I was born. I suffered.
I suffered some more, and hopefully,
I won't die a painful death.
This is my life.

Beware the paper shredder

Luckily for me I still have one friend left from my old company, come to think of it, he is my only friend.  At any rate, he religiously sends me the ridiculous safety crap from emails and meetings.  The latest incident happened with a paper shredder.  I have embedded the pdf below.

Fortunately for all of us, we have recovered the 911 call for this horrible incident: 

(if you can't hear the call, click here to download)

Gas, gas everywhere and not a drop to buy

Last weekend I was on a road trip home and stopped for gas in the great state of Pennsylvania.  Much to my chagrin, the debit card that I normally use to purchase extravagant things like food and other essential supplies wouldn't work.  Thinking that my card was broken, I called the 1-800 number.  Well, come to find out my account had been frozen for child support arrears.  I know what you're saying, Eric, you fucking bastard!  How can you shirk out on your fatherly duties?  It's true, I purposefully lost my job, lived in basements and accepted handouts to suffer for my craft.

As I sat there in my car wondering what to do about this dire situation, I thought, to myself, "Maybe if I sleep in my car tonight someone will break in and kill me."  I looked around for anything I could hock for about fifty bucks.  I figured I would probably get in trouble if I sold my work laptop and I would rather lose a leg than sell my iPod.  So, I braced myself for the March Pennsylvanian night.  Eventually, the migrant workers gathering around my car got me a little scared and I started to call for help.  After many "piss offs" and "you are a loser" from various friends and family, a kind soul, let's call her Karen, found a Western Union nearby and wired me some money.  After a few hours, I was back on the road.

The moral of this story you might ask?  Never have kids.

The Red Queen

Hmmm.  There's something familiar about her.  I can't quite put my finger on it.  Could it be the giant head with that mop of hair?  The short 4'11" body?  That nasty turn on you at the drop of a hat personality?  I don't know maybe it's nothing.

Ingenious pool heater or secret Nazi weapon...you decide.

Of the many life-scarring household building projects that occurred at the old family homestead, none stands out more in everyone's mind than the satanic black iron pool heater contraption that the old man came up with. Growing up, there was always some pile of pressure-treated wood, stones, concrete, siding, PVC pipe, mulch, shingles, roof tar, knotty pine, slate, landscape timbers, park-a flooring, insulation, replacement windows, central vacuum system, and AstroTurf carpeting just waiting to be deployed at the estate. It always gave you a sick feeling in the pit of your stomach to wake up on a Saturday morning and find ten gallons of orange paint waiting for you in the dining room.

In the old days one of the greatest symbols that you had made it in the world, was to have an in ground pool. The Old Man finally achieved this goal and life was good. Or maybe. The one lingering thought in his mind was that the pool was never quite warm enough. So he and his son-n-law, let's call him Jack, got to thinking. All of their best ideas would come to them while drinking Genesee Cream Ale standing in the shallow end of the pool. I think the beer and pool water were a conduit to the gods. Well, one Friday night, I'm sure, back in maybe 1982, I recon, because the old withering redwood fence was still hanging in there, the idea of the century hit. I'm sure the following is how it occurred:

Old Man: "You know, sonny-boy, I wish we could come up with something to get this water up to about 90 degrees."

Jack: "If we had some sort of gigantic boiler that could pump hot water into the pool, which might work. I've been welding these big black iron cylinders down at the plant, maybe we can use that."

Old Man: "You know, that might work. Maybe we can burn firewood in it. And we can wrap copper tubing around it and have the water go through that." Jack: "That’s a great idea. Buurrp."

Old Man: "Hey, I have that black pvc pipe just lying in the driveway, maybe we can also have the water pumping through that.
Jack: "And we can coil that up and lay it on the roof over there so the sun can heat it in the daytime. Then it will come back down off the roof and go into the pool.

Old Man: "Hey, won't we also need a chimney on the wood burning boiler?"

Jack: "Yeah, we should use about twelve feet of galvanize pipe. I can see some laying over there in the side by the driveway right now."

Old Man: "This is going to be succulent!"

Soon after, the monstrous beast was delivered. Up the curb off the highway and through the backyard it came. The Old Man marveled the black beauty, like Hitler witnessing the first successful flight of the V-2 rocket. It was not long before the fire was stoked and black smoke billowed from the rusting chimney. Then hot water came. It was slow at first. Then, all of a sudden, water gushed out of the black pvc piping with such a great force, that it wailed around like a fire hose. Only this hose spewed scalding hot water and steam, burning anyone that dared to be in its way. A heavy rock was then placed over the pipe to keep it from flailing around.

Now when the Old Man was at work, it was up to one the many sons to keep the fire going in the summer months. As relayed to me by my brother, let's call him Craig, he was given this task one morning. Craig had wrenched his knee a week before and was on crutches. So, he hobbled out to the backyard and proceeded to put the three foot long logs in the black iron beauty. Well, the logs weren't catching fire too easily, so he decided to pour in some gasoline. I know, right? Just then, a sort of back draft occurred and an orange wall of flame went back into the gasoline can. You know that Craig is so damn smart; he got rid of the can straight away, by throwing it at the rotting redwood fence. Luckily, gasoline can fire was extinguished, but now the fence was ablaze. Fortunately, there is a whole pool full of water right there. Disaster averted.

Not everyone shared in the admiration of the amazing pool boiler. Neighbors lodged many complaints about the toxic black smoke clouds invading their backyards. Birds flying by would drop out of the sky. Sadly, for the Old Man, the pool heater had to be dismantled and no doubt used for some other ill-fated scheme.

I have tasked my sister, let's call her Robin, with searching through her 10,000 boxes of pictures, to find an image of the black iron beauty. The closest thing I know of that looks even remotely like it is the alien ship in Star Trek 4: The Voyage Home. That is the picture at the beginning of this blog. One of the differences between the two, as far as we know, is that the alien ship could achieve warp speed.

That is the illustrious story of the Old Man's great pool heater. I plan to erect a plaque to it next time I am at the estate.

I Can’t Pay the Rent ‘Cause I’m Addicted to Codeine

In this, the final in the three part story of The Old Man’s business ventures and properties, I’m going to tell the glorious tale of 219. 219 is the number of the house down the street that The Old Man owned for many years.

(219 in the college days)

At some point in the mid ‘70s, The Old Man purchased a perfectly wretched two story house with the intent of making a fortune in rent. It stood ominously above the street just daring someone to tame it. The craggy old man who lived across the street from 219 always had an itch to buy it and live there with his equally craggy wife. He resented The Old Man for owning such a magnificent structure. He would call the police for any little incident that happened involving the renters.

219 was what you would call a “fixer upper” but what it lacked in elegance, it made up for it in filth. From what I can recall, 219 was a traditional turn of the century building. The house had a really bitchin’ extra stairwell in the back of the kitchen that led to the second floor. Its leaded stained glass windows in the attic had long since been filled with holes. Its front porch was sagging and paint was falling off of it everywhere. It had many decent sized rooms, I often thought The Old Man should actually pay a real contractor to gut and remodel it and we should move into it.

The Old Man soon went to work using his slave labor force to nail up plywood and paneling to cover the walls and block off the second floor to make additional apartments. The slave labor crew was also adept at painting. While painting the exterior one time, which was coming along swimmingly, a brutal swarm of Africanized bees that used 219 as their summer home attacked and seriously wounded one of the crew, let’s call him Al.

Right-quick, a bunch of college kids rented 219, and all was well. But college kids tend to mostly just get drunk and destroy things. So The Old Man thought maybe he should rent to a family instead of those crazy kids. The Old Man put his usual ever-present ad in the local paper for a nice family to rent the wreck.

After the college kids, 219 needed various updates and the kitchen was redone in a beautiful late ‘70s Alabama trailer park motif. And soon it was filled with the trailer park white trash to go along with it. Various ne’er-do-wells were living at 219 and each had their own rusted out car parked in the driveway. Somehow, all of these inhabitants were related, either by marriage or incest, we don’t know.

Luckily for me, my job at 219 was to cut the lawn every week. I use the term lawn loosely. It was mainly dirt and ground-level tree roots. My main implement of choice to cut the grass was a weed whacker. While I was there, I was usually pestered by a dirty-faced kid wearing just a diaper and nothing else. This would've been fine, but he was about 13 years old.

There were the few dreaded times that I would accompany The Old Man when something needed fixing in 219. This would really test your gag reflex. This especially was the case when there was a plumbing problem. As you can imagine, the dregs of society are not always the cleanest.

Unfortunately for The Old Man, the rabble of sloth that rented 219 had a hard time of paying rent every month due to vicious addictions to Tylenol with codeine. The Old Man had to kick them out.

Well, joyously, 219 was sold for a huge sum of money by a cunning realtor. The Old Man is now living the high-life, enjoying his golden retirement years with his beautiful and beloved wife. And their little dog too.

Thus ends the fabulous and excruciating recounting of The Old Man’s meteoric rise to power.