jr copy2

Tiny Life is a radical departure from conventional comics.  There are no super-heroes, there is no manga.  There are no post-apocalyptic vampire-cyborgs who terrorize the zombie populace while simultaneously falling in love with the one shy yet very attractive girl who’s just coming into her own.  It is the completely original story of Jed, a stick-figure in a world of flesh, who must eventually learn – like we all do – the truth about himself, about relationships, about God, and about reality.  Tiny Life is about the world behind things.

Taking place almost a decade before the events of the last book, “left” contains the reasons why Jed doesn’t trust his dad or the seemingly-saintly status he attained in “l(a”.  As far as he knows, his dad abandons him for no apparent reason.  As far as he knows, all of his friends just happen to be leaving as well.  As far as he knows, the red dot that chases him has no purpose.  And as far as he knows, the failed political speechwriter who understands his life’s purpose is not out to kill him.

But then again, he’s only eleven; he has time.

Permits (part 1)

Or a house made of Tilt-a-Whirls

In order to build Xanadu, I have to get a building permit.  This isn’t unusual, and I’m sure it’s very practical.   Although I own the property, I can’t just put any piece of shit made out of egg cartons, deweaponized plutonium, and a dog coop on casters.  I get it.  What I don’t get is the number of things I have to do in order to get that permit.

On the building permit it says I need:

  1. A land clearing permit
  2. An energy use report
  3. A driveway permit
  4. A soil erosion permit
  5. A water permit
  6. A sewer permit
  7. A copy of the blueprints
  8. A site plan
  9. A sidewalk permit

That is, I need these permits before I can apply for the building permit.

Each permit has a little story.

Story the First: A Copy of the Blueprints.

As sad as it is, $2000 is on the low end of pricing for large sheets of paper.

I’ve been working with Pageant Homes since the beginning.  Although I am technically my own contractor, I’ve been using – and continue to use – their services and expertise for everything.  I ordered everything through them, I used their guy for CAD design, I talked to their resident expert/salesman about various building codes… so it makes sense that I use them for the blueprints.

In order to get these blueprints, I had to write a check for $2000.

I understand why they do it; they don’t want me getting a bunch of advice from their top guys only to walk away and use another company.  It’d be like if I brought my dog to a training facility and told them I needed a seeing-eye dog as soon as possible.  So they got their best guys on the case and before long I had a completely trained helper dog, vest and everything.  But right before graduation – the day they get paid – I say, “Thanks for everything, but it turns out I misheard the doctor: I’m not going blind, it’s Crohn’s Disease.  I have under-control anal-leakage”

Story the Second: The Energy Use Report.

Pageant homes used their expertise to write this for me.  No charge (well, no charge after the two grand).

Story the Third:  Sidewalk Permits.

Also considered for this analogy: women over 40 who still look like this.

There are no sidewalks where I live, so I don’t have to fill this one out.  I just think it sounds weird that I would have to ask permission (and pay for the privilege) to build an unwanted sidewalk that I would have to pay for and maintain.  It’d be like being mandated to trade in my car for a ’72 Mustang; it looks great, but it doesn’t start in the winter and I will always be working on it.

Story the Fourth: Land-Clearing Permits

Like the sidewalk permit, I find this one odd.  Why would I buy a piece of land if I don’t have the option of clearing it out for the purpose of living on it?  Or for the purpose of building a volleyball court for nudists?  The reason they want a permit for it is because I need permission to cut down each individual tree.  Every one of them.  You can see the results here.

I’ll have more as I get more permits.

A Glass of Water

whiskey

How much would you pay if this was served in an overturned top hat? It’s still classy.

I think we all know everything tastes better out of a bottle.  It looks better too.  There’s a reason the world’s most expensive whiskey doesn’t come in a five-gallon bucket and wines that compliment swordfish don’t come in boda bags.

I’ve started a bottle-only policy when it comes to Coke.  If someone’s having some playdate pizza party, I won’t turn away a can, but I won’t physically go to Meijer and buy a 12-pack.

On my last trip to Meijer, in the same isle as the bottled Coke, I noticed some bottled water.  Like real bottled water.  In a bottle.  Not a plastic container.

Since it was on sale (I’m saving up for a house; I can’t afford extravigances like water), I bought one.  I have to say, it was the best water I’ve ever had.

“I only drink water from Italy” is the same thing as saying “My pekingese goes everywhere with me.”

I know it seems like common sense, but you’re not supposed to taste water.  It’s not supposed to be flavored or juiced or vitaminized or caramel-colored.  It’s supposed to be nothing: completely clear, no smell, no taste.  Growing up in rural Flint (by the way, check out the current Flint water report), the well-water always tasted like a softball bat.  Once I moved to California, we always bought water in plastic bottles because CA has shitty everything.  Once we moved to Middle-of-Nowhere (now sold), we always filtered our water, and so it tasted like a filter.  This bottled water was different.  It tasted like nothing.

Unfortunately, it comes from Italy.  I feel like a douche for having it in the house.

Ikea Kitchen (part 2)

ikeaSince I had heard so many horrific stories about dealing with Ikea over the phone, I decided – as I do with companies that are too successful to care (usually airlines, Windows “Help” centers, and – to make a multi-phone approach to calling.

I called their main line with the house phone, I called an alternative “online ordering only” call-center with The Wife’s phone, and I used a sweet app on my phone (it’s called Fast Customer: it basically calls the company for you, waits on hold for you, and then calls you back as soon as a real person picks up the phone).

After about 15 minutes on hold I made a sandwich.  Blueberry jam (not jelly; jelly is for kids).

After about 30 minutes I wrestled with the kids.  My crotch was only stepped on once.

After about 45 minutes I started to think: why would a company still do business like this?  Back when I was younger, like when I had a recall on my first car and had to call the “Recall Center” to find a repairshop near me, this was business-as-usual.  That was before places like eBay made it possible to buy anything anywhere and before FedEx made is possible to ship it.  That was before every major company had a mathematician on its payroll.  “Queuing theory” used to be gay slang for glory holes in a rest area, now it’s the reason you only wait 45 minutes for any ride at Universal Studios.

Is it because they know their product is so good and their customer base is so loyal that they can get away with this (call Apple sometime without an AppleCare account and see how long it takes)?  Or is it the opposite; is it because they know their product is so bad they know most people will hang up after an hour?  Or maybe it’s because their a furniture store and shipping one replacement item costs just as much as shipping an entire kitchen –

Just then, The Wife’s phone stopped playing smooth jazz.

Acladia, the head of Online Kitchen Service picked up.  That’s right: the HEAD.  She explained to me that there was “a big snow storm in Maryland so there aren’t a lot of people working right now” and that this wait time was isolated.  I was going to point her to Google where she could look up “Ikea” and “costumer service” and possibly “phone” to disprove her, but that wouldn’t help me get my two drawers, two doors, and trim.

Once the wait time was over, it was pretty quick.  I explained that I bought 184 items, five were damaged and needed to be replaced but that the company no longer makes these products, so I needed them quickly before the stock is depleted (it was the only time I’ve ever used the word “depleted”).  I heard a lot of typing.  She said, “Ok.  I’ve sent this to the store manager.  You should hear from us in a few days.”

After about 70 minutes of phone time, it took about 9 minutes of conversation.

An Ikea Kitchen

savedIn the New House (I’m thinking of naming it “Xanadu: House of the Future” for brevity’s sake), I’ve had the kitchen planned the longest.  The Wife and I went to Ikea as a lark a few years ago and I absolutely loved a certain mixture of white cabinetry, butcher-block countertops, and white appliances.  Since that time, I’ve measured and used a 3D program, and used Ikea’s own planning program, and found accessories using various (I feel a little nauseous admitting this) pinterest-like sites.  I know exactly what I want in the house that I designed.

On one of the rare days that both Lemon and Quinford were somewhere besides punching my crotch, The Wife and I again decided to visit Ikea.  It’s a little vacation: it’s a two-hour drive, they have exotic food (like meatballs), and we’re able to talk about adult things like the location of a broom closet in an imaginary Xanadu.  When we got there, we saw that our preferred appliances (all rated as “best buys” from Consumer Reports, by the way) were being sold off to make room for an all stainless steel line.  Since they were already 30% of, and since Ikea was running a 20% sale, we got the appliances for a fraction of the price.  But we had to store them.  And if they were broken, there was no way we could replace them.

kitchen

Would your kitchen fit in the back of a VW hatchback? Now who’s crazy?

We found a solution and everything seemed fine.

About a month ago, I went to Ikea for the same non-crotch-punching reason and found that the kitchen cabinets that we preferred were also being sold off to make room for a 3/16” bigger cabinet line.   So I had to buy all of those.  Nineteen cabinets with drawers, drawer fronts, cabinet doors, hinges, shelves, knobs… the works.  In all, it was a purchase of 184 items.  They were shipped to me.  Five items were damaged.  Which means, if I do not get these items replaced, I will have spent thousands of dollars on a kitchen the doesn’t quite match.  I will have nineteen cabinets and one drawer will be a slightly different color.  I will have nineteen cabinets and one knob will be brushed nickel instead of nickel-plated.

Which cabinet is off-color?

I know it sounds dumb, but you only notice the things that don’t match.  That’s why racism exists.  If every drawer was a different color, you wouldn’t notice the one that was a little more off-white.

So this weekend I’ll have to call them up and explain the whole thing.  Hopefully it’s a little better than trying to return a gift through Amazon.

Too Happy

I am not an eater.

Healthy-Eating-GirlI mean, I eat; I have eaten, but I’m not one of those people who likes to celebrate everything by “going out to dinner.”  The Wife isn’t either.  Usually, on our anniversary, we’ll go to bed early and wake up late.  My idea of “a good time” isn’t spending a bunch of money on food I could make way better and for way less money (I also feel the same about prostitution).  My idea of a good time is not being so tired my eyes blink independently of each other.  And it’s not necessarily the act of eating out that bothers me, it’s the act of overeating while I’m out.  Birthdays, barbeques, thanksgivings… it all adds up.

Since living with The In-Laws, I’ve since been reminded that some people enjoy going out for the expressed purpose of eating food with people that they eat food with everyday, just in a different chair.   Not to pick on The In-Laws; eating food to celebrate is a normal thing.  Normal people do this.  It’s just that I’m struck by the number of times people are allowed to do this.  Here is a list of all the days the people in my family are encouraged to overeat:

  1. New Year’s Day
  2. Mother-in-Law’s birthday
  3. Wife’s birthday
  4. My birthday
  5. Super Bowl Sunday
  6. Valentine’s Day
  7. Father-in-Law’s birthday
  8. What better way to say "I remember that magical first kiss" than by stabbing barely-cooked fish with a wooden stick?

    What better way to say “I remember that magical first kiss” than by stabbing barely-cooked fish with a wooden stick?

    First date anniversary

  9. At least once during March Madness
  10. St. Patrick’s Day
  11. Fat Tuesday
  12. Easter
  13. Mother’s Day
  14. Daughter #1’s birthday
  15. Memorial Day
  16. Father’s Day
  17. Daughter #2’s birthday
  18. 4th of July
  19. At least three barbeques during the summer
  20. Labor Day
  21. This is the picture I use to prove to others that I have friends that aren't white.

    This is the picture I use to prove to others that I have friends that aren’t white.

    At least two tailgates during college football

  22. My wedding anniversary
  23. Halloween
  24. Thanksgiving
  25. Christmas with my family
  26. Christmas with The Wife’s family
  27. New Year’s Eve

Out of 52 weeks, more than half contain a celebration of food.  Maybe it’s not “too much McDonald’s” or “too much sugar” or “too many preservatives” that is making us all fat.  It’s that we’re all too happy and we want to celebrate that fact with others.  With appetizers.  Cheesy appetizers.

Clearing Land

We decided not to build the house this winter.  There’s a dozen reasons why, but mostly it’s because we don’t want to have an outstanding loan for the new house and an outstanding (albeit ten-year-old) loan for the old house.

However, I do want to clear the land and start cutting up the remaining wood.

Maybe I’ll get to buy a chainsaw.

clearedland1

All of the trees that you see are someone else’s.

clearedland3

If you’d like some wood chips, I have a metric ton.

clearedland2

With all this wood, I’m sure there’s some sort of erection joke here, but I’m out of practice.

Why I Hate Lawyers (part 3)

I talked about this before (and before again).  The title work for the old house is still on-going.

The newest:

Last week we were ready to sign the papers for the construction of the New House (possible AKA: Ikead) so I figured I should call the various parties involved with the papers for selling the Old House (AKA The Shoebox).  It’s good that I do this because this is how I found out that there was a second, more-intensive inspection – which the house failed – and it’s also how I found out that I had some foundation work to do before the closing of the house (I had to buy 50 special $2.50 screws).   This week I got a response that says:

The website says denied.  Until I get a hard copy, I won’t know why.

I found that there is a very simple, obvious, non-infuriating reason why this (hopefully) final paperwork has been denied.

You see, the mess started 10 years ago when I bought my house.  Originally, Merrill Lynch held the mortgage and was responsible for getting stuff done.  Since then, LaSalle Bank has bought the division of Merrill Lynch where my mortgage is held.  So, in order to process the paperwork properly, someone somewhere needs a piece of paper that says LaSalle Bank can sign papers on behalf of Merrill Lynch.  It’s understandable that this would take three months.

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