Monday, February 28, 2005

Don't Mess With My Value Menu!

Time to wax political. What the hell are they thinking by raising the minimum wage? The biggest concern that they mention is that one can't raise a family on a minimum wage job. Helloooo! You should be looking for a better job than that if you are about to raise a family or already have one to support! If you have to, use that job as a short term solution as you search for the right one. The best thing I heard from someone on the subject was, "Let's raise it to $20 an hour." Of course you would say, "Hell yeah! That means I'm getting a raise." But if you were making $19 an hour which isn't the minimum... you get a raise too and you'd complain about being paid minimum wage. We would all work for the same basic pay and we all would pay more for our items on McDonald's 99 cent menu while less of their workers are running around trying to get you your food before it's cold. You have to cut costs somewhere and initially it falls on staffing and benefits. I've also heard that right now people are making more on welfare than at minimum wage jobs. That's a great way to encourage people to work. Let's pay people more to not work than work... I think they call that government subsidizing. Getting caught in the numbers crunch, we've decided to just make employers pay more instead of lowering what we are paying people to not work. I can't say I'm against there being a bare minimum that someone can be paid for a job. We need entry level jobs. But we shouldn't be calling those jobs careers. Most people complain about "big business" putting "Mom and Pop" stores out of business but who do you think is better suited to survive a wage hike?

Saturday, February 26, 2005

Debit, Credit, Expeditures And Life

It's one of my worst subjects but let's do some light math here. The average person is supposed to get 8 hours of sleep. They are also expected to work an 8 hour day. (Subtotal from 24 hours = 8 hours) We also have to wake up, kick the alarm clock, shower, shave, eat, drive and drive back from work which could take another 3 hours or so depending on the commute. So that leaves us with a whopping 5 hours per weekday to live our lives. Not too much when you think about it. As always, we try to cheat here and there by sleeping a little less which makes us tired all day, less fun to work with and semi-functional. If it weren't for our weekends, we probably wouldn't get anything done. Then again, I burn up one of my days with research, writing and recording involved with the website and newsletter. So I figure I get one day to myself to really compact it all together. But when you think about it, how much time does one have when they work two jobs? Can living your life really be crammed into 5 hours during the weekdays and parts of weekends?

I think of all the people that have asked if I write down all my expenses and earnings to keep track year to year. (Nosey bastards!) But I wonder if anyone calculates their life expenditures. Do we spend enough time with our loved ones? Am I in debt? Possibly. I'm even spending part of my sleep towards writing this. Better go cash in.

Friday, February 25, 2005

This Is Technical Support, Please Call Back When It Is More Convenient

As I have mentioned before, I wind up getting caught up helping people with their computer problems. One of my biggest pet peeves (and I'm pretty sure everyone elses) is calling technical support. If they only had a number you can press earlier to tell the service what your level of computer experience is before you interact with the support representative, it would be so much easier. Standard questions from them when you call start with: "Is your computer turned on?", "Are all the wires plugged into the back of the machine and in the right areas?", "Have you tried unplugging your machine for 5 minutes, plugging it back in and trying to start it?", "Are you using software that we didn't provide you? (if not, you need to call someone else buddy)", "Do you know what a command prompt is?," "Can you find your C drive?", "Is there someone in the house that doesn't speak English that we can talk to?"... etc. My poor neighbor has had Sears come out several times to fix his computer hardware and left him to re-install Windows ME (yes, folks... someone recommended he put ME back onto his computer.) After spending lots of time and money on tied up phone circuits and housecalls, they are asking him to send his computer to them. I can usually yell at a bad technical support person if it's my computer but of course doing it for someone else can easily get him less support in the future. The best technical support that I've ever gotten was oddly enough through eMachines (yes, for someone else's machine) in which we talked through a chat window. It does curtail violent outbursts and name-calling... unless you tend to go off on the !'s. I actually was getting voicemail when I called AirLink about a wireless USB set-up. Rule #1 of tech-support... "What kind of router are you using? Ahhh, Microsoft. I think you should call them." What? Anything to get you off the phone in record time.

Friday, February 18, 2005

Nap-time At The Yerick Household

My friend Mike is really enjoying his time off work. Then again, you can't really say he is off work when he has started diaper duty but it is always good to get a nap in. That's just what he's doing here with Miss Alyssa Rose. (Ok, I might have spelled her first name wrong but they won't beat me up for it.) Printed up a copy of this to take to work and tell people that he's been sleeping with a younger woman.Posted by Hello

Doctor, Doctor, Gimme The News...

I think I may finally be catching up on my sleep a little. I've been burning the candle at both ends recently and I can tell that it's been affecting my projects. Kinda noticed it when I drove back from the hospital yesterday as my eyes were in that scratchy sleepy stage (it was only 6pm.) Grandpa's kidney surgery that day wound up being delayed due to them not finding the blockage they believed to be there. Which is good news but means another course of treatment. His artery there is looking healthy and they'll be trying some new medications to try to restore kidney function. I was just happy to see the show of support for him at the hospital as I don't think he expected as many to show up. My two strongest male role models in my life have been my father and Grandpa Bolton. I'm not ready to see him go this soon and by all that I'm hearing, neither is he. Modern medicine continues to amaze and frustrate me.

Sunday, February 13, 2005

This Little Piggy Went To Market

I've never been good at the art of the sale. Trying to get someone to buy something that they don't want is difficult enough for someone that is trained. But for me, I find it even difficult trying to sell myself or my projects. I have and will always be brimming with ideas that I don't have time to devote full attention to. Of course, the one that I've stuck with the longest has to be the 80's Nuts Newsletter. But in the 8 or so years of writing it, I have yet to really promote it. So far word of mouth has done a lot of good but to hit that next step, I'll need to reach out a bit more. Writing the weekly 80's music news has been about educating myself but moreso about getting information out to people that it wouldn't normally reach. Don't know how I'll do it yet but I figure that an appeal to the subscribers to spread the word is a start. I figure that there have to be at least a few thousand people out there that would like to find out about band reunions, new albums and all. But how do you hit those people just right? I think this is why I've never been involved in marketing brainstorm sessions...

Today rediscovered the 6-degrees of separation surrounding me and think that it could be even closer than that. And no, I haven't been in a movie with Kevin Bacon.

Saturday, February 12, 2005

The Optimistic Pessimist

I have always believe that I can be called an optimistic pessimist. In pretty much every aspect of life, I've always looked at the worst case scenario before looking for the silver lining. Rather depressing, I know, but it does give me some feeling of comfort although some people may see it as negativity at times. I actually do think that it does make the rewards sweeter in the end when I know how bad things could have been. So today, opening the mailbox, I felt some of that sweetness. The albatross that had been my car accident and subsequent repairs has become something less than a gnat. In the mail was a check from my insurance company for about $700 for my deductible and car rental reimbursement. This means that my legwork consisting of accident photos, hand-drawn area map and calls to both insurance companies paid off and that I was found not at fault. The literally thousands of dollars that I spent (on deductible, rental and miscellaneous repairs) has been mostly recovered. But, best of all... accidents in parking lots generally wind up being a loss to both insurance companies. The ruling in my favor is a rarity as well as a blessing to my auto insurance record and rates. Yes, this time the silver lining won out.

Tuesday, February 08, 2005

May I Be Of Service?

Ok, I'm just about to go to sleep (working 5am to 1pm tomorrow) and had something stuck in my brain. Knowledge is power but knowing how and when to use that knowledge is dangerous. I think about the fact that at least 98% of everyone out there has a firm grasp of some genre of information. Learning from those people does make you a better person but leaning on them can cause problems. I feel there are a lot of times that I'm the first person someone begs to have come over when a computer problem occurs. It happens to anyone who has been around them since the mid-80's. Yet, there is a point when you know that you can't keep jumping when someone says fire because you have other things you are focused on. Ok, I can't complain about the food that some of them feed me but I do know there will be a point when I say... just buy me a bottle of wine. That way, I leave with something and they can feel like they don't have to offer money or food (even though I'm happy with a few tacos.) But, I know this same situation happens to mechanics, doctors, electricians, stock brokers and probably even barbers. And like many of them, I actually prefer to help my family when they need it because I do know they will get it done right. But otherwise instead of walking lightly and carrying a big stick, I should shuffle my feet and twirl an optical mouse.

Oh, btw... I was right on the Patriots. Good game! I was worried for a little bit.

Sunday, February 06, 2005

Beans Rattling Around In A Can

Lots of things on my mind and in the development process. Finally registered and am debating if I'll start a new site with a blog built in which will also have links to sites and photos of my family and their endeavors. Of course, it all comes down to web design which isn't my forte' (I like to believe it's content development.) On that note, I need to work on better graphics for

Currently on my mind is my grandfather's health. They have discovered the reason for the backwash of toxins he suffered after taking water pills to alleviate the excessive water around his heart. The tubes to one kidney is blocked entirely and the other is blocked 30%. He's also been throwing up continually during the day and suffers bloody noses. He's still in the hospital and we are hoping to hear better news soon.

The only good thing in my head right now is that the Super Bowl is just a little over an hour away and my gametime prediction is the Patriots winning. I just believe they have one of the deepest teams in the NFL, a quarterback that makes few mistakes, a tricky defense and a true team dynamic. Can't wait. Enjoy the game!

Friday, February 04, 2005

This Is How The World Ends... Not With A Bang But A Yawn

As a writer, the one thing that you can't be forgiven for is not learning from what you've written. But it seems that I made my own major mistake by not thinking about an article I wrote last year about the death of "Weird" Al Yankovic's parents.

Last week, I was just finishing typing up the newsletter and had some a little free time. I decided to watch a DVD in the living room. Feeling rather chilly, I lit the fire. I passed out twice while watching the DVD even though I wasn't tired. So I went back to the fireplace and turned the light on... it seems that I had moved the flue handle the wrong way. So here my house is full of carbon monoxide and yes... the sleepiness I felt could have been my own mortal end. I quickly aired out the room and yes, turned off the fireplace. And then I thought to myself... "This is how "Weird" Al's parents went." I have turned the fireplace on since but I've very careful when I do.

Wednesday, February 02, 2005

Water Pills Aren't Full Of Water?

Mom is recovering well. She is breathing a lot easier and hopefully the rest will pass soon. We found out that Grandpa had more complex issues. Grandpa was diagnosed with having excess water surrounding his heart. I hear this isn't good but aren't we made up of 90% water? Anyhow, they gave him water pills to help reduce that. He was supposed to urinate the excess water but supposedly an enzyme or hormone caused a backflow from the kidney which sent the toxin into his bloodstream. This has been alleviated but not explained as thoroughly as it should be. He's feeling better after spending the weekend worrying about his body falling apart. I'm only hoping that this was just a little scare but anything can happen. More importantly is getting his spirits up. This is a big weight off my shoulders and let's hope they stay light for a bit longer.

Time Flies When You're Under The Gun

You know how sometimes you suddenly remember something like a bill or errand you needed to run at the last minute. Well, Tuesday (my only true day off) was like that. On Monday night, I was driving over to pick up dinner and for some reason wondered if I put my registration and proof of insurance in my glove box. I previously took it out for use in the loaner car from my last visit to the dealership. So, I fumbled around and couldn't find it. I checked the house believing that I had put it with my paperwork. It was late so I gave up. I woke up late the next morning and returned to the search. And then it stumbled on me that I might have left it in the loaner car. I hopped in the shower and then thought about the date. I suddenly thought, "My car registration is due every Feb. 1st.... which was today!" I quickly called the dealership who would begin searching for it. The time on the clock was 1pm. I knew that the DMV is always bad early in the week at the beginning of the month. But, to do this, I would need proof of insurance... which I didn't have. So I drove over to the insurance office, got a copy of the paperwork. Drove over to get the car smogged... had to wait behind a few cars. Then drove to the dreaded DMV. I waited. Got to see a couple fighting each other -- first time I've seen drama like that there. My number got called and registration was cheaper than normal. The adrenaline of making a deadline kept me jumpy but I would get to my car and look at my watch... it was only 3pm. That does remind me that I still need to put that sticker on my license plate.