Wednesday, March 30, 2005

The Public Address System and You

Attention Corporate Types:
If you have a business where consumers, patrons, guests, etc visit your location in person, and you make use of a public address system (speakers that let you bark random thoughts to the world) allow me to make a brilliant observation that should have been clear to all of you since birth:

ALL MESSAGES should be recorded in a professional studio by professional message readers.

Your staff members cannot be trusted to communicate to the populace or working associates over the speaker system. If "Electronics has a call on Line 2" or there's a "Cleanup in Aisle 4" or "All Departments Should Now Collect their GoBacks from The Front" or "We Will Be Closing in 5 Minutes" or "Someone In The Parking Lot Left Their Lights On" or "Please Wipe Your Sweat Off The Exercise Machines" or "We Will Be Closed for Easter"...

ALL MESSAGES should be recorded in a professional studio by professional message readers.

The joe schmoe at the desk or register or receiving dock is not a professional speaker, and should not be impacting the message that millions of patrons hear during every day.

ALL MESSAGES should be recorded in a professional studio by professional message readers.

I assume that if a message is important enough to interrupt my shopping experience, it's vital for survival in some way and should be understandable.

It should not sound like the grownups in a Charlie Brown cartoon.

These corporations spend BILLIONS crafting their image in the minds of the public, and then they let Shanah Mae ramble into the PA:

"Awl BringUps naed ta - Hee Hee Hee - be baught ta da fruhnt." In a loud, nasal drawl as she giggles at Pedro, who is making faces at her, with twizzlers sticking out of his nose.

At least half the time, background music is playing over the announcement, and that makes it hard to understand.

The music must always be muted if a message is to play.

Most of the time, the announcing people talk too quickly. Because the speaker systems are in the ceiling and are being amplified, speaking too quickly creates distortion as the previous word echoes, blurring the next word.

Most of the time, the announcing people talk too loudly. They are trying to let the whole store hear them, and their conscious mind is informing their vocal cords that they'll need to Speak Up.

But no, they are being electronically amplified, so no Speaking Up is required. Talk in a normal, sotto voce level and tone, and we'll all understand you a lot better.

ALL MESSAGES should be recorded in a professional studio by professional message readers.

When it's 15 minutes till closing, the computer in the back of the store realizes the time, and automatically plays, in Kathleen Turner's sultry, sexy voice: "Hello My Beloved Target Shoppers. We're sorry to say, the store will be closing in fifteen minutes. We love you, but the floors need buffed some time."

The messaging itself could become a marketing ploy. People would show up at a store just to hear the new lines, by their favorite singer/actor. They'd visit the website to download the messages.

If a specific message needs to be played at a random time, "Cleanup in Aisle 4" then a worker picks up the phone or uses the computer to key in the appropriate code, and the message plays automatically.

Shanae Mae is a very efficient cashier, she's a sweetie and I adore her, but she has no business on the PA.

And if she just gots to talk at me over the speakers, please take fifteen minutes during training to teach her how to do it properly. Maybe have her watch a training video, "The Public Address System and You" or "How Not To Say Wah Warble Wah Wah Thank You" to all and sundry over the intercom.

Also, ALL MESSAGES should be recorded in a professional studio by professional message readers.

Thank you.

Sore! Gym. Me No Like Sore.

I have been thoroughly enjoying my laptop. Cindy and I will sit, her on the dining room computer and me in the living room, just 12 feet away, and IM one another via AOL because we are silly, decadent people.

It's fun though.

The gym is no longer fun or interesting, and I am constantly sore all over. I work out for an hour a day and take only 1 day off a week? Am I overdoing it, or is my body a whiney wuss?

Monday, March 21, 2005

Take Note of Color and Texture

Ok, so on the grooming front, I have found a new use for Q-Tips.

That's all I'm gonna say.

No, just joking. Ears are a good thing to clean with Q-Tips and I like to do so after a shower. But I rarely get anything out of my ears. Not very fulfilling.

One morning, I noticed a booger in my left nostril (sorry, there's no civil way to say that) and I used a Q-Tip to nab the little icker.

Now I regularly insert and spin a Q-Tip, and am always rewarded for my efforts with some grossness on the tip of the q. I'd much rather remove it first thing in the morning before anyone will see me. Before the ick can migrate down to a viewable region, and disgust my fellow man.

And while I'm talking about gross things, I might as well continue. Every time I sneeze, pee, or release any visible element from my body, I take a quick gander. Over time, you know what to expect. If suddenly you're seeing rainbow colors where before all was earthy, you have a useful symptom to tell the Doctor.

But if you avoid peeking at this stuff, you're missing out on an important diagnostic tool. And perhaps even some portents, delivered in a scrying fashion. Never know. Mebbe even lottery numbers.

enough ickyness

The writing group has not met for the past 2 weeks in a row, and it's not my fault. The other two members had work, or parties, or some-such to attend to. Fine. Don't publish. See if I care.

I have been writing, but it's been for The Secret Project. So I cannot share. But I can say it's going well.

iPod Shuffle!

SQ - you called it a Shuffler! That's so damn cute.

Check out this link:

You can get a Shuffle at just about any place where you purchase electronic stuff. I like Best Buy, personally.

Wednesday, March 16, 2005

Nah. Not Feelin It.

It's after lunch, I have taken my walk around the block, had my afternoon advil and caffeine. I do not, however, feel like working on my short story. No I do not. And if I aint in the mood, I know better than to force it - the words will just suck my will to live.

So I got the laptop yesterday, or 'notebook' as the kids call them these days. It's glorious and I have no use for it. I need some accessories for it, of course... It has wireless internet built in, I just need a Router to broadcast my existing DSL. That'll run like $100. I'll need AntiVirus software, that'll be at least $50, I'll need a case to carry it around in, on and on. It's going to be a money sink.

I spent last night getting all the needed windows updates for the notebook, which took a few hours over the 56K modem since I don't have the wireless router yet. The notebook is heavy! It's like 8lbs. That's like having a child. Now Cindy is afraid we will be robbed. I admit that I am, too. Just because we have one more gadget in the house does not mean we're gonna get robbed. We have 3 tvs, 2 vcrs, 3 dvd players, a PS2, a GameCube, 3 computers. 2 iPods (Shuffles). We don't have any gold or jewels, all our equity is tied up in consumer electronics.

Speaking of the Shuffles, they rock! They are super tiny, ultra light, (about the size and weight of a small pack of gum) and you can pack them with at least 120 songs. Speaking as one of the people who lugged around a brick-sized, brick-heavy Walkman with batteries, tapes, case, and headphones in the 80's, (Yes I am Old) the Shuffle is a mirace of modern invention. They're only $100! And you don't need to spend money on iTunes buying songs - you can use all the CDs in your collection, and just drag and drop songs from them onto the Shuffle.

The Shuffles are great, I have nothing negative to say about them. I'm pretty critical of products, there's always something I think should have been done differently on a product. But no! Shuffles rock.

Ok, ok you twisted my arm. There is one suggestion I would make to the Shuffle designers. On the back, the 'on / play in order / play random control' is a little flat slidy switch. The slidy switch is smooth, untextured white plastic, like the rest of the Shuffle. There's no friction between your finger and the switch, and if you are a bit sweaty (which I am, since I wear it at the gym while I work out) you cannot manipulate the switch. A few little raised bumpies for friction-texture would have been nice right there. But I understand that the rest of the item is smooth and seamless, and so too should be the switch. Hmn.

Tuesday, March 15, 2005

Days Later, Still no Pulitzer

No novel yet.
I think a barrage of short stories would serve me better at this point.
Working on one now, in fact.
Shorts are quicker, and more likely to be completed than a novel.

And it's more likely someone will like and purchase one of them.

How would my life be different if I'd published while still in High School? I would have done a lot more writing, I can tell you that.

Hey, Bratz finally paid me! Whatchoo know bout that? $1560.00, and Mikie is gettin hisself a laptop - er, Notebook PC.

He been waitin ever so many years to buy one.

He feels kinda bad, spending so much money on one consumer product.

He thinks, $1500 is nigh-on a downpayment on a car.
He knows that he's driving a 91 Toyota Pickup.

He will buy the Notebook, cause he's waited 10 years, dammit.

Thursday, March 10, 2005

I Am Wasting My Time

My fiancee has a pretty stressful job - she's a retail manager.
She has a lot of responsibility, a whole slew of underlings to train, direct, and discipline. Customers to wrangle.

She wakes up with headaches pretty often.
Damn, that happens to me like once a year, and it pisses me off when it does. I can't imagine waking up with a pounding headache, three or four days a week.

Compared to Cindy's duties and stresses -
Compared to most adult's duties and stresses, my life is very easy.

Surprisingly easy.
Embarrassingly easy.

I work in the video game industry, and so I've worked with a lot of young people who are testers. They are 18, 19 years old, and they have kids already.

I'll be 34 this year, and I still have no kids. I'm not financially prepared for them, I don't know how the 18 year olds are managing it - I know how much they make.

Right now I'm getting paid an obscene amount to warm a chair. I surf the web all day. My biggest gripe is boredom. I should have written a good chunk of a novel by now - what else is there to do?

In the absence of 'real' things to be worried, bothered, or stressed about, it's little moronic things that annoy me. "Honey, you left the printer on all night again." or "The guy next to me at work is eating sunflower seeds again, noisily. Ugh."

Good grief, if those minor, bullshit complaints are my largest stressor, how sad is my life? How few chances have I / am I taking, that I am gliding through life in this way?

Or is this a 'wink and a nod' situation, where it's like "Way to go, dude. You made the right decisions. Enjoy it while you can!"?

Just seems too simple.

And yet, part of me wonders at this compulsion for complexity. In the wild, our mammal brethren are pretty laid-back critters. Once the pups are fed, and the den toasty warm, they get their nap on. We come from a species, a planet, where organisms don't go out of their way, they don't do more than they need to. Squirrels are not putting nuts away for Next Winter. (But squirrels don't have 80 year lifespans, either) Is my sense that I'm not doing enough born of a natural desire, or of a bullshit human expectation to out-do my neighbors and die with the most consumer goods?

It's not like I've taken steps to make life decisions based on "I want my life to be easy.", I've just ended up here. Granted, I started out as a warehouse laborer, worked that job for a few years, and decided I didn't like that, moved into computer-related jobs, rather than 'lifting and stacking' related jobs.

I've worked a lot of menial jobs, dishwasher, hotel maid, industrial laundry washer, 7-11 clerk, dough-maker, the list is long.

A concern I have is, when LIFE does eventually come calling with Kids, Dogs, Mortgage, PTA Meetings, Homeowner Taxes, Losing My Parents, am I going to be able to deal, having sailed through my first 30-40 years of living?

Like everyone else, I have a myriad of plans and schemes in my head. And I never follow through on them. And when I do rarely finish something (like a written work) I don't take the time to submit it, promote it, sell it, actually move forward.

I've got to make use of this paid, free time at work to accomplish something. So far, over the past few months I've been doing some writing, some web design. I've only finished one written work in the last 2 years. I must I must get my ass in gear.

Wednesday, March 09, 2005

A Simple, Tasty Treat!

Now that I have been going to the gym (you know, once I start talking about something, I just never shut up about it, do I? Good thing I didn't have a blog during puberty. "I found three more hairs today, growing out of...")

So, now that I have been going to the gym, I'm hungry a lot more often. Faster metabolism perhaps. Anyway, one yummy, quick, easy treat that I've been enjoying is a Frozen Fruit Cup.

(I'm positive that I was not the first person to think of this.)

What you do is you get a pack of fruit cups (from the canned fruit aisle of your grocery store) . These fruit cups are like 4 or 6 to a pack and are in leetle tiny plastic bowls.

Pop the whole package into the freezer and let em freeze solid as a brick.

When you are ready to enjoy this treat, pop a frozen fruit cup into the microwave and heat on high for 20-30 seconds. This somewhat defrosts the fruit cup, making it scoopable.

It's cool and refreshing and tastes like something you'd pay $5 for at the Book Festival or Renn Faire or what have you. Easy, cheap, yummy.

Tuesday, March 08, 2005

Two for Tuesday

After waiting literally weeks to use this one piece of equipment at the gym, I used it for about 1 minute and decided it was too much for me. The link takes you to a pic that is pretty much the same machine I'm talking about. It's supposed to make the workout easier, I thought - but I'd rather do sit-ups on my living room floor, with my toes under the couch.

I went in early today, to make use of the jacuzzi after my workout. Mmn, nice. Although after drinking a bunch of water during the workout, floating around in the jacuzzi did not sit well on my otherwise empty stomach. Note to self - next jacuzzi day, drink little or no water. Also, it was kinda hard to breathe. I may need a longer cooling down period between exercise and soaking. Jeez, I am not so out of shape that my breathing would be impaired!

I love that commercial from Geico Insurance, where they do a spoof reality show and it's called 'Tiny House'. Great commercial! Now if that were a reality show, I might consider watching it. Or 'Death Row Inmates Hunted For Human Sport' - I'd watch that too. Set 'em loose on an island and give 'em 5 minutes headstart. Heh heh heh.

Monday, March 07, 2005

Ico Rules!

There was some discussion of Prince of Persia, Sands of Time a while back. Anybody played Ico? It's a wonderful game! A true work of art.

I keep forgetting to mention Ico and its amazingness!

Walla Walla Washington

Today is the beginning of my third week of serious exercise.

Weigh-in results after two full weeks of 6 days a week gym: 201lbs.

Exactly the same as when I started.


Maybe I should keep away from the scale for about a month, and just Do Good and Eat Right and Save Kittens From Trees.

No word from Nani Power's agent. Last word was, "I'll relate your offer to the author and get back to you". I hope to hear something today, even if it's "nope". Though the Agent was out of the office last Monday, and that might be her typical day off. (When your name is on the sign, you can do such things). So I won't be surprised if I don't hear from her till tomorrow.

I dunno what happens next. If the answer is "Yes, you may publish the piece for the duration specified, for the price specified," then what? Since I'd be the publisher, would I then send a contract detailing the terms, rights, use, etc, which they would then examine, sign if agreeable, and return to me? I guess that is right. Does anyone out there know? A contract seems like the logical next step, if the answer is 'Yes'.


Saturday, March 05, 2005

SQMojo - Officially a Bad Influence

I've been going to the gym, working out an hour a day, six days a week.

I'm doing what I can to get in shape!
I've been avoiding the Food Network.

I showed up at SQMojo's blog the other day,
ready to enjoy the quality humor...

And Pow! I'm assailed by culinary sensations.

The sad thing is, I underbaked the tater tots.
They were done, but not crispy. Ugh.
Now I have to buy / ingest / exercise all over again.


Friday, March 04, 2005

Me Read Pretty One Day

Hmn, I have not read either One Flew Over the Cookoo's Nest or The Sound of Fury. There are a lot of classics and fundamental novels that I have not read.

I took Journalism as my english credit in 11th and 12th grades, so I missed out on a bunch of books that would have been required reading.

And since I have never had any college schoolin', I'm lacking the college reading list experience as well.

I should just start looking online at school reading lists and copy them down, and start reading all the stuff I'm lacking, one by one. So let it be written, so let it be done.

I will ask My Most Excellent Cindy to procure these two titles for me, as she manages a book store and the discount is a wonderful thing.

Bite Me, Swiffer.

New! Best Cleaning Tool Ever!

Some of you may remember my post -
in praise of the Mr. Clean Magic Wall Eraser, or MCMWE.

This next tool surpasses the MCMWE.
I know, I wouldn't have believed it either.

First of all, allow me to present something of a disclaimer:
If you are the compulsive, tidy sort of person (as I am) do not read this post. I warn you for your own good.

All right, here we go. The amazing tool for this week is:

A Lint Roller.

You know, those rolly kind with the layers of adhesive tape? Well now they have a large version, suitable for carpets and floors and etc.

Step 1:
Vacuum your floor thoroughly. Like Mom used to.

Step 2:
Roll a freshly-peeled lint roller firmly on your rug, until it will no longer pick up crud.

Step 3:
Note with extreme distress the amount of hair, lint, food particles, and rodent droppings now adhered to the lint roller.

Step 4:
Throw away your vacuum cleaner.

Step 5:
Spend the next 4 hours feverishly rolling your carpet.

Step 6:
Sleep soundly with peace and joy in your heart.

Thursday, March 03, 2005

An Unbiased Opinion, Please!

I need help!

That short story I wrote the other day lingers in my mind.

Cindy read it, but it's not really her genre.

It's odd and obscure and depressing, I'd say.
But is it any good at all? It's only 1500 words, take a peek?

I'm not skilled at judging / editing my own work.

I know there are parts I enjoy, but is it just the sloppy wordplay that I like?
Is there any degree of style and skill, or just random dabs of a heavy brush?

Do I like it 'cause I made it, and it makes sense to me?
Can anyone else actually follow it?

Please please, kind persons, take a look, and tell me if it's crapola or if it's worth submitting to professionals who read copy and pay writers to write.

I'll scratch your fiction if you scratch mine! Let's make a deal!

I promise to be thorough and honest!

Help and thank you.

Effing Effers can just Eff Off

Effing Bratz.

So now the story takes a turn. After pointed, repeated requests to everyone at the company, I finally got an answer.

"We never got the tax and legal forms you mailed."

Which means the check can't be processed, taxes subtracted, etc.

So what about the email I received last week, saying it was "In The Mail"?

(Crickets Chirping)

So I have faxed all 18 pages of their stupid legal and tax forms.

I know it was sent with the proper postage, to the correct address. I verified the address before I sent it, and they said "no, here's the correct address" and I used that.

I know anybody reading this is sick and tired of hearing about Bratz and how they have not paid me. I'm tired of blogging about it.

It's just sad.

Wednesday, March 02, 2005

Yes I Am a Silly Person

I just came across a couple of silly animated gifs that I made like two years ago.

One is IKEA related,

and the other is a League of Extraordinary Gentlemen spin off.

The League one is kinda long, but worth the wait.

They'd be better with sound...

Nani's Agent Called! Eep!

Nani Power's agent called me back today! She was returning my call and message from Monday. She was nice, but All Business. It's clear that she had no time for messing around. It was straight to the point, and bang bang bang with the questions. She was accepting of my newbie-ness, and didn't give me a hard time. She seems like a very nice, very busy woman.

I'd prepared like 4 pages of notes, so I could answer questions about the Ideagateway magazine, the staff, to goal, the vision, legal stuff, all sorts of differing rights, addresses and phone numbers and email addresses. I was prepared!

I wasn't prepared. She didn't ask any of the questions I had prepared for. Being new at the publishing / literary mag thing, I couldn't have known what to expect. We haggled a bit on price, which was just odd. I'm in no position to haggle. I was expecting them to tell me the requirement, and I'd say "Yes Please, Thank You!". But she was very into the whole give and take thing. As if I was the one in charge. (I guess, if you have big money to pay for submissions and their rights, you do have power.) I have no power.

The call only lasted like 3 minutes at the most, but there was a lot of fast talking going on. I made my sad, small, meager price quote, expecting to hear a dial tone right after. But no. She said she'd talk to Nani and get back to me.

Since it's already 5:30 in California, I'm not expecting to hear any news until tomorrow at the earliest. If I had to guess, right now, the answer will be "No" or a much higher quote. I can't help but keep my fingers crossed.

Yep, it's a Rant all right

Closed Captioning - Not Just For The Hearing Impaired

I don't know about anyone else, but I often have closed captioning on-screen, and when watching a DVD, I enjoy having the subtitles enabled.

The sad thing is how poor many captions/subtitles are. RIFE with typo's, things that could be caught with an automated spell checker. There's NO excuse. Also, captions are especially bad for live tv, such as news. Horrible. Suggestion to the media - hire a stenographer to type your captions! I think that someone who can capture every nuance of courtroom dialogue should be able to accurately type in captions.

Also, very often these days, DVD don't have subtitles of any kind! What the hell is that all about? Is it really that expensive? Hire me, I will do it for you on the cheap. Hell, depending on the movie, I'd do it for free!

And another thing. Caption typists, please watch the movie. It's pretty obvious that the captionist is just cutting and pasting from the script. Very often, the lines spoken and the subtitles do not match. Step 1, Paste from Script. Step 2, Watch and Listen to movie, making any and all corrections needed.

And another thing. Am I the only one who has noticed the Special Features dwindling on DVDs lately? When DVDs first hit the market, they were fulla features, trying to entice people to buy an $800 DVD Player. Now, nothing. No subtitles, no extras, no love.

At least plug in the 'HBO First Look' or some Entertainment Tonight interviews with the cast or something.

I don't need a daily journal of the production, noting every minute detail, just something. Jeez.

Tuesday, March 01, 2005

Whatcha Gonna Do?

Same old stuff.

Nothing new to report.

Cindy and I dropped her car at the Mechanic this morning, it needs some TLC. It seems that we parked within someone's "turf" or "hood", because after like 3 minutes away from the car, someone had blocked it in with a big, ancient caddy.

So I glared in all directions, but didn't see anyone who looked guilty. I was supposed to pull the car up to the front of the mechanic's shop, but being blocked in, I could not. So I went back and gave the mechanic the key, and told him of the caddy and its rudeness.

"Oh yeah, he does that on purpose if you park in his space."
Ok, so it's some bullshit posturing. It's not like there was a sign posted. Anyway, it really threw Cindy's day off. She was worried about someone vandalizing her car, which I told her was pretty unlikely.

The mechanic said he would take care of it, so that's a good thing - I'm not really into confrontations. It would have been funny to call a tow truck though.

That was the exciting event of the day...