Tuesday, April 15, 2014

That Will Be The Death Of Me

It started almost twenty years ago.  I was an arrogant, angry kid just out of high school.  I was going to the local community college two or three times a week for some sort of an education.  To make pocket money for all the important stuff, I took the only job that would hire someone like me.  Landscaping.  It just so happened that the next street over from where I lived was a giant landscaping company.  So I got hired, was able to work part time hours, and made pretty decent pocket change compared to others my age.  Not great, but still a little more than other menial jobs.

It was there that I encountered what would be my plant nemesis.  The Canary Island Date Palm.  The first time I had to deal with one of the cut branches, it cut me up one side of my arm to the other.  Note that I was wearing work gloves at the time.  It didn't cut my hands, but it did a number on my arms.  You see, the Canary Island Date Palm has these huge thorns where the branches meet the base of the tree.  The problem was a lot of the properties had these all over the place, and each one needed cut four times a year or so. 

Years ago I let everyone in the house know that one of these palms would be the death of me.  Still, my Father for whom cruelty has never been an issue decided to put one right smack in the middle of the driveway.  Don't believe me?  Look at this:

Yes, that is the front of our house.  And for those of you thinking, "Well, the thorns can't be that bad, can they?"  Take a look at this:

Those things can get up to eight inches long, and can cut right through a work glove. 

When my Father first bought the palm it was short and stocky.  However, it still weighed at least 400 pounds.  It has these two huge ball roots on it.  For years it didn't actually grow upwards.  It just put down roots for years.  The last few years however it has started to grow upward.  This presents another problem.  When I would mow around it, I would try to cut the grass near the base of the tree.  However, I could never get that close since the thorns would cut me to pieces.  The other problem with it getting taller is that, the thorns are now near my face, and have cut my face numerous times. 

My cruel Father says that it's not my problem.  He'll deal with it.  But it doesn't really work out that way does it?  I have to deal with it when I am landscaping.  I also told him that those things live a long time.  I'll have to deal with it when he dies.  I can't burn it down.  I can't cut it down with a standard chainsaw.  Palm trees are notorious for being impossible to cut down with a chainsaw.  Or at least, regular chainsaws.  No, I will have to pay a tree company to come and take it away.  Right now that would run $2000.  With inflation, I'd hate to think what it will be in a few years. 

I suspect that will be mowing one bright and sunny day.  I will be on my riding lawnmower, and one of those thorns will cut my throat wide open.  It will be exactly like how Catalyn Stark got her throat slit open during the Game of Thrones, "Red Wedding" episode.

I begged my cruel and unusual Father to let me put something else in the circle.  I was thinking Stonehenge, but a Mini-Stonehenge.  They sell them on Amazon.


Okay I'll need it a touch bigger than that, but you get the point.

Yes, I could do something like that.  Maybe I could use cinder blocks, and masonry found at the local Home Depot.  That would keep the cost down.

But it won't happen.  I know that I will be struck down by that Canary Island Date... nay, Killing Palm. 

Let the final words on my tombstone be this:

A Canary Island Date Palm walks on the water.
A Canary Island Date Palm walks by the sea.
A Canary Island Date Palm walks wherever it wants.
But no Canary Island Date Palm walks on me.

You know if that will fit and all.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Reeling in the Gouramis

I think every fish tank owner has that "turnover" moment.  The moment where after having the same fish for a year or two, they all start passing away at the same time, and you need to restock the tank.  That's what's happened to me.  I have been buying quite a few gouramis.  It's kind of bad in that, I buy a few, and then I lose a few, and then repeat.

When I went to the pet store the last time I saw something I had never seen before.  Blue Gouramis.  Not Powder Blue, but Blue.  And they looked awesome.  I bought two of them.  When I went back the next week they were all out of them.  But eventually, I will want more. 

So onto the pictures!

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Give a Penny, Take a Penny, But With Guitars

I am not having much luck in selling guitars.  As you may have noticed in my last few blog posts, I have had much better luck trading guitars.  My main goal was to sell four guitars.  So instead of being four guitars down, I am actually up one.

So I finally sold, not traded, an old Stratocaster I had.  Which meant that I immediately went and bought another guitar.  However, they don't make this kind of guitar anymore.  It's a Dean Icon.

Anyway, there's a funny story behind this.  The guy posted this for sale on Craigslist months ago.  I even posted a PSA on the Dean Guitars forum.  However, the owner would not ship at any price.  So month after month it languished on Craigslist.  Once I had the money, I bought it for $230.  He originally had it priced for $350 months ago.  He could have gotten that if he had only shipped it. 

This has nice Seymour Duncan pickups in it.  It has the standard 59/JB set.  What's really strange is that, I usually don't like the JB, but this one sounds fantastic.  I suspect the Alnico 5 magnet has been changed to an Alnico 8.  Namely since it's brighter, and has less compression.  I won't know until I open it up. 

For the time being I set her up, and put new strings on her.  I haven't gotten much time to play her, but I really like the neck.  It's actually pretty thin for a Dean neck.  Most of the time those things are like playing half a baseball bat.  This also has coil splitting.  I've never been a big fan of doing that, but I might find myself playing some ska song, and use it.  You never know.

Friday, March 14, 2014

Things Not To Let Your Boss Catch You Doing

This is an absolutely true story of one of the most embarrassing things I ever had a boss catch me doing.  It's taken me so long to write this story because honestly, I thought I'd written about it years ago.  I know there was a year or so where all I was writing was hilarious things that had happened to me.  So I'm surprised that I didn't write about this incident years ago.

Anyway, onto the story.

So there I was, stock crew for Pet Supermarket.  I would go to eight different stores over four days, and stock the stores.  It was really physical, and all the bosses of the stores hated us.  I don't think they had enough people, or gave us enough time to do the job, so we were the red headed, bastard, step-children of Pet Supermarket.

Anyway, I am at the store of my main boss Jessica.  She really hated us.  We were just an extra pain in her ass that she didn't need.  So it happened to also be the day that new animals had gotten delivered.  I went over to the octagon housing cage to look at all the new guinea pigs and rabbits.  It was then that my smart ass attitude got the better of me.

I grabbed one rabbit, and one guinea pig.

And I face them towards each other, and start doing the voices.

(For the guinea pig)  "Hi thar, I'm Mr. Gin Gin.  What's your name?"  (Note:  I was doing this voice out loud in a Foghorn Leghorn type of Southern accent.)

(For the rabbit)  "Hi thar yourself.  I'm Mr. Bun Bun.  (I did his voice in a very high pitch Southern accent.)

(Mr. Gin Gin)  "It's o' so nice to meet cha.  I hear they're doing wonderful things with carrots around these parts."

(Mr. Bun Bun)  "Well that's just wonderful.  I sure do love me some carrots."

Anyway, it went on like this for a bit until I looked up.  That's when I saw my Manager Jessica staring at me like I was nuts.  I didn't know what I was going to say.  I mean, what could I say?  Luckily she did a 180, and just walked away without saying one word to me.  And I really mean that.  She didn't talk to me for quite a while.  I'm still kind of embarrassed about it.

So remember kids, if you work in a pet store it's okay to talk to the animals.  It's just not okay for you to have the animals talk to each other. 

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Craigslist: Strange Tradings, Part 2

For this to make sense, it might help to read this blog post first:

Craigslist: Strange Tradings

I have been trying to sell guitars on Craigslist for a few weeks now, but I am having a little trouble.  As I stated in the earlier post I have been "going sideways" in getting rid of guitars.  I've been getting rid of them.... by trading.  So I'm not actually going down in the number of guitars I own.  I kind of find it funny.

In the last post I talked about trading for the Jackson Dinky DK2M.  I'll admit, I'm just not a Jackson guy.  I'm not much of a Floyd Rose guy either.  So I knew I was going to trade the Jackson.  It turns out I was able to trade it much faster than I thought.

You see, I am a huge fan of Dean Guitars, but they just sit on the market.  A small percentage of people like them, and a lot don't.  So the re-sale value of them is jack squat.  So I found a Dean 79 ML Redwood on Craigslist, and offered the guy a trade for the Jackson.  He had one guy who was supposed to pay cash for it, but never got around to it.  Sine he could sell the Jackson for $100 more than he could the Dean, he agreed to the trade.

Well, he made it over, and we traded straight up.  I was more than happy after hearing his story about the Dean.  It seems that he got it from a Dean rep, and then it sat collecting dust.  The back control plates still had plastic on them, and they hadn't made this model in years.  I set it up, re-strung it, and checked out the electronics.  I also took my brush to it to knock off quite a bit of dust off of it.

It's much lighter in weight than my Dean ML Select from 1998.  It's also thinner, with a few changes.  The body is a touch smaller, the headstock bigger, and the dimensions just a touch different.  Dean has gone through different "series" of the ML, and this one is just a touch different, but I think easier to play.  At least it's not like a boat anchor like the other one.  This one was made in Korea at the Unsung plant.  They are known for their good work. 

So here's the pictures, cause as we know by internet's rule, pics or it didn't happen.

Friday, March 7, 2014

Craigslist: Strange Tradings

The guitar market is like any other market.  When it's a "Buyer's Market" there are tons of great guitars for great prices.  However, no one actually has any money to buy them.  When it's a "Seller's Market," everyone is doing okay financially, but everything is overpriced.  Then you have what we have now.  It's a "Buyer's Market," that has gone stale.  In other words, every one has something they want to sell, but no one is buying it, and it has been for sale for months with no takers.

I recently put four guitars up for sale on Craigslist.  I haven't really had any bites on them for people wanting to buy them, but I have had quite a number of offers for trades.  In fact, just last month I wrote a blog called "Awesome Guitar Weekend."  It's about how I bought a guitar for less than 40% of what it costs new.  I also traded a guitar I had for another guitar.  Here it is:

What was weird is that, in the deal I traded a $400 guitar (new cost) for a $500 guitar (new cost) plus a hardshell case ($100 new.)  Take note of this weird fact.  The guy didn't even plug it in.  I must look trustworthy or something?

So I have four guitars up, and I get a trade offer up for one of them.  He wants to trade me a Jackson guitar for it.  I am in the middle of writing an e-mail to him saying, "no thanks," when I look at his e-mail a bit closer.  He says this is a "Made in Japan" Jackson Dinky DK2M.  I had to think that all the Jacksons I ever played were Korean or Chinese made and not really great guitars.  In all my years, I had never played a real Japanese Jackson.  I looked the price up on Musician's Friend, and was surprised to see that the new ones where going for around $800, give or take, depending upon the options.  So I called him up and decided to take a chance on it.

Here's what I traded him:  A 2008 MIM Fender Standard Stratocaster.

They run $500 new, $280 - $300 on the used market.  I was selling her completely stock.

So this is the guitar he traded me:  A 1997 (I think that's the correct year) Jackson Dinky DK2M.  It's a very metal guitar in that, it's all black, has a Seymour Duncan Jazz/JB set, and a Floyd Rose Tremolo on it.

I am a member of the Dean Guitars forum, and will ask the forum members there about this guitar.  Since a lot of them are metalheads, they know a great deal about metal guitars like this one.  The new models run $850 new, but I wonder what this one, being older, runs used.  The guy was honest, and said that he figured I could get at least $350 used for it. 

He was running into the same problem I was.  It was tough for him to sell.  And since he was in Spring Hill no one would come to look at it.  So he wanted a Stratocaster, and it was easier for him to trade, maybe lose a few bucks, than to actually complete a sale, then try to find a Strat he liked on Craigslist. 

And remember, what I said about the one guy not even plugging in the guitar.  Well, this guy completely trusted me too.  He wouldn't have plugged it in, if I hadn't of already fired up the amp, and started playing the Strat.  He was more than fine with it.  I guess I just look trustworthy.

So I got around to playing the Jackson, and it was perfect.  I couldn't do anything to it.  The action was perfect.  The intonation was perfect.  I thought about changing the strings, but they still have some life left in them.  The only thing I did was lower the bridge pickup because it was hitting the strings when I pulled back on the whammy bar.  After lowering it just the height of the side of a nickel, the whammy bar worked fine without any problems.

Now comes the question, what am I going to do with it?  I mean, it's not my style.  I've never owned a Jackson before.  I might try to trade it on the Dean Forum.  It's kind of funny, but I am trying to get some money, and the market is just not swinging that way.  Once I get some feedback from the Forum I'll decide what to do. 

My Little Community of Fish

You know, I like having fish.  Some folks say they are boring, and have no personality, but I disagree with that.  I think it's like any animal in nature, you just have to watch them and study them.  The hard part about owning fish is that, they have a short lifespan.  It's rough if you really get to know one, and then they pass away.  Or worse yet you watch them get to the point where they can't swim around the tank anymore, and slowly starve and suffocate to death.

I can't really stand to watch that happen to my fish.  Just yesterday I had to put down one of the oldest fish I ever had.  He was a Red-Eye Tetra that I must of had for around five years.  He had gotten to the point where his health was in major decline.  His jaw was messed up.  All his fins were in bad shape.  And yesterday, he was not able to get away from the flow of the filter intake tube.  It's like when dog owners know it's time, I knew it was time. 

I have learned to scoop them out of the water, and "pinch" their heads to kill them quickly when they can't get around anymore.  I can't stand to see them suffocate in the air or try to survive while being flushed.  It's cruel.  So as much as I hate to do it, I "pinch" them, and end it quickly. 

It's been a rough week anyway.  At the beginning of the month I gave my tank a really good cleaning.  At that point with the tetra, I had a total of four fish.  Him, two gouramis, and Big Joe the Pleco.  Once my tetra died that left me with a total of three fish in a 46 gallon Euro-tank.  So I was feeling bad due to the rough week, and looking at a near empty tank didn't help. 

I've been having a rough time deciding to get new fish.  We will soon be replacing the carpet, and that means emptying and moving the tank.  And due to it's size, that's not an easy task.  But I was told to go ahead and get some new fish.

I had been aiming to go to the pet store anyway.  I needed Ammo-carb and some aquarium salt.  So while I was there at Pet City in Lutz, I looked over the fish.  They didn't have many gouramis which I thought was odd.  I wandered down to where the guppies were when something caught my eye.  They had these smaller, friendlier gouramis in with the guppies.  And these were nice and red.  I had never seen any like these before.  There were not many in the tank so I got the three that they had.

I took many pictures of them in my tank, but they were still a bit freaked out by the move, and kept hiding from me.  Only two pictures came out well.  The older ones kept getting in my way thinking I was going to feed them.  That or they were like, "What do you want Pops?"  So I took the best pictures I could, and posted them below.

They are smaller, so I hope I bought them young.  I would like them to hang around a while.  We'll see how things go, and I might try to find another few like them.  I mean, I certainly have enough room in the tank.  And the good news is that, so far everyone is getting along.  Yes, there is some fish showing dominate signs, but everyone accepts it, and no one is fin nipping or fighting.  I think it's going to be a happy little community of fish.