Letters to Holly

Thursday, December 13

Christmas Cheer

Because of some transaction loophole (either from the car dealership or the registration process), a third-party telemarketing group found out that we bought a new car. Beginning within the month we bought the car, we've been inundated by recorded telemarketing calls warning us that we have to act fast to extend or renew our car's warranty. It's crap. The real warranty lasts two years or 120,000 miles.

The calls tend to come when we're at work, suggesting the company thinks we're still the original retired homeowners. Not unusual. We get a lot of daytime calls that target an older demographic -- health insurance, gutter guards, home security, etc. The message doesn't identify us by name or the make/model of the car. It's as generic as possible, hoping to reel in some confused older person with ready access to their hopefully packed bank account.

But tonight, we got the call while we were gobbling dinner (homemade pizza). I answered, and the call instructed me to stay on the line so I can reactivate my warranty. I didn't hang up, and a voice asked for the make and model of my car. Here's how it went:

Him (bored and mumbling): Make and model of the car?
Me: I don't think you're connected with the company that sold us the car. Who is this?
Him: Are you [my first and last name]?
Me: Yes. And if you're connected to my warranty, tell me the make and model.
Him: Sir, we --
Me: What's the make and model?
Him: [pause] Alright, buddy ...
Me: No, buddy. Tell me the make and model.
Him: Go to hell, alright.
Me: You go to hell too, pal. This is a scam.

And I hung up. I really hope they call back.

Your Sis is sometimes surprised by how rude I can be to telemarketers, but I'm not by default. I know folks who did this for a living. It's a shit job, and folks gotta eat. I've even done the job myself, making fundraising cold calls for my first college. When the callers make the sales pitch, I say by habit "no, thank you, I'm happy with the [product] I already have. Good bye." If they realize the pitch is over, they usually thank me, skip to the script section of the company's phone number, and we exchange good byes.

But sometimes there are the folks who refuse to acknowledge the denial and assume that my courtesy means I'm a customer who wants to be wooed. When they continue the pitch by interrupting my farewell, then, yes, they are free game, and I give them hell. Doesn't matter how much pressure they're under to sell the merchandise. A smart salesperson knows when it's not happening and moves on to the next number.

And let's be honest here: If I have a bad day at work, and I can't tune into Your Sister's wavelength, an unwelcome sales call is a great outlet for frustration. But I normally, usually, mostly don't look for someone to kick just 'cause they have a shit job.

The scrapbook is 90% done. A few more printed pages, and I can wrap it up.

Picture of the Day
A new image from next year's Where the Wild Things Are film.

Wednesday, December 12

Grading the Burritos

This semester's senior projects were yesterday, and Your Sis was among the teachers watching and grading. The scores had to be tallied, and a small group of teachers went to the local Mexican restaurant to eat and add. I helped out. Beforehand, I tightened up the pages for the scrapbook, and I should definitely have this done by the weekend and under the tree by Sunday.

I had to take the car in today for it's required 15,000-mile tune-up, and Your Sis is dismayed that I drove that many commuting miles since April. But it's not so bad. I mean, I'm driving a new car. I'm no longer fretting that my engine will fall out near the airport.

My Secret Santa sent me a fantastic comic series called Scott Pilgrim. It's definitely influenced by Japanese romance manga, but it also brings in rock bands and video games. I throughly enjoyed it. I hope I don't steal from it too blatantly for my own material.

Picture of the Day
Hulk sketches.

Tuesday, December 11

The Project

OK, here's what I'm working on for Your Sister. (I'm pretty sure she never read the blog, and if she does, well, babe, you just skunked your Christmas.)

I'm making her a scrapbook of the Washington trip.

I've never scrapbooked before, but I happen to know someone who's made a career of making and selling scrapbook supplies for more than ten years. We went to high school together and even worked together at the daily newspaper back home before she turned to this. She and my first wife were tight and shared scrapbooking as a hobby for a time.

Now I know that this can get expensive quick; the variety of props is staggering, and that's before you look at papers and stickers and the albums themselves. I wanted to do this proper but without blowing a chunk of change for something that looks like it was made by a blind Boy Scout. Luckily, scrapbooking has turned digital where the entire page can be assembled with software and then printed as one sheet. And that becomes my territory: page design.

I have the photos and found a great album, and I've spent a few weeks recreating the timeline and playing with layouts. I wanted to pay matte paper for a decent printing, but what I bought yesterday is so thick, it won't even roll through my printer. It's a useless pack of cardstock. Luckily I have some photo paper left. It'll be about 34 pages as it stands now. I think she'll like it.

My fantasy win wasn't enough to get me in the playoffs, and my season is effectively over. I can still coach for three more weeks, but I can't advance to the fantasy championship. I still want a winning record.

The NFL Contest
NFC: New Orleans (6-7), St. Louis (3-10)
AFC: Indianapolis (11-2), New England (13-0)

NFC: New Orleans (6-7), Carolina (5-8)
AFC: New England (13-0), San Diego (8-5)

It is no truly possible for New England to win every game as they have two easy games coming up. New Orleans, Carolina, and St. Louis are examples of how weak their conference is.

Picture of the Day
Here's an example of a spread.

Monday, December 10

Trimming the Tree and the Comatose Wife

IYour Sister, sick once again, slept virtually all weekend. We put up the tree Saturday night, and we placed some wrapped gifts underneath it Sunday. I hope to have her Secret Project Gift finished by this week. There are so many sudden invites to Christmas parties that we have to choose which ones to attend. I've never had this dilemma before. I should also mention that she's killing me at the Have a Holly Jolly Christmas tree-spotting game, but mostly because I don't know the lyrics to the song.

I stayed up Saturday night to watch a three-hour UFC show. I've become addicted to mixed martial arts in the last few months. I was a boxing addict in my younger days. I watched the last days of Ali and the glory days of Sugar Ray Leonard and Marvelous Marvin Hagler and Hector Macho Comacho, Bowe, Holyfield, and the ascension and disgrace of Tyson. I loved boxing back when it was decent. UFC has easily surpassed it, and I love a well-executed submission win.

Tom Brady remembered that I rely on him for my fantasy team and helped me to a win this week, bringing me up to 7-7 for the year.

Picture of the Day
I forgot to post the finished Spidey image. I'm drawing again, and I'll post more sketches during the week.