The Mystery of the flat tire in Sizzler’s parking lot

mystery of the flat tire

Haven’t talked to my BFF,  Zelda, for a few weeks. We’re both cray-cray because we’re trying to get stuff done. Me the book series, she her information product package.

Anyway, she was hungry, I was hungry – it seemed a trip to Sizzler was in order. The big draw being the all you can eat salad bar. Because, you know…All. You. Can. Eat. Big appeal to those of us on a budget, right?

I told her about my project. She told me about her project. We ate. Then we ate some more. And just for good measure, we ate some more.

Sizzler apparently closes at nine o’clock now. I guess people don’t get hungry after nine in our town. The server was nice. Eyes averted he asked us if we wanted more plate (for the all you can eat salad bar) but his voice said please don’t ask for more plates because my feet hurt and I want to go home and soak them. Also, behind him, other workers were breaking down the salad bar, turning off lights and whipping out industrial sized mops. Hint-hint.

On the way out I blamed Zelda for letting me eat too much. She told me to shut up.

So out we walk to the mostly empty parking lot. It was a gloriously cool evening and after the weeks of ball-breaking heat we’d been experiencing, I was feeling uber happy. At last, Fall had arrived.

“Oh my God,” Zelda said.

My head jerked left and right. “What?”

“I don’t f’ing believe it.”

Head bobbing up and down. “What? What? What?

Zelda bent over the left front fender. “The tire is flat.”

“Damn.” Still, I had to grin because whenever Zelda and I get together, it’s always something. We just have that kind of karma.

But not to worry, Zelda had a mini compressor in her trunk (Zelda has many magical things in her trunk – more about that later). Yes, they make those. Who knew? It’s cool, you hook it up to the car battery, it blows air in your tire and you’re off to the races.

Except, not so much. The compressor didn’t work. Zelda frowned. “Hmmmmm, it worked last month.”

Okay, Plan A definitely not working.

I called my room-mate. Voice mail. Hmmmmmm.

We flipped the switch on and off, played with the electrical lead. Begged. Pleaded. That compressor could not be sweet-talked.

Zelda decided to call Triple A. Okay Plan B. Auto Club. Sounds good.

She also had to use the rest room in the grocery store a few steps away.

Time passed.

I tried my room-mate again.

More time passed.

The homeless folks wielding shopping carts rattled by. And a guy in a weird truck drove circles in the lot.

More time passed.

I called my room-mate.

Apparently I was alone on the planet.

Then Zelda emerged from the grocery carrying buckets (don’t ask) – the phone stuck to her ear and rolling her eyes.

That was the second call to the auto club and apparently the driver was coming in 20 minutes, which technically is what they told her 20 minutes before.

We decided to get the spare out of the trunk, so the Triple A guy could change the tire faster. Not sure there was real logic there as much as it gave us something to do.

Now to get to the tire we needed to move some stuff. A lot of stuff. Water bottles, microwave mac’n cheese, ski poles, duffel bags, a tarp – like I said, Zelda has many magical things in her trunk. We emptied the contents into the backseat, which made her Lexus look more like Jed Clampett’s ride than an awesome luxury vehicle.

Just when all hope seemed lost, the drive rolled up. My pulse quickened, my eyes gleamed – I might get home by ten o’clock and catch a rerun on TV.

Driver was a nice guy – shaved head, I imagined with a wife and five kids. He looked that tired. He whips out his fancy jack, wheels it over, puts it in the right spot of the car and pumps. All good.

He fights a bit with the lug nuts but he wasn’t about to lose that battle and the lug nuts finally relented. Okay, we’re moving into the final leg of the journey.

He wiggles the wheel to get it loose. And then the car rolls back because he didn’t chock the back wheel.

Steam coming out of Zelda’s ear. Me grasping her arm so she won’t slug him.

Sigh.

The bad tire did manage to absorb some of the fall and the driver’s fancy jack helped some too. Except that now the jack was smooshed up. Need a new jack.

Driver shuffles to his truck to call the dispatcher.

Zelda mutters and takes pictures of her wheel base for proving damage. I smell a nasty letter in somebody’s future.

More time passes. Is it even still Friday?

Another driver shows up. He’s young, friendly, lots of energy. This could be better. Time is spent deliberating how to get the car up without bending the frame or something like that. Talk, huddling, mutters.

Somehow they (after they’d chocked the back tire) manage to raise up the car and get the spare tire on. Lugs nuts on.

Okay pulse quickening once again. Just a few more minutes and we’re on our way. Oh-oh, the spare is flat too.

The happy driver has an air compressor on board. Yay.

Tire inflates. Phew!

We wave, blow kisses, thank the drivers profusely. Just get me the hell home, I think.

The happy driver makes a sad face. “Wow,” he says, “good thing we got the air in that tire, my compressor just broke.”

I looked at Zelda, “Drive, damn it, just drive. Before something else happens.”

So I got home just before eleven. Zelda didn’t call so I assume she got home too.

Weird thing was, we couldn’t see any damage to the original tire. Just flat as a pancake. No obvious or apparent damage. Oh well, that’s a mystery for another day. True story.

So, how was your Friday night?

Writer Chick
Copyright 2014

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Good News! The official marshmallow roasting rules are here!

roasting marshmallows

So the Forest Department has put out a detailed list of rules and instructions on roasting marshmallows. Thank God, because since we’ve only been roasting marshmallows over camp fires since there were marshmallows and camp fires, I’m sure we need a bit of a brush up.

So for your Labor Day weekend enjoyment, I’m going to channel my inner gubbermint worker and read between the lines for you and tell you what they really mean:

1. First of all, you’re too fat and marshmallows are empty calories, so don’t roast the dang marshmallows in the first place. Instead roast fruit, soy nuts, or tofurky (refer to First Lady’s acceptable campfire eating list on our website.).

2. If you must roast marshmallows because of some dagnabbit  Christian-Judeo tradition that you claim is in the Bible, at least use the sugar-free, soy version that tastes like toilet paper and comes in a US approved recyclable package.

3. Be sure to remove the marshmallows from the package before roasting. Campfires are not like microwaves and you cannot put a packaged product into the fire without potentially causing harm.

4. Be sure to use a government approved stick. Many of our trees are endangered and we must not sacrifice them so you can have a roasting stick to make a completely unhealthy snack that we advise against in the first place. Check the endangered stick list on our website or download our convenient acceptable stick app that will glow green when you find the right kind of stick. Better yet, bring your own roasting implement so you don’t unnecessarily use up our limited natural resources you selfish marshmallow roasting bigot.

5. Do not put the marshmallow on the end of your finger and stick it in the fire. Direct contact with fire will hurt like the dickens and Obamacare does not cover self inflicted burn wounds.

6. Be sure to bring enough marshmallows that will feed more than your camping party. After all, not everybody has the luxury of marshmallows and since you do, you must offer your fair share of free marshmallows to the homeless and the poor should they happen upon your campsite. Because that’s the right thing to do you selfish, over-consuming snack gobbler.

7. Be sure to register as a marshmallow roaster with the Forestry Department and have your registration ready if a forest ranger should happen by and demand to see it. If you are found roasting marshmallows without the proper registration you may be fined up to $200,000 and be required to do a minimum of 200 hours of community service.

8. Remember marshmallow roasting may cause forest fires, spew smoke into our already clogged air so you should reconsider roasting your dang marshmallows and roast what we think is better for you and have on our approved list of snacks you selfish junk food bigot.

9. In fact, instead of going camping, we prefer you reduce your carbon footprint by staying home, preparing a meal of tasty raw fruits and vegetables and watching the PBS special on reducing your carbon footprint. You’ll save gas, calories and possible fines and jail time too.

10. From all of us at the National Forestry Department, we wish you a safe, low calorie, non-carcinogenic, politically correct Labor Day Weekend.

Okay, just in case somebody out there doesn’t realize this is satire, I’m going to say, this is satire. However, no gubbermint workers were harmed in the writing and posting of this article.

Happy Labor Day Weekend folks. And save a s’more for me.

Writer Chick
Copyright 2014

I didn’t write today because…

Whether you are a freelance writer, a fiction writer or both you probably have times when you don’t get a lot of writing done. Because let’s face it, life gets in the way and most of us harbor a certain amount of guilt in being writers— because we do it at home and often in pajamas, maybe it just doesn’t seem like real work.  But the guilt goes both ways, we also can feel guilty for not writing. For not getting in our precious writing time because if we don’t, how are we ever going to write that best seller or become one of the top copywriters in the country, or the next awesome indie writer?

 Excuses, excuses…

I don’t know about you but I have a whole list of ‘reasons’ why I didn’t write today. (Not that anyone is keeping track of my writing schedule but me.) Perhaps like you, my inner taskmaster demands explanations for these writing lapses and I’ve developed a list that you may find helpful too:

I didn’t write today because…

  • It’s just too damn hot.
  • It’s just too damn cold.
  • My doctor told me I am allergic to blank pages
  • My dog had a weird eye thing and I had to figure out why.
  • I had to catch up on Facebook.
  • I got paid today and needed to buy things.
  • I looked fat in my jeans.
  • I’m too damn tired.
  • My mind is a sieve.
  • I started my diet and couldn’t focus.
  • I needed to work out because my ass has gotten too damn fat from all the writing.
  • There was a new episode of Master Chef that I had to see.
  • I had to go to Starbuck’s and eavesdrop on conversations because I forgot how to write dialogue.
  • Writing is hard.
  • My story idea needed to percolate more.
  • My character is going through a mid-life crisis and I thought I should let her work it out on her own.
  • I have writer’s cramp.
  • I have writer’s block.
  • An editor was mean to me.
  • An agent turned me down.
  • Zelda talked me into going to a Zumba class.
  • I deserve a break for finishing that short story.
  • I was looking for a real job.

What’s your excuse for not writing?

How about you, what’s your favorite excuse for not writing? Leave it in the comments and let’s all have a good laugh and then get back to that blank page, eh?

 

Writer Chick

Copyright 2012

 

 

Gardening is Not for Sissies


For years I have been trying to get my BFF Zelda to take a dive into the gardening universe. And this year it finally happened – she put up her green house, went on a shopping spree at the local nursery, and bought all the amendment, soil, chemicals, and plants I told her to (and then some).

Since the part of her property where she was planning to put her garden is very slope-ish there was some prep that would have to be done first. So we spent a day and mixed up soil, mulch, worming castings, lime, bone meal, and or stuff, potted all her nursery buys and planned to put the garden in within a few weeks.

Well then there was the tree that unexpectedly fell down on her back lot and required a chain saw to cut. It was a very big tree and her helper ‘forgot’ the day of the sawing and then there were the chain saws that kept dying. Somehow she managed to muddle through and put her focus back on the garden. Her helper was digging out an area for the strawberries when one of the walls collapsed because it was apparently built without rebar and other essential items. So then she had to go to the rock store and buy a lot of expensive rocks to build another.

Then there was the business trip that took her out of town for a week and the giant gopher snake that got trapped in her fencing and required the Fire Department to extract.

Anyway…today was planting day. I planted my garden two months ago and my plants are planning to take over the world judging by their size and are doing fine. So I volunteered to help Zelda plant.

Okay, so we met for breakfast to carbo load, then there was a trip to the dollar store, thrift store, and Home Depot for necessary items. And then we went out back. You have to picture the scene to fully appreciate the challenges we faced. The greenhouse frame was erected and given the weather there was no need to do any netting or walls so that was good. Until we had to do our magic mix of dirt, potting soil, chemicals, and amendment. You see Zelda’s property is pretty sandy and rocky so we knew that amending the soil was going to be needed.

Our first obstacle was getting the wheel barrel up the hill and through the greenhouse frame and then incidentally freeing Zelda who managed to get trapped under the wheel barrel. No, I have no explanation for how that happened but…then we realized we could not get the wheel barrel through the frame and had to back it up (while teetering on a cliff and trying not to slip in the five foot mound of dirt and again getting trapped under the wheel barrel. At one point masks and an electric drill were needed but we did manage to get the wheel barrel in position and then we had to lift the trashcan full of the magic soil mixture into the wheel barrel – did you know that trash cans with wheels on them are hard to get a grip on?
Then we had to put much of the five foot mound of dirt back into the greenhouse because after all what else was she going to do with it and we didn’t want a sunken green house floor. I tried to help but kept slipping and sliding in the shifting pile of quick sand.. Er…ah..dirt and so my job was to sift out rocks, while Zelda pulled in the dirt with a hoe.

Finally it was time to take the magic mixture for the top layer and again while teetering on the edge of the hill we made several attempts at tipping the now full wheel barrel into the floor of the greenhouse. Luckily no one was trapped this time and the Fire Department did not have to be called. We managed to get the top layer in, put on our painting masks because quite frankly it smelled like a cat box on crack and smoothed it out.

While the temperature was mild today, after tossing around 30 pound bags of amendment, worm castings and top soil our arms were dangling from the ends of our shoulders, we were lathered like race horses and choking on garden dust.

Zelda found ties and stakes and finally got the tomato plants in the ground. After fighting with the hose for a little while we got the plants watered and finished up the day five pounds heavier for all the dust and soil on our bodies, in our clothes and shoes and hair. Ah the great outdoors, you gotta love it.

As I was leaving Zelda said enthusiastically, “Okay we got the tomatoes in, now we just have to do the peppers, squash, strawberries, and eggplant. I muttered something about my glove likely being buried beneath the tomatoes and hobbled to my car.

It took about a half hour to wash off the grime and another hour for my hands to unclench (thanks to a half bottle of Advil). However, I’m still blowing ‘amendment’ out of my nose and my hair does look a couple of shades darker than usual.

So hopefully by August or September Zelda will have the rest of her garden in, her wall rebuilt and even some fresh veggies to eat. Though at this point I’m just hoping I’ll be able to feel my feet again by the end of the week. Oh and standing up straight would be nice too.

WC
Copyright 2012

The Ant Brigade

Recently I’ve had to accept gainful employment. Tough sell for someone who has been self-employed for quite a while. But it sure beats the heck out of being broke, hungry and homeless.

The job itself is fine, it’s website/Internet related and pretty much right up my alley. And of course you can always learn new things and to be honest I’ve learned quite a lot which will be helpful in future pursuits.

The interesting thing to me is that I realized it isn’t the working a job thing that really bothers me – it’s the ant brigade – aka the daily commute. After just a few short months I feel I have a whole new insight on road rage and bizarre behaviors reported on the nightly news.

I try to be easy going and just go with the flow. But when you are half asleep, driving on a road with hundred of others who are also half asleep, coffee deprived, distracted and actually dreading arriving at the office being easy going can be quite the challenge.

In my commuter adventures my favorite pet peeves are:

The bicyclist who thinks that pedaling down the middle of the lane with 20 cars behind him makes perfect sense.

The senior citizen who is so unsure of the integrity of their brakes that they never take their foot off the brake pedal.

The school kids and skateboarders who want to play chicken at the four way stop when it’s your turn to move.

The guy who waits to turn left in front of you until you are 10 feet away from him.

The fruit vendor who stops traffic because the lady in the hybrid can’t decide which bag of oranges she wants.

The texting idiot who keeps drifting into your lane then flips you off when you tap your horn.

The guy who suddenly realizes he has to stop at McDonald’s and crosses three lanes to get there.

The list can go on and on but you get the picture.

The really sad thing is that most of what I do at the ‘office’ I could do from home in my jim-jams. Unfortunately, companies insist you present a body at their house and jim-jams are not allowed.

*Sigh* I live for the day when once again my biggest commute is from my bed to my desk.

How about you, what is your ant brigade like?

Writer Chick
Copyright 2012

Spam and Affiliate Marketing

In the last couple of months I’ve been researching affiliate marketing to see if it was a viable avenue to create some passive income. I’ve learned a lot and although I probably won’t participate in any serious affiliate marketing I discovered a few tips that would help any online business improve its traffic and hopefully the bottom line.

However, another thing that I realized – let’s call it a side benefit –  is where a lot of that pesky spam comes from that we all have to deal with.

Affiliate Marketing Basics

The general idea behind affiliate marketing is that you promote someone else’s product and if someone buys the product using your link you are paid a commission.  The amount of the commission varies, depending on the product, but if you do it right and find a product that is in high demand you can make some decent income. The affiliate marketing universe has thousands upon thousands of available products to promote from gout remedies to information products – but a couple of the highest paying affiliate programs are adult products and drugs.  I guess that makes sense since drugs and sex have been money generators since the beginning of time.  For me, these two categories cover just about all the spam that I get.

Now, I’m the last person in the world who would discourage any budding entrepreneur from spreading her wings and building her empire but…if you are going to participate in affiliate marketing you should do it right. Spamming forums, blogs and other websites that are irrelevant to your market is only going to end up sending you to the spam box. Especially if you use bot programs and other methods to do massive hits to sites.

If I understand the concept correctly, you are supposed to build your site and backlinks by finding relevant forums, etc. in which to disseminate your product promotion. Spamming inappropriate sites will only piss people off and get you nowhere. I understand that those hefty commissions are very attractive and that you figure that throwing your net out in every possible direction will result in big money. But the truth is that all you are doing is counter-productive and not earning you any brownie points or commissions I would imagine.

I think the thing that stymies me is that the folks pulling this type of stunt must know that their ‘comments’ end up in the spam box and therefore they have exerted energy that will cause anyone to profit.  So why do they do it? Even in the case of abandoned blogs where spam does manage to get into the comments section aren’t likely to be read much less clicked on.  And I’m pretty sure Google isn’t giving you better rankings for spamming people so…

Please stop

I know, I know, I’m wasting my breath – I guess I just needed to vent and share my little realization. Perhaps it will make other bloggers feel better to know that spam isn’t personal – it’s just a random act of annoyance.  Still, you’d think with all the information floating around these yahoo’s would figure it out. But unfortunately any idiot with a computer and an internet connection can annoy people with impunity these days.

How about you guys – any elucidating thoughts on the source and cause of spam? LOL.

Writer Chick

copyright 2011

You might be heading toward brain death if…

Have you ever been in such a mind-numbed state that coming up with a menu for breakfast is a major accomplishment? Yep, that’s me lately. Usually I have so many thoughts and ideas traveling at warp speed between my ears that have to tell the voices to quiet down under threat of a time out. So many plans that my desk is covered with little index cards and post-its with bits of brilliance just waiting to be developed into a story, a post, an article, a poem – many of them unreadable when I get back to them. ‘Let’s see is that an m or an n?’

And the condition seems to come on without notice or preamble. Suddenly you just can’t think, you have no ideas and forget about having a conversation with anyone. However, over the years I have come up with a list of signs that I am heading toward brain death and thought I’d share in the hopes that maybe you can see it coming and do something before total flat line sets in.

You might be heading for brain death if:

1. Somebody hands you money and you say, “No thanks, I’m full.
2. You start nodding in agreement while listening to an Obama speech.
3. You regard your pet dog, cat, goldfish, iguana as one of the smartest people you know.
4. You believe that spending money you don’t have will increase your net worth.
5. You think that walking up a flight of stairs cancels out that slice of death by chocolate cake you just ate.
6. You believe reality shows are real.
7. You religiously post your score for online scrabble on face-book every day.
8. You start to feel ill if you don’t visit face-book and twitter 25 times a day.
9. You go into a panic when you can’t answer your cell phone by the second ring.
10. You think Jon Stewart is a brilliant political commentator.
11. You intend to spend the next two weeks reading every one of Sarah Palin’s emails.
12. You want to see the picture of Wiener’s wiener.
13. You’re concerned about the welfare of Paris Hilton, Lindsay Lohan or the Kardashians.
14. You feel actual physical pain when you turn off your computer, your television or your cell phone.
15. You turn down a date with a perfectly nice guy because you’re saving yourself for Hugh Jackman.

If these or any similar signs begin to manifest in your life, you may be in serious trouble. You may be able to remedy the situation by taking a walk, having a conversation with a real person in actual English, eating a meal that does not contain food coloring, chemicals and flavor enhancers, or reading a book. Remember a mind is a terrible thing to waste.

WC

Copyright 2011