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Archive for June, 2005

Kick in the pants

I was driving home from Marble Falls tonight and my inner monologue cadence consisted of, “I hate my job. I hate my job. I hate my job. I hate my job. I hate my job. I hate my job. I hate my job. I hate my job. I hate my job. I hate my job. I hate my job. I hate my job.”

Today was a shitty day. It started off with me being stuck in a line of traffic for an hour while DOT workers moved a median on Hwy 71 just before Hwy 281. Then I get to work and everyone is complaining about everything and everyone.

My current work dilema is staff. Next week it’ll be customers. The following week it’ll be financials. After that it’ll be vendors. The worst is when it’s staff.

I recently had to come down on two employees for absenteeism. We’re a close knit organization and when someone isn’t at work, it puts a huge kink in the hose. The work ethic just isn’t there right now. One of my employees is bitter for reasons I’ll leave unmentioned.

The thing that pisses me off is that all of these issues (I’m leaving 90% of them out because I’m trying not to think about work any more that I have to just to finish this post) can be solved by themselves if they would just take some inititiative.

My most recent hire and I talked for a couple hours this evening. She mentioned her two sons. One is a “go-getter” and the other needs a kick in the pants from time to time. She said they went to counseling a long time ago. The counselor told her that you can’t teach initiative. That’s very true. I don’t know what it’s like to not have initiative.

When I recently interviewed people, I inherently weeded out the candidates who I felt would eventually need a kick in the pants. I’m not a micro manager. I want my staff to be autonomous, and for the most part, they are. But then there are weeks like this one where a spark turns into a fire. The fire can easily be put out with some initiative.

So my boss came into the office today. These recent issues were brought up with boss, yours truly and another employee. Most of what was said by other employee kind of made me look bad – like I haven’t been doing my job.

Other employee left and I said to boss, “Bossman, remember last year when I took on the role of manager?… We had the same problem this time last year with staff. Remember when I asked for your advice and what you told me?”

Last year he basically told me to not stress and that these issues usually resolve themselves. I’ve been biding my time and waiting for this to resolve itself. And it will eventually. That’s not to say that I’m turning a deaf ear to a problem, I’ve been down this road before and in this situation, I know what to do and what not to do.

The other issue is the absenteeism and lack of accountability. I’ve addressed this with certain staff and thought it was taken care of. Well, it’s not. Now bossman is going to talk to everyone tomorrow morning. I’m a little ill about it all because I think I’ve done a pretty good job managing the business and haven’t had to involve my boss in things other than financials. I just feel weird that he’s going to take time out of his day to have a staff meeting about staff… something that I should have taken care of.

So I’m stressed, pissed at myself and won’t sleep for shit tonight because I have a staff meeting at 8 a.m.

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Deck rafters


Deck with rafters

I’ve slowly been progressing with the deck. Earlier this week Elise’s friends, Heather and Lindsey called and said they were going to road trip down from Des Moines to Austin for the week of the 4th.

That prompted me to get the deck done so our guests could enjoy hanging out in the back yard. All that was really left to do to finalize the fruition of my design was to hang the rafters. I drove over to the ol’ HoPot yesterday evening and bought 20 14-foot 2×6’s and loaded them onto my truck. The men that were loading their trucks in the contractor’s delivery area of the HoPot were laughing at me. It was a funny scene.

So I went home and starting hanging rafters. It was exhausting work but I’m glad I’m done for now. The rafters haven’t been screwed down yet so I’m hoping California doesn’t sink and cause the rest of the states to lean and my rafters slide off and kill a possum.

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Where did my hard drive space go + 1ClickDVDCopy

I bought Elise a HP DV1040 laptop for Christmas last year. It’s been a great computer (better, faster, cheaper than my iBook) and has been the only reason I haven’t ‘switched’ Elise to Apple (well, she has her own reasons as well).

So the HP has a 60GB drive. I’ve kept her computer absolutely pristine; I removed hid Internet Explorer and removed Outlook Express. I installed Firefox and Thunderbird for her browser and e-mail client respectively. I wiped out the trial version of Office XP and installed OpenOffice. I use Norton SystemWorks, Microsoft’s AntiSpyware, Spybot Search & Destroy and Ad-Aware.

Clean machine.

Her laptop came grinding to a halt. I checked the C: drive to find out that she had something like 30MB of space left. I had a handful of mp3’s on her machine as well as a few photo albums – but nothing that would eat up her entire hard drive.

I got to thinking… I use her computer to copy DVDs (not those that are rented from Blockbuster, of course ;-)). I use 1ClickDVDCopy. I knew there had to be some sort of Temp file that was using a significant amount of drive space.

To spare you the boring details, I downloaded TreeSize Professional and quickly found a 49GB .VOB file that I didn’t need. Tracked down the file, deleted it… *poof*

Hint: search [F3] for “*.VOB” (without quotes)

It was almost as relieving as excavating a breath-inhibiting booger.

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Gainors, grub & more decking

Terri, Grant and Adam flew in from Poway on Thursday afternoon. Elise picked them up from the airport and brought them back to the house and then to the pool for a swim. I got home from work and we all went out for dinner at the Saltlick.

We came back to the house and congregated in the bedroom that nobody goes in and talked for a couple hours. The boys and I wrestled, played guitar and a few heated games of Lightening Reaction. My nephews are such great kids and I feel bad that we live so far away and I haven’t been able to have more time with them.

Elise had to work on Friday. I took the day off so I could spend time with my sister and nephews. Terri went for a jog while the boys and I drove up to Lone Star Kolaches to rustle up some breakfast.

We came back to the house and everybody ate. Terri took a shower while the guys went outside and played with Uncle Josh’s R/C monster truck and tossed the frisbee around.

We all hopped in the truck and went to Mt. Bonnell. After trekking up the steps, gazing down at the river and then back down the hill, we drove around the Mt. Bonnell area, Tarrytown and the Enfield area to shop real estate. Next on Grant’s itinerary was to visit the state capital. It was already lunch time so we drove over to El Arroyo to have lunch with Aunt Elise.

After lunch it was off to the capital. The boys were excited to get inside and explore while Terri and I hung back and contemplated why the capital lawns, all 5 billion acres of deep green St. Augustine, were there no visible sprinkler heads. We looked and looked and couldn’t find any sprinkler heads. It has to be one of those government conspiracies.

Grant and Adam had a spending allowance for Austin – specifically for Texas capital souvenirs. Grant chose a Texas license plate, a pencil, pen and some Tic Tacs. Adam chose a sticker and a capital of Texas paper weight. Adam came up to the counter while I was talking to the cashier. Adam put his items-for-purchase on the counter along with a five dollar bill. The cashier rang up his purchase. $5.08. Uncle Josh looked in his pockets for eight cents. I didn’t have it. Instead, I took his $5 and gave the cashier a twenty dollar bill…

Adam asked for his $5 back. I quickly realized that this was going to be a lesson in economics.

“Can I have my $5?”

“No.”

“Why?”

“Because you didn’t have enough money – so I took your money and paid for your souvenirs for you.”

“Can I have my $5?”

“No. You paid for your souvenirs.”

“No I didn’t.”

“Yes, you did.”

“Where did my $5 go?”

“It’s in the bag – the stuff you just bought.”

[Adam then sticks his head into his shopping bag to find his five dollar bill.]

It took two cashiers and Uncle Josh to convince Adam that his five dollars were spent and Uncle Josh helped him pay the extra that was owed.

After our tour of the capital it was time to head home as Dad was coming to pick up Terri and the boys and take them to Cat Spring for the week.

Dad showed up at four o’clock and soon I had an empty nest. Elise came home shortly after and we spent the evening on the deck talking.

Elise and I woke up early on Saturday and drove out to Horseshoe Bay to cater Jack Brown‘s (Mr. Brown is also Elise’s boss’ father-in-law) family reunion at their lakehouse. Elise kept everything organized with her Catering Director superpowers while yours truly slaved over a 450-degree smoker and a deep fryer all day. I cooked hamburgers, hot dogs and funnel cakes for everyone for lunch. Flautas, crab rolls, beef and chicken fajitas and fried ice cream were served for dinner. Two on-site meals for 65 people… It was rough.

We had a little time between preps so Clay took us out on his boat. We (well, mostly Clay since he’s captain of his own boat) taught Elise to ski from the barefoot bar. She did really well and it was so exciting seeing the look on her face while skiing for the first time.

After a little work on the bilge pump, we were out again. This time it was my go. I hadn’t been water skiing in a long, long time. I quickly realized that water skiing is just like riding a bike – you never forget. I popped right out of the water and felt right at home. Clay tried to keep me in the cove as the lake was very choppy. I got out into the main part of the lake before Clay realized he needed to turn around. I went outside the wake and hit the choppy water and as hard as I tried to stay up, I bit it. Fairly hard too.

Clay and Elise came back around to pick me up. I skied for five minutes or so and decided to exit via a boat turn wake jump nose dive. We docked, cleared the boat and it was time for me to start cooking fajitas for everyone.

It was at that point that I realized that something was missing. Something didn’t feel right. I looked down at my left hand and saw that my wedding ring wasn’t on my finger. I never take it off. My heart sunk.

I told Elise. I’m 99.999999% sure I lost it when I wiped out on the lake. Everyone at the family reunion heard about it and felt bad for me. Elise was quick (and sweet) to say that it’s better to lose a ring than to lose Josh.

So I’m pretty upset that I lost my wedding ring.

Thirteen hours later, we were done with the catering. Horseshoe Bay is ten minutes from Marble Falls (where I work) so I took Elise to finally see my office. I gave her the dime tour and then we were back in the truck on our way home. We didn’t get home until almost 2 a.m. and we were beat. Working hard all day and water skiing will really take it out of you.

I didn’t sleep well because 1) I was over-exhausted 2) I was still pissed that I lost my ring and 3) Sunday meant working on the deck.

I rolled out of bed around 9 a.m. and started working on the deck. I woke Elise up an hour later and we went to the ol’ HoPot for more lumber.

We worked on the deck for the best part of the afternoon. I built the steps that lead down to the yard and Elise helped me tack down the the supports for the rafters. According to my original design, the deck is 97.65% done.

And so is my sunburn.

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Dear Hair

Jesus JoshDear Hair,

Why don’t you return my letters or phone calls? I miss you. I love you. I want you back. We had such wonderful times together. How could you just leave me like that? We had beautiful children that I know you would love to see. They’re growing up so quickly out of my nose and ears.

I miss you.

Love,

Josh

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Down Solstice

I walked out onto the deck early this morning and stared blankly at nothing. I came to the conclusion that I’m depressed. I can attribute a lot of this to the flurry of activities over the past few weeks. My parents have been up to visit a lot. I’ve been able to spend time with my brother, who I haven’t seen in years. When company leaves, I get bummed.

Elise has been busy at work so I don’t see her which adds to my stress. I’ve been working on the deck for the past ten days so other daily chores have been put on the back burner. The house looks like shit, things that need to get done at home and at work and I need a haircut.

Yesterday would not end. It felt like I was at the office for a bazillion hours. When I was sure that a few hours had passed, only minutes had passed. It was a stereotypical Monday. I was clockwatching, waiting to go home to eat leftover ribs, flop down on the couch and watch Hell’s Kitchen. That’s all I wanted out of June 20th.

The end of the work day came as fast as slug on his way to the dentist for a root canal. Speaking of: Invertebrate Endodondistry would be a great name for a band.

I hopped into my truck and headed home. On my way home I thought, “Damn, my truck looks like shit.” I haven’t washed it in over a month. There was dirt all over the place, it smelled and the outside was filthy. I got home, changed clothes and washed and dried my truck. I looked at the yard and thought, “Damn, my yard looks like shit.” I mowed. I ran inside to see if I had any time left before Hell’s Kitchen came on. 14-minutes. I ran back outside, edged, blowed the cut grass off of the driveway and sidewalk and turned on the sprinkler.

Two minutes to spare. I threw a plate of ribs in the microwave and watched my show.

Somewhere between “My truck looks like shit” and “My yard looks like shit” I took my shitty attitute to the shitty phone and called my pretty wife.

“Why don’t you come home and help me with the shitty shit that needs to be done around the shittin’ house?!?!”

“Why don’t you take your asshole attitude and go eat a decroded peice of crap?”
(She didn’t really say that, buy my attitude warranted a response like that)

[click]

“Shit…”

I’ve always loved Summer. I love it in Texas when it’s 100+ degrees outside. Usually because we get together with friends and do things outside and in water. Usually we’ll go boating or tubing or hang out on a breezy patio near the water or just in someone’s backyard.

It’s the first day of Summer today and I’m not feeling it. On Sunday Elise and I agreed that we have no idea what happened to May and June. The past two months just flew by like a cheetah on his way to prime rib night at the local brothel. Make up your own band name.

My job is really bumming me out too. It’s not so much the job as it is the commute. I wake up and immediately start dreading the long drive. Once I start driving, I get into my zone. Then I start thinking about what new issue will be waiting for me once I walk into the office. The day eventually comes to an end. And then there’s the commute home. If I look at the glass half full, I could say that driving an hour is better than sitting in traffic for an hour.

I hate being in a rut. Shitty rut.

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Magic: the Gathering of Groceries

Last Wednesday I stopped at the HEB in Bee Caves for ingredients for the stuffed Anaheims that I had Elise make. I made a mad dash through the store because I needed to get home so I could have enough daylight to work on the deck.

I found a check out line with a short wait. I put my groceries on the conveyor belt and was soon greeted by a friendly young chap who, if I had to guess, was 17-years-old.

“Good afternoon, sir. How are you today?”

“I’m fantastic, how are you?”

“I’m okay, except that I just got to work and I have to work the late shift.”

“Well, if it makes you feel any better, I’m just heading home from the office and have to get out in this blistering heat and build a deck”

“Did you just say you have to ‘build a deck’?”

“Yes. Build a deck.”

“Wow. Do you play Magic: the Gathering?!?!?”

(Magic: the Gathering is the contemporary Dungeons & Dragons)

(I know nothing about either of these things)

I grinned and said, “No, I don’t play Magic: the Gathering.”

“Oh. Because you said ‘build a deck’ and I thought maybe you played Magic: the Gathering.”

“No. I’m building an outside deck. Out of wood. With tools.”

“Oh. That’s cool. I like to play Magic: the Gathering. In fact, me and my friends were just playing Magic: the Gathering over at my house. We really like to play.”

“Sounds like you chums have a smashing good time.”

“Yeah, we really like playing. I was in a really good mood when I got to work because we had a really good game earlier. Then my manager walked by me and then I wasn’t in such a good mood anymore.”

“Ahhh.”

“So what do you do?”

“?”

“What do you do for a living?”

“I manage a small business out in Marble Falls.”

“What does your company do?”

[Inner monologue: It's a criminal organization that bashes teenage boys who play Magic: the Gathering]

“We sell a nutritional and wellness product line to pharmacies”

“Oh. That sounds cool. Here’s your receipt. Have a great day, sir.”

“Thanks.”

I walked outside, grinned again and loaded my groceries into my unicorn-driven warlock wagon and headed south to my cottage in the village of Kamigawa.

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Father\’s Day weekend 2005

Mom, Dad and Keith came up to Austin again this past weekend so we could go to Clay’s high school graduation party.

It was good that they were here again seeing how there was still work to be done on the deck and the extra helping hands are always welcome.

Dad Keith and I built the steps on Friday night and the railings on Saturday. Sunday morning Keith and I tacked on the balusters.

After the railing work was done on Saturday, I cleaned up and ran over to Best Buy to find a gift for Clay and to pick up a new Netgear Super G 108 Mbps wireless router because I thought my old 54 Mbps router was broken. Come to find out that it wasn’t but after hooking up the 108 I knew I couldn’t go back to the 54.

We drove over to Kathy’s house for Clay’s party later that evening. It was good to see Don, Linda, Sharron and Kathy again. It’s been too long since last seeing those guys. Clay recently decided to do the vegetarian thing so Kathy ordered in some great food from Mother’s Cafe. The Artichoke Enchiladas and Capellini Marinara were excellent as was all of the food that the family prepared.

We at Kathy’s until 9 or so and then piled into the car and drove home. We migrated to the deck and stayed up for another hour or so before everyone eventually went to bed.

I got up early on Sunday and picked up my balusters from the ol’ HoPot. I know a lot of the HoPot employees by name now. Seriously.

After Keith and I put the balusters up, Dad and I drove to HEB to get fixins for dinner. Mom and Elise went to the nursery so Mom could steal seed pods from flowers and to buy Fredericksburg peaches from the vendor at the corner of Slaughter and FM 1826.

Dad and I got home and I started on a spicy orange and ginger barbecue sauce. I also made a poblano potato salad and a dry rub for the baby back ribs. I started smoking the ribs at 4:30. I should have started them at 3. Regardless, the ribs turned out fantastic and my wife made it a point, twice, to mention that Dad’s ribs are better than mine. And they are. And the comment quickly became water under the bridge. After all, it was Father’s Day and I think Elise is bitter because I fired her. Mom made a great cobbler from the fresh Fredericksburg peaches. I’m not a dessert person but I can never resist Mom’s cobbler.

Dad and I spent a good part of the afternoon talking out on the deck. It was a perfect Father’s Day. He told me about a time that is referred to as “early last century”. He and his buddy’s grew up in Hallettsville where everybody knew everybody and the high school boys would race their Model A Fords against the town’s sheriff all in good fun.

Back then you could buy a used Model A for $25. Yes, $25!! I have a 4-cylinder truck that takes $25 worth of gas to fill up!

They used to hunt rabbits in their Model A. They took the the hood panels off of the car and two boys would straddle the front headlights, hang on the the hood’s center support bar with one hand and a rifle with the other hand. The driver would drive around the pasture to scare up rabbits. When one started running, the car chased after the rabbit and the shooters would let go of the support bar, tighten their thighs around the headlight and take aim. After you shot a rabbit, you let someone else take a turn. Dad said there would be six or eight boys piled into the car and standing on the back bumper waiting for their turn.

He told me that there was a poor Mexican family that they all knew. Two of the boys from that family worked at the ice house. After a day of hunting rabbits, my Dad and his friends would drive over to the ice house and stack a huge pile of rabbits for the boys to take back to their family.

It was really cool to hear my Dad tell me those stories and I had a lot of fun being with my family. Seeing how he’s my Dad, I couldn’t help but ask if I could borrow $25 so I could buy a car.

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Tech support for a sweet older lady

My boss needed some form of backup redundancy for his pharmacy’s accounting data. Last month I drove over to his book keeper’s house in NE Austin. Her name is Polly and she’s a really sweet 80-year young lady who could easily beat my wife in a conversation competition. I installed a CD burner in Polly’s PC tower, installed software, instructed her on how to backup the financial data and left her with 50 recordable CDs.

Then we talked for an hour or so.

Yesterday, exactly a month later, my phone rings. It was Polly. She remembered how to open the CD burning software, but that was all she remembered. I was on the phone with her for 20 minutes trying to explain to her that it was possible to have two windows open and visable on her desktop. She couldn’t get it. I left work and drove all the way to Polly’s house so I could show her how to burn a CD again. That training session took ten minutes. She practiced on her own three times while I was there.

Then we talked for over two hours. Polly was widowed almost two years ago. She has lived an exciting life here in Texas and has traveling to some exciting places. She loves Spurs basketball, has an admitted addiction to chocolate and doesn’t like beer. She received Draught House Pub beer tickets and two Alamo Draft House movie passes in a gift bag from her dentist. She gave me the beer tickets and movie passes. She said that was my payment for making a house call. I told her she didn’t have to pay me; that I talking to her was payment enough. She also made me drink a Coke. I usually don’t drink Cokes but it was one of those obligatory things you find yourself having to do every once in a while.

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Decks, dining and firing Elise

Every night after work and every morning before work this week I’ve been working on the deck. The actual decking is done. Now I’m to build the steps from the first level to the lower level. Then I’m going to build the railings. I think it turned out nicely.

Decking finished

Since I’ve been working on the deck, I haven’t had the time or inclination to cook or peice together meals. In fact, the other night Elise and I shared a can of pizza-flavored Lay’s potato chips for dinner because we were so exhausted from the weekend’s labor.

So I’ve been eating out for lunch more than usual lately. I mention this because Marble Falls has some great restaurants. I try to support the local guy whenever I can and enjoy finding little dining gems. I’ve eaten at the Jamin House Cafe quite a few times and must recommend the Blackened Burger. It’s a jerk-seasoned blackened hamburger that is so thick and juicy that you have to prop your elbows on the table just to hold it up to your mouth. It’s served with a jerk-seasoned mayo and grill onions nestled between two sweet buns. It really is an awesome burger.

The only barbecue I’ve had in Marble Falls is at Peete Mesquite & Co. Twice now I’ve had their brisket plate and it is some great barbecue. I like lean brisket and that’s what they serve with a clearly visible half-inch deep red mesquite smoke ring. Sauce is important too and they have a great homemade recipe.

Yesterday I had Sue pick up a to-go order for me from the new R Bar & Grill on Main Street. I tried the Rafa’s Big Burrito. It was a cilantro and garlic wrap stuffed with beef fajita meat and sauteed peppers and onions. The burrito was okay but what was really good were the cumin rice and charro beans.

Earlier this week I thawed a link of Bellville Meat Market’s smoked sausage. My plan was to use the sausage to stuff Anaheim chiles from the garden. I’ve been dead-set on getting the deck finished so last night I commissioned Elise as my Sous Chef. I rattled off a recipe that consisted of chopped vegies, sausage, rice, cheese, cilantro and spices. I told her how to stuff the peppers and the baking time. Just as I finished screwing down the last plank of the deck, dinner was almost ready. I walked into the kitchen to find the jalapenos that I pulled for the recipe were still sitting on the counter. I was told that the cilantro had been forgotten about too. I found out that the Spanish rice was burnt as well. I turned into Gordon Ramsey and fired my wife.

The stuffed peppers weren’t bad. Elise did a good job. I sliced some fresh jalapenos and topped stuffed pepper medallions. We agreed that the recipe needed the added spice. I’m considering re-hiring her seeing how she’s the only help I can get in the kitchen. I’ve tried getting Riley to help but all he likes to do is sit around and eat orange Jell-O and drink beer.

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Rock busting and deck building

The weekend before last I attempted to start work on my deck. This weekend the family helped set posts and frame our entire deck.


Janidek

Dad, my brother Keith, John and I did the majority of the work. Elise shed a little sweat herself when she wasn’t at work.Building a deck in central Texas sucks. We had to set ten 4″x4″ posts 2-feet into the ground. That meant digging through rock. It was so bad that John and I drove over to the HoPot and rented a jackhammer and an auger. We used the auger to dig an inch into the ground until we hit rock. Then the jackhammer. Then the auger. The jackhammer worked great at breaking rocks, but it’s not fun to lift out of a hole while standing under a Texas sun.

We worked extrememly hard the entire weekend. We’re all sore as hell and I’m indebted to my family (yes, that’s you too Englers) for all their hard work. I’m looking forward to finishing the deck planks so we can begin enjoying our new deck.

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What I said I would do

I decided on a new employee and she started her new job today. I called the 13 other individuals who I interviewed last week to thank them for meeting with me and to wish them luck in their search for employment.

Long ago I pledged to myself that if I am in a position where I interview candidates and hire employees, I would call each and every individual who didn’t “make the cut”.

So many times I have interviewed for a job and waited for that call when I was told “we’ll call you next week”. I wouldn’t get any call at all. I had to hunt down the lazy, inconsiderate person who interviewed me to find out “Oh. Yeah. Right. Hi. Umm, we hired someone else”.

It’s inconsiderate of other peoples’ time and energy. If you’re not going to hire someone, let them know so they can be done with it and move on. Managers who have no common courtesy shouldn’t be in a position hire employees.

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Dead Slut

Someone in the office brought me the local paper so I could see how my recent employment ad looked. Two columns to the right of my ad was an ad for the metal band Dead Slut. Mr. Slut is seeking a drummer, guitarist and bassist. He has his own rehearsal and recording studio in the area. Potential Dead Slut rockers are pointed to deadslut.com.

Curiosity got the best of me because I’m all about deceased, easy women so I checked out the website. I once thought about starting my own metal band, Whores Who Sleep with the Fishes. Or maybe the Tomb Skanks.

Anyway, I checked out the website. I read Mr. Slut’s bio. One of his influences is none other than Wednesday 13. I wrote Mr. Slut and told him that my childhood best friend is the guitar player for Wednesday 13. Mr. Slut and I exchanged a couple e-mails. He grew up in Houston as did I.

I wished Mr. Slut luck. Now if you’ll excuse me, the tour bus is waiting. I’m going on the road with Deceased Fornicatress.

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