Thursday, July 26, 2007

Just can't find the time to write my mind the way I want it to read

Excuse me as I gratuitously steal an idea from McSweeney's. The best of which is this one, incidentally.

Open letters to the various irritations in my life...

Dear chipmunk that has taken up living in the ceiling above my basement:
Get the fuck out. For real. Before you make me do something I don't want to do. Namely, kill you before you chew up my house. I thought you'd have learned when one of the cats killed your brother, but apparently not. Learn from his mistakes, and beat it.

Dear guy in the goofy looking yellow Subaru Baja who keeps cutting in and out of traffic every morning:
Dude. It's rush hour. Accept it and move on. You're doing nothing but aggravating everyone around you. And maybe you haven't noticed, but I stay in the same lane for the whole drive, and I beat you to the I-90 exit every.single.time. Asshole.
Warmest regards,

Dear Hotmail Junk filter:
You suck. Seriously. You're horrible. What do I have to do to get it through your thick e-skull that I don't want free airline tickets, cialis, viagra, or lonely sluts who love to fuck (aka Romanian trannies who will roll you in an alley for the fillings in your teeth). I know their schemes are incredibly complicated, using brilliant tactics like slightly different email addresses and misspelled words, but... stop letting them through, dumbfuck, or I swear I'll switch to Gmail and never look back.
Fuck you,

Dear squirrels that are wrecking my bird feeder:
Knock it off. It's not for you, you greedy bastards. I've got a tree full of acorns, but noooo, you have to be greedy and steal from the birds. Keep it up and I'm releasing the hounds. You've been warned.
All the best,

Dear dinging noise that chimes in my car every time I take a right turn:
Please stop. And please don't be a sign of something broken, or I will be very sad. I'd like to think I've treated you better than this (except for that time when I backed into someone in a parking lot, but that was totally the other guys fault. You know that. Don't hold it against me.)
Pleading hopefully,

Dear Starbucks guy:
Let's not make this hard on each other. I'm only in here because my wife likes your coffee drinks. Me, I'm a Dunkies guy. So 1) Please don't give me that condescending look when I come in looking like a homeless man. I was mowing the lawn. 2) When I ask for a small, please don't correct me and make me use the "proper Starbucks terminology (tm)", or I will straight-up murder your ass.
Yours in Christ,

Dear Audrey the Beagle:
Stop waking up and crying at 5:30 in the morning. Or I will punt you over the fence and someone else can take care of your three-legged ass.
Can't stay mad at you because you're so goddamn cute,

Friday, July 20, 2007

Super Awesome Camping Adventure!

So, as you may recall, we went camping this week.

Well... not exactly. Everything went great. Wednesday morning we got up, packed up the truck, packed up the dog (only one came with. Three-legged beagles? Not so much with the hiking.), and off we went. 150 miles from our house to the White Mountains. After about 50 miles... it started raining. Not hard, mind you, but... raining. But, hardy folk that we are, we soldiered on.

We stopped at a tourist center in NH, and asked the guy at the desk what he knew about the forecast. His response? "60% chance of rain, every day this week."

Not to be deterred, we told nature to go screw, and continued. We made it to the mountains, found a beautiful campsite right on Russell Pond. It was actually great. Barely anyone else around. Started pitching the tent.

And one of the tent poles broke. But, Mrs. TK, being clever and nimble, managed to fix it. However, by now, it was raining a bit more steadily. But we're determined to continue, because Goddammit, we took time off from work for this. So using her knot-tying skills and my tree-climbing skills, we hang a giant tarp between four trees that covers the picnic table, so we can eat in nice, dry comfort. Finally, we break. We have lunch, and go on a short hike. By the time we get back... it's fucking pouring. I mean, really badly. But, we decide to stick it out. I start getting dinner ready. She is going to organize our stuff inside the tent.

I come back from the car with some food supplies, and I hear this from inside the tent.

"Um, dear? I have some exceptionally bad news."
"What?" I ask.
"The tent is leaking pretty badly".

Motherfucker. Motherfucker! Goddamn Motherfucking son.of.a.BITCH!

So, that was when we finally conceded defeat. Nature, that dirty bitch-whore, had won. We packed up our gear, and checked into a lovely inn that allowed dogs. Had dinner in the restaurant, slept in a king-size bed. All the while saying, "well, it beats a leaky tent".

Thursday we got up, had breakfast, checked out, drove back to the site to take the tent and the tarp down. It was only raining gently, so we decided to go for a hike, which actually ended up being fantastic. There is something really wonderful about the woods right after rain - everything seems greener, there are fewer bugs... it was a good time. It was a tough hike, and a lot of uphill (we were in the mountains, after all). But the payoff at the top was worth it (I recommend clicking the pics - the full size is much better):

Sure, it's a little cloudy, but it was beautiful. Trust me. Here's a few more:

Me, standing on a wooden bridge. This isn't a bad picture - the forest canopy was so thick it actually was this dark.

Ceili The Wonder Dog, swimming happily.

A boy and his dog. And the goofy hat that he bought while on a safari in South Africa.

So there you are. Camping was a bust. We still managed to have a lot of fun, but we didn't actually go camping. Which sucks, because this was going to be my wife's very first time sleeping outdoors. We'll get out there someday soon though.

Monday, July 16, 2007

I'm gonna break my rusty cage and run

Three more hours.

Three more hours and I'm free, and for 8 glorious days we will be on vacation. Sweet, glorious, delicious vacation.

Tomorrow is prep day, and on Wednesday we begin three days of camping in New Hampshire's White Mountains. The rest of the time will be some day trips, some hiking, and a great deal of lounging and relaxing. It's unlikely that there will be any posts, since I'm going to do my damndest to avoid a computer. So have a great week, folks.

If you need me, we'll be here:

Trying to find this:

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Let God sort 'em out...

So, I was reading a post over at the newly christened I'm Quietly Judging You, about the author's recent battle with a dead mouse. And for some weird reason, I started thinking about the recent spate of problems we've been having with pests at the ole' Meat Factory. For a while, we had mice that were invading the garage, until Audrey (aka Stumbles the three-legged beagle) managed to take one down, and the rest appeared to have died from the poison I left in the garage. But our not-so-new problem is...


Let me just say, before we go any further: fucking ick. We had a problem with them last year, and while I managed to kill the nests, it creeped me the fuck out. And now I just finished doing some research on wasps, and I'm even more creeped out. The thing is, wasps are actually somewhat helpful. They only eat other bugs, and they rarely cause any damage to your house. Their nests are pretty small - the one on my garage is only a little bigger than a golf ball. However, I also learned that their stingers don't have barbs, meaning they can sting repeatedly. And when they sting, they release a pheromone that drives other wasps insane and causes them to attack in a collective psycho-wasp fury.

My wife is probably hiding under the bed after reading that, because she has a serious issue with paralyzing fear of bees/wasps/any sort of flying stinging thing. Not that I blame her, because frankly, that's enough for me too. Any insect that can do that much damage to me and mine has got. to. go.

I have some simple rules regarding wildlife. For the most part, I'm a live and let live kind of guy. Birds who eat my grass seed? So be it. Squirrels? Fine, whatever. Caterpillars, moths, you're free to be. Spiders are fine as long as they stay out of my house. Garter snakes I usually catch and release into the woods behind the house. But anything with a toxic stinger that can go into a poisonous homicidal rage and bring all it's poisonous homicidal cousins? Adios, motherfuckers.

Similarly, whenever we go to Cape Town to visit my folks, they used to have (in their old house) a bit of a scorpion problem. Now, I know that saying "a bit of a scorpion problem" is kind of like saying that the Middle East has "a bit of a philosophical problem" or that in college I had "a bit of a drug & alcohol problem". Because, well... fucking scorpions, right? For a few years, every time we'd go to visit my parents we'd have scorpion encounters. And folks, them fuckers are scary. One time Mrs. TK found one in the shower. In the shower. Where you're basically at your most vulnerable, other than on the toilet. Another time, I was coming out of the shower, walked into the bedroom, and one was in the middle of the floor. It stopped, spun around, and raised it's pincers and tail up and just stood there. It was like a Mexican standoff between a poisonous arachnid and a man in a towel. We caught it in a jar, and just left it there to suffocate to death, then dumped it down the garbage disposal. Because I ain't fucking around with something like that. Especially when it gets into the house. All creatures great and small my ass.

I just realized that Cape Town has some dangerous goddamn wildlife. I've encountered scorpions, venomous snakes, poisonous jellyfish, and baboons. Not to mention that it has one of the most robust populations of Great White Sharks in the world. And to think my parents once tried to persuade me to move back there. I mean, let's compare:

Suburban Massachusetts:

Aaaaand Cape Town:

I can't for the life of me figure out why I haven't moved back.

Anyway. The war on wasps commences this evening. Watch out!

Friday, July 06, 2007

The sound of people chasing money, and money getting away

Well, since the resume posts seem to be quite popular, and since I am nothing but a whore for your attention, I figured we'd move to the next logical phase in the process...


I never really thought I'd get to a point in my life where I'd be conducting interviews, but here I am. My department has had a rash of turnovers recently. In the last 12 months I've easily conducted 75 interviews. It's getting quite out of hand. But the advantage is (similar to when you're the candidate) you learn more and more about the process, and how to do it well, as you do more of them.

And I've had some doozies. I've had brilliant interviews, ones where the guy walked out of the room, and our HR Manager and I looked at each other and said "It's him. Everything else is going to be a formality". I've had ones where within 5 minutes I knew they weren't the one. And, of course, I've had some that after the person left, I regret to say, I was left in hysterical laughter. So here are some basic interview concepts that will keep me from going insane. Note, I'm leaving out the obvious ones, like "don't act crazy" and "don't show up drunk". Those, I assume, are no-brainers. Without further ado, 10 (hopefully) useful interview ideas:

1. Dress neatly. I know, I know. I'm not saying you should be decked out in Kenneth Cole, but you shouldn't look like you slept in your suit and then rolled down a hill, either. And I know it's not fair since I'm usually not wearing a tie, but suck it up. Oh and ease up on the fucking cologne/perfume, ok? God, this shit drives me insane. You're going for a job interview, not trying to get laid. And I need a property manager, not a French hooker. . . And my final gripe on smells - please recognize that on very hot days, it will smell even stronger. Which mean that if you douse yourself in perfume on a 90 degree day, you will have what my friend Shane affectionately calls "that stripper smell. You know that smell - not quite dirty, not quite clean". And he means that in the way that a degenerate alcoholic means it. Which means it's not good. Also - smokers? Mints. Learn to love them. Ladies? Lipstick - take it easy, ok? And I know this is petty, and probably a peeve that only whackos like me have, but make sure it doesn't get on your teeth. Because I have the attention span of a guppy and once I see it, I won't notice anything else.

2. Shut the fuck up. I cannot stress this heavily enough. While I don't necessarily want a 3 word answer to every question, there is nothing I hate more than some goddamn blabbermouth who can't stop talking. And don't get carried away on the intros, either. Let the interviewers ask the questions. Answer them, give a couple of examples when appropriate. Don't segue into other subjects. Interviewers are looking for specific information about you, as well as a glimpse into your attitude and personality. So if you start to run your fucking mouth and hijack the interview, they will do what I do - completely shut down and start looking at my watch, because I already hate you and want to kill your entire family.

3. Don't lie. Seriously. Just don't. Embellish. That's fine. Exaggerate a bit. Hell, I did it to get this job. But outright lying is just dumb, especially since they're going to check your references. Be smart about it.

4. Don't talk about your family. This one is actually very important, for two reasons:

a) I don't fucking care. Really. I don't. I don't care if you're married or single. I don't care if you have no kids or twelve. I don't care if you're gay or straight. I.DON'T.FUCKING.CARE. If we decide to hire you, then maybe I'll start to care. But for interviews, it's irrelevant and can also get you into trouble because...

b) Full disclosure: Interviewers get nervous about people with kids. We're not supposed to. It's technically discrimination. But it happens. If you tell me you're a single parent raising
two kids, it's a flag. Because we immediately start thinking, "what if the kid gets sick? Is (s)he going to end up having to leave early too often?" I can't help it. If you've got a sick aunt who l lives with you, for fuck's sake DON'T mention it. You might as well just come out and say, "I'd love this job, but my life's a fucking wreck and I'm gonna use all my sick time in a hurry because ADD Andy and Sick Aunty Suzy are making my existence hell." So just shut up about it, and let your employer learn after you're hired and Andy and Suzy are eating up health benefits.

5. Along similar lines - don't talk about your pets, your hobbies, your fantasies, unless we ask. Me personally? I'm not gonna ask. I'm not looking for a date.

6. If, near the end of the interview, they ask if you have questions - ASK QUESTIONS. Think of some beforehand, jot them down. But please don't get carried away and ask a dozen questions, and don't constantly refer to notes. And for fuck's sake, ask smart questions. Asking about benefits is fine, and it's not going to annoy me (which is a shock, I'm sure, since as you can probably tell - EVERYTHING annoys me). But ask about the company/organization. Ask if the interviewers like their jobs. Ask how long they've worked there. Because the truth is, people love to talk about themselves. This gives the interviewers a chance to blather on a bit, especially since they've been listening to you mouth off for 40 minutes. It also shows a genuine interest beyond the pay and the bennies. If it's a specific industry, ask a couple of specific questions - my favorite so far was the one who asked how we've been affected by the recent prorations and shortfalls and whether we think the SEVRA bill is a good idea. It might not mean shit to you readers, but believe me, it made me smile. That guy automatically gets put near the top of the pile.

7. Be patient, grasshopper. You're gonna be asked a bunch of really dumb fucking questions. Some interviews are terminally dull. I try to avoid this, but it's hard. The advantage I have now is that me and my partner-in-interviewing have worked out a good rhythm, and we know what the other is interested in. I try to leave out the stupid questions. No "where will you be in 5/10/15 years", no "how are your computer skills?" to anyone under the age of 30. I don't ask about your greatest weakness, because you're gonna fucking lie about it anyway. I've been asked that a dozen times. What am I going to say? "I blog when I'm bored?" "My desk looks like it's been attacked by wild dogs?" "I masturbate furiously in the supply closets?" "I lie constantly and outrageously?" No, you're gonna say some dumb shit, like "I'm a perfectionist". And since I know this in advance, I skip the question all together. But you will get some stupid ones. Try not to show your frustration, smile, and give it your best bullshit answer. Incidentally, "I'm a perfectionist" is a bad idea. You motherfucking suck-up.

8. It's OK to be funny - within reason. It's OK to be clever and witty. Just don't use the interview as an audience for your burgeoning stand-up career. Don't get carried away. But if you can make them smile and laugh a bit, that is a huge plus. As long is the humor isn't inappropriate... I had a guy who was talking about his staff and said this: "So then I usually have the girl who works for me - ah, you guys aren't gonna accuse me of sexual harassment 'cuz I called her girl, are you?" Jesus. That was pretty much all I needed to hear. Ironically, that guy was referred to us by a City Councillor. We later found out that he'd been fired from his last job for... drum-roll... sexual harassment! Anyway, no off-color jokes, and keep it under control.

9. Don't be an asshole. Sounds simple, no? Well, there's a fine line between sounding confident in your abilities, and sounding like a cocky shithead. And nobody likes a cocky shithead. Don't overwhelm them with tales of battlefield glory. Sound like you've got the tools, and you've got the talent. But NOT like you want to take the place over.

10. Don't panic when I put my hand on your thigh. OK, fine I only have nine tips. Whatever. Bite me.

The truth is, interviewing is like trying to pick up girls (or guys)*. You want to look nice. You're going to exaggerate a little, you want to show off a little, and make them laugh, and you want to impress them. But you don't want to sound like an arrogant asshole, and you don't want to say things that are either obviously untrue, or can easily be proven false. And try not to smell like a whore. And I swear to God, any guy that comes into my office smelling like any kind of body spray gets thrown out the window.

Actually, it can pretty much be summed up here.

Additional tips are found here:

Good luck, everyone. I'm sure everyone is now glad that they don't work with me.

*It should be noted that I couldn't pick up a woman if you pointed a gun at my head. My wife basically had to hit me in the head to get me to pursue her. So while my interview advice is sound, my dating advice is probably shit.

Thursday, July 05, 2007

workin' man blues

Resume idiocy of the day:

  1. Married 22 years. Son in college, daughter - a sophmore (sic) in high school.
  2. Enjoy fine dining, city walks, kayaking
  3. Tai Chi

Q: Why does this gentleman think I give a shit about his family?
A: Because he is an idiot.

Look, it doesn't necessarily hurt your resume. But it doesn't help, either. So why put it there? So you can make your resume look longer, that's why.

Then, we have this one. From the cover letter:

"With my construction back round experience"... (I don't even know what the hell that means.)

"With multi-tasking (grrr...) being daily and maintaining staffing I have what it takes with both hands on and the technical knowledge to get the job done along with Good Communication and Good Management Skills."

First off, why does this man hate punctuation so? What did it do to him? Was he mistreated by the comma as a child? Second of all, what's with the excessive capitalization and underlining? And third, do yourself a favor and read this out loud. It barely makes any sense. And finally, what is so hard about the word "background"? "Back round experience" sounds like something you put in a sex ad.

Oh, just fucking shoot me.

Hope everyone had a good holiday. Now BACK TO WORK, you layabouts!

Monday, July 02, 2007

Wastin' Away On The Streets Of Philadelphia

Well, the Philly trip was a success... if by success you mean a drunken mess.

Let's start with a list, shall we?
  • Time it took to get to Philly: 6 hours
  • Time it took to get back: 5 1/2 hours
  • Total number of miles driven: approximately 700
  • Number of times I took a wrong turn: two
  • Number of songs I listened to: about 150.
Note: I'm an obsessive freak. The night before I left, instead of oh, say, packing, I stayed up until 1AM making a playlist for my iPod. Yes, it took me 3 hours. Yes, it is a playlist with 268 songs on it. But I figured I wanted to choose the best tracks, have it be long enough to get me there and back, and take into account possible traffic delays. So I created a 19 hour long playlist, spanning all genres. I know, I have a problem. It's a good goddamn list though.
  • Number of times I stopped: Once, each way (more on this later)
  • Number of beers I drank over the weekend: Um... a lot?
  • Number of shots: One. My mom may have raised me crazy, but she didn't raise no suicide.
  • Number of baseball games I watched: 3 (2 Phillies games, 2 Red Sox games)
  • Number of games I listened to: 1 (Red Sox)
  • Of those games, the number of games where the home team won: One. GODDAMNIT!
  • Number of cheesesteaks I ate: 2 (oof!)
Anyway, that's the boring stuff out of the way.

Let's talk about the break I took. I tried desperately to drive all the way down there without stopping, because I didn't want to get in too late. But since I can't drive anywhere without guzzling iced tea, eventually the pressure in my groinal area became too much. Plus, I was getting hungry. So I'm cruising down 684 in Connecticut, and finally I give in. I see a sign on the side of the highway that says "Burger King, Dunkin' Donuts, exit 4". So I think - sweet! Burger King has a bathroom, and burgers, two things I need right now. Perfect, right?


Fuck no.

Here's a rule: If you're going to put a sign up by the highway advertising food, or gas, or any type of service... it should be visible right after you exit the highway.

Because I had to go to the bathroom. Real bad. And this Burger King? I drove for TEN MILES without seeing it. There were signs every 3 or 4 miles that said Burger King, straight ahead! And guess what? NO FUCKING BURGER KING. So now I'm driving through some dipshit little town in the middle of the worst state in New England (note: Connecticut sucks. It blows. It sucks and blows. It's nothing but endless highway, white trash, casinos and Yankees fans. It's a fucking nightmare. They should just pave the whole goddamn thing). I am losing my mind. The need to pee, coupled with my fury at this town for falsely advertising a Burger King, and I'm about to park the car in the middle of the road and knock someone out. And then pee on them.

Finally, I find a Dunkin' Donuts. I bolt out of the car, use their bathroom before I reach critical mass. I've now given up on the Burger King, so I figure I'll get a bagel and get out of there. And then this conversation takes place:

Store Employee: Can I help you?
TK: Yes, may I have an onion bagel with cream cheese on it?
SE: Toasted?
TK: No, just plain, with the cream cheese on it.
SE: Do you want the cream cheese on the side?
TK: ... No. I'd like the cream cheese on it.
SE: You want the cream cheese on the bagel?
TK: (urge... to kill... rising) Yes. Please.
SE: Would you like the bagel toasted?

And I turned around and walked out, without another word. It was either that or I'm posting this from prison after getting arrested for beating someone to death with a toaster. Only Connecticut could make me hate the greatest chain restaurant ever. Because while I love me some Dunkies, but this one I wanted to firebomb. So I just got back in the car and tore ass out of that town, while roaring "THIS IS THE WORST TOWN IN AMERICA! I HATE YOU ALL!"

Anyway. We didn't get to go to the Phillies game on Saturday, because it was sold out. I know, I was surprised too. But there it is. A Phillies game sold out. The words looks weird when you put them together, don't they? Instead we went to a bar in Conshohocken (just outside of Philly) and watched them lose to the Mets. And in doing so, I got to reacquaint myself with just how miserable Philly fans are. I forget sometimes. I forget that when my wife gives up on a season after two innings, or when my friend Bret goes on a rampage after six games of a 156 games season, that it's not just them. It's everyone. My God, it's depressing. Philly fans are like abused dogs. They just get kicked around, but they keep coming back for more. I told one guy at the bar that I was from Boston, and his response?

"What's it like? Winning, I mean. What's it like? Fuck, man, it must be wonderful, huh? God, I wish..."

And he was being completely sincere. I thought he was going to start crying. It was like describing water to a man dying of thirst. I legitimately felt bad for them. I wanted to put him out of his misery. I felt like George at the end of Of Mice and Men, talking to Lenny.

"Tell me 'bout the rabbits, George?"


Anyway, the trip was a good one. I think I successfully cheered my friend up, if only for a few days. I had lunch with the in-laws, which is always fun. I brought home some locally brewed beers, though I did break one bottle. But it's good to be back.