Well that almost sucked.

After spending a great weekend with my family, I came home the night of Christmas, eager to do a whole bunch of nothing other than making a list of some things I want to knock out this week (something I want to try more of in the coming year, using lists to stay organized). But that entire plan fell to the wayside when I heard a loud buzzing sound when the heat kicked in that I at first thought was coming from my vent.

I slammed the vent cover around, thinking it was vibrating on something, but to no avail. So I went down to the basement and I immediately knew that it wasn’t coming from the vent, but the furnace itself. This immediately stressed me out for a variety of reasons. 1.) It was Christmas, so it was going to be a long night because I was not having someone come out on Christmas. I have an electric fan and an electric blanket; I’d survive. 2.) This furnace is 6 months old. I still owe thousands on it. What the fuck.

So flipped it on and off and it didn’t come back on. Fuck. But wait, it did kick back on about 15 minutes later, but it was still making that sound, so I just turned it off for the night.

I called the folks who I got the furnace from (who is a REALLY great company), and to my surprise, someone answered. I fully expected to leave a message. He said he’d send someone out between 10 and 12 the next day. I was cool with that.

Today I got a call at like 8:50, saying he’d be there by 9:10. No complaint there.

Dude shows up, heads downstairs, I turn the furnace back on, and leave him to his work. I don’t hover.

10 – 15 minutes later, the furnace kicked in, but no buzz. I walk downstairs and ask if he fixed it already, and he said no. Fuck. Oh, no, no fuck, because the noise kicked in. Good.

A few hours later, the tech (and shit if I forgot his name, but he’s a really nice guy — he either owns the company or is one of the managers) came back upstairs and said it was all fixed. I asked what happened and he said a bunch of words I didn’t understand (now I know what users think when I tell them how I fixed their computer) and said it’s all good now. I asked how much I owed, and he gave me the best possible answer, “Nothing. This is under warranty still.”

Merry Christmas to me!

Kind of related, but this HD version of Do They Know it’s Christmas looks great:

My job takes care of its employees.

Note, this was written back in June but never published.

I love a lot of things about my job, especially the travel aspect of it. Not only do I get to some pretty cool cities on occasion, the hotels we get put up in are generally 5-star.

This weekend I worked in DC for an event for our firm. Since I was doing a long shift on Saturday, followed by an early shift on Sunday, I was given the option to crash locally instead of driving home then coming back so soon. Fortunately for me, the hotel I was put up in, the Park Hyatt, upgraded me to a suite due to the fact that there was construction on one side of the building and they wanted to keep their guests happy.



This is in the top 5 hotels I’ve been in. It had a sizable living (?) room, nice bed, and a glorious bathroom. Not to mention the restaurant it uses for room service is a Michelin Rated one. I’m not sure what that means, but I understand it’s fancy.

God I love my job.


Money money money money…MMMMMONNNEYYY!

Recently I got a raise. Not just a raise, but a RAISE. Without a doubt the biggest raise I ever got in my life; and that includes when you switch jobs for more money. I’m not going to say I don’t deserve it, I do. But it’s nice when the people or company you work for recognize your value. Oddly enough, the week before my review, my boss asked me what I thought I was worth. I told him the truth (and it was a substantial amount than what I was making). Sure enough, the next week, that’s what I got. I’m still reeling. (And I made him repeat it a few times to make sure I heard him right.)

This is pretty feel good since other things are going on where I work that I’m not particularly a fan of. I won’t go into details, naturally, but I have a feeling people I’m close to I won’t be seeing on a daily basis at some point in the future and that stings a little. I’m not the type of person to say “If he goes, I GO!” because no one is really like that, yet one of the things I truly love about my job is the people I work with. I’m thinking that circle is going to get smaller before the year is out. Shit.

That said, more about me. In addition to the raise, in the past two months I’ve made huge cuts into two bills, which will end up saving me about $120 a month. That’s nothing to sneeze at. The first was Verizon. I was paying $90 a month for my phone and I saw that they had unlimited data now for like $80, so I went to the store to get in on it. But when the sales guy pulled up my account, he said, “Unlimited data is a waste of money for you. As a matter of fact, you should lower your plan all around.”

“Oh yeah? How much would the new bill be?”

“$55 a month.”

“No shit?” I replied.

“Yeah, and that’s with the taxes.”

So, BOOM! $35 saved. Since there are wireless access points in so many places now and Verizon finally got into the 21st century with rollover data, it’s been working out extremely well.

The next big savings came from switching car insurance. I have been with Allstate for almost three decades. I was paying my bill online and my buddy Romka happened to look at my screen. “Dude!” he said. “You are paying way too much for car insurance.” I was paying $125 a month.

“Really? How much do you pay?” He told me. “But you have a nicer car than me.” He has a BMW. He said I should at least price it out. He’s with Geico. I went to Geico’s page to build an estimate. Holy shit.

I called my agent, who’s a GREAT guy, and asked him if Allstate could come close to that estimate. He said I should call Geico first to see if I could actually get that price and then call him back. I thought that was a good idea, so I called Geico, they told me yes, in fact, I did qualify for that price. I called back my agent and he said there was nothing he could do. It was too much of a difference and he wouldn’t blame me if I left. I felt bad because I’ve dealt with him for almost 10 years or so, and he’s always been on his game. But the difference was so big, I’d a been a fool if I didn’t.

Allstate – $125 a month.

Geico – $53 a month. (I got another discount on top for putting my home insurance in it.)


That’s insane. And the thing is, I would have stayed with Allstate if they had come reasonably close. Even at $75 a month because I’ve always received quality service from them. But, sadly, it was time to move on.

(And of course I did some research. Most comparison reviews I said stated the same thing; Geico is cheaper but you don’t get the same personal service. Allstate is more because of that added touch. But, all things being equal, they provide the same coverage.)

I know what I’m going to do first with the extra money; pay off bills, naturally, and get my house painted. But after that I’m gonna start plowing the money in the bank so I can have a nice(r) down payment on a new vehicle when I pay off mine next year. I’d like to keep the one I’m driving now just for work once it’s paid off, and maybe get a Kia or Hyundai SUV.

We’ll see.

Naptown to Florida; Vacation – Day 1

By the time you read this, I’ll be home. I’m not the type of person to broadcast when I’m away from home because I’m not a fan of inviting bad guys to my house to have their way with it, knowing I’m going to be gone for a while. So, at the time of this writing, it’s 2.19.2017, 11:41pm, and I’m at a Holiday Inn Express in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, in preparation for the cruise I will be starting tomorrow. (YOU WILL HAVE TO WAIT FOR WHERE BECAUSE IT WILL BE  A SURPRISE.)

While I’m not a fan of cruises, I’m going to have a blast on this vacation because most of my favorite family members are going along. My sister (Joy); my niece and nephew, Cheyenne and Cody, the former of which hates people as much as I do; my dad and some of his friends; my  uncle Leslie and aunt Fame; and tomorrow, my cousin Christopher and his lady Kaylin will be joining us as we all join the boat like one big family. I’m very much looking forward to it.

It is now 2:32am. I had popped a few Xanax and fell asleep for a bit on these VERY comfortable beds. Shit, for a Holiday Inn Express, I’m pretty goddamn impressed with these beds. However, that insomnia thing I mentioned in the last post? Yeah. Just because I’m taking a vacation doesn’t mean that fuck is.

Anywho, all things considered, this vacation is off to a fine start. I left my house separately from the rest of the family because I live closer to Baltimore, where were flying out off, than anyone else; plus, the cars were all filled up and I couldn’t ride with them if I wanted to. So I gathered up all the various ways I could use to get the airport. After all was said and done, I got it down to about $40 round trip. Rather than  arrange with those companies, I offered up the money to a few friends, who took me upon it. And Anne got me to BWI all safe and sound, get this, at about the same time as the rest of my family. They had just gotten in line and I was able to quickly join them.

It’s way late, so I’m just going to knock this out with some bullet points on the highlights:

  • We were randomly chosen to go through the quick lanes for checkin. This means we could keep our belts and shoes on!
  • My sister scored a free beer on the plane because I made the flight attendant laugh. Still waiting on that particular thank you.
  • When I left Maryland, my suitcase had two wheels; when I arrived in Florida, it had one. I went to the Southwest counter, and they took care of the problem RIGHT THEN by giving me a new suitcase. Right. Then. I cannot speak highly enough of the customer service I got from them.
  • As mentioned, most of my family was going to be on this trip. When we saw Leslie, my uncle, for the first time, he was closing intentionally closing the elevator on us. Those who know Big Les are not surprised by this.

That’s all for now. I’ll share more later!



Time enough at last.

I’m really, really trying to do at least one update a month, and clearly I’m really, really failing. What’s even worse is I’m currently on vacation, so it’s not like I don’t have time right now.

Anywho, if it wasn’t obvious or if I never mentioned it, I love to read. I have more books than I know what to do with (and I’m actually in the process of giving (literal) boxes of them to friends of ones that I just know I won’t go back to, or I have it in the eBook format. Like stuff you’d find on the NY Times bestselling list; Harry Potter, John Grisham, just shit I don’t need on my bookshelves. I really just want harder-to-find books there (like first editions and ’70s and ’80s movie novelizations; my latest drug). Or novels I will no doubt re-read (like King).

My Kindle has made this possible more than anything else. I know that a lot of readers shit on the Kindle, saying things like, “A Kindle doesn’t have the feel of a real book!” and “You can’t smell the pages of a Kindle!” Well, I call bullshit. Don’t get me wrong, there’s nothing I would love more than to own a gigantic house where I would have a gigantic library, but I live in reality and you there is no good reason why I would need a physical copy John Grisham’s The Firm taking up valuable shelf space when I can have a Limited Edition of Joe Lansdale in its place.

One thing that’s been invaluable in building my eBook collection is Calibre, a free piece of software that is not just an amazing tool to organize your collection, but does a slew of other things, including grabbing and modifying metadata, covers, putting your titles in collections (like Jack Reacher #1, Jack Reacher #2, etc.) and much, much, MUCH more. In addition, you can connect to Calibre wirelessly as long as you have it running, and you can transfer books on the fly.

It gets even better. I have this app on my phone that gives me Google Play Store credit for answering little surveys (generally no more than five questions). Granted, it’s not a lot of money, usually between $0.12 and $0.26, but that really adds up. I was sitting on just over $30 in credit today when an email came through offering me $5 off any book purchase in the Play Store. After some Google searching and program downloading, I head to the Play Store and grabbed Paul Tremblay’s Disappearance at Devil’s Rock for basically free.

Now, because everyone has to be fighting, and everyone has to have their proprietary bullshit, you can’t just buy a book from Google and put it on your Kindle. However, if you do the following, you can very easily convert your purchase to read on your Kindle:

  1. Get the DeDRM tools from here, and follow the instructions on adding the plugin to Calibre
  2. Install Adobe Digital Editions and open the book you purchased and it will convert it to epub.
  3. Go back to Calibre and you’ll now be able to convert that epub to a version you can read on your Kindle.

I’m oversimplifying a bit (it took me a little trial and error, but I got it going), but once you got it down, it opens up some more possibilities when it comes to finding deals on eBooks.

Oh, and I recently started using my library card to “check out” eBooks too. I know, right!?! That’s how I read the latest Reacher novel.

I shit you not, sometimes I feel like Henry Bemis in Time Enough at Last.