Saturday, August 27, 2011

Help Desk Limbo

I spent the morning in AT&T Helpdesk Limbo. No internet can be pretty disconcerting. I’m a Microsoft certified network engineer and it’s strange when you know more than the person trying to help you.

A friendly guy named RJ tried to walk me through several different possibilities before he finally mustered the courage to admit he didn’t know what the problem was.

I kept trying to get him to see if he could communicate with my modem. That would tell us if it was me or a general outage. He finally told me he had no way to do that. I couldn’t believe it. All he could do was ask me what color the lights on my modem were and tell me to restart it.

Valerie pointed out he was probably being paid minimum wage and had a script with a check list. He probably wasn’t certified in anything.

I was a tech at Harrah’s for three years. There was a woman there named Maya that didn’t know the first thing about computers. When she was fired from another department, she threatened them with sex discrimination. Instead of fighting it, they put her in our department. When she was sent on a trouble call, she simply rebooted the computer. This works 85% of the time and everyone thought she was great. It took about a year and a half before everyone caught on and she was fired.

Harrah’s couldn’t say why she was fired and she got a job in the tech department at The Admiral Casino. I think she was there until they closed. Maybe she learned something.

I was a tech at Charter Communications for a year. Anyone who’s read my political blog knows about my hatred of corporations.

When people talk about the evils of big government and its bureaucracy a sense of hopelessness grows in me. Big money is the real Big Brother. Their bureaucracy is governed by profit, period.

We get a jobless recovery, maximized productivity at minimal expense (f#ck employees), and, of course, we mustn’t tax the job providers! My job provider has found a way for me to be a private contractor. I’m every bit their employee and at their beck and call. I have no benefits and I pay all taxes, unemployment insurance (which I’ll never be able to collect), and can’t take a sick day or holiday.

I haven’t posted in my political blog in weeks because it’s giving me an ulcer.

At Charter I provisioned VOIP phone service. I made the modem connections with the person out in the field. I also took calls from people with problems. I was able to resolve almost all of their issues from my desk. I couldn’t believe it when the AT&T tech couldn’t even see my modem from his desk. That would really limit your ability to do anything.

I lasted less than a year at Charter because they had so many issues across the country we were forced to take mandatory overtime. Every month they said it was the last. When it happened the fifth month in a row, it finally sank in that this was permanent. They didn’t want to hire new employees and have to pay the benefits.

That’s another political issue that really gripes me. Health care should not be attached to our employers. I am so disappointed with Obama. I’m convinced he’s a corporate shill.

To give you an idea of how corporations work; when Charter acquired California they deliberately sold the service to many times the customers there was infrastructure for. They knew we’d be swamped with trouble calls because no one could use the service. The number of accounts was way more important to them than actually being able to provide the service. Charter should have been sued. Helpdesk had to take all the heat.

To add insult to injury, they demanded we try to sell them additional services when they called. Imagine what it was like listening to an angry customer with no service, then have to sell them 3-way calling.

I went back to being a courier. At least I’m theoretically my own boss. My heart will always go out to the help desk rep with the funny accent.

Hey, my internet just came back!

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Flip Book from The Oddity

I just assembled the flip book from The Oddity. Check it out.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

The Oddity

We finally had our gathering of friends and family for Lora yesterday. We waited for her birthday which was last Wednesday. We gathered at our friends’ Kay and Matt’s and watched a film that Kay and Lora made a long time ago.

I posted a while back about waking up one morning to find Lora stripping from paint soaked clothes. I was turned on by her painted body, but she said, “Don’t touch me, I feel disgusting!” That was after they had been filming all morning.

From Kay and Matt’s we all went to Forest Park where a tree was planted for Lora. It was next to a beautiful little pond surrounded by other trees.

Dominic brought a guitar and sang a song.

Kay gave me a couple of books I made for Lora in 1980 for her birthday. Lora and I had the same sense of humor.

We loved to poke fun at pompous artists, although we would cringe when people wore buttons that said “Back to Mono” or “F&ck Art, Let’s Dance.” My response to that was, “F&ck Dance, Let’s F&ck!” It was the only thing I didn’t like about the Punk movement. It kinda felt like, “Let’s dumb it down a little!”

In response, Lora made a great flip book of photos of her called “Lora’s Peep Show. There was even an animated kiss. I posted some of those in my memorial post.

I’m going to post The Oddity here but I want to point out that it’s supposed to be funny. I used to make animated flip books and there’s one that runs through this. I’m assembling it and will put it on YouTube when it’s finished. I also found a bunch of my old 8mm movies in Steve Martin’s musty old, post flood basement. There’s stuff I did using Lora that I can’t wait to digitize. I’ll be posting that too.

I wrote a song called Conversations for her that’s at the end. I’m not posting that but Wax Theatricks is in the process of recording a CD and the song will finally be released. The band will probably be called V3.

THE ODDITY-An epic poem by Gomer-Translated from the Greek text by David Udell

Fill the hole you dirty beast

Injustice mocks and life has ceased

The carcass seethes in its breathless life

That fills the air with its deathless strife

And yet I live through cruel endeavors

To carve a slice, to go wherever

The nature of the game so clear

I live, I love, I die, I fear

I am and so are you

And so are you too

I’m here to tell you of the glory

The rules and politics of the story

The knowledge in our hearts so clear that often fogs with passing years

Time is our very own back yard

We play and fall and end up scarred

And when it’s time to come inside we often find a place to hide

We’ll hide inside our lonely minds and die alone and

Fill the hole you dirty beast

Of songs I’ve known I’ll often wonder

What the Hell tears me asunder

Could I say it in a verse?

Would you love me in reverse?

Can I see the world through you?

Would you even want me to?

Spills the beverage through my life

The need to bleed, to take the knife

And so our hero drifts ashore

His vessel useless without oars

His throat is parched, his eyes so red

As fevered thoughts burn through his head

Another island lost so far

No phone, no lights, no motorcar

Drifting in his fairytale silence

No people to fear, no fear of violence

He falls asleep exhausted

Aware of all the lives it’s cost to get him this far

Rain will wash away his sleep

He prays to God his soul to keep

It’s cold now and it’s getting dark

He slits his wrist for a lark

God if I’m not crazy now, take me to the sacred cow!

Take me from this comic Hell, splash me across the fiery well

Let me eat, that I may feed the cannibalistic patron’s need

And so from life to art he wanders

His lucid dreams and schemes he squanders

Frivolous though his plans had been they always kept him grinning

So travels thus our heroic friend until his life comes to an end

But suddenly amongst the rocks

A band of gypsies scorn and mock

He thinks them harmless so he stops

Amused because they look like cops

“I flirt with madness,” struck bold his claim

“but I wouldn’t mind a little fame!”

“Travel with us,” said their king.

“But first you must learn to sing.”

So his life took on new meaning although he had to do their cleaning

He became a figure in their small regime

And then he began to dream

He built an empire on their image

Had lawyers always in a scrimmage

Met a woman by a pier

All at once he shed this tear

Undaunted reached the conclusion

Vision is illusion

And so he pissed inside his clothes

“Who but me will ever know?”

1-2-3-for 5 years he dwelled there

without a hint of despair where

from the ground beneath his nose

a majestic volcano rose

propelling him through the air toward God

a bird flew by to nod

the adventures of life have just begun

as he flew toward the sun

I often look up and wonder

Does he look down at my blundering?

Saturday, August 13, 2011

My Log Book

My kids and I are headed for the woods this weekend, so no time for a real post. I was looking through my jump log book and decided there were a lot of stories on its cover.

The fact that there’s an image of a 4-stack is interesting to me because I’m really a free-faller. I think those jumps must have made an impression on me.

The upside down patch on top is my Quantum Leap Orphan Patch. Quantum Leap was my home DZ for years. As I mentioned earlier, Sullivan wanted us out after the airplane crash. I really miss the place. The kids and I are camping at Meramec State Park at Sullivan this weekend. Come to think of it, my dear friend Lora who died a few weeks ago was living in Sullivan. Dominic, Danny and I visited her there at the end. I have a lot of history in Sullivan.

New owners took the DZ to Bowling Green and tried to make a go of it but it didn’t last.

I have my 4-stack patch sewn onto the cover. As well as my Gold Wings (1000 jumps), my Diamond Wings (2000 jumps), and my Gold and Diamond freefall badges—(12 and 24 hours).

The patch I feel I really earned is that Royal Order of the Crutch patch. That’s the one I got when Kim Tucker sat on my foot when we were doing a tandem. Last but not least is my Stiletto pin. I have a Stiletto 120 parachute. It’s small and fast. I’ve owned a lot of parachutes over the years and it’s by far my favorite!

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Kim Tucker

Maybe this is too much, too soon about skydiving, but from 1990 to 2003, except for my kids, it was my entire life. I taught it for ten years and even spent a little time as a tandem master. Boy, did I hate that!

I’ve been really lucky that some of my personal heroes have also been personal friends.

I posted earlier about my buddy Kim Tucker. He was the St. Louis Cardinals skydiving Fredbird. He would exit a small Cessna over Busch Stadium holding a giant bird’s head, putting it on after his canopy deployed. He’s been a photographer forever and has probably taken hundreds of pics of me over the years. I uploaded a video he took of a 9 way we did in Sparta, Il around 1991 or 1992. It’s great old school skydiving.

We had 2 groups meeting up in freefall from 2 different Cessna 182s. Nowadays you can carry 14 people and get to 12000 or 15000 feet in less than 10 minutes. More than 20 if you fly a tail gater. You can only squeeze 4 or 5 people into a 182 and it takes 30 minutes to get to 9500 feet. Needless to say, the lower altitude gives you a lot less time to do anything as a group. It was great discipline!

The really spectacular thing about this video to me was the fact that Kim climbed out of the trail plain, hung upside down from the plane’s strut, let go when the jumpers from the lead plane exited, and turned around in freefall. He never once let the formation drift from the center of the frame.

I was crouched in the back of the same plane and exited last. You see me coming in from the right to join last. I’m in a black jumpsuit with a gray rig.

Kim’s been in the sport a long time. Our licenses are issued in numeric order and his D license is in the 600s. I got my D license in 1991 and it’s D-13961. I just got a copy of Parachutist and the most recent one is D-31060.

Speaking of numbers, D-1, Lew Sanborn is good friend I’ll write about one of these days. He got his license D license on 16 March 1959.

D.B. Cooper has been in the news a lot lately. He made his famous night time escape from a hijacked 747. The plane was supposedly going 205mph.

Terminal velocity is 120mph. That’s as fast as your body can travel in freefall. You can make yourself fall as fast as 150mph.

At a World Freefall Convention in Quincy, IL in the late 90s, Kim, my buddy Tom Kuehnle and I jumped a 727 going 205mph to get a sense of what D.B. Cooper experienced.

There was a long set of steps that descended from the back. Only one person at a time could go down. Kim went first. He was wearing a sit suit so he could video in a sitting position, then Tom and I followed. I jumped off in a sitting position and stayed seated during the whole FF.

It was like being slammed into a wall. We never did slow down to terminal velocity. When I opened, I was slammed by my canopy opening so fast. I loved every second!

I was in a 4 way team that was based at a club in Greenville, IL. The club paid for their airplanes by doing a lot of demo jumps. We used to do the VP Fair under the Arch. Kim was an honorary club member for life. One year he circled the north leg of the Arch twice under canopy. He’s the only person who’s ever done that.

The only time I’ve ever been injured jumping was when I was training to be a tandem master. Kim was my passenger in one of my first tandems. As we were coming in for a landing, I told him to slide in on his butt. At the last minute I decided I could stand it up. He sat (as instructed) on my foot. It broke my ankle and earned me a Royal Order of the Crutch patch. I taught my classes that whole summer wearing a cast. I lied and told my students I was in a motorcycle accident.

Tom was my landlord and I’ll never forget hanging that cast out of the bathtub at his apartment.

Kim, Tom, and I were in the POPS (Parachutists Over Phorty) skydiving record together in Sullivan, Mo in 2005. That’s the picture over to the left of my blog. I believe the record still stands. That’s what the group photo was for.

I wish you could see Kim’s shirt better. There’s a photo he took of a tiny Busch Stadium underneath Fredbird’s spindly legs.

We jumped from the same plain that crashed, closing Quantum Leap (our DZ). A few of the casualties were in this group.

We consider ourselves Quantum Leap orphans.

I think it was around 2000 that I finally had to quit teaching at Quantum Leap. We closed the bar that night and I made it as far as Eureka before being pulled over. I’ve told this story before. Kim was my DWI lawyer. Since then, I’ve called him my mouthpiece.

Here’s the clip that Kim took in Sparta of us doing our Old School 9 way.