Just One of Those Days

Thursday the 35thSee that picture? And yes, you are reading it right. The company I’m currently contracting for prints out a calendar for its employees every year. Its one of those things where they put pictures of some people who work there along with quotes about how great the company is, and generally looks like it was designed by a man who thinks that advertising graphics peaked somewhere in the mid to late 1970’s. One of my coworkers didn’t want his calender and I didn’t have one, so I took it. It’s been fairly reliable all year, days of the week in the right order, Saturday and Sunday next to each other making the weekend and Wednesday smack in the middle, all the holidays on the right days, the 4th of July actually on July 4th and so on.

At least until today…

I got curious and checked a few other people’s calendars, all are the same as mine. So you have to wonder, how exactly something like this makes it past the quality assurance, past the test print, and all the way through the several thousand odd print run without anyone seeing it. Or maybe they did. Perhaps the calendar is correct, perhaps today isn’t November 3rd and instead is Thursday, November 35th, 2005.

I can already tell this image will be stuck in my head forever, and every November I’m going to snicker and giggle and laugh and then embarrassingly have to try to explain it, and no one else will think its funny at all.

Posting, Toys and Work

Well, after two months of posting every day (except Mondays), I’ve fallen back into my old habits of not posting as often as I’d like. Frankly, sometimes there is just nothing to post about… or I just plain forget.

Anyway… I continue to buy new toys for myself. After getting the PDA Phone, I’ve gotten myself a Bluetooth keyboard and mouse for it, so its like having a little computer, much smaller than a laptop, everywhere I go. I’ve spent some time fixing it up with software, mostly free stuff, and getting it to the point where I find myself using it pretty often. Calendar, contacts, emails, even writing (the screen is small, so writing for the website can be annoying, but I can do it, and will since work is getting really boring again). Its pretty sweet.

Speaking of work, did I mention it was boring? As much as I love the idea of getting paid thirty bucks an hour to play Freecell (up to 75% win ratio, should have myself up to 76 this coming week, 77 the week after at this rate) and Minesweeper (which cheats, the mines aren’t set until you click a square, you cannot lose on the first click, and it always has at least one spot where you have a 50/50 chance and no way to determine logically which one it is), I feel like I want to tear my eyes out some days. When there is work to do, its awesome, like right now, I taught myself how to utilize XML files on the webserver to emulate global variables for a .NET app instead of making constant round trips to the database server for building my objects. But when I’m waiting on someone else to finish their work before I can start mine… I keep telling them, I cannot design a front end for a back end that doesn’t exist. Its like asking someone to design a car chassis without telling them the size of the engine that needs to fit in it. Sure, you can do it, but when you finish your sports car design and they hand you a diesel truck engine for an 18-wheeler, it just means you have to start all over. I can’t build a screen for data input without knowing what fields to put on it. I’d go for dynamic screen building, but it looks bland and just gives you text fields, none of the fancy radio buttons and drops downs that people like to see on their forms. Bah! And then there is this one screen in the application that is blank because I’ve been waiting about two months for someone to give me the info that goes on it (its a help screen that has to have specific guidelines for contacting support desks and all that)… and I’m still waiting.

Enough. I’m done. Off to clean the bathrooms.

I Got a New Toy

My New Toy… and I took a photo to show it off. I decided I needed an organizer, and a way to write stuff on the go, and a way to get around the firewall at work (bastards and their need to ban everything!)… so I went to Sprint and got myself an Audiovox 6600. Its a phone, and a PDA, and a camera, and its all kinds of neat.

About the only thing it doesn’t do is play MP3s… well, I think it can, but I’ve heard its not so good at them. It runs Windows Pocket XP, even includes a Terminal Services client should I feel the need to do some server maintenance on the go.

There’s a ton of free software out there for it, and I’m sifting through all of it… now I just need a PocketMMO and I’m set!


“Running’s not a plan! Running’s what you do, once a plan fails!”
-Earl Bassett, Tremors

Its funny… I often find myself quoting Tremors, but this one stands out. Mostly, this quote keeps popping up because of how I have come to apply it to life. Too many people rely on things that should be backup plans or fail safes as their primary plan. You can see it on the streets when you drive. There are people out there who have insurance, and they’ve covered themselves in the safest car on the road, and they drive like they don’t care about anyone else. They trust the car to save their lives and the insurance to cover the damages, and it never crosses their minds to, you know, pay attention to the road. They run yellow lights at high speed, they change lanes without signaling or even looking, and they are more intent on finishing phone conversations than they are on actually driving their car.

Lots of people deal with relationships, jobs, and other things the same way. They run out instead of trying to work on the problems, instead of trying to fix it.

That’s what this quote means to me. And he’s right… running isn’t a plan, its what you do when every opportunity to succeed has failed. Running is a last resort, and should be treated like one.

There’s No Place Like Work

CubicleI’m sure at least one person out there has wondered where it is that I spend most of my day. And it just so happens that this morning as I got into work I decided to snap a picture of my cubicle. When I was just working for ITCS, doing internal work and client support, I had an office. It was nice and big, I had two desks and a conference table. And I had a window. I arranged my desk to face the door so noone could sneak up on me, and I happily whiled away the hours coding and troubleshooting, and sometimes surfing the web. But those days are gone.

I’m down at BellSouth now, contract for ITCS. The money is better, and the hours more plentiful, but when it comes to work space I got shafted. Hard. See that monitor in the picture? That’s not my workstation. My PC is hidden in the corner. That dark screen you see is an application server. And all those file cabinets? Not mine. They are full of other people’s junk. In the lower left corner you can see a bit of blue. This is a spare chair. Its not mine, but it stays in my cube because none of the real employees want it in theirs, except when they need the extra seat, but they always bring it back.

Someday, I’ll have an office again.

Bird on a Wire

Bird on a wire.So I’m picking up a Creative Loafing as I do every Thursday, and while I’m standing there, a hawk lands on a near by phone wire hanging above the street.

Honestly, I was much closer than it appears in this picture… about 10, maybe 15 feet. But the picture makes the hawk look small and like I was much further away.

Anyway, the bird looked cool, so I snapped a picture with my phone.


100,000 miles of gas guzzling goodness!No, I’m not celebrating 100,000 hits to the website or anything like that. Today my car crossed the 100,000 mile mark on the odometer. It seems a bit odd to think that I’ve driven that much when you take into account that I’ve only gone outside the Atlanta area in the car maybe a half dozen times at best. 5 years… that is 20,000 miles per year, and almost all of that is driving on highways 75, 85, 285 and 400, going to and from work. My Jeep Cherokee is pitiful… I love the car, mind you, and its never broken down or given me any trouble, but its guzzles gas like its going out of style. A hearty 18 miles per gallon… and at an average price of around $1.50 a gallon for gas over that time, I’ve spent over $8,300 dollars on gas in the last five years.

Wow… there’s so much I could do with that money… even half that money. Perhaps I need to seriously consider a new car…


I like seeing action films in the theater. Dramas and comedies are fine for the small screen, but action films just beg for big. Last year I really wanted to go see ‘Cellular’ on the big screen. However, time got away from me as it often does, and I missed it.

It showed up from Netflix the other day, and I just watched it tonight. It was awesome. The action scenes were well paced and spaced, the funny moments were funny at the right moments. It’s just a really well made film. And it has William H. Macy in it too. Bonus.

If you don’t recall, the movie is about a woman who gets kidnapped and she’s held in a room with a smashed phone. She manages to fix the phone enough to make a random call, and luckily enough, the guy she calls doesn’t hang up.

It was definately worth the viewing. Good movie.

It should be illegal…

So, a year ago, I bought a new computer. Rather than spend the effort building one, and the fact that I can’t really beat the prices of the pre-fab machines anymore unless I spend 3 months piecing it together, I went to Best Buy, saw a good price on a good system and bought it. They offered my a bunch of crap, to which I said no, just the system and the rebates, good-bye. Paid with my credit card, took it home, set it up, and mailed off my rebates. I was happy.

In January, I got my credit card statement, on it was a charge for $21.95 for Microsoft Online Services. Now, it being Christmas time and also floating a couple of charges for work on my card, I just nodded, said okay and filed the statement away.

I’m horrible about my credit cards. If I scan the charges and nothing leaps out at me like “Harold’s House of Fur Covered Fishing Poles” or something, I just nod and file it away after I write the check.

So, its June, and I’m looking at this month’s statement, and there is that Microsoft Online Services again. Only this time, I know I didn’t buy anything from them. I open up my budget program, ironically Microsoft Money, and sort the charges in my credit card statements. Sure enough, from January to June, 6 charges of $21.95.

I get on the net, find the phone number and call up MSN. They ask me my phone number, gave him all three, home and two cells… not on file. Name, gave him both mine and Jodi’s… not on file. Address… not on file. Seven email addresses… not on file. So I say, “Look, its billing my card, why I don’t I just give you the credit card number?” “Umm… sure,” he says, “that will work.”

I give him the number and… presto! Account found. Only, the name on it is “Best Buy Promotion”, the phone number is the number to the store, and the email address is listed as “notprovided@store.com”. But my credit card number and expiration date are correct, and they’ve billed me $131.70 for an account that I NEVER signed into.

I ask him, “How exactly do you justify billing me for an account I never activated?” He tells me that it was activated at the store on the date of purchase. “But, look at the account information, it looks fake. Don’t you guys audit these promotions?” No, he says. “What about account activity? It was activated, and then never used, not once.” There is this pause, a completely silent pause… I’ve worked in call centers, this is the silence of being put on mute while he asks someone else how he should respond.

“Sir, it is not our business to dictate to our users how they do or do not use our service. If they choose to activate it and hold the account as a backup for another provider, never logging in because their primary provider never fails, that is their choice. It is not our place to deactivate accounts in good standing for inactivity.”

I’m dumbfounded. But I ask for a refund. “Sure,” he says, “just let me, okay, its done, it should appear on your next statement as a credit, is there anything else I can do for your today?”


“Have a great day and thank you for using MSN!”

And then he hung up before I could yell, “BUT I NEVER USED MSN!!”

Oh well…

So, to you out there, I say this… beware. MSN wants your money, and they love it best when you pay them to provide you with nothing. Watch your credit card statements closely, and when you purchase from Best Buy, even when you say no, they might just sign you up anyway.

An Aching in my Sole.

That’s not a misspelling. I meant “sole” not “soul”. Spiritually, emotionally, and all that other crap, I’m fine. Life is good.


I have an aching in my sole. After 5 years of working jobs that were primarily focused in sitting on my ass behind a desk talking to people on the phone, I now have a job harkening back to my years spent toiling under the slave masters at Kroger (not really, I actually liked Kroger… at the time… when I was 10 YEARS YOUNGER!!!!!!), I work for Toys “R” Us as a stock / pick-up clerk. I am on my feet for 8 hours a day, give or take. I do get 2 15 minute breaks and a 30 minute lunch. And true to form I find any excuse to sit on my ass (for example, today I rode over 25 bikes out to display on the floor.. yes, they are 16 and 20 inch bikes for little kids, and YES, I did say I rode them out). But Holy-Mary-mother-of-Jesus-H.-Fucking-Christ-on-a-stick do my feet hurt!

My blisters have blisters. The marrow in the middle of my bones hurts. I have pain from my toes to mid-shin, and then it just stops. All the other pain has faded, either because in 2 days of working my body has gotten used to the upper body lifting already, or perhaps my feet just hurt so much that my brain won’t allow me to feel the rest of it for fear it will kill me. And yes, I did just say 2 days. 2 DAYS!!

(insert massive amount of swearing here)

And somehow… but some miracle or sheer force of will, I still manage to smile at each and every single customer.

Of course, I get home and collapse crying like some pansy little sissy manling wussy. But that’s a private shame.