Posts tagged Golden Tee

I’m not dead … yet.

23

Howdy, sports fans!

Wow, been a long time, huh? Sorry ’bout that, I’ve been a bit of a busy man here lately.

So, what, you may ask, has been going on with ol’ Buck?

Well, on the positive side, my eldest son decided to spend spring break with me here about a month ago, instead of heading to the beach with friends for a drunk-fest. I guess my not giving him the money to be that stupid played one part in the equation … and I dare say the fact that he doesn’t share my unquenchable thirst for said nectar of the gods probably played even more of a role  there too. [grins]

Ah hell, who am I kidding? The boy loves me!

Well, that, and the fact that my house is infinitely closer to the university his girlfriend is attending than his mom’s house is! :o)

CLICK TO ENLARGE!Speaking of houses … as some of you know, the Spousal Unit and I lost ours here recently . J’yup, La Casa del Buck is now a fully bank owned property upon which we are no longer allowed to step foot without a representative of the bank present.

Buuuut …. apart from losing my house (and the associated tropical garden, pond, etc. etc. etc.), putting my dog, Sparky, down after 10 years of loyalty, laughs and friendship, and a myriad other matters of which you probably do not want to be bored with, things are well with me.

Of course, there ARE those who DO want to hear more of the dirty, juicy details of my life … and I have two words for people like you: PISS OFF!

Sadly, many are the liars, gossips, meddlesome idiots and garden-variety, non-confrontational bitches who cross our paths in life. Funny thing is, one friend in my life who readily admits that she is easily offended and considers herself  “a ditz” (which I do not agree on), is about the only one of my friends who will pull me aside and speak her mind. She’s the only one who has taken something I’ve said or written the wrong way, and has directly approached me about it. Heck, my own wife doesn’t even do that! People like that are a gift, folks … I’m tellin’ ya!

Anyhow … sorry for being so seemingly caustic, but there’s a lot of things and certain people in my life who have really worn me down to my last two functioning nerves … both of which are completely beyond raw at this point.

Again: ANYHOW … might wanna click on that pic above; I STILL cannot make sense of the dude on the skateboard!

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My son and I had a BLAST while he was here!  Shockingly enough, we played a lot of Golden Tee. And by a lot, I mean a LOT. Well, for us at least.

CLICK TO ENLARGE!Day one: he lands at approx 1300 hrs; the Spousal Unit and arrive shortly thereafter. I reminded The Boy that a group of top-notch GT players were assembling in Springfield that same day and asked if he was interested in meeting them and possibly learning a thing or two. To wit, his response was very much in the affirmative, with extreme prejudice and enthusiasm.

So … I drive our asses almost an hour to the other side of the beltway only to find more than half the group totally schnockered and ready to call it quits for the day.

Ya know what they say, though, dontcha? Ya can’t say you’ve been drinking all day if you don’t start first thing in the morning.

As it turns out, one of the country’s top players, BillyMac, was in attendance and was still bordering on more than moderately sober. He, a friend of his, Neil, my son, spousal unit, and I made our way to another establishment in Springfield and enjoyed a few games together. As it turns out, I really didn’t get any input or advice from BillyMac, which was frustrating, as that was my main purpose of the trip.

Well, there WAS one moment where he did pull me aside. He said, “Doc, you realize your wife’s a better player than you, right?”

“Yeah,” I said with a smile, “she has her games! We taught her too well and created a monster in the meantime.”

BillyMac shook his head and went on, “I don’t think you’re understanding me: I’m not trying to put you down, but she’s an inherently better player than you are.”

To say I was flabbergasted would be sort of gay, so I’ll merely say that I was — for a rather rare change — speechless.

ANYHOW …

My son and I enjoyed a fantastic week of relaxing, talking and even got some travels and adventure in along the way.

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Last week my dad and I took a short hiatus from home and spent a week at Hilton Head Island in South Carolina. It was nice … and it was the first time we just took off and had that long of a father-son break from home. Twas a great week of good food, just the right amount of beer, and lots of laughs and relaxation ensued. My plans to play golf everyday, however, was thwarted by a near terminal case of retardation. For whatever reason, EVERY SINGLE THING I’ve learned in my weekly golf lessons the past month completely escaped me. I do not believe I have EVER been more discouraged with that game than I was last week.

But this is taking yet another potential turn towards the morose, so let’s move on, shall we?

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So, off to find something to do with my day, I suppose. Tomorrow is Mother’s Day … enjoy it. Show your mother some love, won’t ya?

Oh, and it happens to be my birthday as well. Yay …

Lookin’ like I’ll join Mama-Buck and her daughter for church and then hopefully off to Baltimore to see Mike Keneally and Bryan Beller perform. Weird but beautiful music, indeed!

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Peace off, beaches!

Cellphonius Terminus

12

You may recall my c-Net styled review of the HTC Touch Pro; if not, I highly encourage you to take a few minutes to hop over to that page and read it now.

Assuming you have the time. Which, if such is not the case, then I really don’t understand why you visit this site in the first place. I mean, verbosity is our thing; it’s what we do! To say that we, in the writing of our bloggings here, are anything other than overly verbose would not only be redundant and senseless, it would be downright unnecessary and devoid of wit.

Oh, you’re one of those that are just here for the pictures, aren’t you???

Silly maggot …

Ok, are the rest of you back from reading the review?

Yum, yum … you can just taste the bile, can’t ya?

Well, that was was November 5th, a mere 64 days after I’d acquired that fetid work of the underworld. The adventure had only just begun …

It is now late February and I have continued to endure this … this …

the non-profane eludes me at this moment

I am still the “proud” owner of this little marvel and it still is — lucky me — my primary communication device, of the portable electronic variety, of course. I have, though, attempted to change that on more than one occasion.  I guess I should probably address the matter of why it is that it has taken me so many months to finally change my fate:

I visited the local purveyor of Verizon phones at a franchise storefront here in town  several weeks after I’d made the fateful mistake of committing to this “smart” phone. My first visit saw me dealing with the younger gentleman that Ron, the owner, has in his employ. I forget his name at the moment, but I walked in, introduced myself and set my phone on the counter.

He furrowed his brow a little and asked, “First gen Touch Pro?”

“Uh … yeah.”

“Ouch!”

I chuckled, “And as if that weren’t bad enough, this was the ‘upgrade’ to my previous phone which was a first gen Chocolate.”

“Seriously?”, he asked.

“Yeah … am I not just the luckiest dog on the porch?”

We proceeded to talk for a brief few minutes before he said that I really needed to talk to the boss-man. It took me a few days to carve out the time to make it back to the store in the hopes that his boss, Ron, was there. Because the Spousal Unit and Ron have a history, I tend to drag her along with me on these visits. I mean, what can it hurt, right?

We returned  a few days later …

I opened the door for my lady and as I followed her in I put on a big smile on my face and nodded, “Heya Ron! How’s things?”

He smiled back, “Goin’ good, man! How have you guys been?”

In total Matrix / Neo style, I mentally dodged the small-talk bullet and cut to the chase: “Dude, I really … desperately and seriously … need your help.”

He shot me a surprised look; not surprising given the opening lob of drama, “Well, we’ll see what I can do. What’s the problem?”

“This,” I said in a playful attempt at feigned anger as I slammed The Brick on the counter.

“Oh,” he said, seemingly unaware that this device was any different than any other PDA / Smart Phone in his inventory, “and what seems to be the problem with it?”

As it turns out, the explanation I gave was actually the germination phase of what would eventually become the cNet styled blogging about this same device that I linked you to earlier. To say that he was a little taken back would be an understatement, but he did laugh with me along the way a few times. The Spousal Unit, however, seemed a tad exasperated at times. Seems my occasional outbursts of manic energy are a touch uncomfortable for her sometimes. I hope it’s not that I embarrass her; that’d be sort of a bummer.

But we don’t have time for such musings this morning. I have a house I need to finish packing and a move I need to make the final arrangements for.

At the end of our pleadings he intimated that he was powerless to do a thing. He did, however, explain that if we took it to a corporate store they would most likely just declare my unit defective and give me a replacement model.

I smiled, as this was my desired outcome.

Ron shook his head, and not in the affirmative, “No, I mean they’ll send you the same model.”

“Oh no,” I blurted out, “No, no, no, no, NO! Dude, that will not do!”

He shrugged his shoulders in a way that I would soon suspect was a calculated and learned trait possibly passed down through corporate sales training sessions at Verizon.

. . .

We all shook hands and said our goodbyes. Seeings how we frequent the same watering hole it only makes sense to keep things on the up and up. And besides, Ron’s actually a hell of a nice guy.

As we drove away I resumed my irritable ramblings.

“Oh my god, what is it with me? Will foul luck and misery follow me all the days of my life?”

.. and …

“Are you shitting me? I cannot believe I am stuck with yet another piece of shit phone for two years!”

… and it continued along similar lines …

Being the fearless, 6 foot tall Scandinavian woman that she is, the wife interrupted me at one point, “If you can handle keeping it long enough, maybe they’ll discontinue it and you’ll get an upgrade to whatever replaces that one.”

I stopped and nodded at the obvious wisdom of her rhetorical question. The image of the two Monty Python-ish cartoon characters from the semi-recent Guinness commercials popped into my head as I blurted out one simple word in a poor Irish accent: “Brilliant!”

Later that evening I visited the Verizon Wireless website. I had been there several days earlier and there were scant few customer reviews on my particular phone (HTC Touch Pro, just in case you forgot). Now there were suddenly hundreds of them! Evidently, there were a whole buttload of those pending approval / moderation and someone must have just clicked on “release/approve all.”

I dare say I cannot ever recall seeing a lower customer rating than what I was staring at. The fact that I did NOT grab any screen captures ticks me off! It was absolute pandemonium! Apart from the rare comment / review by a customer who had obviously just crawled out of a cave and left these comments the same day they purchased this phone, the rest was one angry, vitriolic response after another.

This served as the watering phase of the aforementioned germination process that ultimately blossomed into the blogging that was my own review of the HTC Touch Pro (linked above).

If it was named T H C instead, I’d like to think that all of this would at least make a little more sense …

Anyhow … I came back to the Verizon Wireless website some days later to grab some of the fresh vitriol to use as fodder for my own blogging.

But it was all gone! All references, except for the most benign tech support issues, were completely purged from the site! Not a single customer review. Not a single link to a Discontinued Model, which was still their habit.

Nossir, this sucker just up and disappeared like a thief in the night!

Several months pass and, man, have I got to tell ya … it has been downright nightmarish dealing with this damnable device.

One thing that I will say to its benefit is the fact that it is amazingly durable! My take on this being an effectual weapon was spot on!

Hey, don’t be hatin’ … if you were paying the insurance and you KNEW that you were — some how, some way — getting that thing eventually replaced because it was not only a lemon of a product as a whole, but your particular unit was clearly defective beyond that … yeah, you tell ME you wouldn’t occasionally fling that thing across the room or into a cement wall!

But anyhow …

Along comes February, and the insane back-to-back blizzards! While visitations of the various beasts of the snow migration were a wonderful distraction, everybody around me was growing increasingly impatient with the same words constantly bursting from my lips multiple times an hour: “I hate this fucking phone!”

I printed a copy of the blogging I’d done about the Touch Pro, grabbed it, jumped in the truck and made our way across town to once again beg of Ron’s mercies. I handed him the print out and said, “After I leave and you’ve got some dead time on your hands, you ought to give this a read; I think it’ll give you a decent laugh.”

He nodded as he glanced at it. “So, how can I help you two today?”

“Dude, is there anybody that you can call at corporate to put in a good word for us as a preferred customer?”

He shot me a look that almost hinted of, Whatchu talkin’ bout, Willis?

“Dude, after more than ten years as customers and my wife’s insistence that we primarily deal with you? I think that just about makes anyone in my shoes a preferred customer.”

“No,” her interrupted, “no, that wasn’t it at all.”

“So,” I said with an exasperated sigh, “there’s nothing you can do, not even put in a call on our behalf?”

“Naw,” he said as he shook his head and shrugged his shoulders, “that’s really something that just has to go through corporate.”

We clarified which locations closest to us qualified as “corporate.” He suggested that I go to the one in Ashburn as he’d had some really pleasant dealings with some of the staff there.

As we shook hands and said our goodbyes he added, “Good luck, man. You may have to press the matter pretty hard if you want anything more than an in-kind replacement.”

“If those assholes want to keep my business — and I assure you, our monthly bill is more than ample — then they better do something more than offer me another Touch Pro or even the Pro2. I’d rather step back down to a simple flip-phone, demand a refund for the wasted monthly data-plan charges, and give that to my son until my contract is up and just go get an iPhone.”

He nodded sympathetically as he tapped on the print-out I’d handed him earlier, “And I promise to give this a read! See ya at Spanky’s some time, alright?”

“I look forward to it,” I said with a smile, “you know where to find to me!”

He chuckled, “By that stupid video golf game!”

“Yes,” I smiled even bigger, “the claws of the monkey that is that adult video crack machine are dug deeply into my soul.”

Some days later I reached my absolute and final boiling point with this phone. This time it was a solo venture. Being as irritable and as driven as a I was to finally get this situation resolved, regardless of the outcome, I thought it was best if I didn’t have my wife’s sensibilities and her distaste for public confrontation to interfere with the divine mission which was mine to undertake.

As I pulled in to the parking lot of the strip center within which the corporate Verizon Wireless was located, I took a deep breath and closed my eyes for a brief moment. Politeness, directness and calm were the order of the day. All the same, visions of a massive pyre and Viking warriors chanting at the tops of their lungs filled my mind.

(as always, click to enlarge)

I opened my eyes quickly so as to not drift too far astray with in imaginations.

As I walked into the store, I was greeted by two young ladies seated at small receptionist station-like stations. The younger one shot me a broad smile and the lady who actually greeted me directly seemed to not be having a great start to her day. She asked tersely but politely, “How may I help you, sir?”

“I really need to talk to somebody about this phone.” I gently set it on the counter in front of her.

The younger lady, to her left, leaned over and asked as she curled her nose, “Touch Pro?”

My left eyelid twitched a few times, “Yeah,” I said as politely as I could, “seems like you’re familiar with it.”

She shook her head back and forth as she raised her hand and with a smile said, “I’m not even getting started.”

I turned my attention to the lady who was waiting to assist me and went on to try and describe why this thing was not only a defective unit, but possibly the most evil thing to have cursed humanity in centuries.

She finally interrupted me, “I’m sorry, sir. You’re going to need to talk to someone in tech. Someone will call your name in a few minutes.”

As I stepped aside it suddenly occurred to me that this woman had probably pressed some sort of panic button to inform the manager on duty that a possibly irate customer was in the building. If they had a special, emergency-use-only button for the potential “postal” types, I’d imagined that that was the once she chose to press instead.

I took another slow, deep breath to once again regain my focus.

And I made the mistake of closing my eyes again …

A young man’s voice brought me back to the store / present reality, “Good morning, sir!”

I blinked my eyes a few times to shake the images out of the frontal lobe. “And a good morning to you, dude. Are you the tech guy that I’m waiting to talk with about this … this … phone.”

He shook his head, “Oh, nossir, I work with the Fios side of things here. I’d overheard you say you were in the process of moving … ?”

With a grin and a nod I cut him off, “Actually, we’re very, very happy Fios customers and — lucky me — the place we’re moving to is already wired for Fios.”

Alex — I believe that was his name, but it might have been Adam — continued to chat for a few minutes about some of the really cool new features and upgrades that Fios had recently began to roll out. As we were talking I heard my name being called from behind me, albit slightly mispronounced as usual.

It’s a stupidly simple Hungarian name, I’m surprised it gets mangled as often as it does.

Anyhow … as I turned around, I was somewhat disappointed to have gone from dealing with such a pleasant, broad smiled young man to being greeted by a perfect sour-puss of a mildly effeminate young man. Seated to his left was a young black man who, as I would learn, was recently employed by Flextronics and was under the tutelage of my fussy little tech support representative.

“My name is Shea, what seems to be the problem with your phone?”

I went on to re-explain to him the same things I had been enumerating to the young lady I was first greeted by. He was perfectly disinterested in hearing me out and continually interrupted me. The third time he interrupted he simply said, “Sir, if you would like me to take a look at it, it sounds like it easily qualifies for a replacement.”

“I realize that, Shea. I am fully and unquestionably aware that this particular unit is defective. Have you worked here for very long?”

He nodded, responding in the affirmative.

“And you are familiar with this phone,” I tapped on it a little less than gently, “the infamous HTC Touch Pro?”

He nodded his head in agreement again, “Yessir, we stopped carrying that model last fall and HTC stopped manufacturing it shortly after that.”

“I appreciate the history lesson, but surely you’re aware of what an epic failure this … this … thing was and still is?!?!”

Once again, I was confronted with a look and a tone that was chock full of red flags that had the words “bull shit” written all over them. It does not take a PhD in psychology or any of the other behavioral sciences to tell when someone is patently lying to you.

And it was impossible to ignore the fact that it was done in the same trained, rehearsed demeanor that I had encountered with other Verizon employees over the years.

“Sir, if you would let me take a look at your phone I can at least determine if this unit is defective and, if so, we can have it replaced with a new or refurbished one.”

I blinked a few times before asking, “Are you shitting me?” It was the first time I’d let a hint of my own frustration or irritation show.

“That’s all your warranty covers, sir.”

“Yeah, and I not only pay $45 a month for a data service plan that does me absolutely no good, I also pay another $5 per month for the protection / replacement plan thing. Hell, I’d almost rather downgrade back to a stupid clam shell phone than put up with this … this …”

He interrupted me again, “Do you have an old phone in a drawer at your house?”

“Excuse me?” as I tried to figure out how he knew about the veritable black holes we call “drawers” in our kitchen.

“I can see what Verizon can do in the way of a refund and you can go back to using an old phone until your contract is up in May.”

I was on the verge of losing it; and dealing with this prancing little priss of a man across the counter was not making matters any better. “Look, Shea, we’re obviously having some communication issues here … is your manager or supervisor here in the store this morning? I really need to talk to somebody who is capable of making decisions. If I can’t get around having this … this … DETESTABLE THING replaced by pretty much anything other than another anything from HTC … then I may as well just say ‘screw it all’ and go get myself an iPhone.”

I sighed as I tried to look him square in the eyes, “Please?”

I say “try” because he averted the direct eye contact; that pansy.

Shea turned around and stepped through the door to take the matter up with the manager.

It was at this point that I got better acquainted with the young black man who was working under Shea’s wing yesterday morning. He was a perfectly pleasant guy and, as it turns out, he’s worked with a close friend of my family for quite some time (at Pohanka Lexus).

Several minutes later a short, another black gentleman about my age, perhaps a few years older, stepped out through the doorway and introduced himself. He looked as if he was possibly from Kenya or another African country, and carried a slight accent to match. His name was Jack.

Jack calmly and patiently allowed me to once again re-tell my tales of frustration and woe. He finally said, “Well, if we can show that this is a defective unit we can have Verizon send you a replacement or a refurbished one if there are no new ones left in stock.”

I stood there silently, flabbergasted beyond words.

“Sir,” I pleaded as I stared into his eyes, “I really need some help!”

It immediately occurred to me how that could have easily been taken an entirely different way by him or anybody else witnessing this exchange.

“What would you have me do?” Jack inquired.

“This thing is a freaking lemon, sir! All I want is relief from this insufferable piece of shit! Anything that does not have the name HTC on it would probably do; I’m dead serious.”

“For free?” he asked.

“Yes,” I nodded wildly, “of course for free! I’ve been dealing with the most miserable, unusable, frustrating phone ever conceived by man or demon for 6 months now, and I pay an extra $45 dollars month for data services and internet access for a phone that does me no good! Come on, Jack … I really need your help.”

“But we cannot give you a phone, sir. If you would like, I can see if we can reset your contract and you can get a new phone that way.”

I nodded towards the business phone immediately beside us, “Could you please just call someone at Verizon and put in a preferred customer request or something? We’ve been loyal customers for over 10 years now, and all I want is just be free from this hideous phone.”

Jack picked up the phone and started dialing. As he was logging in to the call center, he got past the point of typing in my account number and password. It was at this point that I learned about a balance due of proportions I was not prepared to confront.

“EIGHT HUNDRED DOLLARS?”, I burst out, “Are you kidding me?”

“Yes sir,” Jack said quietly, “I noticed that as I was looking at your account before I came out to speak with you; until you get that paid up you will not be able to talk to anybody at Verizon about this problem, even if you just wanted it fixed.”

I spent the next half hour or more with the extremely pleasant young lady whom I met at the beginning of my visit to the store. She and I went through the last couple months of detailed statements, one account at a time. Suffice it to say that some command decisions were made at this point regarding a number of things and a number of services were blocked.

But I digress …

Once we were all paid up, I was finally put back on the phone with Verizon. After a short exchange the lady I was speaking to informed me that we first had to transfer my call over to tech support. After being on hold for a few moments, a very pleasant, soothing voice greeted me, “Good afternoon,  my name is Lauren, how may help you today?”

I proceeded to, yet again, detail my tales of woe. When I finally paused she jumped in, “Sir, before we can do anything I first have to confirm that this unit is defective and is something more than just a ROM or other software upgrade.”

“Don’t you realize what a perfectly useless, miserable piece of crap this thing is?”

“I can only imagine, sir, but we have to prove it’s defective before we can do a thing.”

My shoulders fell and I sighed, “I understand that; I’m just beyond frustrated with this whole debacle of a phone.”

“I appreciate that sir. Are you willing to erase everything on your phone now?”

“Excuse me?”

“Do you use ActiveSync to back up your phone?”

“Oh, that! Hell no … that was just the beginning of my troubles 6 months ago. I never got that software to install properly.”

She proceeded to inform me that our only solution was for me to head home and she would have a set of links awaiting me via email. I was to email her to let her know I was ready to have Lauren walk me through a number of things over the phone. I finally got home, frustrated beyond belief that I was leaving the store empty handed.

Between my email to Lauren and her return call to me, I went ahead and started installing the latest version of ActiveSync. While waiting for the call, I then went ahead and launched the program to go ahead and do the back-up myself. I mean, hey … I’m technically adept, right?

Well, as it turns out, ActiveSync decided to synchronize with my local copy of Outlook, a new installation with no contacts, no appointments, no nothing on it … and, as fate would have it, the default setting was to give preference to the data in Outlook rather than what was on the phone.

Did you notice the past tense reference there?

Yeah, I lost my entire contacts list as well as a few other items of lesser importance.

A few moments later Lauren calls me back on my wife’s phone, just as she promised she would. As it turns out, she was skipping her lunch break to try and get things resolved for me.

After almost an hour of fiddling around, installing various software upgrades and settings changes, Lauren sighed an almost happy sounding sigh and said, “Okay, sir … your phone is definitely defective! Now I can finally talk with you about your options.”

“It’s about time!”

“While I was waiting to hear back from you earlier I went ahead and briefed my supervisor about your situation.”

“Thank you,” I said quite enthusiastically.

“And he gave me some options, so bear with me, okay?”

“Yes ma’am,” I said with a huge smile.

“Okay,” she paused, “I think I already know the answer to the first one; we can ship you a new HTC Touch Pro tomorrow morning.”

“Are you @#$%ing with me?” I exclaimed!

“I kinda thought that might be your answer,” I could swear she was stifling a chuckle as she hurried along to option number next, “which brings us to option number two: we can downgrade you to a regular phone and refund a month’s worth of the data plan charges.”

“Okay,” I said calmly, expecting the next option to be more appealing.

“Would you be interested in that, sir?”

“Well, perhaps as a last resort. Is there an option number third?”

“Yes sir,” she said, “there is. My supervisor also said that you can upgrade to any device you would like for the one year contract price.”

“And what exactly does that mean?”

“It depends on which Smart Phone you are interested in. If you were to get any phone you wanted from Verizon, which one would it be?”

“Well, The Droid, of course.”

“I take it you’re not referring to the HTC model.”

“Correct, my dear … the Motorola Droid. If I never see another anything from HTC for the rest of my life I will not be disappointed.”

She gently asked, “So, you would like the Motorola Droid?”

“Of course! Sounds like that’s the only thing out there that begins to hold a candle to the iPhone.”

“Okay, my supervisor said you can upgrade to one at the one year contract price.”

“And what does that mean to me, Lauren?”

She hesitated a little and then answered, “The one year contract price for the Droid is $369 with a $100 rebate.”

“So, they want me to pay them another $269 to be free from this piece of crap phone?”

“Uh,” she hesitated again, “would you be interested if I could get him to approve the two year price?”

“Which is how much?”

“That’s $299 with a $100 mail-in rebate, sir.”

“Wow,” I said, clearly dejected, “that’s something I’m going to have to think about, Lauren. I mean, I was sold an absolute lemon here and now I’m being told that my options are to live with a replacement lemon, go back to the relative stone age, or pay even more of my hard earned money for the type of device I expected when I ponied up a bunch of money 6 months ago.”

“I understand, sir,” she said with a lot of empathy in her voice, “it’s probably easiest to contact me through the email address we were using earlier this afternoon.”

“Alrighty then,” I sighed, “We have some errands that we have to run and I’ll think more about it and will get back with you before the end of the day.”

“I look forward to it, sir.” and we hung up.

As it turned out, the events of the day and the allure of a quick couple rounds of Golden Tee kept me from getting back to my computer until later that evening.

The next morning I shot Lauren an email thanking her for all of her time and her kindness. I expressed my frustration in being offered a “solution” that was no better than what any schmuck walking in off the streets would get. In fact, I told her that I felt the options given were downright insulting, but again assured her that it was not her I was frustrated with, but Verizon. I also made it a point to say that she could feel free to forward my email to her supervisor, or preferably someone above him.

Later in the morning I received an email from Lauren thanking me for the kind words.

As my friend, Fuku, and I finished our round of Golden Tee, the rest of the Friday Happy Hour crew was showing up. I looked down at my watch and it was just a little after 5:35. Well, I thought to myself, Lauren’s off for the day. I guess Verizon’s content to lose another customer.

As Oren and Fern started playing their first set of the Friday happy hour, my freshly reset phone lit up with an incoming call. The screen read “Unknown Caller”, but the area code looked familiar. It was the same one that Lauren had called me from earlier in the day.

I picked up my phone and as I made my way out of the pub I looked at Billy and said, “Tell the guys to give me a couple minutes before we start, I need to take this call.”

I tapped the Answer key, “Hello, this is Tom.”

A familiar voice greeted me, “Good afternoon, sir, this is Lauren from Verizon Wireless, we spoke yesterday.”

“Why yes it is, and how are you doing this afternoon?”

“Uggghh, it’s been one of those days; I was supposed to be out of here a while ago but I wanted to give you a quick call before I left for the day.”

“Oh, okay, that’s cool! What’s up?”

“Well, as you requested, I forwarded your email to my supervisors and a little while ago my boss came to my desk to tell me that he had read it and told me to go ahead and send you a Droid first thing Monday morning.”

I was slightly taken aback, “The Motorola unit?”

“Yes sir, I didn’t think you would be very interested in the other one.”

“Holy smokes, Lauren … you are my hero!”

She laughed and said, “Well, I don’t know about that, but I did want to call you before I left work for the day to let you know that there was a good outcome from all of this.” She went on to explain that she had to come in Saturday to get some other matters taken care of and assured me that she would also get everything processed so the new phone would be ready to ship first thing Monday morning.

The smile on my face stayed there until I fell asleep many hours later.

So, there ya have it. It’s been a long, wild ride these past 6 months, and what did I learn in the process? Well, for starters, no more sight-unseen purchases. From now on, when it comes to electronic devices, I want to handle the device and use it before making any decisions. I also intend to do much more homework in the future as well. Had I spent some time doing a little research, it would have been readily apparent that the early generation products from HTC have been notoriously slow. Of course, with the underlying operating system being a Microsoft product, how surprising is that?

Hopefully the next two years will be pleasant ones, at least as far as smart phone usage is concerned.

Check it out! The dude is getting a Droid!

Now it’s time to get back to packing this house for next weekend’s move!

Peace off!

As the Big Thaw begins and the dig-out continues …

4

My, what a busy couple of days for the old Buckaroo here! Somehow or another, I managed to get some work done from the house while stranded in the clutches of the 2nd blizzard in a week.

Well, perhaps “stranded” borders on being a bit of misnomer. The Spousal Unit and I had told ourselves that we were going to stay home Wednesday when the blizzard proper was at its zenith. She had a wonderfully aromatic pot of pasta sauce slowly cooking on the stove and I was bundled up on the couch, goofing around online with a few friends and getting ready to catch up some stuff we have on our perpetually filled-to-capacity DVR.

Besides, bucket loads of snow and 50 mph winds really don’t make for the best driving conditions ever known to man.

Such things don’t seem to bother my buddy, Shimmay.

Around 6pm or so he starts text messaging both of our phones. “You guys coming out to putt tonight?”

My reply: “We have a 48 foot snow drift at the end of our driveway; not digging out in this much wind.”

Moments later the Spousal Unit gets a message from Shimmay: “I’ll be there in 25 minutes to pick you guys up.”

So much for a quiet nice at la casa del Buck …

But who am I to turn down an adventure on night like this, right???

And quite the adventure it turned out  to be. I dare say Shimmay had the biggest challenges keeping his happy face on; not only did his beloved Washington Caps lose to a bunch of drunken bastards from Canadia, we had a couple of interesting characters already playing on “our” GT machine upon arrival. The round table behind the playing area was loaded with almost a dozen recently departed Budweiser’s, several loaded ash trays, a few packs of cigarettes, a c0uple Starbuck’s gift cards (that’s what most of us here in town use for Golden Tee identification purposes) and various other personal effects. Not meaning to make the pub sound unkempt, but they were seriously under-staffed and damned near packed to capacity.

The denziens of Leesburg had been trapped for days on end, some on unplowed roads and without electricity for much of that time.  Spanky’s, as it turns out, was not only the ONLY place in town open that night, there was not a single day in the midst of these historic back-to-back blizzards where Spanky’s failed to open its doors for business. Word of this evidently spread wide across the county and it was THE destination of anyone stupid enough to be on the road that night.

And before you even start wondering if the owner is some sort of an evil ogre, I need to point out that he — at the onset of both storms — called his staff and told them to stay home, stay warm and stay safe.

Bartenders don’t roll like that, though. Not when bartenders like ours are dealing with a drinking community like THIS!

But back to the two guys at our beloved Golden Tee machine …

With most garden variety non-regulars, this would not be a problem; especially when it’s only 2 or 3 players. Most times, asking if one (or two) of us can jump in causes most players to defer and pass the table to us at the end of their game. In some cases, though, they do invite me/us to play and that is usually a one time event.

Except when the “outsider(s)” happen to be really good players. But that’s another blog for another time … when it comes to the dredges of GT, most competitively minded people really don’t enjoy being trounced by 20 strokes and more. It’s downright humiliating and I don’t mind being the Giver of said humiliation; it almost always results in them walking away and opening the machine for me and the rest of my friends to play. BUT … you might want to know that I do so in a very polite, gentlemanly manner. That’s just who I am and, therefore, how I naturally behave as a result.

Wednesday, however, was not one of the nights where the machine was going to be easily relinquished. Instead of garden variety outsiders, we had two familiar faces from our recent past to contend with. One being a very recent addition to the mix and the other a sometimes notorious figure from my semi-recent past, as well as Shimmay’s.

His name is Jason.

Evil JasonMany people just don’t quite get Jason, which is a shame. To keep it short, there are two sides to this young man. There’s the Good Jason (the sober guy), and then, when things have piled up in his life and he’s overwhelmed, he hits the bottle with reckless abandon giving rise to Evil Jason.

And nobody likes to be around Evil Jason.

There are those with whom he argues with almost anything said in a viciously combative manner. For reasons I won’t expound upon here, the chemistry that particular evening brought out that very side of Evil Jason that night and Shimmay was the party towards which EJ’s combativeness was directed. Fortunately for me, Jason doesn’t play that way with me. I think our history goes back far enough and on a personal enough of a level that there’s some odd modicum of respect between the two of us.

But anyhow …

As if having a two-out-of-three sheets to the wind Evil Jason on our hands weren’t bad enough, his new best-buddy and GT opponent du jour was a 6’8″, square-jawed, behemoth of a young man we had dubbed — for obvious reasons — Yetti.

We met the Yetti — who would later be re-dubbed “lil B” — during the previous storm less than a week earlier. He works for the postal service yet lives in a town almost an hour from his office here in Leesburg. When major snow storms or ice storms are in the forecast, he will usually stay at a hotel just around the corner from Spanky’s and take advantage of not having to drive. Let’s just say that he is a very loud, albeit wonderfully pleasant, and insanely distractable human being when he dives headlong into the fire water.

After several beers he turns into a freak of a social butterfly and this, as you might imagine, is NOT conducive to a well paced game of Golden Tee. In fact, when playing with people who are orders of magnitude lessor of a player AND you’re having to repeatedly call them back to the table to take their turn, it can get more than mildly irritating.

After a brief exchange in private, Evil Jason decided he was going to go ahead and call it a night. Unfortunately, lil B was now in the mood to start ordering everybody rounds of shots … and was clearly still in the mood to play more GT. We humored the Yetti for one more game but I dare say I may have put a bit of a wrinkle in our budding potential friendship by dealing him OUT of the next game while he was off taking a bathroom break. When he returned I pointed out that it had taken almost an HOUR AND A HALF to play the previous round (thanks to his terrier-like propensity towards terminal distractability) and that the 3 of us really needed to pick up the pace if we were going to get home at a decent hour.

He took it like a goodly hearted dude … and, I’m sad to say, said “decent hour” never quite materialized.

But we played pretty well once the pace actually picked up! :o)

HOWEVER … the combination of Mama-Buck not having to worry about staying in a safe-to-drive condition, the shots purchased for us through the evening, and the wonders of having an empty tummy prior to epic moments of imbibing, saw her eventually reach a place where she pulled me aside, and in a dead serious tone exclaimed, “I THINK SOMEONE SLIPPED SOMETHING INTO ONE OF MY DRINKS!”

There is a very, very weird couple that has been visiting our fair little pub of late, and they really creep me out more than your run-of-the-mill oddball at a bar. As I got to thinking about it, though, there would be no plausible explanation for slipping my girl a Mickey as they had no angle to capitalize on something like that.

As we got to talking more, it became increasingly clear that her sense were being assaulted by a barrage of subatomic anomalies of some sort and was, therefore, clinically not sober. She started chugging a bunch of water and ordered some fries and well before the end of that particular round of Golden Tee, she was feeling kinda, somewhat, sorta grounded again.

I qualified so heavily because as Shimmay drove us home a little later she had him stop the vehicle on more than one occasion claiming to have just seen a snow frog hopping across the snow and ice covered streets.

In fact, she was so insistent, even the next morning, that I guess she must’ve seen a couple mice or some other small animals dashing across the road, disoriented by the wind and blowing snow.

. . .

As I mentioned in a recent blog post, I am the newest member of SharkBait Productions as well as the Recovery Channel®. Mikey Rez is currently working on a faux’cumentary of the Blizzards of 2010. Here’s an exclusive sneak preview of a rough draft or a proposed narrative for a voice over of the opening moments of a film that may, or may not, be about the recent Snowpocalypse, the target rich environment that our town has been for any would-be snow shark hunters, or have any relation to the resulting snowcano that was deposited in our fair town this past week …

(your thoughts on the following piece are encouraged and would be warmly welcomed)

. . .

North America has been gripped by a series of weather events of historic proportions. Unless you’ve been living in a cave or, perhaps, a self-induced coma, it is impossible for you not to be aware of this.

But then again, there’s surely at least one reason why you are watching …

The Recovery Channel

As our solar system spins and wobbles its way through its light years long orbit through the Milky Way, it crosses through regions of intense quantum instability. These thin, unstable ribbons of subatomic debris interfere with our atmosphere in a manner similar to the way in which photons from our own warming star, the Sun, interact with our ionosphere and atmosphere.

In essence giving us the quantum equivalent of an aurora borealis event.

Unlike the benign light shows generated by the polar auroras, these quantum disturbances affect not only the weather patterns of our planet, but the psyche of most life forms that inhabit it.

One of the most unstable manifestations is known as a QAGE (pronounced “cage”): a Quantum Alignment Glacial Event.

.

The surface of our planet is encased in an infinitely thin skin of subatomic energy. Under normal conditions this thin veil eludes observation and is not given even a single thought.

However, when Earth collides with one of these ribbons of subatomic debris — the tail-like remnants of a deceased black hole — pockets within this thin skin of energy react and sets into motion the spontaneous creation of anti-matter.

Should this process last for more than 7 picoseconds – a picosecond being a mere one trillionth, or one millionth of one millionth of a second – quantum volcanic eruptions tend to occur.

And thus the otherwise infertile ground gives birth to a QAGE.

Loudoun County Virginia was witness to one such event during the second blizzard of 2010. In its wake, a flaccid quantum volcano that some of the local recovery refugees dubbed …

Mt. Snowsuvius!

We were there to film the historic ascent to the summit of this freakish quantum phenomenon that has less probability of occurring than a convention of Gay Jewish Muslims for Christ.

. . .

… stay tuned.

.

Seriously … Mikey Rez has already filmed the ascent, put together various interviews with locals, at least one sherpa and more. Tune in to The Recovery Channel and find out more …

Until then …

PEACE OFF!


Onward …

10

I awoke this morning in a quiet and calm mood. Didn’t stay out too late … didn’t have too many beers. I gave my mind a few minutes to discover if there might be any remote quadrant of the body proper which was in a state of relative discomfort. None was to be found.

One of the corners of the auto-pilot wiring of my psyche – one that tends to be, unlike the rest of me, a morning person – speaks up, “Neato!”

My dog, Sparky, had been attempting to sleep at my feet last night. Given the amount of tossing and turning that one tends to experience when sleeping on a not-so-built-for-sleep sofa, she didn’t get much of it.

Jack Russell terriers, if you haven’t noticed, tend to be a bit on the high strung side.

And yeah, I said “sofa” …

Told ya, the bacon thing really isn’t going over very well here at la casa del Buck.

(pics here are almost always of the “click to enlarge” variety)

Anyhow … I let Sparky out to begin her elaborate morning routine of divining the perfect points of evacuation. And with this one, it’s every bit as formulaic as it can possibly get.

Much like the directions on the back of a shampoo bottle except in place of “wash” one places a single word that somehow embodies the intense, almost frenetic, manner in which she goes about intently scrutinizing randomly disjointed spots of grass in search of that Point of Perfection.

Nothing less will do, unless it’s a miserable, rainy day.

Otherwise, she invests a level of energy into this search for that point of perfection that one might expect from a knight in search of uncovering a matter of divine providence!

To wit, she deposits, whether by way of micturation or defecation matters not. And yes, the former, in every case, preceding the latter.

And herein we replace the word “rinse.”

Still with me here?

Yeah, it’s Search, Deposit, Repeat.

But anyhow … I’m getting side-tracked here …

The air was calm and the sky tinted with a colorful hint of a glow from a sunrise surely taking place on the other side of the dark, looming grayness. It clearly felt like snow was soon to come.

I quietly stretched my arms, taking in a deep breath of the crisp, fresh air. As I shook my head in bemusement at Sparky’s frenetic search for said Point of Perfection, a slight breeze picked up. I wrapped my arms around my shoulders and rocked quickly on my bare feet, attempting to only have smaller parts of the foot in contact with the deck — which hadn’t seen temperatures above freezing in days — at any one given moment.

As I turned my back to the wind I looked down and smiled as I watched the first hints of snow dancing past my feet. There is something so soothing and serene about the snow. It brings some strange sense of purity and innocence with it.

But, like much in life, appearances are often little more than a mirage.

The snow, you see, brings a certain ‘something’ out of the animal within us all. Maybe it’s because the snow covers everything, blurring all that we are otherwise accustomed to seeing, yet rarely even noticing, in our day to day lives, and in the sudden absence of that which is familiar there is a resulting sense of panic and potential peril. In the animal world this may happen because the food that birds regularly forage for is usually in plain sight.

Suddenly, everything has changed in an instant and nothing is as it just quite recently was.

How is a bird to know whether or not there may still be anything resembling food beneath this mysterious white veil???

CLICK TO ENLARGE

That bird's about to pounce me, isn't it?

Yes … fear of the unknown and hunger can bring out something downright fiendish in virtually any animal.

And when that fear comes as a result of snow fall, that can only mean one thing …

Well, two … if you really think about it.

Or more …

But in the context of this story, at least at this point within whatever portion of said story is about to unfolded before you, it can only mean one thing!

CLICK TO ENLARGE!

And you remember what happened the last time we had a deep snow and the ensuing schools of snow sharks that came with it, right?

Yeah, we almost lost Mikey Rez!

CLICK TO ENLARGE!

And we don’t want that!

[gasp!]

Man, I really need to arrange something where you guys can listen to what I’m listening to while I write this! Oh man, that would so thoroughly change things!

But anyhow …

Perhaps you know how drivers are here in the mid-Atlantic region of the U.S. (and it grows increasingly rude and random the further north one drives. Well, to a point) They can be biggest collection of untrained, ignorant, self-centered, feckless morons absolutely devoid of any level of what is known as situational awareness … and with cell phones shoved unhumanly deep inside their ear holes!!!! These people can hardly, if at all, accomplish a feat as simple as parallel parking; well, at least not without undue anxiety and freakishly jerkish miscues that would make Michael J. Fox conducting a symphony look absolutely normal.

But I digress … my point is, “Virginia” drivers really are a difficult breed. I attribute most of that to the transient nature of the D.C. area, but that’s another subject for another blog some other day.

Today we have far more pressing matters to contend with.

Who will save us from the snow shark?

A mere few weeks ago we were beyond safe as we were blessed by a visit from one of the rarest, most severely endangered species of mammal on this planet: the Arctic shaven snow pig!

And … there’s a little something your old uncle Buck here has been keeping from you.

Olga, Leesburg’s own patron swine, flew, non-stop, from the mountains outside of Leesburg all the way to Haiti … did I mention this was NON STOP??? … to volunteer after the tragic earthquake.

Yeah … it doesn’t take a very active imagination to come to grips with what direction that decision ultimately took …

CLICK TO ENLARGE!

Without our token Arctic shaven snow pig, where then can we turn for salvation from the certain return of the snow sharks?!?!?!

Of course, the answer is simple!

Snow Cow!

CLICK TO ENLARGE!

However …

Remember my reference to the local traffic earlier? Well, just the mere mention of precipitation brings out most Neanderthalically idiotic driving tendencies imaginable from these people.

Snow Cow, due to the uncertainty of this weekend’s weather, instead chose to not cut short his stay at some weird hedonistic resort somewhere in the Caribbean …

CLICK TO ENLARGE!

Come on … are you trying to tell me – with a straight face – that you’d rather deal with gridlock traffic and worse?!?!?!

In this hypothetical question, you’re trying to walk a mile on Snow Cow’s shoe’s, not the ladies’.

You did understand that, right?

Anyhow …

All of this to say that I dare say that I very well may not be getting around to finishing my official blog disclaimer today. I’ve yet to check in with work, no less shower, shave, or brush my teeth.

I did, however, accomplish the other earlier; quite obviously … do you think this much chattery and creativity is possible with all of that blockage?

Of COURSE NOT!

All of this to say that you want to keep your eyes open for this man …

CLICK TO ENLARGE

Why?

Well, D’UHHH … he’s our savior from the snow shark!

Oh, you mean why should we keep our eyes open for him?

Because we want to make sure he is able to approach a snow shark without being the distractions of being engaged in conversation. So, in an effort to make certain he remains undistracted we have to ensure that he basically goes unnoticed … and we do that by keeping an eye out for him and then pretending that we never actually saw him … but yet we can, with a clean conscience, comfort our fellow Spankians with the knowledge that He is in our midst … somewhere.

But make sure to remind anybody that you tell that you saw Him to remember to strictly adhere to the rule that they must keep their eyes open and remember to forget what they saw.

Because the first rule of Snow Cow is that you never talk about Snow Cow.

And we’re not … I’m just blogging … that’s different.

Speaking of which, I really should be going now.

Until next time, remember …

And now …

A Word From Our Sponsor(s) …

Today’s hearty servings of tossed brain droppings and assorted mental excrement would not have been possible without our good friend Mikey Rez and the goodlier people still at …

(click to enlarge!) ... ((please)) (and thanks again, Mikey Rez!!!)

Weekend update, 13 Dec 2009

4

Perhaps I should be careful to not take as lightly the title, “Ebrius Maximus!”

Wow, what … a … weekend!

. . .

Friday was a blast. Actually made it home at a decent hour and had a BLAST with Mikey and the gang.

Saturday, as some of my Facebook friends saw, I enjoyed a rather rewarding Golden Tee shot.

What made it particularly rewarding was the fact that it was a “Hole N Win” shot.

Those are occasional opportunities for a GT golfer to “wager” for the oppotunity to win money if a hole in one is made. The wager amount is either always 50 cents or a dollar, depending on the pay-out. The potential pay-out is based on difficulty. The potential pay-out  can be anywhere from $10 is … and it has been a LONG time since we’ve seen one this high … $400.

Mine was a 50 cent wager for a $15 pay-out. Yeah, I nailed it! [grins]

That was the first “Hole N Win” on the machine at our bar since late in May.

In fact, here’s that one! :o)

.  . .

After a really quick round of GT, we made it over to Debbie’s house for ger annual Christmas party. LOTS of fun, excellent food, some woman with a stupefyingly beautiful voice sang while Davey played the piano … and the late night tequila was FANTASTIC. I do wish I remembered what the name of it was as it had a fantastically unique and enjoyable taste.

Sadly, it followed a couple of us over to Danny’s place across the street. He and Crazy Steve were texting a mutual friend of ours and me from about 11pm until shortly after 1am, when we finally strolled on over. Enjoyed some of the most outstanding pool I’ve played in YEARS.

Sadly, one of the guys grew weary of me … I guess it’s one thing to play at a bizarre level of excellence … and quite another to have it repeatedly rubbed in by someone talking some major trash.

In the infamous words of Kid Rock, “It ain’t cocky mother $%#@& if you back it up!”

I swear to god, that guy totally kirked out on me!!!! Fortunately for us both, I’m the sort of friend that won’t allow such situation fully melt down.

Granted, we’re both a little bruised and sore … but it’s all good!

. . .

Well, with that little Jerry Springer story in mind … let me part ways with a little remider of that which is … Walmart!

backboobs

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