Friday, July 29, 2011

"I am going to have to choke this guy out."

I am at the post office in Madrid. I need to mail back my contracts to my new employer in Vermont. Everything is ready, I just need a stamp.

The little dog is panting at my feet trying to sniff the woman next to me who has no wish to be sniffed. Since the ticket machine is broken I ask (as is Spanish custom) "Who is last?" A priest tells me he is. The next person comes in, asks who is last and I assent that I am. He is a beefy guy, a little taller than me, slight gut, black hair turning to grey, muscled but not enormous.

Ten minutes go by and the same woman is still at one of the two open windows. I look to the guy who came in behind me and roll my eyes. "For the love of God," he says. "I know. Incredible."

That was a mistake.

The little dog is lying on the marble floor, clearly thinking we are at the vet and a rectal exam is coming his way soon so he is panting in distress.

Five minutes later my beefy friend is throwing a fit, cursing and swearing, blaming the president of Spain for this delay, pacing up and down the aisle, "WTF is going on, why is no one moving," he doesn't have time for this. At this point, I want nothing to do with this guy. I'm annoyed, but generally, I am a patient, accepting man. It is what it is. I might agree with him that this sucks, but I'm not about to get involved in a revolt over a post office line.

Five minutes later he is approaching the desk asking the Spanish equivalent of "WTF is taking so long?" I refuse to meet his eyes.

Oh I'm so glad they have strict gun laws here because this guy is about to go postal.

(Get it, postal? ;-)

I am starting to get worried. This guy is pacing back and forth, furious, shouting every now and then, creating a scene and I am thinking he is going to flip out at any second.

Then I start to chuckle. In a complete one-eighty my mind suddenly decides this is hilarious. This is Spain. This is the way things are here. Sorry man. And then, as five more minutes pass, his anger growing by the minute, I start to think "I might have to take this guy down and choke him out." I look him over. I can take him. He's not that much bigger than me and clearly has no training. If he flips out, I can handle it. (What I mean by this is, I will subdue him so he is not a danger to others.)

Another window opens. "Next!"

A man tells me to go, it's my turn. Except it isn't. It's the priest's down the hall not paying attention. "Padre!" I scream to him, twice before he realizes he's up. A window finally finishes, I take my turn and in thirty seconds more I am out of there. The little dog is scrapping his claws in his desperation to get out of there without an exam.

It has been thirty-five minutes and they have served five people.

I'll be watching the news to see if anyone went postal yesterday.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Ramble time

* Lorelei told me I would not get any responses to "My Wife the Spy part III" because it is too scary. It looks like she is right. I'm glad she is out of that business now.

* There is not a day that goes by that we do not think "I cannot wait to start our new life in Vermont. I cannot wait to have one home. I cannot wait to have a yard, a king sized bed, a lack of construction every morning, a gym where people understand etiquette and air conditioning and customer service and... etc."

*We will miss Spain, don't get me wrong, but our time here is done for the moment.

*After a five year wait, GRRM new novel is a huge disappointment to me. GRRM is the guy who wrote the book and HBO series "A Game of Thrones" both of which are excellent. This is the best way to explain how I feel: There is another fantasy series called "The Wheel of Time." Go look at the reviews on Amazon for books 5-10 of that series by Robert Jordan. The author of those books died before he could complete the series. GRRM is making the same mistake Robert Jordan did. We want to hear the rest of the story and instead he is describing how mushrooms in butter and garlic taste. Why Daenerys Stormborn has to wear a particular robe even though she hates it. How hard it is to run the night's watch or the politics necessary to win over a cities heart. GRRM wants to describe fashion, food and pissing in a bucket for endless pages rather than tell us what happens next. I am sorry to be harsh GRMM but you are not a young man and you may suffer the same fate as Robert Jordan. What could be a classic along the lines of "The Lord of the Rings" is rapidly sinking into literature that is reviled by your fans.

*I am exhausted. Last weeks excursion has left me sleeping badly but with a lot to do. I am over-stimulated and that is bad for me. Today I walked the dog, bought a new shower rod, hung up two shower curtains, bathed the dog, cleaned the pool, (it's a small pool on our terrace but still, it needed cleaning) filled out a stack of papers thicker than my fist that are required for my new job, cleaned the terrace, wrote this, confirmed with my doctor my iPhone had been stolen and I had lost my next appointment with him, called the electric company, answered five emails, updated my Facebook status thrice, wrote a review for Amazon and made some lunch. (I'm reaching now aren't I?) Yeah, my life is hard. Anyone with children will know that was extreme sarcasm.

*Mark Waid tweeted about the reboot of DC "That's not a knock on the reboot. I trust Grant. But every time I hear the words, "Superman needs to be more relatable," I lose my mind." I couldn't agree more. Superman is not supposed to be relate-able. You don't "get" Superman if you think the average man can relate to him... Wow, holy cow do I feel passionate about that. Dear Grant, take your All-Star Superman run and start from there. Do NOT go in the other direction.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

My Wife the Spy Part III

Wendy is contacted by a huge company (they're in the news a lot lately including last week's issue of Time magazine) who she has done work for before.

'Hi Wendy,

How are you? Good. So, what we want this time is an investigation into two people. They want us to design a hundred million dollar project for them. The problem is, they don't seem to have any money, no previous projects, and no history of business because their company was started only six months ago. We need you to verify that they are legit."

"No problem."

Wendy contacts the home office and they put her in contact with a German spy. When I say spy, I don't mean it in the way Wendy is a spy, I mean it in the James Bond, gadgets, surveillance, trained in hand to hand combat kind of spy. Wendy is put in touch with him and she details what she needs.

Four weeks go by and things seem to be going well. She is getting regular updates and brief reports. The spy doesn't work alone, he has an associate in Russia who is doing most of the heavy lifting.

At the six week mark, when the report is supposed to be finished and turned in to the client, she gets some bad news. Allegedly, the Russia spy has been killed and found in a ditch.


The German spy tell us that as long as he can find the USB stick the Russian spy kept all his data on, all will be well. He should have the report to her in the next week.

Is this real? I don't know but I start locking the windows and double bolting the door at night.

The head office informs Wendy that it "probably" is not. That the German spy is usually late and this is his excuse for the fact that he's not delivering on time.

Another week goes by, Wendy placating the client who is getting restless.

Finally the report comes in and Wendy hollers to me from the other end of the apartment. "Jamie! You have to come see this."

I make my way down there to look over the report with Wendy.

"John lives in an American style apartment. His furnishings are all modern, American brands. He has a forty inch flat screen TV, three sofa's, two bedrooms. He owns three guns, all of them legally. Serial numbers are xxxxx-xxxxx, xxxxx-xxx, and xxxxxxx-xxxx. He has been in front of the court on two separate occasions on charges of corruption, found not guilty both times. He has one charge of DUI. His daughter has type two diabetes and attends X university in America studying pre-med. She drives a..."

(This is not writer's license. Everything I just listed was in the report.)

And on and on and on.

"I know, right?"


Deep in the report she finds the information she is looking for. The two men are cousins to the man who runs the country. They have all the money in the world because this company has been set up by the government to get this project pushed through.

Wendy delivers this and other information to the client as soon as she can. She takes the ramblings of the German spy and turns it into a professional document. (Do they need to know about his daughter and how many guns he owns and what their serial numbers are? No, they would be as freaked out as we are.) Then she burns everything to CD, meets with the client and delivers them some important pieces of advice.

1. They are legit.
2. You have nothing to worry about.
3. They are getting impatient. This deal has fallen through once with the German company they hired before you, and because of your hesitance to deal with them, is in danger of falling through again.
4. Call them now. Get started today. Start shipping product over now.

And that's how my wife the spy saved a hundred million dollar contract.