Dead Fish in a Box

The chronicles of a suburban fishpimp trying to keep it rural.

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Location: United States

Saturday, April 29, 2006

Fixin’ on the Fixer

A while back we hired a landscape consultant to help us plan our yard. It needs so much help we though it wise to seek the advise of a professional. This past weekend be began the implementation. Despite a busted sod cutter, locking my keys in the truck, misreading the plans and slicing my hand open, it was a pretty good weekend.

We needed to remove all the grass, so we rented a sod cutter – a 300 Lb, gas-powered behemoth that cuts below the lawn with a 12” steel blade that oscillates at 3600 rpm. It’s burly. We totally underestimated the time the job would take – thought we could knock it out on Friday night – but I tipped the thing over and slipped the drive belt off the pullies. I wasn’t smart enough to figure out how to reset it, and the rental place was closed, so we parked it in the garage and opened up a bottle of wine instead of working.

Saturday morning I got some tech support and was off and running. After cutting 2000 square feet of lawn we ran to Sky Nursery for a load of gravel. I cut someone off getting into the parking lot; it must have been a patrol car for the Karma Police, because I immediately locked my keys & cell phone in the car. Mrs. fishpimp was more than happy to browse her favorite store for an hour while we waited for my dad to pick us up. I’d have called friends who live closer than my old man, but with modern technology I’ve never gotten around to memorizing their phone numbers. Too by my technology was in the truck. I walked down to the gas station for a Rock Star.

Upon our return we moved the sod to the back yard where I built a sod castle. We also used some to cover up the previous owners’ burn pit dead center in the yard – the idiots must have been burning pallets because we found about 5 Lbs worth of nails & screws in the ashes. Unbelievable – they had kids running around in that place!

Sunday morning we got to installing the stairs. There’s a radio ad by the Washington Society of Engineers (or some group like that) that suggests before one builds or remodels one should call an engineer. So we called up my main man JJ. JJ designs high-pressure water jets for metal cutting, but he knows how to read a schematic. Too bad we don’t. We mis-measured and set the whole project up at the wrong angle. But now that they’re all in the ground we’re going to have to adjust because we’re sure as hell not going to un-dig and re-dig all those posts!

It’s a good start on an ambitious project. It’s definitely pushing our skill level, but it will be a huge improvement over what was there before.

Monday, April 24, 2006

News Flash!

Mrs. Fishpimp works in Lake Forrest Park near the Burke Gillman trail. Today a coworker who is training for a marathon took our dog for a run down the trail by the lake. She's not a dog owner herself; she forgot rule #1 of dog walking: bring a baggie. So 'Little T' did his business on some dude's lawn right in front of the owner. The coworker excused herself and asked for a bag, which the owner retreived; no one likes having poop in their yard after all. When he came back she said to him: "You look familiar, do you play basketball?"

"Yeah, I'm Nick Collison."

My dog pooped in Nick Collison's yard. I have a new claim to fame.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

More Cowbell

We had some training on a new on-line sales tool yesterday. It took about 400% longer than it should have. People were having a hard time dealing with the Web-X application. We were not. My cohorts and I were sitting in a conference room with our manager, all slowly losing our patients when the boss-lady exclaimed “Ooh, there’s an instant messenger function! What should we say?”

“More Cowbell” says I. Several of my colleagues agreed that the presentation definitely needed cowbell. She had no idea what we were talking about. After a brief description of the wildly popular SNL sketch with Will Ferrell and Christopher Walken, she typed it in. Now the entire nation-wide sales force knows that Seattle is “really gonna want that cowbell sound”.

If you have no idea what I’m talking about you can download the video here

Friday, April 14, 2006

The word must be out in window-sales circles; don’t call the Fishpimps they'll chew you up and spit you out. Unfortunately, the 411 hasn’t hit the college campuses yet. I got blindsided twice last night, and lost both encounters.

First, a kid from a college painter company banged on my door and offered to do a free estimate on painting this shack I’m renovating. It needs paint bad, real bad; but I don’t know if it’s worth it for me to paint it myself. So at least the kid provided an opportunity to see where the market is. In return I provided him some sales advice – like shave and don’t wear a hat while making sales calls – it’s all about perception.

Second, the UPS Annual Fund called up and got me post-evening-cocktail. I’m sure most colleges have these programs, but this one is particularly notorious in Logger-land, both for students and alumni. It’s a work-study job for the kids – they call the alumni and beg for money. It’s not fun, but it’s good preparation for the work world. They have an uncanny ability to track us (Mrs. Fishpimp is a Logger also) down no matter how often we move.

I like talking to the kids, telemarketing isn’t easy, ad rarely fun, so I try to make it a pleasant conversation. Unlike my buddy Elwood who made one guy sing “I’m a little teapot” to the whole call-center before he’d give any money. They tell you all about what’s going on around campus; which is when I complain about them throwing up buildings in the middle of the unofficial Frisbee golf course, bastards. But when it comes to the money they go right for the guilt card:

“You gave $35 last year, why don’t you do $45 this year?”
-Because I’ve got two mortgages now, that’s why. How about I give you $25 and I don’t punch you in the neck?
“But we’ve got a benefactor who’s matching every donation dollar-for-dollar up to $200 per person.”
-How about you call back and ask my wife to match my donation dollr-for-dollar, that’ll make it $50 and you'll be in Fat City.

And they’re getting wise to my tactics too:

- I’ll give you $25, just send me an envelope (which I’ll conveniently misplace)
“You know, it’s a lot easier and less expensive if we can take a credit card over the phone…”

Busted. Dang. Well, sometimes you eat the bear…

Sunday, April 09, 2006

Play Ball!

I got shanghaied into a fantasy baseball league this year. I'm in the middle of the draft right now. I'm only drafting players from the American League West because they all get to pad their stats against the Mariners.

Speaking of the Mariners, I wonder if Mario Mendoza is still available.

Saturday, April 08, 2006


This page is no political pulpit, but after reading the following quote you have to admit that the president did nothing to dispel anyone's opinion of his intelligence. While welcoming a number of collegiate championship-winning teams at the White House he had this to say about the hometown Huskies:

"Jim McLaughlin and the University of Washington Women's Volleyball Team is here. Congratulations to the Huskies. (Applause.) These women won their first national championship in school history. They weren't supposed to win. They were the underdog. They had low expectations. It's a good thing, is to keep expectations low, by the way. And they brought home a national championship to the University of Wisconsin. Congratulations to you all."

So, mixing up Washington and Wisconsin isn't that big a deal, it just shows the lack of sincerity at the event. The thing that really gets me is the bit about low expectations. First of all, the team was coming off a final four appearance the year before, was 30-1 and had swept 26 of its 31 matches. To say that they had low expectations is wrong if not an outright insult. Damn East-coast bias.

But secondly, and more importantly, keeping expectations low is not a good thing. I'd actually go so far as to say it's a bad thing. Having low expectations helps perpetuate the cycle of poverty in our cities. It's what keeps kids from excelling in school. It's what frustrates business owners when trying to motivate their workers.

Think about who we look up to in this country. Do you think Vince Lombardi had low expectations? What about Bill Gates & Steven Jobs? Ford, Boeing, Edison? Thomas Jefferson, F.D.R., Martin Luther King? Tiger Woods, Brett Favre, Michael Jordan? And don't forget about Rudy, heck, they made the movie about him because his expectations were as far from 'low' as possible!

"It's good to keep expectations low."

It's almost as if he was referring to his second term in office.

Boy, that's a can of worms that I'd rather not open here. This page is not for politics.

Monday, April 03, 2006

Remember Two Things

Now that my shed has a concrete floor I can start putting my shop together. So instead of going for a bike ride Sunday afternoon I went to Home Depot to purchase supplies for the construction of my new workbench. In the process I learned two things:

#1: Do no go to Home Depot on Sunday afternoon to buy lumber – by that time it’s all been picked over. I needed 5 2x4x10’. There were only a handful left, and they were all crap – split, warped, & bent like hockey sticks. I had to go to 8-footers to find some descent wood.

#2: When using plans found on the internet from a British site be sure to double-check the conversions from metric to standard. I don’t think the author took into account the finished dimensions of American lumber (i.e. a 2x4 is only 1 5/8ths by 3 5/8ths). I shortened up the length of the bolts I bought, but they were still too long. D’ah! And when I found out and tried to back the first bolt out I cracked the board in half!

Frustrated, I chucked it all the width of the back yard and went inside to pour myself a glass of the new whiskey I bought on Saturday. Evan Williams Single Barrel – it’s the smoothest bourbon I’ve ever had. Too bad the state liquor stores are discontinuing it.

So I’ve got that going for me, which is nice.