Thursday, January 31, 2013

No Time Is a Good Time to be Abducted

But at least you can be prepared.  This probably borders on paranoid, but I've been watching several seasons of Investigation Discovery: Disappeared, and I've developed a few new guidelines for way we live our lives.  These aren't self-defense precautions, these are worst-case scenario precautions. People disappear from random places at random times for random reasons every day.  Don't assume it can't happen to you.

  • When you leave the house, leave a note stating when you're leaving, where you intend to go, and when you intend to be back.  Loved ones and police often have a hard time knowing where to start when someone disappears while jogging or running errands.  Even if you live alone, this isn't a bad idea.
  • Maintain phone contact.  Send the occasional text just to establish a paper trail.  If someone is already suspected missing, keep calling his or her phone as long as it continues to ring.  If the phone is moving (i.e. in a car) the cell towers will help map those movements.  However, it is also important to keep in mind the fact that when the battery runs down, the phone can no longer be located.
  • Clearly document your tattoos (if applicable).
  • Take a snapshot if you don't have any recent pictures lying around, particularly if you've changed your look.  
  • If you're the one left behind, make the police file a missing person's report ASAP.  Don't be put off by the "it hasn't been long enough" excuse.  Be the squeaky wheel.  

That should be enough for starters.

Monday, January 28, 2013

Peddling Happiness

Here's a news flash: Nobody is happy.

However, everybody absolutely wants to be happy, and that's what keeps marketing teams in business. Personally I think they should all be fired in favor of a new and more creative crop of people, because their ploy has become vulgarly transparent.

Remember that annoying BnL theme from Wall-E?

Soda and Chapstick are the secrets for lasting happiness.  Who knew?

Speaking for myself, I am insulted that these corporations assume their product is all it will take to make me happy.  It's as if they're trying to shove a Coke in my mouth like a pacifier.  The truth is nobody is going to be happy until we stop trying to distract ourselves from our selfish materialistic lives and start living like this world has a purpose beyond our personal gratification.

And, by the way, I'll take Burt's Bees over Chapstick any day.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Media Malfeasance

In a word, inexcusable.

Starting a Business (Or Not), Part II

So, the search for real people was an abject failure.  Well, we found the people all right, but they were of absolutely no use.  Once we drove across town, found a place to park, practically undressed, subjected ourselves to radiation, endured the pat down AND found the office in question, we were told that they "don't actually do that here."  In an attempt to be helpful (and while admitting some measure of ignorance of the process), they gave us a crappy (but ready to hand) xerox copy of Mapquest instructions to the office that "might" be able to help.  That office would then call the office we were currently occupying before sending us out to yet another office, etc., etc., etc.  I didn't care to bounce around occupied territory for the remainder of my day, so we drove home in a huff.

Now I can either try calling these same unhelpful and not terribly knowledgeable people, or I could just continue puzzling it out for myself and machine-gun some applications into the outer darkness in no particular order.

Seriously, it's no wonder personal initiative is dying in this country.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Realities of Obamacare

The unintentional effects of Obamacare are starting to rattle my workplace, and those apolitical creatures who usually take no notice of such things are having a rude awakening.

Here's the breakdown of the situation.  Almost all of us in the store are part-time.  That isn't a problem.  As part-timers, we regularly work anywhere between 20 to even 40 hours a week (when payroll is good).  If we have time to spare, we pick up shifts for other people or stay a little later than scheduled as the need arises.

Obamacare will now put a stop to that, as of February 1.  The way the government sees it, these evil retail companies are taking advantage of us by giving part-timers full-time employment without full-time benefits.  To some degree, I see their point.  At my previous job, I was working 40 hours solid every week with no benefits.  So, in an effort to put a stop to this shameless exploitation of the American worker, it has been decreed that no part-time employee will be permitted to work more than 30 hours a week or the company will be subjected to a $161 fine per team member per hour.

THE HOPE:  This will force these greedy corporations to create more full-time positions and everyone will have benefits and be happy and prosperous.

THE REALITY:  The company only has so many full-time positions that it can afford.  Rather than create any new ones, the solution will be to simply hire more part-timers to fill the shifts its current workforce will no longer be able to cover.  AND, in an effort to absolutely avoid those crushing fines for accidental overwork, the company policy has changed to reflect a maximum of 25 hours per week per employee.

Hours are being cut across the board.  Some of my coworkers who rely on those extra hours to make ends meet have begun looking for second jobs or entirely new jobs.  In the end, people will have to work the same number of hours as part-time employees but now juggle two different jobs.  Nobody is happy.

Thanks for nothing, federales.

"Murder By Proxy"

This was interesting.  It popped up in my "Popular on Netflix" category, and considering recent events, it's no wonder why.

Starting with the first post office shooting in 1986 and following the growing trend, "Murder by Proxy" examines the factors which first provoked such an extreme degree of workplace violence.  You have to know something untoward was going on when survivors of a shooting (A) can't immediately guess who the shooter is because they say any one of them could have been driven to it, (B) sympathize to varying degrees with the shooter, and (C) deface the name of one of the victims on the memorial, the tyrannical supervisor they deemed responsible.  The larger societal issue at fault seems to be the dehumanization of the workplace in general, and the establishment of an environment which more readily creates disaffected and alienated individuals who feel victimized and oppressed.

The term "murder by proxy" was coined to describe the expression of violence against innocent individuals.  "You can't murder the post office," they say, so the next best thing is to murder the post office's workforce.  The problem has only escalated now that these original incidents have provided a paradigm for other disaffected and alienated individuals who now shoot up malls, theaters, schools, or any other soft target available.  Unfortunately, the mass shooting is now too much a part of the American experience to just go away, and this hackneyed attempt to prevent these tragedies with more gun control is too imbecilic for words.

If you have time, feel free to watch the whole thing.  Just ignore the annoying narrator; he's quiet most of the time.

All That Darn Paperwork . . .

Currently getting lost in that vast labyrinth of dead tree that is registering a business.  At several points already I've been ready to just chuck it all into the garbage and go back to my carefree life wherein I burn all my free time watching TV rather than attempting to be productive.  Going out tomorrow in search of real people who can hopefully uncomplicate the situation. . . .

Monday, January 7, 2013

Etsy Picks - Fashion Chain Mail

How cool is this stuff!  Go check out the Etsy store "Full Circle Chains" for some awesome stainless steel chain mail jewelry you'll be able to wear somewhere besides the Renaissance Festival.

Sunday, January 6, 2013

The Hobbit: A Lazy Review

Went to see the long-anticipated The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey yesterday, and honestly my overall feeling is disappointment.  For the record, I was indeed expecting The Hobbit, which admittedly isn't quite the same caliber as Lord of the Rings, but it seemed to suffer from a worse case of "prequelitis" than I expected.  Some of it was unavoidable, some of it was just sloppy.  I could probably go on about it for quite a while, but unfortunately time is limited.

1)  Do we really have to keep using the Wilhelm scream?  Really?

2)  Can we please stop with the angsty close-ups of important characters screaming "NOOOOO!!!" when we all know nobody is really going to die?

3)  Can we stop dangling over cliffs for entirely too long waiting for "the nick of time?"

4)  Do excessively comical bad guys have to make slapstick comments right before they die?

5)  Why are there no obvious injuries after our heros fall from cartoonish heights?

6)  Why in the world is Thranduil riding an ELK?

Maybe it could have been cool, but at the time it was just jarring.  Will we ever live it down?  That remains to be seen.

By the way, Bilbo was awesome, Elrond was bad@$$, and Gollum was brilliant.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Three Years and Counting

It really seems like we've been married longer than three years.  And I mean that in the best possible way, just in case anyone was wondering.  Hopefully we can let the good times roll for a long time yet.

We've never really made a big deal out of our anniversary in the past.  The first year we went out to Chili's at the spur of the moment, but I was too down and out with morning (all day?) sickness to eat more than chips and salsa.  The second year we went out to P. F. Chang's with a gift card we got for Christmas.  This year we're having chocolate cake at home.  There are some vaporous plans to go see The Hobbit sometime, or maybe go to the next town for an extended weekend vacation, but we'll see how the scheduling works out.  I promised Dave a new laptop; his is limping severely, but he has his heart set on Alienware, so it might take a few months to save up enough expendable $$$.  He was complaining that he never knows what to get me, and I never ask for expensive things.

Well, I just found something I simply must have.  I know the second anniversary is supposed to be the paper one, but we'll just have to bend the rules a bit.  Besides, everybody needs a calendar.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

2012 Debt Report

We didn't do nearly as well in December when it came to paying down the loan, but that was primarily because of Christmas shopping and the fact that I was investing my paychecks for the month in a fledgling home business.  In the end, we only reduced our total by another 3% since the last report, for a total of 14% paid.  Still, that isn't too shabby considering a regular monthly payment is 0.76%.

Part of our 2013 resolutions will be to attack this thing with all guns available.  Since my job is apparently no longer seasonal, that should help.  We'll see how long it lasts.  In the meantime, I'll try to get my cottage jewelry business up and running to pick up the slack if they decide they can't afford me.

We just fired our first salvo of the year, which should knock off another 2.1%.  The goal is still 3.5% per month.

A more encouraging view would be to consider our TOTAL family debt ever has been 48% paid.  Booya.