Another Update

Well. That’s interesting. Got an e-mail and phone call from the storage company’s regional VP yesterday after I’d e-mailed him (as well as several top-level execs of the company on the cc list). He says he’s going to try to at least meet me halfway on this and push for some sort of settlement. At this point, if they cut me a check for half or better, I’d be reasonably satisfied to take it and end this whole thing.

Updates will continue to be semi-sporadic for the next little bit. But it’s for a good reason. More later.


Status Update

Life: Continues apace. Had massage tonight from the very talented Robin. Now feel vaguely human again. Second-best money I’ve spent this month.

Work: Yes. Lots.

Racing: Ran local event yesterday (Sunday). Did okay on raw time, not as well on index. Old race tires officially toast (well, they were 2004-spec tires I’ve run for close to two full seasons, so I can’t complain). They have been removed from the vehicle, and I’ll be dropping rather a lot of money on a fresh set for Nationals. Like over $1000. Ouch.

That’s about it. 🙂

Oh, and a concert review: The Police

K and I saw The Police play at The Palace of Auburn Hills last night (7/17). Wow. I last saw them at The Myriad in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, in 1984 for the Synchronicity tour. This time, they had an opening act, Fiction Plane, whose main distinction is they’re a 3-piece band, and the bassist/lead singer is 30-year-old Joe Sumner, who happens to be Sting’s (real name: Gordon Sumner) son from his first marriage. Joe has a lot of dad’s moves and sounds like him (I think — the sound balance for Fiction Plane was ghastly bad), but has Stewart Copeland’s hair. 🙂

Our seats were upper bowl, far end of the arena from the stage, 4 rows up. And almost dead straight on to the stage. Between our small binoculars and the 3 excellent video screens above the stage, no problems seeing the band on the relatively simple oval stage. The place was packed, including all the upper and lower bowl seats behind the stage, and both bands acknowledged the folks in the back at different times. Price: $52.50 each plus TicketMonster “convenience charges” of almost $10 each meant the pair of seats were just under $130 when we bought them back in March. Palace parking was $15. Before the show started, we got two regular hot dogs ($3.50 each), two soft pretzels ($3 each), and a Diet Coke ($5.50 in the 32-oz Pistons collectible cup) for $18.50. Did not buy an $8 draft beer.

Fiction Plane came on right on time at 7:30, and played about 40 minutes. Set change was about 30-35 minutes, then… the Police came on, starting out on a great note with one of my favorite songs, Message In A Bottle. It just kept going from there. Here’s the set list:

Message in a Bottle
Synchronicity 2
Walking on the Moon
Voices Inside My Head
When the World Is Running Down, You Make the Best of What’s Still Around
Don’t Stand So Close To Me
Driven To Tears
Truth Hits Everybody
Bed’s Too Big Without You
Every Little Thing She Does is Magic
Wrapped Around Your Finger
De Do Do Do, De Da Da Da
Invisible Sun
Walking in Your Footsteps
Can’t Stand Losing You
(Encore 1)
King Of Pain
So Lonely
(Encore 2)
Every Breath You Take
Next To You

They mixed up the tempo on a few songs — slowing down some, playing “Bed’s Too Big Without You” in about time-and-a-half tempo. Some worked better than others. “Don’t Stand So Close To Me” was sort of a weird mutant version combining the original with some of the 1986 re-recorded version that wasn’t nearly as good.

Things we missed: “Spirits in the Material World” and “Demolition Man”, most notably. The former needs strings, the latter a horn section to be really right, though, and aside from some minor looping use on “Walking in Your Footsteps” and maybe “Invisible Sun”, it was strictly Sting, Andy, and Stewart, bass, guitar, and percussion. No keyboards, no (visible) backing vocalists. I would’ve liked to hear “Canary in a Coal Mine” because it’s one of my personal favorites, and suitably up-tempo to be a fun concert song, but no dice there, either. It’s okay, though.

The guys? I was worried that they’d break down into squabbles by the time they got here, but it was very very very clear that they were having fun playing together. Musically? Very tight — Stewart clearly watching Sting and Andy for any on-the-fly changes and literally not missing a beat at all. Andy playing solos where needed (and, okay, one or two that weren’t) on a red Strat and a modified and well-worn Telecaster with a Les Paul humbucker pickup in the front position. Sting playing the same battered bass all night long. None of them has lost a step musically — hell, they’re all probably even better than they were back then. 23 years of practicing since I last saw them. 🙂

A word here about Stewart Copeland: He’s something like 54 years old now. He’s easily one of the best drummers on the planet, period. He mixes finesse — his high-hat work is so distinctive you can hear it on any song he’s contributed to in the studio — flexibility to use ALL of his kit, and speed when needed.

I’ve noticed that a lot of acts tend to book Detroit-area dates somewhere around the halfway to two-thirds point of their North American tour legs. This is no exception — it’s roughly halfway through the NA leg for The Police. Why is this? I think it has something to do with the crowds here. Detroit is a major music-driven place, and the crowds bring an energy that can recharge a performer. Besides our native sons and daughters (the whole Motown scene, MC5, Iggy and the Stooges, Alice Cooper, Bob Seger, Ted Nugent, up to Kid Rock and, yeah, okay, Eminem and Insane Clown Posse, too), a number of acts — such as J. Geils Band and Kiss —  “adopted” Detroit as their second home over the years and recording all or part of live albums here. There’s a bit on Seger’s “Live Bullet” album recorded at Cobo Arena where he says something about some magazine or other rating Detroit concert audiences the best in the country, and Bob adds, “I thought, ‘Shit, I’ve known that for 20 years!'” I’ve been in concert audiences in a few different places — Vegas, Tulsa, OKC, Dallas, Kansas City — and while I’ve never been to a show where the audience was bad, there’s just something extra about a Detroit music crowd, a little extra kick from the audience back to the performer in that give-and-take that, at the end of a really good show, leaves both the performer and the audience feeling like they’re on top of the world.

Worth every dime, yes it was.

And due to very clever use of both local road knowledge and how both the Palace and the Auburn Hills Police manage the traffic into and out of the Palace, we did an end-run around most of the traffic coming in, got a parking place right outside the north door, which was in turn right in front of our seating section, and we were out to the car afterward with minimal fuss. What’s even better, we were home in no more than a half-hour after I started the car, or about what it would take to drive home from that location on a non-event day. While I would’ve liked the show to keep going, when the show does end, I’m not a huge fan of lingering in massive traffic lines — and they were massive behind us. The Palace was full, and its parking lot was, too, at least on the north end where we were.

Hope this show makes the inevitable DVD release… I’d even welcome a soundboard “bootleg” of it.

Random “Hmmm…” Items

Well, first thing is the Public Storage Update: no progress since last update. Still working on it, but I’ve been kinda busy with other things.

We were supposed to have a metal roof contractor rep stop by the house this evening at 7 pm. K calls my cell about 5:50 — I’m about a half-mile from the house on the way home from work — that they’re here. They managed to startle the hell out of Scooterbird by pounding on the front door, too. She let them measure around the outside of the house until I got home.

Found them in the back yard and asked if their roofing jobs had the same level of attention to detail that their timekeeping did — they seemed confused, so I elaborated: “If you can’t tell time, how am I supposed to trust that you know how to handle any other numbers with any degree of accuracy?” There was much hemming and hawing and attempted excuses but the bottom line is they are the initial face of their company and they screwed up big-time. Dinner was… compromised as a result of their early arrival.

So off they went, suggesting that I call their office to reschedule. Fat effing chance of that. If they want to call me to attempt to reschedule, I’ll answer the phone, but that’s about all. I finally got a hint as to their pricing today, and they’re talking about a minimum price about 3 times that of a conventional roof. Great warranty, sure, but c’mon, it’s not 3 times better than the other one we’re considering.

Idiots. What the hell do they expect? Read your damn schedule instead of guessing, and LEARN HOW TO TELL TIME!

Update Time

I’ve worked my way up to the Regional VP at Public Storage. He was in the Detroit area up until today, when he was on an airplane back to the greater LA area. His CA-based admin insists that he will be in the office tomorrow, and I’m going to try yet again to talk to him then.

Yep, tilting at a windmill, still.

Meanwhile, last evening I purchased a breaker bar (which Sears amusingly calls a “flex handle”), a short extension, a set of SAE (aka “English”) deep sockets, and a torque wrench, so at least I can change tires.

There’s something a little sad about opening up your once-full toolbox to put replacement tools in. The drawers, which until recently had a clangy fullness and heft to them, feel too light, sound too tinny. So it goes that I opened up the socket drawer on the now-empty socket holder rack and discovered the torque wrench won’t fit in its case, so I had to clear a spot up top for it. Just as well, I guess. I’ve got an electronic torque wrench on my wishlist — the one I got yesterday is an almost exact replacement for the stolen one I had, which is a click-style but strictly mechanical — which will come with its own proper case, but I do want to protect this one as much as I can. The nice 22″ plastic “truck box” I had for the tire-changing tools is on national back-order at Sears, so I didn’t get one of those yet. But I will as soon as it’s available again.

But one drawer has some heft now, at least. It’ll eventually be okay, but right now, it’s still a little sad.

Thoughts about thieves

K and I have been talking about the kind of person who thinks it’s perfectly alright to take someone else’s property. In addition to the thief who ripped off all my tools this past weekend, K volunteers at the local domestic violence shelter, and says rare is the day that goes by that one of the clients doesn’t steal something belonging to someone else — either the shelter itself or another client. Recently, a departing client was stopped while loading fully half of the recently-donated children’s library into her car! We’re talking well over $500 worth of children’s books that were donated to the shelter. When confronted about this by a staffer, she said “These belong to the clients” — to which the staffer said, correctly, “Yes, they do. ALL of the clients.” They’ve had to ration Kool-Aid mix to single-serving baggies because huge industrial tubs of it were disappearing daily, sometimes within a single hour. Clients think nothing of going into another client’s room and lifting a purse, a wallet, a credit card, a driver’s license, cash, property, whatever they think they can get away with.

It’s gotten to the point that K is thinking very hard about continuing to volunteer at the shelter — she finds it very difficult to, effectively, work for thieves. Yes, it’s true that nobody deserves to be in a violent situation, but these people use “but I’m a victim” as an excuse for all manner of other reprehensible behavior, and have no conscience about it — even stealing from another, fellow victim!

How does this happen? How does someone develop the mindset that the world — and specifically, people who work to earn what they have — owe them a living?  Elsewhere (not on LJ),

 commented that once upon a time, her father, an electrician, had all his tools stolen by some low-life. To my way of thinking, this is doubly-bad: not only has the thief taken property, he also removed the means by which the victim makes his living. Hard to be an electrician without tools. So the victim has to go out and buy more tools just to put food on the table, but the amount of money available for food is less now because he has to pay for the tools all over again — and if the victim is like a lot of tool-wielding pros I know, they’re in hock to the tool man anyway, so now they’re making payments on tools that have been stolen in addition to the new tools!

Insurance? HA! I say. Theoretically, the contents of that trailer were covered by my homeowners insurance. But if you make a claim, they either drop you entirely or jack your annual premium up to make sure you pay back what they paid you over the next few years, plus interest. So it’s not worth it unless you have a big claim — say more than 250-300% of your deductible. In this case, I’m looking at only about 140% of my deductible, so it’s really not worth filing the claim.

Anyway, back to thieves: They’re lowlife scumbag assholes. They aren’t Robin Hood. They aren’t Ocean’s 11, 12, or 13. They’re thieves. They take stuff that someone else worked hard to earn. If they expended the effort they put into stealing into something legitimate, they’d make a good, honest living. But no, they think they deserve someone else’s stuff, even if it’s just to sell/fence for some cash.

This scumbag took tools I’ve been slowly accumulating based on need (for a specific project) and cashflow availability since my teens. Some of them were gifts: my socket set was a graduation present when I graduated high school 21 years ago. To be honest, the only one with any sentimental value is the screwdriver the thief left behind because of the names engraved on the handle: my grandfather’s, and my own. Yes, he had time to look at it. Trying to replace all of this at once is fiscally painful. How do you pay for 25 years’ worth of accumulated tools in one fell swoop? You write a big check, either to the tool supplier directly or to your credit card company.

Not that the sub-viral life form cares, but K and I have been working pretty hard to pay down our debt load and are very close to the finish line. It’s to the point where I’m taking on a lot of repairs we’d ordinarily pay someone else to do in order to prevent more debt (such as recharging the AC in K’s Focus, which I did this evening — my gauge and recharge kit stays in the garage and thus wasn’t stolen). Okay, I actually enjoy it when I have time to do it, but that’s not the point. Throwing a four-digit purchase on a credit card right now is not something that works with that debt-retirement goal.

Dumbest thing I was asked today: “Do you know who did it?”

No, I do not. If I did, there would be a slightly greasy smoking crater where that waste of skin used to stand.

Compounding my mad today: the complete runaround from the various managers of Public Storage. I have still to hear back from the national Customer Service Manager, but the facility manager, district manager, and regional manager have been long on apologies and short on action. The district manager even managed to be distinctly rude to me, hanging up on me. The regional manager kept professing his inability to make it right. No, said I, it is not that you *cannot*, it is that you *will* not. You have made a choice to not take care of your long-time customer.

He’s very sorry, of course. I’ve had it up to my eyeballs with apologies. Apologies don’t refill my empty tool box. It’s time for Public Storage to prove their sincerity with a check for the damages.

Both the district and regional managers provided me with ammo should this go all the way to small claims court: both said the company provides security. Where we differ is that they consider a simple chain link fence and a key-code gate to be sufficient security. Clearly, based on at least 3 fence cuts that I’m aware of in the last 8 years, including two in the last 12 months (November ’06 and this past Friday), that resulted in some sort of damage to my property (locks or hasps cut/pried off all three times; front of trailer “tossed” the first time, no apparent internal damage the second time, culminating in this weekend’s theft), their idea of “security” is insufficient enough that I think the court may buy it.

All because some thieving lowlife asshole scumbag has an over-developed sense of entitlement. About the only thing this dickweed has going for him at this point is anonymity. Because he’s really pissed me off. And if there are two lessons one must know in life, they are:

1) Never piss off an engineer

2) Never piss off a Celt.

I’m both. I’m a Scots-Irish (and German, for an added bonus) engineer.