Merry Christmas!

No "Happy Holidays" here at Recycled Sip, oh no, no, no. Here, we're wishing people the real McCoy: "Merry Christmas!" And I hope that all of the people who read this blog have a great day.

For me, Christmas actually came a little early. My brother Karl sent me a new computer game that I'd asked for: Civilization IV. It came on Wednesday afternoon, after I went to bed. I found the Amazon.com box outside my door when I got ready to leave for work. I opened the box on Thursday morning. The game itself wasn't wrapped, of course. And nobody would know if it got opened just a couple of days early and installed on my computer. Nope, nobody at all. So needless to say, I've been noodling around with the game for a couple of days. I even managed to finish and win one game, although that was at a fairly low difficulty level.

I also got some chocolates from my mom, sent by Harry & David, on the same day. They came with an impressive set of ice packs to keep them cool. When I took them out of the box, I had to laugh: While the message on the outside of the box said "Merry Christmas, Love, Mom" the chocolates had a blue bow on them that said "Get Well." And I didn't even know I was ill! Don't you hate it when it sneaks up on you like that?

I also got a couple of Amazon gift certificates, one from my other brother Kurt and one from my mom, so that I can order another computer game that I want, which isn't coming out for another three months or so. Originally, it was supposed to be in November, but evidently there were some glitches. I'd far rather get the game a little later and have it work right.

Later this morning, I'm going over to my dad's place and do the family thing. I got him that book he wanted (a Baptist hymnal, so he could "sing my songs," as he put it) and I'm also going to take him over to Fort Lauderdale to the Treasures of King Tutankhamen exhibition next month. Everyone else got honeybells. I like that; it makes it easy to buy for people.


Let the Weekend Begin!

My work week is finally over. The bad news is that my perfect streak of going through the entire month of December without having to work overtime came to an end today. Now I know how a major league pitcher feels when he loses a perfect game in the bottom of the ninth inning. They nailed everyone today. I wasn't too happy when the supervisor came around and proclaimed, "The list is getting four hours, the non-list is getting two hours and the PTFs are getting 3-1/2 hours."

"You're fucking with my goddamned weekend," I growled at him as he left.

And so my streak came to an end on the last work day before my three-day holiday weekend. I had to stay until 9:30 a.m. I was not amused, and it would probably be accurate to say that I was not as well-motivated as I normally am. I waited until 7:31, when I was on overtime, to visit the restroom. I figured I'd do my business on their time and they could pay me time-and-a-half while I did it. I felt better afterward.

All was not doom and gloom, however. I had the distinct pleasure of yelling at one of the Haitian casuals who came over and tried to steal one of my Labelle racks. The trays in the rack all had dispatch labels in them, and the racks clearly say all over them (in English) "Do Not Take!" "BCS #14 Setup" "Do Not Steal!" Obviously I need to write it in Haitian, too. Anyway, I saw this guy trying to abscond with my rack and I bellowed at him, "HEY!! DON'T EVEN THINK ABOUT IT!! THAT'S MY RACK!! YOU CAN'T HAVE IT!! NO FUCKING WAY!!" I think they probably heard me halfway across the building. Then I politely explained to him that we do NOT take labeled racks or GPCs off of people's machines, or they will be righteously pissed off. I then found a rack that wasn't being used and had him take that one instead.

It actually was therapeutic to yell at the guy. He was catching it for all of the times when weasels on other tours have stolen my racks. I'd have yelled at all of them, too, if I'd known who they were. This time, I caught the guy in the act. Very satisfying.


This and That

We have a holiday snack table at work, where people can bring in food to share. Last week, someone brought in a little green reindeer as a decoration; it looked like it was covered in artificial turf or faux chia. The next day, someone else brought in a gyrating Santa figurine, dressed in a cowboy outfit. You can guess how long it took Santa and the green reindeer to make an intimate acquaintance. Alas, the green reindeer was gone when I went in to work last night. Apparently someone has no sense of humor. A sign appeared on the cowboy Santa last night: "Brokeback Santa misses Rudolf." Heh.

I made the mistake of going out on US 41 on Saturday to buy a Christmas present at a specialty bookstore. The traffic and parking situation was just insane. I finally made it to the store, looked around and found what I was looking for. I got up to the cash register with the book and cash. The cashier asked for my telephone number. "You don't need it," I told her, handing her the book and the money. I think she was a little nonplussed by the response, but hey, I don't need to be in any more databases than I probably already am. If I'd wanted them to have my phone number, I'd have paid by check. Chalk it up as a victory for privacy rights. Well, if we actually have any of them left, which is doubtful.

Less than a week until Christmas. My string of overtime-free December days is still intact. Let's keep our fingers crossed...


I'm Not Complaining (Too Much)

Well, no, not too much. There are lots of people who have more to complain about than I do. The folks in the Mid-Atlantic who have gotten nailed with the latest ice storm, for instance. It's a truism that all politics is local, and the same goes for weather. We've had a bit of what passes for a cold snap the last few days here in Florida, but only comparatively so. I talked with a friend in North Carolina this morning, and she was pretty much marooned by the ice storm. She described her car as being "entombed" by the ice, and was hoping that the accumulation of ice wouldn't bring down the power lines. I seconded that. I remember how unpleasant it is to be without electricity.

I don't miss winter, no, not at all.

Others with more to complain about than me: The people at work who are lower on the totem pole and are being slammed with ridiculous amounts of overtime just about every day. Meanwhile, I do my eight and hit the gate. I am fully prepared to work overtime if I have to, but of course, but I've made it halfway through December without having to work any overtime at all. I'm hoping that my luck continues to hold.

I don't miss working overtime, no, not at all.

All is not sweetness and light, however. Last night, I got back my incidental leave request for a week off in March, which was denied because the maximum percentage had already been approved for those dates. It wasn't a big deal, however. I hope to be able to get a week off sometime in April when the percentage of people who can be on leave at one time goes up from 3% to 15%. The March week was a pipe dream, but hey, nothing ventured, nothing gained. I just don't want to have to wait until July for my next vacation.


Bad Stuff

Over the weekend, I was channel-surfing and caught the end of the "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band" movie, featuring Peter Frampton and the Bee Gees in the Beatles' roles. It was so bad that I couldn't look away. I only saw the last twenty minutes or so (alas, I missed Steve Martin's version of "Maxwell's Silver Hammer"), but it was enough to get a renewed feel for the zeitgeist of 1978. The long hair. The horrible clothes. The music: Barry Gibb's falsetto version of "A Day in the Life," followed by Billy Preston dressed up in a gold suit singing "Get Back," with the final reprise of the title tune to close the movie, featuring a group cameo by everyone who was hot stuff in Hollywood that year: George Burns, Carol Channing, Helen Reddy, Keith Carradine, Tina Turner, Leif Garrett... It was surreal. Certainly nothing I would have paid to see in the theater, even in that long-lost year.

Tookie: Are you in the "Save Tookie!" or the "Die, Tookie! Die!" camp? Me, I'm down with capital punishment for gangsta quadruple-murderers. I don't care how many children's books they write in prison. I was listening to Matt Drudge's radio show on the way to work last night and he mentioned that some people thought that the death of comedian Richard Pryor might generate a groundswell of support for Tookie. As if people were going to say, "There! You've got one dead black man, you don't need any more!" All I can say is, "Ahnold, be the Terminator you were elected to be."


"All I Wanted Was A Pepsi, Just One Pepsi..."

Odd story of the day, especially if you think that cops have gotten "Taser-happy." Bonus points if you recognize the source of today's blog title:

Cop Said to Taser Partner Over Soft Drink

HAMTRAMCK, Mich., Dec. 8, 2005
(AP) A police officer has been charged with using a Taser on his partner during an argument over whether they should stop for a soft drink.

Ronald Dupuis, 32, was charged Wednesday with assault and could face up to three months in jail if convicted. The six-year veteran was fired after the Nov. 3 incident.

Dupuis and partner Prema Graham began arguing after Dupuis demanded she stop their car at a store so he could buy a soft drink, according to a police report.

The two then struggled over the steering wheel, and Dupuis hit her leg with his department-issued Taser, the report said. She was not seriously hurt.

Classic! But not Coke Classic!


Instant Karma

My sympathy meter is stuck on 'zero':

Suspect in Salvation Army kettle robberies found dead

TAMPA, Florida (AP) -- Tampa Police say the man suspected of robbing several Salvation Army bell ringers has been found dead.

Spokesman Joe Durkin says the body of Lee George was found in his car at the bottom of a creek near the Hillsborough River. The former auto-repair shop owner was pulled from the submerged car and identified through fingerprints. Police say he matches the description of the robber provided by witnesses.


The spokesman says police divers also found near the car a bottle of liquor and two pill bottles with small amounts of marijuana inside. Police say the crash may have been alcohol related.

Someone who'd steal money from a charity is lower than... Well, lower than a dead stiff at the bottom of a creek near the Hillsborough River. Call it what you like: Instant karma coming around, poetic justice or just God showing a warped sense of humor. Any way you slice it, this fellow's criminal career has come to a precipitous conclusion.


Bowled Over

Last night at work, I was looking at the sports section of the local newspaper during my break. One thing I noticed was a schedule of upcoming college football bowl games. I was amazed at how many of them there are these days. When I was a kid, there were only four college bowl games worthy of the name: The Rose Bowl, the Orange Bowl, the Cotton Bowl and the Sugar Bowl. Do you know how many there are now? Take a guess. Go ahead, I'll wait...

The answer: Twenty-seven. No, I'm not kidding. Starting on December 20th and running through January 4th, there are a total of twenty-seven bowl games, and that isn't including the college all-star games that take place later in January. There is at least one college bowl game every single day during that two-week period, except for the Sundays, of course, when the pros are playing.

The only problem is that with so many bowl games, not every game is going to feature a matchup of great teams. Indeed, there are several bowl games involving teams with 6-5 records. Quality or quantity, take your pick; you can't have both.

However, that Texas-USC matchup in the Rose Bowl looks like it might live up to the hype. "Hook 'em, 'Horns!"


Blinded By the Light(s)

The neighbors across the street from me really, REALLY love Christmas. They have really gone all out this year in the Christmas lighting department. Indeed, perhaps they've even gone a little overboard. Let me describe it to you: The house, the windows, the front door and the garage door are all outlined with colored lights. The two big trees in the front yard are festooned with strings of lights. There are two lighted artificial trees. There is a lighted inflatable Grinchy Claus (with the dog) that's about eight feet tall, as well as a lighted inflatable Santa and a lighted inflatable snowman of about the same size. They also have a large lighted inflatable snow globe that's about five feet in diameter. All of the inflatables have a tendency to deflate as the air turns colder, so each morning they are lying flat on the ground. There is a row of several lighted candy canes lining the driveway. There are a couple of lighted toy soldiers flanking the garage door, as well as a small lighted Santa, a lighted snowman and another lighted Santa with a pack, all in front of the house. There's an evergreen wreath on the front door. And there's a huge "Merry Christmas" in lights on the roof that has to be about fifteen feet wide .

They love Christmas. And Florida Power & Light loves them.