Wednesday, August 31, 2005

A Trip Down Memory Lane

For some reason I decided to take some time tonight and go back through my own archives. I’m not sure why I did it – maybe part of it was that my mind is starting to let go of the stress and preoccupation of being unemployed and return to some sense of normal. No matter what precipitated it, I found myself reading.

I found myself reading about the day I was met by a man at my front door who told me I had to leave my house and not come back. How he gave me five minutes because I didn’t blow up at him to gather whatever I could before I had to get into my car and drive out. Finding that the checking and savings accounts had been emptied, leaving me no money to even buy my next meal. The phone call I received the next morning from the police department in which I got a small hint at how much my life was going to change.

I read about trying to get some of my things and how my STBX attempted to get me even then. How my clothes were placed in garbage bags to be given to me at the bottom of the stairs. How for a week I did not get to see my son at all until I got to hug him goodbye when I was about to leave. I read through how the police refused to charge me because they realized she was lying, how she changed tactics and claimed I was a danger to my son. I hadn’t thought in a long time of the Family Services Liaison who realized that something wasn’t quite right and fought to help me.

In this post I read about my STBX’s paranoid reaction to me finding a place to live. In this one I read about information I’d found on the web about how some groups actually encouraged women to use false domestic violence claims as a weapon in divorce. And how it hurts the men so bad sometimes that they end up committing suicide.

I read much more than that, but you get the idea. In the last couple of months I’d put most of what had happened to me out of my mind. Finding work became such a high priority that I didn’t have time to really think about things. Reading through those past entries was surprisingly hard. I found myself crying sometimes as things I hadn’t thought about in months were relived in my writing.

I really don’t know how I made it through all of this. There were certainly times I felt like giving up. But what would I have done? Probably gone to spend a couple of nights with my father or one of my brothers, gotten myself together and gone right back. It would have been more like taking a break. Still, I don’t know how I’ve kept my head on straight. In a year’s time I’ve gone through so many changes. I started out a husband living with his wife and son, and went to nearly being homeless, to fighting a battle to just see my son, to losing my job. And now I’m close to getting a new job in a completely different field. As long as nothing bizarre happens I’ll be taking the first real steps in reclaiming a normal life.

I’m quite sure a lot of it is my son. He’s such a powerful influence on me and I use the responsibility and love I feel for him as a source of motivation. I want to not only meet my responsibilities to him, but exceed them.

I’m glad I started this and kept it up. Reading through all those posts reminded me of how much I’ve gone through and how well I’ve held up. Someday I’ll need to explain all of this – whether it be to a woman I’m close to or my son when he’s old enough to understand it all without it hurting him. It’ll be a lot easier if they can read what I wrote as I went through so much of it. I like to think they’ll be able to see the emotions I experienced from reading what I wrote. Especially my son, he should know just how much he’s always meant to me.

Have you taken a trip down your memory lane lately?

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

I’m That Someone Who Has…And He’s Right, It Wasn’t Good

I finally got the call from HR today! I am very, very relieved and very, very excited. Great salary, great vacation time, great benefits. And it’s a job. I have missed working so much. It sounds funny, but I didn’t like the “vacation” (as some of my relatives jokingly called it) in the least. I have worked very hard to get where I am and losing my job was very hard for me.

Searching for a job has been very disheartening – it is amazing how many companies will not even consider you if you do not currently have a job, no matter how you lost it. It can make life very difficult. It can also make you feel pretty worthless, even when you should know better.

When I look at where I’m going to be in a couple of weeks I am simply amazed. I did a lot of reading about job loss and the subsequent search, career change etc. Most of what I read, especially about changing careers, led me to expect a substantial pay cut. Even had I stayed in the industry I was in I was expecting a cut. When I took stock of where I was back in May I decided to take the pay cut and change careers if at all possible. It’s been a long road.

Somehow, I’ve beaten the odds. The salary I was offered today is more than I was making before. So somehow I managed to get a pay increase despite the fact that I was changing careers and unemployed. If I look at overall compensation I did take a pay cut, but salary-wise, I’m good to go. When I worked in pharmaceuticals I did very well and made quite a bit of money in bonuses. I also had a company car with insurance, gas and repairs all taken care of. I gave up the big bonuses and the company car, but I feel like I’m way ahead now, if for no other reason than I’m out of an industry that I was coming to despise. On the plus side, my last company took a serious turn for the worse with benefits when they switched us all to a high-deductible type of health insurance.

Pharmaceutical sales can be a hard place to be if you have integrity. I can’t count the number of times I went head to head with my manager or some other company person over doing something that was questionable or outright wrong. Sometimes it was easy – like when it was blatantly illegal. Other times it was more of a moral judgment call. I was often much more knowledgeable about studies and pharmaceuticals in general than my managers or colleagues and I wouldn’t say things that the studies or evidence didn’t support. That can cause you problems in pharmaceutical sales. I’m very happy that I don’t have to deal with some of these problems now.

The basics of what I’ll be doing? I’ll be providing level two support of some networking equipment (you’ll pardon me if I don’t get too specific). When an IT department calls for help with some of their equipment they get level one support. If the problem is more than they can handle then it gets passed up to the level where I’ll be working. I’m considered very knowledgable, but I’m nowhere near the level I’ll need to be to be handling these type of calls yet, but the company knows and expects this. So over the next year I’ll be spending a lot of time learning, something I happen to be pretty good at.

I’m still having trouble accepting the reality of it. Part of me fears that something will happen or that I’ll suddenly wake up and find that I dreamed the whole thing. If I were already working then I wouldn’t be nearly as worried, but living on the edge like this…

Remember this post? Well, it’s ironic, but as I was writing the last paragraph the song just came up in the random playlist. The song still applies – so I’ll knock on my desk. Let’s just hope the testing is over.


Last one. I didn't notice it then, but I caught a dragonfly in flight (look in the branches just above the lilly pads). They were flying all over - it was like a big aerial dogfight. Posted by Picasa

Don't ask me what settings I used to come up with this - it was completely unintentional. The beach was actually a deep brown, but as you can see it didn't come out that way. Posted by Picasa

This is looking back at the trail I followed to get here. I stuck to the major trail for a couple of reasons. I hadn't been biking in a long time, I'd never been here before so I didn't know my way around, and I was alone, so if I fell and injured myself I didn't want to be on the most obscure trail around. Posted by Picasa

I went mountain biking this last weekend for the first time in over a year (literally). The ankle I broke when I was in the Navy (which led to my discharge) is protesting, but it'll get over it. This is a lake I came across. There were dragonflies everywhere here and they amazed me with their acrobatics. Posted by Picasa

I came across this truck not too long ago. Look closely. The yellow cab at the front is on the end of the cherry picker arm. I'm quite sure this is the truck they use to peek through people's windows when looking for furniture made from their free boxes. Posted by Picasa

Monday, August 29, 2005

Lakewood, Where Everybody's a Criminal. Unless You're Not.

I tried pawning this on to Samantha Burns, but she refused to take up my slack. I was looking around on CNN and found this. I thought this was utterly ridiculous. Let’s put aside the subjective parts of this and just focus in on the facts.

Mistake #1: Husband’s license is valid but due to a police error is in the computer as invalid.

Mistake #2: Detective at the Lakewood Police Department substitutes wife’s information for somebody with a “lengthy criminal record”.

Mistake #3: Same detective issues warrant for wife’s name (which is an alias for the criminal) instead of investigating whether the (criminal) woman was involved in the incident he was investigating.

Mistake #4: Detective did not compare the addresses or photos of either woman.

Mistake #5: Even though it was clear to the officers at the jail that this woman did not match the description of the criminal the officers made no attempt to rectify the situation.

Wow. This is one of those times where you look at an entire police department and say “you all dropped out of clown school, didn’t you?” If it were one mistake, or even two, I might be able to understand. Maybe. But this was incompetence above and beyond the call of duty. The utter disregard for citizens this entire department showed has clearly made an outright invasion into the realm of the ridiculous.

I can’t comment on the behavior of the state trooper – most of the issues the family had with him were subjective. He wasn’t responsible for the mistakes of the Lakewood Police Department. He was informed that the woman he had in front of him had a warrant out for her arrest and a lengthy criminal record. He has to handcuff her, though I can’t say anything about the family’s feelings on his behavior.

I hope the family sues the Lakewood Police Department. I hope they win a nice settlement. I have those hopes because when a lobotomized chimpanzee in the midst of a seizure caused by a crack overdose could outperform you in your job, a message needs be sent.

Another Round of Paranoia

I had a fantastic day with my son yesterday. It started out interesting, however. I was strapping him into his car seat and the STBX decided to start an interrogation. She does that every so often, and I typically just give noncommittal answers and get out of there as soon as I can, mainly because there can be no right answers. Usually when she does this she’s not trying to get information, she’s got something she wants to accuse me of and she’s trying to give herself an excuse.

It started with questions about where I was going to take him. I told her that I hadn’t decided yet, but that we would probably start at the mall. She then asked me where in the mall I was going to take him. While she asked this she had her arms crossed and she was clearly in “suspicious” mode. I told her I didn’t know again, and she then said “Are you taking him to your house?” I told her no, I wasn’t taking him to my house since I don’t want to spend the majority of my time with him in the car driving. She doesn’t believe me and says “He’s been telling me that you’ve been taking him to your house”.

For those of you who might not have read all the archives, the STBX has long suspected that I was going to try to kidnap our son, especially if I get more visitation time or take him to my house. Several months ago she asked me why I had never told her I had taken him to a local pizza place. I told her it was because I’d never taken him there. Personally, I can’t stand the place and never go there. She claimed that he told her that I took him there to eat. Since I don’t normally inform her of the places he and I eat I don’t know why this one was so important to her.

So now I’m getting accusations based on things my two and a half year old son is saying. Since there is no problem even if I did take him to my house I’m not too worried about it, it’s more annoying than anything else. It’s my opinion that my son thinks that my brother’s house is my house, and is probably what he is referring to, assuming that he’s talking about any real place at all.

As funny as this is, it’s not the end of the story.

As I drove away, the STBX was watching (as she usually does) from inside the screen door so she and our son could wave goodbye to each other. Nearly at the same instant that I pulled out onto the road my son starts telling me that he wants a car. I look back and he’s dropped the car he had and has nothing to keep him occupied. So I decide that I’ll pull over and give him a car before I get onto the highway. I pulled into a parking lot and took care of it, then got onto the highway.

A few minutes later I notice something up ahead. It’s the STBX in her car. At first I wonder how in the world she managed to get in front of me, then I remember stopping to give my son the car. For her to have gotten in front of me after that short delay, however, would mean that she would have had to hop into her car almost the second I left the parking lot of the condo. I momentarily wonder if it’s possibly somebody else with a similar car, but on closer inspection, it’s definitely her. Her car is missing the front hubcap and has a really bad temporary tint job on the back driver-side window. I don’t remember her plate number, so I take a look at it and decide to do a final check later on (it turned out that it was indeed her).

The next thing I see is that she’s getting off the exit for the mall, but not the one I’m going to. I realize that she’s going to the mall to see if I’m really going there. She certainly wouldn’t go to the mall dressed as she was when I left and there was no way she had time to change.

As I drove by the exit I laugh as I imagine her driving around the parking lots searching for my car and not finding it. I was actually expecting a call making all kinds of accusations later on, but it never came. The crueler side of me imagined her reaction if I asked her (with exaggerated nonchalance, of course) if our son had a passport.

As much as I joke about it, this whole thing does worry me a little bit. Many schizophrenics experience cycles of improvement and decline. I’m hoping this doesn’t mean that she’s entering a declining part of that cycle.

Addendum: I never mentioned what happened when I dropped him off. She immediately started asking our son where we had gone and what he'd done. He told her we had ice cream for lunch to which I got an angry glance. I asked him if he'd had chicken nuggets for lunch and then he remembered. Since it was raining she didn't really get the chance to ask me too much, so I was saved from an interrogation, but I'm sure I haven't heard the last of this.

Friday, August 26, 2005

By The Way...

Did anybody notice the google ads that occasionally show up in the NeoCounter? I think it's hilarious that one of them is Wasp Killer by Terminex.

It Was Almost Justice, Poetic Style

Today I spent a ridiculous amount of time getting my drivers license converted to this state. The best thing about the whole experience is that I got to do some quality people watching. Man, did I have fun.

As I walked in I got in the initial line where you declare your purpose in coming to the DMV. It took me a little while to get in because the man in front of me had had some trouble with the front door. They have one of those rubber mats in front of the door and it bunched up when he tried to go in, preventing the door from opening. Most people would have pushed the door shut and fixed the mat, knowing that the door will never open. This guy, however, decided that he was going to teach the rubber mat a lesson. He tried to force the door open despite the mat being bunched up under it. He succeeded in moving it another 4 or 5 inches, but then it wouldn’t move at all. Now that he had it properly jammed he felt it was time to try to push it closed again. No dice. The door would not move. So he considered the problem for a few seconds, then bent down and tried to yank the mat out from under the door. No – that’s not working either. Then he starts trying to power-yank it, putting all his strength into it and giving several pulls in quick succession. I’m waiting for the mat to suddenly give way, tumbling him onto his backside, so he can look up at me and say “kiss it Daddy, kiss it.” No, wait. That’s another story.

I’m sure this is going to end up with an injury, but he’s saved. A guy on the other side of the door decided he’s going to pull on the door while the first guy pulls the mat. It works, and no injury! We’re in.

The man at the check-in desk is just a little bit surly. Every so often somebody, not paying attention, steps forward to stand behind the person at the desk talking to him. Mr. Surly then stops everything and loudly asks the person if they are with the person he is currently helping. As they answer “no”, he rolls his eyes and tells them to stand behind the blue sign. Then he gets back to helping.

He’s very concerned about his pens. Every time he gives somebody a form to fill out, whether they need it or not (I brought my own form pre-filled out), he hands them a pen. In a tone of voice stressing that this is the most important thing he is going to tell you he says “Bring me back my pen when you’re done”.

Now, he’s supposed to give you a number right then and there, but he is holding the numbers until he gets his pens back. I’m not kidding. As I stood there he paused and printed out a whole bunch of the numbers he hands out and lines them up on the counter. People would come up to the side counter after they filled out their form and he would hold their number slip in his hand until the pen was actually placed in his hand. Then he would hand over the number.

So, having returned my pen (after pretending to go to the table and fill out my already filled out paperwork), and gotten my number I sat down to wait. And wait. And wait. I was one of the smart ones. I brought a book. Unfortunately, I sat down next to a mental patient, or somebody doing a fine job of imitation. It is the best form of flattery, after all.

This man was covered in tattoos. Many men who are covered in tattoos look tough and people tend to avoid them. Not him. He didn’t look tough, and he never stopped talking. He talked about how insane this place was. He described how he’d improve the entire process, start to finish. He told the story of how he got his license suspended and made sure that people knew he was there to get it back. Funny, eh?

No. It was not funny. In the least. Why? Well, let me not answer your question directly, let me just say that if you see an empty seat on a bench in a busy crowded room where there are many, many people standing, do not sit there. It is empty for a reason. If he had not been sitting on the end of the bench there would have been two seats open. He showed great interest in the book I was reading. Then he asked me about my job (ironic, isn’t it?), and I decided to get up when he started asking about the documentation I had with me, such as my passport and social security card. Yes, you actually need 43 pieces of identification to convert your license.

As I stood against the wall I would glance up from my book every so often and see that somebody new was sitting next to him. It would be a new person each time. In truth, I never wondered why he was not called up. But I will admit to laughing along with several other people when I heard him say “What number?” He had never gone to the front desk and gotten a ticket. He’d been sitting there for quite a while, never questioning why the female mechanical voice kept saying things like “Now serving B337 at station 1. Now serving F543 at station 10.” In all that time he did not notice how everybody seemed to be clutching their tickets and checking each time a new number was called just in case their ticket had spontaneously changed since the last time they checked.

Some might say that he was merely a fool, and I did for several hours after that. But it occurred to me that the DMV had a reputation to uphold. That man could single-handedly drive 32% of the customers crazy on his own. What better way for the DMV to make your life hell than to force you to wait for hours in the same room as this guy?

There was also the entertaining officer who gave the driving tests. I watched as he would leave with somebody then come back. He’d sign their paper and go and sit or stand somewhere. One time, however, he went out with a young girl obviously there to get her first license. When he came back he looked like he was ready to kill – red in the face and walking fast. Behind him trailed the girl, looking forlorn and being comforted by a friend. I’d love to know what went on during that driving test.

Eventually my number was called. As I walked to the counter I heard Mr. Tattoo complaining that he’d been there for hours and they needed to speed things up. Pretty brazen for somebody who now held a ticket in his hand. Anyway, the woman at the counter was spectacularly nice. She went through the paperwork, typing everything in and eventually taking my picture. She asked me if I’d already registered a car, which I had, and she was happy, because that saved her time. Then she asked me if my license was suspended. I said no. She looked confused and typed a little more. Then she got on the phone. I heard her tell somebody that the computer wouldn’t let her update my record. She listened, then asked me several questions in succession. Had I ever had a DWI? Was I sure my license wasn’t suspended? Was it revoked? No, no no no no. I just kept answering no. She and the person on the phone finally got it fixed. She claimed it was because she had to change my address from the one I had when I registered the car to the one I currently lived at. I was about to tell her that it was the same address, but decided to let it go now that it was working.

I finally got to leave, my temporary paper license in hand. But does our story end there? No.

You see, when I got out into the parking lot I saw a couple of tow trucks. One was pulling out with a car, another was hooking one up. The one right next to mine. When I pulled into the parking lot several hours earlier I had pulled into a parking space as the previous occupant pulled out (they are single rows instead of double rows). The car to my left had obviously parked where there was no parking spot on the end of the row. The fool. I shook my head at them, thinking that some people just don’t get it. In any large city, parking illegally in a municipal lot is a quick way to get towed. That was strictly Amateur-hour stuff.

Yes. Some people just don’t get it. People like me. When I got to my car I found that when I pulled in behind the person pulling out I failed to notice that I was not pulling into a legal parking spot. I was the fool I’d just been laughing at. The only difference between this fool and the one I’d been laughing at is that I got back into the lot just before I got towed and managed to make a clean getaway. This had very nearly been Justice, Poetic Style.

You’d think that after sitting in the DMV for several hours you could come home and watch paint dry and find it exciting, but no. I have been bored stiff for several hours. I watched some Law and Order, ate some dinner and read some blogs. But I just couldn’t get into any of it. So I decided to write a quick post and get to bed early. That quick post turned into this monstrosity, and it’s now almost 11pm. So much for an exciting Friday night.

For anybody who noticed, somebody claiming to be The Hot Librarian posted a comment on this post. When I first read it I figured it was the Evil Norwegian playing a joke on me. It would be right up her evil alley. That there was no email address only added to my suspicions. However, I received confirmation that it really was THL who made the comment. However, this means that somebody probably squealed on me, as I doubt I’m on her regular reading list. So, who was it?

Thursday, August 25, 2005

Boo-boos and Silence

My son has recently caught on to the fact that mommy or daddy kissing boo-boos makes them better. He’ll show me any boo-boos he got in the last few days and say to me “kiss it, Daddy. Kiss it”. Today he showed me one under his chin, which I kissed. Then he showed me one on his finger, which I kissed. He hit his head in my car when he tried to stand up in his car seat after I’d undone the straps. He looked vaguely unhappy as he rubbed his head and told me to kiss it. I did, and he looked at me and said “no Daddy, it’s on this side”, pointing to the other side of his head.

We had a good time at dinner. He had his cars out and we drove them all over, including the top of my head. I pretended that the car I was holding took a sudden turn and crashed into his belly, which he thought was absolutely hysterical.

When his Macsheese, with hot dogs and dip (ketchup) got there he dug into it with relish. He chowed. He just kept eating and eating and eating. I am always amazed by how far a toddlers belly will stick out when they’re done stuffing themselves.

I have a new favorite at Friendly’s. It’s the grilled chicken melt. My mouth is watering now just thinking about it. Each half of the sandwich has a toothpick in it to hold it together, which my son found fascinating. He wanted one, but I turned into the mother from A Christmas Story, and wouldn’t let him have one because he’d poke his eye out.

When we were done I got him down from the high chair and we walked over to the fake fireplace while we waited for the waitress to bring our check. He asked me if it was hot and I told him it was. I decided I’d rather lie to him now and have him fear all fireplaces than have him want to check to see if the one he happened to be looking at was one of the cold ones.

I looked back at our table and found that our check had arrived. We walked back and as we did I noticed that several women at different tables were looking our way. But they weren’t looking at me, they were looking at my son. And they had this dreamy look on their faces. The kid is just too cute. I wanted to say “Hey – I’m his dad – you can at least spare me a glance!”

Just as I was going to pick up the check, he tripped. He didn’t fall right to the ground, though. He sort of did this spinning move as he fell into a sitting position, but he was kind of lopsided. It turned out that somehow he had maneuvered the car in his hand so that he ended up sitting on it. The trouble was that it wasn’t flat on the ground, it was standing on end. It obviously hurt, but I could tell it wasn’t enough for him to cry. I picked him up and asked him if he was ok. He said it hurt. I asked him where it hurt and he patted his butt where he had sat on the car.

Have you ever noticed that there are times when a crowded area goes nearly silent? This was one of those times. For some reason nearly every person in the area had stopped talking, and a lot of those women were still looking at him after his little fall. So not only did they know what had happened, they saw him patting his butt when I asked him what hurt, and they clearly heard him say “kiss it Daddy. Kiss it”.

Now all the women were looking at me.

The Hot Evil Norwegian Who Kills Goats in Georgia Is Actually A Trekkie

One of the things I’ve tried to do to survive my period of being unemployed is find some funny things to read. One of my favorite reads is The Hot Librarian. Yes, yes, I’ve heard the rumors too. But I really don’t care if she is a 42 year-old man sitting in the basement of his parent’s house…her (his?) talent is such that it makes me blind to it’s (ok, that’s better) Trekkie origins. God help me if she ever reads this and decides to skewer me on her site. I think I’m safe because I’m small enough to go unnoticed.

Another of my favorite reads is Kill the Goat. I always thought she was funny, but she did me the great service of kick-starting the Relative Sacrifice Program. It was a comment left by her which offered to send relatives that led to the Program in its current glory. Because she kills goats I have decided to be very, very nice to her.

I was lucky enough to get in on the ground floor with The Evil Norwegian. Many people avoid Norwegian blogs, and with good reason. However, despite being Norwegian, AND a cat owner, her writing is quite funny. Hopefully it’s intentional. One thing about the internet is that it removes natural barriers, like the Atlantic Ocean, which make it easy for Virtual Vikings to come marauding onto North American Blogs. It’s unfortunate, but true.

The Evil Norwegian told me about another blog, Miss Doxie. She’s a lawyer, so, to avoid lawsuits, let me just say that this is a fantastic blog. Great layout, very good writing, very funny (in a good non-lawsuity kind of way), and clearly very intelligent. I have to be very careful here, because when talking about a lawyer, even a misplaced apostrophe could result in a disastrous avalanche of lawsuits. So, let me make myself clear: Miss Doxie – You Rule!

Watch carefully, because I’m about to launch a new internet rumor. It is my theory that all of these blogs are written by the same person. Yes, the 42 year-old trekkie living in the basement of his parent’s home. In between posts to Star Trek message boards on the ongoing debate of Kirk vs. Picard he writes under several pseudonyms. Fueled by Twinkies, Mountain Dew and the rage he feels when somebody posts a Snort of Derision about his developing theory of Spock as a Messiah Figure, he adopts several personalities, probably far more than the ones I have uncovered here.

I may, in fact, disappear in the next few days because of this post. Trek Goons may show up at my door, throw me in the back of their 1972 AMC Gremlin and take me to a Trekkie Convention. There I’ll be dressed in a red uniform and set loose among the masses. A horrible death… It was nice knowing all of you.

By the way, before my bloody death, you should also check out Statler and Waldorf. And if anybody knows where I can watch old Schoolhouse Rock videos I’d be grateful for the short time before I die at the hands of the Trekkies.

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

A Day of Good News

Today was a really interesting day. I spoke with my contact and was told that both he and the interviewer had discovered that the procedure for hiring at the company had been changed. It appears that now the managers are not the ones to call new hires to make an offer – it’s now done by HR. The manager put the paperwork in for me today, and did it at a much higher salary than we were expecting. Can’t complain about that.

I also got to speak to one of my cousins who I haven’t talked to in far, far too long. It was good to talk to her. We emailed some pictures back and forth, me of my son and I, her of her sister and her. They’re the first pictures I’ve seen of her in about 10 years. They were pretty young girls, but both of them have grown up, and they’ve turned into beautiful young women. How in the world did that happen in 10 years?

I’ve also begun construction of some new enclosures for when all of you ship me your relatives/enemies/teachers etc. I bought most of the cage material from local Daycares. Used cages are pretty cheap.

This is My Kind of Children's Book

Don't ask me how I found this. I will invoke my Fifth Ammendment Right against self-incrimination. Again.

I've decided I MUST have this book to read to my son when he gets old enough.

Rogue Animals

This is the kind of book I wish I'd had around when I was a kid.

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

The First Sacrifice Has Been Accepted!

I went out to examine the hornet nest today and found that it was gone! There were small pieces of it on the ground, but nothing more. I could find nobody who would admit to have taken it and I believed them because nobody had any stings. Bald-face hornets don’t play games – they are mean little bastards. They can throw down. I am going to assume that Thor is responsible and that he took the hornet nest with him when he accepted it as a sacrifice.

I’ve gotten a lot of interest in the sacrificing of various relatives, so I thought I’d go through some of the rules of my Relative Sacrifice Program.

  1. You are only responsible for paying the shipping of your relative(s). There is no cost for the sacrifice itself.
  2. Due to the disappearance of the hornet nest, they can no longer be involved in the sacrifice.
  3. All are welcome. No need to ask me if I accept relatives who are once-removed or distant relatives.
  4. Please specify in the shipping paperwork whether the sacrifice should be quick or slow and painful.
  5. Please specify in the shipping paperwork whether your relative(s) should get an indoor or outdoor cage.
  6. I suggest accepting the shipping insurance that Fedex/UPS/Airborne Express etc offer. That way if your relative(s) is damaged during shipping you will likely end up with enough money to send another.

Many thanks to everybody for their interest in my new Program!

Send Me That Annoying Uncle...

I wrote in this post that I was thinking of sacrificing some of my relatives to Thor to appease his anger towards me. In the comments I received an offer from Jay (who pounds her fist for gentle emphasis, heh heh) to send me some of her relatives to help me out. We worked out a deal – she pays for shipping, I do the sacrificing. Everybody wins.

Thor, however, has not finished with me. I went out to check out the hornet nest yesterday and found it was laying on the ground. What I found more disturbing were all the hornets that were crawling on it. As you might recall it was sprayed down with insecticide the other day and seemed to be dead. My guess is that some hatching has been going on. I’m pretty sure that one of them was holding a little mallet – not exactly a subtle message.

So, I’m going to open up the offer to everybody. Should you have some relatives you’d like to get rid of and are willing to pay for shipping, I’ll gladly add them to the sacrifice to get Thor off my back.

Monday, August 22, 2005

The Waiting is Over

Sometimes I think I lead a charmed life. I got a call from my contact at the job, and he told me that the decision has been made to hire me. He said to expect a call from the interviewer tomorrow. He was fully prepared to go in and push hard with the interviewer and the interviewer’s manager, but it seems the decision was made before he had to. From what he told me the interviewer pushed harder for me to be hired than he would have! Since the interviewer is most likely going to be my immediate manager I take that as a very good sign.

This may sound strange, but the reality still hasn’t hit me. It does feel like a gigantic weight has been lifted off my shoulders, but I think it will take a while for it to all seem real.

It’s going to be quite a learning curve, but that’s OK. If there’s one thing I’m good at, it’s learning. One of the things the interviewer was most impressed with was that I graduated summa cum laude from my university. Before I even interviewed him he had gone online with the university and found out what that really meant.

My contact told me that the other people who work there are extremely happy that they are hiring somebody with no experience, strange as that sounds. This company likes to find people who can learn, have good attitudes and train them themselves. In the last year a couple of people with experience have been hired and it didn’t work out as well as it should have.

So tonight I’m going to call several family members who have been worried about me and let them know the good news.

It’s funny. I’ve been losing sleep despite my best efforts from the stress and worry of not having a job. Tonight, however, I have a feeling that I’m going to have a hard time sleeping for exactly the opposite reason.

Friday, August 19, 2005

Thor, God of Thunder and Rubber Mallets

I’m blaming the Norse God Thor for the last few days. I’m quite sure he’s smiting me for my insolence. I’m quite surprised, actually. I had no idea that he would get so mad at my photo manipulation. I’m trying to decide which of my relatives would make a suitable sacrifice to appease him.

He may also be behind a discovery that was made not ten feet from the back porch. A bald-face hornet nest just a bit bigger than a basketball. The guy who mows the lawn here has been stung several times in the last couple of weeks and I guess now we know why. This particular kind of hornet will usually leave you alone unless you approach their nest, of which they are particularly protective. Somebody came over and sprayed the nest down with insecticide and it seems to have done the job. If I’d known he was coming I would have set up my camcorder and recorded the whole thing. I understand there was some comical jumping around and flailing as he did this. Why didn’t I spray it down? Because I’m smart enough not to go messing with hornet’s nests that have not explicitly threatened me. Now, if they’d said “Erasmus, we’re going to get your ass” I’d have had to respond. I certainly would have come up with a better plan than standing 10 feet away and spraying it with a can of wasp killer. My plan would have involved one or more of the following:

  1. A beekeepers suit
  2. Hired goons
  3. A grenade
  4. Napalm
  5. A Weedwacker
  6. My circular saw (because, damn it, I just don’t get to use it enough)
  7. My landlady’s Bichon Frise (the white dog that must die)

In other news, it’s an exciting Friday night here at Casa de Erasmus. Right now I’m watching Pale Rider on AMC, and I have an exciting night of Law and Order planned. My weekend plans besides seeing my son are pretty lame. There aren’t any. Tomorrow I think I’m either going to go see a movie or rent one. I’m leaning towards renting one because I want to watch Sin City which came into Blockbuster this week. I’ve got to get out of the house, however. Not having a job I seem to spend much too much time here.

I heard from the potential job again today – another delay. They tell me I should hear sometime early next week. They want to filter through some more resumes, which I’m not thrilled with, but I’m still in the running. I have an interview with another company next week, but I’m a little skeptical of them. The answers I got from the interviewer on the phone were not comforting. I won’t go into the specifics, but I’ve found that there are a lot of companies out there who are questionable at best.

Damn. I’ve seen this Law and Order.

I wonder if Thor will accept the wasp nest as a retroactive sacrifice.

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

The Waiting Game

I got a call from the manager I interviewed with concerning the job yesterday. He told me that his manager, who he had to talk to before making any decisions was on vacation and that he would be back Thursday. He said he would call me on Thursday to let me know. My contact told me that the said manager was indeed on vacation, and that it looked pretty good for me. He said that he had been scared at one point because another candidate was interviewed. The candidate apparentely looked pretty good on his resume, but bombed the interview. So hopefully I’ll hear good news tomorrow.

I’m embarrassed to admit that when I was preparing my email to my former manager about the expense check discrepancy I discovered that the check was not off by several hundred dollars. It was only short a little over one hundred dollars, which is better, but I still want to know what the discrepancy was, so I sent my former manager a polite email.

I mentioned before that I had emailed my former attorney asking her to forward the email she claimed had bounced back to her and to provide me with the proof she claims to have that her office contacted me on “more than two occasions” about the court date. I haven’t heard a thing back from her, though I did receive a bill in the mail that was postmarked the day after I emailed her. So I sent her another email today again asking her for the material. I’d like to have her write me a response.

So right now I’m just waiting. I’m really hoping that I’ll get a good news call from the interviewer tomorrow – it would remove the biggest source of stress in my life right now. If I get this job I’ll be happy for (at least) two reasons. First, I’ll be employed. Second, it’s not a sales job – after being laid off twice in two years time I am looking for something a lot more stable.

I’ll let you know.

Monday, August 15, 2005

This Is Getting Utterly Ridiculous

Still no word on the job, and I’m going on the assumption that no news is good news. The manager told me that he would be in touch early this week so I’ll probably hear tomorrow.

I finally received the check from my old manager for my last expense report and yes, they shorted it. By several hundred dollars. No explanation, just a check folded into a blank sheet of paper. So now I have to contact my last manager and find out what’s going on. I’m getting very sick of dealing with this. I should have received this check at the end of May, and here it is the middle of August. Over that time I called Payroll a couple of times and did not once receive a call back. When I emailed my old manager about it he asked me for the number of the report, knowing that there wouldn’t be one associated with it. He then took about two weeks to “look into it” and finally get the check sent out. Now I find it’s a lot less than it should be.

I don’t understand why companies do this to people. This is supposed to be a company that takes very good care of it’s employees, but in my experience they’ve done nothing but screw around and try to take advantage in every possible way. Maybe they’re partners with Best Buy.

An Update on the Best Buy/Sports Illustrated Debacle

Over the last two weeks or so I’ve noticed a surprising increase in the number of hits to my blog resulting from searches for “www.sicustomerservice.com” and “sicustomerservice”. Even more surprising, when I followed the link in my stats I found that I was the number two result on AOLsearch and the number four result on MSN. I don’t know how I feel about being so high on anything on AOL, but I suppose I’ll take traffic from anywhere. I started searching around to see what else came up concerning the subscription fiasco concerning Best Buy, Sports Illustrated and Entertainment Weekly and found that there are more and more people complaining about the “free subscription” practice.

I found a couple of other sites complaining about the practice:

The Conglomerate Blog

Householdwatch

My3cents

I’ve been in Best Buy a couple of times since then and each time I’ve been told that I’d won a free subscription. I’ve also had to listen to the spiel given to the people in front of me in line – several times I’ve listened to the cashier tell somebody that they won a free subscription. They’re never told that their credit card information is going to be passed along. They’re never given a pamphlet or told that they’re signing up for automatic renewal.

So after writing about this yet again I’ll probably get more hits from people trying to get information about this Best Buy scam, which, if the trend continues, will become my number one source of traffic.

Saturday, August 13, 2005

The Worst Movie of All Time

Many of you may think they know what the worst movie in the world is. Some might guess “A Simple Plan”, others “Waterworld”. I’m sure somebody would say that any movie with Bill Paxton is a dead ringer, but I’d have to remind you that he did, in fact, do one good movie: Twister. While these are all close, they do not rise (or fall) to the level of the movie “Anguish”.

I’m not even sure how to describe such a bad movie. I’ll try. It is a movie about a strange man. At first. Anyway, he is some kind of optometrist’s assistant, and keeps a cigar box full of glass eyes. We find out he lives with his mother, who is using some kind of hypnotic spell to control him and send him out to kill young girls. As he’s killing her image appears in the background with the spinning hypnotic wheel, telling him what to do. He kills the girl, then cuts out her eyes, putting them in his cigar box. It’s then we realize that these are not glass eyes.

Are you with me so far? Ok. Next, we’re suddenly confronted with the scene of the interior of a movie theater. The people in this theater are watching a movie. The movie is the one I was describing in the paragraph above. So we are actually now watching a movie of people in a movie theater watching a movie about this weird guy killing and cutting out eyeballs while under the hypnotic spell of his evil mother. Got it? Good, because it gets better. We start seeing scenes from the lobby of the theater, where a man with a rifle has come in and chained the doors to the theater so nobody can get out. We also cut back to the inside of the theater, where we find that a teenage girl is becoming much too engrossed with the movie. We cut back to the rifle-carrying madman, who has somehow gotten into a room behind the movie screen, where he pokes a hole in the screen and pushes the barrel of the rifle out of. He then starts shooting. Everybody in the theater panics. They’re screaming and running for the exits, but the doors are chained. The only person who’s not panicking is the teenage girl. She’s almost in a trance watching the movie. Suddenly the weird optometrist’s-assistant-who-is-controlled-hypnotically-by-his-evil-mother (remember him?) looks at the girl who is sitting in the movie audience watching him in a movie (are you following this?). She suddenly becomes terror-stricken as she realizes that he can somehow see her, even though he’s a character on a movie screen. He throws the scalpel he’s been using to cut out young women’s eyes and it leaves the movie screen and it flies through the air to hit the young woman in the eye.

I wish I could tell you how the movie ends. The reason is simple. I couldn’t take anymore. I left the theater. It is, to this day, the only movie I’ve walked out of. I’ve contemplated buying a copy to play for when various annoying relatives or friends overstay their welcome, but I have to wonder on what Homeland Security lists I’ll end up on for buying it.

Ok, I just went and looked on Amazon.com for this movie. I wrote all of the above before I read this, and I’ve got to say that I’m surprised at how much I remembered. I did not realize just how badly this movie had been burned into my psyche back in 1986.

Friday, August 12, 2005

Fedex and the DMCA - What Will They Think of Next?


File this under "You've got to be kidding". Fedex has decided that the DMCA applies to furniture made from it's boxes.
Read about it here.
Posted by Picasa

Where is Pedro’s Blog?

I finally broke down and rented Napoleon Dynamite. Vote for Pedro. This movie is utterly hilarious. Some of the scenes were actually painful to watch they were so funny. I don’t even know what to write about. The cow getting shot? The necklace Lafawnduh gives Napoleon’s brother? Pedro’s protection service? The defect in the milk being bleach? I have added some incredible dance moves to my repertoire – thanks Napoleon! I almost cried I was laughing so hard after that dance. And I'm just curious. How many of you watched the credits long enough to see the wedding?

Just so you know, Jon Heder (who plays Napoleon) is alive and well.

Not All Spam Is Bad...

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Wednesday, August 10, 2005

The Job Interview

As far as I can tell the job interviews went very well. I met with the man who would be my supervisor and we got along pretty well. He then brought over one of the other people who worked in the department to interview me. It was a lot easier than I thought it was going to be. I thought I was going to be grilled about my technical experience a lot more than I was. It was basically a pretty good conversation, not stressful at all. This talk lasted under a half hour. Then another guy from the department interviewed me, and it seemed to go just as well. I met with the potential supervisor again and he told me that he was going to talk to the two other interviewers, then talk to another supervisor tomorrow, and he would call me early next week to let me know what the decision was. I don’t want to get my hopes up – it’s too stressful. I’d really like for this to happen, and my contact said that there was a very good chance and that he’d let me know as soon as he heard something. He is good friends with both supervisors and is confident they’ll let him know tomorrow or Friday.

This interview was so much different than the interviews I’ve done in the pharmaceutical world. No interview I ever did in that field was LESS than three hours. Usually, I’d meet with the manager, then the manager and somebody else, then the manager and the regional manager. The first interview was always fairly easy, but the second and the third were usually “stress” interviews. They pull out every stop to make you uncomfortable to see how you react under pressure. Nothing you can say is taken at face value and they dig and dig and question and question. Over three hours of that, sometimes with the managers double-teaming you. The second and third interviews were always very difficult, but I always did very well. The last thing you’d have to make sure happened was “closing” the interviewer(s). That’s closing as in “closing the sale”. If you didn’t do that, you pretty much blew the interview.

Interviews in pharmaceutical sales are much, much different than what I experienced today. I’m glad I went over everything with my contact – he told me what to expect and that I shouldn’t close the interviewers.

After the interview I got a tour of the facility and the labs they have there for troubleshooting problems with the networking equipment they support. It was incredible. They know I would be coming in needing to learn quite a bit, and this is the norm for people starting there.

Like I said, I think it went very well, but I’m scared to get my hopes up – I’ve got enough stress on me right now. Wish me luck.

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

An Interesting Day...

It’s been an interesting day, and I’m taking some time to relax. I’ve been studying hard for my interview tomorrow, which might or might not help me. It’s a client support role for a major networking company, and I’m being referred by somebody who is very popular there. He brought my resume to his supervisor who brought it to his boss, and they said that they felt I’d fit into the client support position.

I’ve decided that it’s time to file a complaint against my attorney, who is now my former attorney. She called me earlier today and left me a message. It started with “As you know, we are due in court tomorrow…” I was livid. This is the third time she’s called me the day before a court date to let me know about it. Her office had called me last week and left a message for me saying that they had information for me. They called me again, leaving no message. I called the office back, got no answer, and left a message asking what the information was and giving my phone number and my email address for them to get back to me. I never heard from them again until today. She also said in her message that she had tried to email me and that it had bounced back. That has been her excuse for not letting me know things every time she called me at the last minute.

I emailed her after I got her message. I was mad for a couple of reasons. I had told her a month ago that I didn’t want to sign the agreement and that we needed to work on it. She ignored that – today’s message said that the agreement was ready to sign. I told her I didn’t understand why she was having so many problems with her email. I went on to explain that I didn’t want to sign the agreement because I was concerned with the bankruptcy, and that I wanted to go back to mediation concerning my visitation because I’m not satisfied with it.

She wrote me back and claimed that she had proof that her office contacted me more than twice about today’s date. I’m going to ask her to send me over any proof she has about her contacting me. I’m also going to tell her to forward me the email that she claimed bounced back to her today in her message since she can now miraculously get email to me. I’m not going to tip my hand as to what I plan to do, but I’m willing to bet she will claim to have deleted the email that bounced back. It will be interesting to find out about the “proof” she has as to contacting me. I saved the message her office left me last week and I listened to it before I wrote out the email to her to make sure I didn’t just miss the date. I didn’t.

I’ve got the other issues with her, such as her advice that, had I followed it, would have had me committing a felony. Or her advice regarding the STBX’s bankruptcy. I’m going to get an answer for that one quick, because I now have her advice in writing. If she’s right, that would be great. If not, it’s another thing to put into a complaint.

I emailed her just a few minutes ago asking her to forward me the email that she claims bounced back and the proof that she has about me being contacted more than twice about tomorrow’s court date. We’ll see what comes out of that.

A Short Update

Am I still alive? Yes. I’ve spent the last several days getting ready for a job interview that could have come at any time. It’s now been scheduled for tomorrow afternoon, so I’m still preparing. Lots of studying.

My son and I ended up having a great weekend. He loves his cousins, and they’re only four months younger than he is, and they all get along great. I had more fun watching his interractions with them than with anything else. He would take a tonka truck and push it as fast as he could, chasing one of his cousins in circles around the house. The shrieks and laughter as they ran were great. He also liked chasing them with a lawnmower type toy. Occasionally, they’d turn the tables and chase him around, which was just as funny.

They had just as much fun outside. They stomped around in some mud puddles, played together in the backyard and explored for bugs. It was just the kind of time I needed. He had absolutely no problems sleeping or being homesick, which was great.

So, with this short update being done, I’m going back to studying in preparation for the interview tomorrow.

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

The Post With No Theme

I emailed some family tonight. Literally days after my last day working in May I received an “update” from my uncle, whom I haven’t seen in over 10 years. I didn’t really realize it had been that long until I sat and thought about the last time I’d seen him and my aunt. His two youngest daughters I remember as young girls – they are now 19 and 21. One graduated from college already, and the other is currently attending. It was strange (almost surreal) to be reading about their current lives – there have been so many changes.

When I got the update I told myself that I’d have to email all of them to reestablish contact. I kept telling myself that until tonight. I finally managed to actually sit down and write. I wrote my aunt and uncle first and by the time I was finished I was very surprised of the length. I didn’t know quite how to describe the events of my life for the last three years, it’s not something that’s easy to do. I told them about my son, and how he is the best little boy ever born. I even directed them to the website where I have pictures of him posted. It took me over two hours to write out that email. There was a lot of editing – like I said, it’s hard to try to explain extraordinary events like the one’s I’ve experienced.

Next came my two cousins. I didn’t describe nearly as much in those emails, I mainly tried to stay positive and talked a lot about my son. They also got the link to my pictures website. After I’d spent a while writing and editing I realized that I was putting too much work into these emails. I found I was concerned about how they’d see my writing and grammar, which was utterly ridiculous. I know I’m smart and educated, I hardly need to prove it in an email, especially to family. I don’t know what I was thinking – they’re family, and would hardly think any less of me if I made a grammatical error. So I stopped trying to write perfectly and just sent out the emails.

Speaking of emails, I emailed my last manager about my last expense report last week. I had left several messages with Payroll and not gotten a single call back, which I was starting to get angry about. In the email I sent him I politely asked him what the status of my last expense report was, since I hadn’t heard anything. He emailed me back telling me that if I gave him the number of the expense report he’d get right on it. This didn’t sound good, since there wasn’t a number associated with it. I was referring to the expense report I had sent him directly, as he asked me to at the time. I wrote him back, telling him there wasn’t a number associated with it, and also included the date I’d sent it and the date it was reported as having been delivered. It took a couple of days, but he wrote a very short message which basically said that he’d be sending me out a check shortly. I was expecting that check at the end of May, at the latest. I also noticed he didn’t tell me how much the check would be for, which also concerns me. I’ve been very surprised at the lengths this company will go to to save a few dollars since I’ve left. We’ll see.

I suppose that since I really don’t have a “theme” for this post I can write just about anything I want. I’ve decided that if I ever get three wishes, one of them will be for me to speak Norwegian so I can move to Norway. I wonder if King Harald would receive me as a visiting King…

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

My Music, My Life

I've been refining the playlist I posted for weeks. Every so often I'll add something or take something off. It's kind of an all-around playlist. I listen to it while I exercise, while I'm just sitting around or when I'm surfing. A lot of it is music to keep me energized - I'll take every bit of help that way I can get. Despite all the stuff happening in my life I still think I'm having a great life (see number 8, thanks Goatboy). It's just a matter of getting through what's happening now.

I have several philosophies on life that have developed over the years, and the music reflects it. I decided to be an optimist many years ago, and part of that is not saying "everything happens for a reason" (because I don't believe that), it's saying "it's happened, now how can I make the best of it?". If you don't believe you decide to be an optimist or a pessimist I think you're fooling yourself. Your outlook on life is just that, yours, and you can decide how you want to perceive it.

Another thing I decided many years ago was that I was going to be happy. Just happy. Not rich and happy, not famous and happy. Just happy. I want to enjoy my life, I want to tell stories of all the fun I've had to my grandchildren (and if I'm lucky, my great-grandchildren). I want to do more than tell them to enjoy their life, I want to show them how to do it. Worrying about the things that happen in everyday life is a huge waste of time. Most of the time it doesn't change a thing and you spend time you'll never get back unhappy. I want to keep my happy/unhappy quotient quite high, thank you.

With all the things that life can throw at you it can be hard to remain happy and optimistic. The trouble is, it's at those times that you need a good attitude the most. I think that happiness and optimism are habits that can be developed, but so are their opposites.

What keeps me going these days? All kinds of things - my son, the dreams I have for the future, the music I listen to. Some days it's harder than others, some days I even fail, but I keep trying. I'll get through all of this and I'll end up better than I was before. I've heard several times that living well is the best revenge, but I don't want revenge. I just want to live well.

The Current Music

My Current Playlist

"Fuckin' in the Bushes" by Oasis
"Roam" by The B-52's
"You've got to hide your love away" by Eddie Vedder
"The Impression That I Get" by Mighty Mighty Bosstones
"Take Me Out" by Franz Ferdinand
"Disco Science" by Mirwais
"Smack My Bitch Up" by The Prodigy
"Great Life" by Goatboy
"Hair Of The Dog" by Nazareth
"Mr. Jones" by Counting Crows
"Unbelievable" by EMF
"Warehouse" by Dave Matthews Band
"One Thing" by Finger Eleven
"Lunatic Fringe" by Red Rider
"Acuarela de Brazil" by Pink Martini
"Groove Is in the Heart" by Deee-Lite
"With Arms Wide Open" by Creed
"No Such Thing" by John Mayer
"Cry Little Sister (Theme from the Lost Boys)" by Gerard McMann
"Another Postcard" by Barenaked Ladies
"Children of the Sun" by Billy Thorpe
"Our House" by Madness
"Shine" by Collective Soul
"All Star" by Smash Mouth
"One Week" by Barenaked Ladies
"Major Tom (Coming Home)" by Peter Schilling
"The Stroke" by Billy Squier
"Come as You Are" by Nirvana
"The Middle" by Jimmy Eat World
"Beautiful Life" by Ace of Base
"No Such Thing" by John Mayer
"The Jock Jam" by ESPN
"You Learn [Album Version]" by Alanis Morissette
"Kryptonite" by 3 Doors Down
"The Way" by Fastball
"Where Are You Going" by Dave Matthews Band
"With Arms Wide Open" by Creed
"Blue (Da Ba Dee)" by Eiffel 65
"Superman (It's Not Easy)" by Five for Fighting
"Where Are You Going" by Dave Matthews Band
"Sandstorm" by Darude
"Ready To Go" by Republica
"Big Yellow Taxi (featuring Vanessa Carlton)" by Counting Crows
"Worry About You" by Ivy
"The Best of What's Around" by Dave Matthews Band
"New Age Girl" by Deadeye Dick
"Run-Around" by Blues Traveler