Kevin Standlee (kevin_standlee) wrote,
Kevin Standlee

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Nice to See I Haven't Lost My Touch...

This morning after eating breakfast and clearing out e-mail, I walked the mile or so to the barber shop. This took longer than it should have taken, because I was listening to a talk show on KNBR, and the topic of employer vs. employee perceptions of sick leave came up. A recent survey shows that employees come to work sick more often than employers think they do. This topic proved more call-provoking that the host expected, and I decided to call in. But when I got through, I needed to get away from the street because it was too noisy there. This held me up for fifteen minutes as I waited my turn. I was the last call of the show, but I had about 90 seconds, in which I told about having received an almost-negative job review for having taken sick leave; how newer "paid time off" systems give employees an incentive to come to work sick (so they can use the other days for vacation); and how in my own job, being able to work from home means that up to a certain point, I can still get my job done without risking contaminating everyone around me.

After this diversion, I continued to the barber shop, and after about a twenty minute wait (it's busy on Saturday mornings), the shop's owner took charge of me. My hair is thinning, but what there was of it was looking mighty shaggy. He advises me to keep my hair cut short; it makes the thinning part less obvious. I think he did a pretty good job of it.

On the way back home, I decided to stop into Shaker's Pizza and see if they had any new pinball machines. I love pinball, and have since I was small. Video games were never that big a deal, but a properly working pinball machine is a joy. You can often find me at BayCon playing pinball in the mini-arcade they set up on the second floor. The past several years, however, I simply haven't had much time to play, and there are fewer and fewer places where there are working machines. Pinball machines are hard to maintain. Unlike video games, they have lots of moving parts, all of which need to work in order to make the game right. I hate playing broken machines, because the game designs need to have everything working.

I was pleased to see that they had a Twilight Zone pinball machine. This is one of the most complicated and difficult pinball machines made in recent times. I've read reviews of this game suggesting that nobody has ever managed to complete ever feature in a single game. I would certainly classify it as an expert-level pinball machine. I dropped in a dollar for three plays and started it up.

Early on, I knew I wouldn't put any more money into it. The upper right flipper was mushy. There are at least two significant targets on this game that you can only hit from a shot off the upper right flipper, and the erratic response on the flipper crippled my game. My plan was to play out the three games and leave.

I was there for more than an hour. Even with a crippled flipper, I still managed to win and keep winning free games. I also got lucky on the post-game playfield match three times, which further extended my run. As is the way with most modern pinball machines, the point level needed for a free game goes up after you win a game, so the challenge increases, and eventually it caught up with me. If that machine didn't have a mushy flipper, I might have stayed there all day trying to crack it, unlikely as it is given the machine's reputation.

It's just as well that I didn't get trapped there, however, as I had several errands that needed running. We received a letter addressed to the owner of the condo unit in which I live from the Alameda County Treasurer-Tax Collector's office. Most mail addressed to the owner here is junk mail for realtors and home loans, which we discard, but this was "real" mail, so I needed to take it over to the property-management company so they could deal with it. It was also time to get the oil changed in the minivan. I'm pretty good about keeping the van maintained.

After several other small errands, I finally got home. Where did the day go? I had some intention of doing some thorough housecleaning, especially as Cheryl will be back in town soon. I've let the place get more cluttered than usual this past summer, and have had less time than usual to clean up. Besides, I've pulled a bunch of stuff out of storage that currently has no place to live other than the living room floor, and I need to do something about it. A trip to Sutter to put boxes back into storage is called sometime fairly soon.

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