth at least a dozen "awe's".

But this blog isn't about that.

This gentleman, we shall call him Chris, loves to come into my office for five minutes of laughs at least twice a day when he stretches his legs and needs to escape his cubicle shaped enclosure that doubles as a square shaped life-sucking chamber.  When he comes over, the conversation usually devolves into jokes about the German people between the years of 1941 and 1945 or about American obesity etc.

Occasionally, we discuss cats.  He knows that I have this blog and he has two new kittens that give us a bit of common ground when pontificating about the up and down roller-coaster ride of life. One thing we both agreed on is that cleaning cat litter sucks something awful.  We decided that the self-cleaning litter boxes were the way to go at some point last week.

Today he presents me with this video of the solution to all our prayers:

I nearly gasped at the genius of the Cat Genie even though I see some problems such as:

Will the cat want to kill its own litter box since the cat will assume the movement means it lives?

Will the wet litter be a problem?

Will the flushing mechanism work?

These things come to MY mind.  But Germans think differently than their American counterparts.  His first reaction is:

"If it misses the poop, and then the litter drying mechanism clicks ON, won't it heat the poop?"

He does a search of reviews and sure enough there is a review about the fact that the Cat Genie "cooked" left over poop and the smell permeated throughout the house to a nauseating level.  Gross.

I say, "That is gross."

German says, "It is.  I don't know where but I've smelt cooked poop before.  It's gross."

I say, "You've smelled cooked poop?"

German, "Of course."

Sigh.  How do you respond to that?  I will just chalk this up to either language or cultural barriers.  I, of course, will not be buying a Cat Genie anytime soon.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Top 3 Novels That Influenced My Year 2012

Just a quick update for those few souls out there who give me my tiny podium from which to talk.  Ashes to Ashes is the title of the third installment of An Upstate New York Mafia Tale.  It is slated for release in April 2013.

Also, thanks to a mixture of circumstances (such as you lovely readers, the wonder of the internet, and what appears to be the contagious ability to entangle bad judgement with credit cards) I find my combined sales approaching the realm of 10,000 books sold.

Thank you.

Moving along...

As you know I like to make lists.  Here is a list of three books so far that have influenced my year.

1) The Alchemist

Wiki says: The Alchemist is a novel by Paulo Coelho first published in 1988. Originally written in Portuguese, it has been translated into 71 languages as of 2011. An allegorical novel, The Alchemist follows a young Andalusian shepherd named Santiago in his journey to Egypt, after having a recurring dream of finding treasure there.

I say: This novel seemed to follow events that were happening in my life as I read it. It was a personal experience for me and I don't often say that about a novel. I almost didn't pick it up, but when I did, it was life altering. If you get this book as a present from me, consider yourself among the very most important people in my life.

2) The Great Gatsby

Wiki Says: The Great Gatsby is a novel by American author F. Scott Fitzgerald. The book takes place from spring to autumn 1922, during a prosperous time in the United States known as the Roaring Twenties, which lasted from 1920 until the Wall Street Crash of 1929. The setting of the novel contributed greatly to its popularity following its early release, but the book did not receive widespread attention until after Fitzgerald's death in 1940, when republishings in 1945 and 1953 quickly found a wide readership. Today the book is widely regarded as a "Great American Novel" and a literary classic. The Modern Library named it the second best English-language novel of the 20th Century.

I say: I was forced to read this book in high school and hated it. But I returned to it when I heard that the movie was coming out and I now know why it is "A Great American Novel." I am very excited to watch the film, so here is the trailer:

3) Buffalo Soldiers, An Upstate New York Mafia Tale

Wiki Says: Buffalo Soldiers, An Upstate New York Mafia Tale - nothing! WTH

I say: Shameless plug. I wrote it so of course it influenced my year. Check it out on Amazon! or on Barnes and Noble!