A Tale of an Incompetent Driver and Impeccable Customer Service

Everyone who knows me knows I regard my Ford Fiesta as one of my best and most loyal friends. It gets me where I want to go in relatively good style (for a “mini” sized car it actually is quite sleek and stylish) and, with its 1.0L Turbo/Direct Injection I3 EcoBoost engine, with great fuel efficiency and a surprising amount of power. So needless to say whenever something happens to my car I get very upset.

So that’s where this tale gets started. On the evening of Tuesday, August 15th, 2017 sometime between 5:30 PM and 8:00 PM one of the low-life hood rats who lives in the complex (or one of their low-life hood rat friends) backed or side swiped their red car into the driver side front of my parked (completely within the slot) baby. Unfortunately I was not there to see it when it happened but was left to assess the damage after the fact. The low-life hood rat responsible of course didn’t leave a note or anything (not that I expected them to – they don’t know how to behave like decent human beings to begin with and apparently they don’t know how to fucking drive either). This was the result of their idiotic driving:

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At first the damage didn’t look all that bad. Just a bit of a dent right? Hah. Wrong. When I attempted to open the driver door I could only budge it maybe an inch. From there it caught on the quarter panel. So I got in on the passenger’s side and took it for a short test drive to evaluate it and that’s when the problems really started showing up – on a big bump the bent panel is catching and squealing the tire. Not a good thing. Oh shit, this is more serious than it looks.

Luckily the courtesy officers were making their rounds while I was evaluating the damage and wrote up an incident report for me, so that was taken care of. As it was a hit-and-run I had no idea who did it other than to know it was a red car from the paint transfer. I inspected the red cars in the lot for similar paint transfer and dent patterns but did not find any. Just my luck right?

So then I report the incident to my insurance company (Progressive) and within two hours of opening for business today I had a claims representative contact me. We went over details and after it was determined that I was not at fault (no surprise there right) I was told this would be covered under uninsured motorist coverage (half the deductible of collision coverage) and that they had a concierge service center within 5 miles of my home address. Makes things so much easier – they handle all the work for me while all I have to do is drop my car off and pick up a rental. I figured it would be a couple of days before I could but no, they got me in same day! I’m getting my rental this afternoon and they’re taking care of the rest for me.

So this sad saga does have a bit of a happy ending. That was some serious customer service right there. Same-day turnaround, minimal deductible and super-efficient claims process. Progressive just completely earned my loyalty with the way they handled this. I should have my car back in fairly short order but in the meantime I will still be mobile and all is included. What more could you ask for?

Well, maybe if I could find the low-life hood rat who made this a necessity that would be nice but I’m not holding my breath. If I do though, oh baby they’ve got another thing coming: criminal charges and I’ll sue them for my deductible (plus I imagine Progressive will go after that person’s ass to recoup what they pay into the claim). I doubt I could get that lucky but who knows?

We shall see. In the meantime, I can rest easy knowing this is being taken care of swiftly.

Tattoo Topic Tuesday – The Inked Autist Weighs in on a Terrible Tattoo Trend

So a coworker and I were talking yesterday and he was saying how his kid had done this incredibly sweet drawing and he was thinking about getting it tattooed on him. All I could think of was “are you fucking kidding me right now?!?!?”

Alas, as aghast as a lot of you might seem, those not “in the pit” as it were to tattoo culture are probably unaware that this is a real thing right now.  Parents are getting their kid’s drawings tattooed left and right. If you don’t believe me just a quick Google search will turn up hundreds of cringeworthy results. I understand that it’s your kid and they’re special but I just can’t help but shake my head at this.

I haven’t the foggiest of ideas where or how this trend got started nor do I have the slightest clue why. No offense to anyone’s kids, but unless your kid is just some child prodigy artist their drawings just look terrible (let’s be honest here!) and are going to look even worse as tattoos. Uneven lines, spotty coloring, stick figures, you name it – everything you see in your kid’s stuff that they bring home from school.

Alas, I don’t know what’s worse – the people who are getting these stick figure and crayon drawings tattooed or the artists willing to do them. I can’t imagine any artist wanting that representative of their work. Anyone who wears a tattoo artist’s work is a walking advertisement and billboard and all I know is if I saw something of that poor quality by an artist (that is, if I wasn’t familiar with that artist’s work a priori) I’d not likely commission a tattoo from him/her.

I can think of a lot of other ways to preserve your kid’s art if it really means that much to you – start a scrapbook, buy a cheap frame and hang it on the wall, ANYTHING but getting it etched into your dermis.

The only silver lining I can see is generally little kid drawings are very simple and plain and therefore easy to cover up later (which I have no doubt that as this trend ages a few years there will be a shit ton of cover ups done on these jokes of “tattoos”) but damn, in the meantime to just any passerby that thing is going to look just absolutely ridiculous.

The tattoo scene has seen some terrible trends over the years that have luckily gone by the wayside and I hope this one doesn’t last long. I’m not one to tell you what to ink on yourself, but this is one of those things I would highly advise against. This is almost as bad (if not just as bad) as inking a significant other’s name into you (hey, breakups and divorce are a real thing).

Anyway, that’s just my opinion. What does everyone else think? Let’s get a discussion going!

Beer/Cigar Reviews: Wexford Irish Cream Ale & Foudry Zodipunk Juggernaut

Welcome to another edition of my beer and cigar reviews where we take a look at some notable (and not-so-notable) beers and cigars. Our lineup today doesn’t feature the normal heavy-duty stuff you’re used to seeing on this bit but every now and then some more “sessionable” products deserve to be featured here as well.

As always, we will start with our beer review and then look at today’s cigar selection.

Wexford Irish Cream Ale

Wexford is a nitrogen-infused Irish Cream Ale coming to us from Green King/Morland brewing company in Suffolk, England. As such, the name is somewhat misleading but I’ll give them a pass. I was unable to find any stats on this beer other than the ABV – 5.0%.

Pours from a nitrogen-infused pint can in the typical frothy nitrogen manor, which eventually settles into a medium-amber color with excellent head retention. Aromas of a light maltiness with an undertone of caramel. Flavors follow the nose with a caramel and saltiness usually found in these beers with a light, floral hop finish. Typical nitrogen creamy mouthfeel with very little tactile carbonation. Drinks easily enough and very sessionable.

Though not what I’d normally reach for it was a pleasing and refreshing beer perfect for a hot day. It’s not offensive but it’s not going to blow your mind either. Rating: 3.25/5.

Foundry Zodipunk Juggernaut

Picked up from the bargain bin at my local tobbaconist, this 6.25″ x 54RG Pyramid shaped stick features a Connecticut Broadleaf wrapper above a Mexican San Andreas binder and Mexican and Dominican long fillers. It should be noted this particular line has different blends for each vitola so this review is very much vitola-specific.

Two cuts with the Cuban Crafters Perfect Cutter opened the tip up revealing a perfect draw putting off a good amount of medium-bodied, creamy textured smoke with flavors of a sweet creamy leather on the draw and a zingy cedar on the finish and retrohale. The first third remained largely the same as the first light. As the ring gauge narrows into the 2nd third the cream and leather morph into a white chocolate type taste while retaining the cedar on the finish. The final third features a dramatic shift dropping almost all the sweetness and the cedar morphs into a heavier oakiness. The smoke went warm at 1 hour and 10 minutes and brought in a mild/medium nicotine strength.

Construction was above average holding an ash in solid 1/3 chunks and producing an acceptable burn that wasn’t completely razor sharp but only required one small touchup.

Overall this was a pleasing cigar; nothing amazing but pleasing enough. This would be a great cigar to have in the morning with your coffee or with a nice light ale such as above. It isn’t overpriced so it’s a cigar that can be had pretty inexpensively. Rating: 3.5/5.

Song Lyric Sunday 8/13/17 – Major Tom (Coming Home)

So our Song Lyric Sunday theme is to post a song about space. Well, OK. Space is such a vast, broad place and, dare I say it, a broad space. If we really think about it, our home on earth is but a speck in the grand scheme of things of outer space but when we think about it, space is our home.

So when I thought of space, I thought of this song. When we talk about space, we talk about our home. So when we venture into space (via man-made rockets, ships, etc.) we’re really just exploring the vastness of our home. Are we really leaving? Or are we truly coming home when we send man into space? And when we die and the atoms and energy that make up our bodies return to the great abyss, are we truly departing earth or are we actually coming home?

Hence my pick for this week. A one-hit wonder by German artist Peter Schilling. This song, written by Schilling with the assistance of David Harland Lodge, speaks of a man who thought similarly – that space was truly his home and that by returning to the great abyss he wasn’t leaving, but “coming home.” I tend to agree with him.

With that, I present to you the song “Major Tom (Coming Home)”

Standing there alone, the ship is waiting
All systems are go, are you sure?
Control is not convinced
But the computer has the evidence
No need to abort
The countdown starts

Watching in a trance
The crew is certain
Nothing left to chance, all is working
Trying to relax, up in the capsule
“Send me up a drink”, jokes Major Tom
The count goes on

4, 3, 2, 1
Earth below us, drifting falling
Floating weightless, coming, coming home

Second stage is cut, we’re now in orbit
Stabilizers up, running perfect
Starting to collect, requested data
What will it effect, when all is done
Thinks Major Tom

Back at ground control, there is a problem
Go to rockets full, not responding
Hello Major Tom, are you receiving
Turn the thrusters on, we’re standing by
There’s no reply

4, 3, 2, 1
Earth below us, drifting, falling
Floating, weightless, coming, coming home

Across the stratosphere
A final message, “Give my wife my love”
Then nothing more

Far beneath the ship, the world is mourning
They don’t realize, he’s alive
No one understands but Major Tom sees
Now the life commands, this is my home
I’m coming home

Earth below us, drifting, falling
Floating, weightless, coming home

Earth below us, drifting, falling
Floating, weightless, coming home

Earth below us, drifting, falling
Floating, weightless, coming, coming home

Home (Repeat ad nauseam)
Source: Lyrics transcribed by me as no lyrics found online were accurate. 

So that’s that. Hope you enjoyed my usual strange and off-the-wall take on the prompt. I know, I’m a strange cookie. So sue me. 😉

Gunshots Outside My Door & 2nd Amendment Discussions

So first things first, now that I have a moment I owe you a brief explanation of my aloofness as of lately. Basically I am still with the company but in a different capacity. I’m on another end of the business which has been better (still not ideal mind you but it’s better than being unemployed). Basically I’m a specialist for one of our new big accounts handling all lift planning and pre-lift packets. I’m actually a lot more content now that I’m doing much more of the engineering side and much less of the quoting/selling/bidding side of things. It’s come with a substantial pay and benefits bump, but with a cost – relocating to Dallas.

Now, I’m not filthy rich still so my choices for living are rather limited and not always in the best neighborhoods. The cost of living here is much higher than in Abilene so my money doesn’t go nearly as far. As such, I did what I could and my living situation is less than ideal but what can you do?

So I wound up at this apartment complex on the outskirts of Dallas/Outer Mesquite. It’s nothing fancy but for a bachelor pad it will work. Alas, that’s not the problem – the neighborhood is predominantly black and boy are these people hostile toward white people. Don’t ever let it be said white people are the only people capable of being racist. In my experience the low-class black people who like to perpetuate thug subculture are among the most racist of people. They could grow beyond it but they choose not to, and yes, I’ve had racial slurs, etc. hurled at me already.

Anyway, so I’m already on alert living here (and looking for other options in the meantime) but at 2:15 AM CDT last night the sound of gunshots rang out just outside of my bedroom window – about 7 in all. I was predictably scared, called 911 and reported it. I was not hurt, nor did I have to get involved in the ordeal myself, but my night was ruined and not a good thing as I had to make a day trip to Houston today (with all the TSA and other bullshit).

Alas, this brings me to my final point – the 2nd Amendment. I have, and always will be, a supporter of the 2nd Amendment. I have a concealed carry license and there are just some places I will not go without a gun on my hip. After last night, I’m going to carry any time I’m out on the apartment lawn or moving around out there.

The only thing with the potential to stop a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun (that includes Law Enforcement – back the blue!!!). That’s why I carry. The enemy might beat me to the draw and kill me anyway, but I will not go down without a fight. And you will not take my guns away from me. I take my constitutional right to own one very seriously.

Are there certain people who shouldn’t have guns? Absolutely, but gun control laws really don’t affect those people. They will find a way one way or another. It only makes it difficult to impossible for us law-abiding citizens to obtain guns. I simply won’t hear of it.

Ever since I moved here I have slept with my loaded gun right beside my bed. Now I know why. I don’t go looking for trouble but you better damn well bet I’ll shoot someone out of self-preservation. I might not be happy about it but I’ll do it.

So what do I carry? My carry gun for every day is the Smith & Wesson Shield 9mm. It’s light, compact and for its size and class has a solid capacity – 7 + 1 with the standard mag and 8 + 1 with the extended mag. I normally carry the 7 round out and about (smaller – easier to conceal) and keep the extended mag in for home use (always with the +1 in the chamber). I like that it has a thumb safety (some hate it – I love it and flicking it off when drawing is 2nd nature to me) and I actually prefer the slightly firmer trigger pull vs. competitor’s models (easier for me to control personally). 9mm is my caliber preference for light recoil and higher capacity.

That’s just what works for me. Carry what works for you. What do you carry? Let me know. And know I’m OK and I will be OK in the end. It’s all good.

The Empathetic Autist

It seems to me that the pathology view of Autism Spectrum “Disorder” (note the quotes) loves to paint those of us on the Autism Spectrum as cold, uncaring and unempathetic people. Of course this is not the case but it just goes to show how much the American (and largely, international) media and the medical community at large has brainwashed the general public into thinking we’re absolute monsters.

I won’t say I’m the most empathetic person on this planet (far from it!) but I’m not completely devoid of empathy as some would like to think I would be. I’m actually more empathetic than a lot of neurotypical people I know, so much that that my few neurotypical friends will often confide in me before they do anyone else.

It doesn’t bother me in the least, either. Heaven knows I’ve bitched about my personal problems to these people on multiple occasions and have tolerated it. I imagine for a combination of reasons I deeply connect with what few friends I have and so I tend to take on their problems as though they were like my own, and it gets to where I can even start to feel their pain in some way.

Right now I have not one, but two friends facing the very real possibility of divorce. Let’s face it: divorce sucks. Part of the reason I never want to get married is so I don’t ever have to go through that. I’m single so I don’t completely understand the whole inner workings of it but I’m glad the friends that are feel free to use me as a punching bag as it were. Maybe being an outsider helps? Maybe being able to look at things from a logical as well as emotional perspective gives me an edge here? That doesn’t make it any less painful for them or me, but I imagine it does help.

Of course, empathy isn’t always negative or painful. There is also positive empathy. Last night I was at The Flying Saucer over in Garland (just Northeast of Dallas) and struck up a conversation with a really cool guy sitting at the bar next to me. We talked about our past, where we’ve been and what wound us here. He asked me about my tattoos and what they meant. He talked about what he wanted his first tattoo to be. We talked about life, spiritual matters and maybe even got a touch political.

As we talked I found we had a lot more in common that I thought we ever would have (mixed heritage including some Scottish lineage, love of beer, ink, etc.). We talked even about autism and how it’s affected me. He swears he might be autistic in some way himself and claimed he thinks that everyone might very well be somewhat autistic (I don’t know as though I buy that theory – but we both did agree that ultimately who the fuck gets to decide what’s “normal” anyway?).

Anyway, I digress. The point being is that despite what a lot of people have been led to believe, autistic people can and do show empathy. It might be in a different way than most people are used to seeing it (or it might be as neurotypicals would display it). Whatever the case, autism is not to be equated with sociopathy in any way (including the myth that autistic people are more prone to violence than neurotypicals) and I wish people would get that through their thick skulls (that includes you APA, MSM, etc.!!!!).

Song Lyric Sunday 8/6/17 – Change

Lies. Something I’m all too familiar with. Alas, that’s the topic we dive into with this week’s Song Lyric Sunday theme.

When I think of lies I think of a similar situation to what I recently endured in my work life: fake-ass people. When I think of fake-ass people, I think of this song.

Although the songwriter said about this song, “It’s not really about much. It’s just one of those cheap pop lyrics,” I think the lyrics of this song capture the essence of those who live a total lie and put on a false front. “What has happened to the friend that I once knew?” Yeah, he’s definitely gone away and revealed his true inner self instead of the lies he’s told about himself and the person he is.

With that, I give you “Change,” a 1982 (or is it 1983? one of the two) song written by a certain dude from Bath, England by the name of Roland Orzabal and as performed by a band that needs no introduction here whatsoever.

You walked in to the room
I just had to laugh
The face you wore was cool
You were a photograph
When it’s all too late
It’s all too late

I did not have the time
I did not have the nerve
To ask you how you feel
Is this what you deserve
When it’s all too late
It’s all too late

Change
You can change
Change
You can change

And something on your mind
Became a point of view
I lost your honesty
You lost the life in you
When it’s all too late
It’s all too late

We walk and talk in time
I walk and talk in two
Where does the end of me
Become the start of you
When it’s all too late
It’s all too late

Change
You can change
Change
You can change

What has happened to
The friend that I once knew
Has he gone away

When it’s all too late,
It’s all too late

Change

Change
You can change
Change
You can change
Source: https://genius.com/Tears-for-fears-change-lyrics

Hah. Yeah. And we haven’t even scratched the surface of this band yet. Although all any Americans know of this band are their signature few songs, there’s so much more, and more to come as the future themes fit. 😉