Friday, November 19, 2004

Catching Up
Man, it's been a while hasn't it? Looking back at these past few weeks I am taking a deep breath and beginning to smile. My blood pressure is through the roof. I should be calm at this point. I passed an exam today that effectively lifted the last of the 'loads' on my back. It was a real relief. I am now officially an MCSE and an MCT as well (or at least I will be once my fee is paid). When I started down the road to certification, I expected that I would feel better about the accomplishment. But what do I have to celebrate? I am now ever further underpaid than I was when I began my employment with the new company. But hey, I "put one in the for the team". The company owner personally shook my hand. It was ... nifty. I was tempted to look at my palm and reply "I was hoping you had put some money in it".

I have had ZERO idle time lately, which has been good. Usually when I find myself in a world of financial misery, I have plenty of idle time to sit around and stew about it. But teaching a five day class, studying for an exam, and having started my new job ... hasn't left much free time.

In fact, I am at my new job right now. I got here about 1.5 hours early, just so that I wasn't stuck in traffic trying to get here. Best Buy has this nice little employee lounge, complete with leather furnature and wireless access. The new job has been a lot of fun for me. It's been years since I was working with people right off the street. It's been "interesting" to say the least. The number one thing that keeps the Best Buy Geek Squad in business? Spyware! The average cost of a Spyware cleansing is about $100. Eeek. Note to self: start charging people $5 when I do it, and tell them I am saving them $95.

So, why haven't I blogged? I am at the light at the end of my dark tunnel. When I am depressed, I generally Blog. When I am deeply depressed, I generally do not. But things are on the "up and up". In the past few weeks I have bounced a mortgage check ... three times. Put off a car payment (for about 2.5 months) and bounced a few checks with groceries, pizza delivery places, etc. (because the mortgage check screwed me).

Last night when I got home, my wife was a wreck. She seemed to be in one of those depressions that begins after consuming massive amounts of alcohol. But, she hadn't been drinking. Likely, she had been listening to messages all day from people who want their money and are leaving angry messages on the answering machine. I was actually in a pretty good mood. In fact, I was a bit loopy. I was in such a good mood (I'm really not sure why) I decided to call the mortgage company and tell them "we're broke!".

The mortgage company was extremely nice (as always) and offered me the chance at a "financial assistance plan". This will buy me a few weeks to 'recover' from my current state of financial madness ... but will result in a bloated mortgage payment for the next year (or so). But ... what can you do? The good news is: I keep my house. I can make my car payment. I have money to buy important stuff like 'utilities' and 'food'.

So, today I celebrate! We will survive Christmas! I am an MCSE/MCT/Whatever! I have a fun part time job with 'cool people'. It's all good.

I better get to work. Bye.

Current Mood:
Musical Inspiration:

Thursday, November 11, 2004

Reoccurring Dreams
I had this dream last night that I was exploring an old house with my wife. It seems we were living there and we were in the basement checking things out. While it was terribly run down and dark, we were still impressed with the possibilities. I had stumbled upon some sort of bunker. It was a room built out of bricks. It was like a giant cylindrical room. A tube of some sort. And it was huge. We had to unlock some sort of gate to walk into it. I thought it looked like a great place to hold a party. It was really dark. But, we were underground.

In one of the other rooms we were doing our best to make it into a guest bedroom. But the room was awkwardly shaped, unusually large, and pretty cold. We had laid out a long white carpet, and pushed a bed into the middle of the room.

The question is, why do I keep finding myself redecorating the basement of a run down house? It's always cold, dark, and crumbling. But ... I never seem to mind. Instead I am always rushing around to dedecorate it. My curiosity got the best of me, and I started looking it up. It seems that it's quite common to dream of a strange house. Psychologists refer to it as "the House Dream". The house, represents me. I guess if you see an old house that is run down and falling apart, it's the sense that your body is getting old and falling apart. Hrm.

The idea of finding new rooms in your house, and discovering something represents discovering something about yourself. This makes a lot of sense. Once I get into these rooms, I am always pleased at what I find. The fact that the rooms are always locked, gated, or in some cases 'bricked over' tells me that I am keeping myself away from these discoveries. Mental blocks of some kind? Colors take on special meanings too. For instance, red would indicate fear. I never seem to see any of that. The rooms in my "house dreams" are always painted white. Even in the dark, dank basement, white oil paint covers every wall and every brick cieling.

White, it seems, represents cleanliness, purity, and dignity. I'm not sure how that applies to my "undiscovered rooms". A more sensible finding said that "white rooms" or "large white spaces" are a canvas for creativity. They represent room to grow and "paint a picture".

Anyhow, I always wake up smiling from these dreams wishing that I lived in a giant old house, or a dirty old warehouse with a deep, dark basement. Hah!

In The News
I thought it might be fun to cover some news topics with you all. There have been some interesting stories going around.

Microsoft Unleashes NEW MSN Search Engine! - In an attempt to steal away some of Google's spotlight, Microsoft has built their own search engine ... and it almost works! If you have ever had to search Microsofts Knowledge Base or TechNet, you are all ready familiar with Microsoft's search capabilities. So ... we can all keep using Google (I use it to find Knowledge Base articles too).

Arafat Dies - Nothing much to add to this. That poor old bastard should have been dead long ago. The president said some nice things about the loss of this world leader. Or course, he was still alive at the time as he made those comments days ago. That's Bush for you. Always planning ahead!

ABC Bans Saving Private Ryan - ABC planned on airing the Spielberg film "Saving Private Ryan" in it's entirety today to celebrate Veteran's day. They quickly pulled the show off the schedule at the last minute in about 20 large markets. They say that their reasoning was due to some complaints from "right winged assholes", and the lingering FCC. In fact, they asked the FCC if showing the film would be a problem, and FCC refused to comment. Because the deal with Spielberg would not allow the film to be edited, ABC didn't want to risk airing the film with it's 48 uses of "explicit language". I tuned into CNN earlier to listen to some Bush-mongers arguing that "ABC was only airing that to draw sympathy to the war effort!". WTF? I guess when we are at war, we shouldn't honor veterans - even with sappy Spielberg films.

Wednesday, November 10, 2004

All right. So I was in a bad mood. I was so pissed at ... well ... at everything. I went right after the mood altering drug known as cream Irish Liquor. Damn it's good. And as I lay in bed with my wife, smelling and sipping my liquor, and wondering if I could still stand and walk to the bathroom to piss, something hit me. It's not that bad.

I had a woman in front of me yesterday heading towards the grocery. She must have had about three winter coats on. I imagine it was cold in that car. Being that a window was missing and it was about 20 degrees outside. The tags on the car were temporary and they expired in 24 hours. As she rounded the corner, her car leaned and creaked as if it were going to burst apart at the seams and I noticed she was driving on her do-nut style spare. She too, was having a bad day it seems.

It then dawned upon me that I was telling this story out loud to my wife who was probably somewhere between a sitcom, and being asleep and probably didn't want to hear my story. Woops. I went to bed. Sleeping never seems dificult after a full cup of Irish Liquor on the rocks.

But when I woke up, it was all okay. I was a little dry, and woozie. Must have been all the liquor I drank. But I was able to smile again. I guess I must have dreamt about the things in life that make me happy, even on the worst days. So, let me try to reverse the hatred from my last evening's poetry with some new thoughts.

My wife's devotional love.
Hugs from my kids.
My Beetle when it works.

These are things I enjoy about life.

Oh, but FUCK BUSH.

Wardriving Book Pre-Release
As I head toward picking up a part time job, I will surely put an end to any free time that I might have had to work on this book project of mine. As a kind Blog reader has noted, a pre-release would be kindly appreciated. It's not a bad idea. You all have been after me for a while to show you something, and I think I probably should break down and do it.

I was holding off in the hopes that I could somehow find the time to work on it. But it just hasn't been possible. While I normally have some idle time in the holiday season, it's going to be eaten up with my new part time gig.

And so, I will try to find time to clean up the randomness and missing pieces from my book in progress, and offer it from the website. I will keep everyone informed. The price will be a mere "free ninety-nine". Perhaps I could charge $0.99 like iTunes. Only 51 cents would go to me of course, just like the recording industry.

Or I could donate all the money to my victims like some serial killer with a book deal.

Tuesday, November 09, 2004

Drive It Off a Bridge
I hopped in my car this morning and headed off to work. I noticed that I had left the window cracked yesterday and the cold air was freezing me out. I reached for my window crank to roll it up and it was gone. The window crank was missing. Fuck! In my window crankiness, I got on the wrong highway entrance. This was bad, because the next exit was closed for construction. So I had to drive a good 5 miles just to turn the car around and head back.

Whan I got to work and started marching up the steps I noticed everyone was gathered into the conference room. Woops. I had blown off yet another meeting. I had better not show up now (it was about over). So I headed back downstairs to hide.

A while later I get a call from one of the salespeople upstairs. It was my lucky day. This woman who I was supposed to be teaching Access to had got her funding. And so a class that I was praising God for cancelling was back on again, and I would have to be there in an hour. This was going to be a problem, because I needed to go take a piss test today. I had my interview with Best Buy last night, and of course I was hired. But I had to go donate some urine for my manditory drug test.

I call the woman, and we planned for tomorrow morning to start things. I am not looking forward to this shit. I don't know a damn thing about Access anymore. I don't use it. I almost hope it turns out awful and they complain that I don't know anything. Then perhaps they will stop putting me into gigs' like this that I wasn't consulted on before hand.

So having put off this training for another day, I headed out for my drug test in Westerville (about 40 minutes away). Low and behold, my battery was flat dead. I know that my battery has been weak lately. It had finally died. It took me a while to find someone to jump me. So after asking everyone I work with for jumper cables I finally found someone willing and I got on my way.

There was contruction and the exit I needed was closed. This was ... not good. The next exit was a full 20 miles away. I had to leave the city ... to turn around .... to drive all the way back. Are you seeing a pattern to my day? When I got to the drug testing place, I had to leave my car running, unlocked, with a Dell and my laptop sitting in my front seat. Fuck it.

I peed in my cup, signed a bunch of shit, and was on my way. When I got home and pulled into my driveway I found my window crank. It must have fallen off as I left home this morning. I was finally able to roll up my window!

Then I spent an hour or so looking for the keys to my dead Volvo so I could steal the battery out of it. I never found the keys. Once I went for a coat-hanger and started jamming it in the glass, my wife joined in the search for the keys and found them rather quickly. And so I switched batteries, jumping the dead battery from the nearly-dead battery (with the trickle charger still attached!). I let the bug run a bit while I chomped down dinner, but I could tell it needed a good long charge.

After dinner I took the bug for a long trip to get er' charged up. It was kind of peaceful driving around in the cold night. Nowhere inparticular to go. At some point I came off the highway, and rolled through Dublin, then went back on the highway and racked up another 30 miles or more. I hate this time of year. The cold air biting at me. Reminding me that Christmas is right around the corner. Once again I am entering the holiday season miles in debt, and a mortgage payment behind. Or is it two payments behind? Hell, it doesn't matter.

Study for a test you don't have time to take.
Learn Access in one hour, so you can teach it tomorrow.
Set up a class for next week.
Fix your car (one of them).
Rinse, repeat.

Fuck my job. Fuck the cold of winter. Fuck Access. Fuck our president. Fuck spending all my spare time setting up classes.


Sunday, November 07, 2004

The Second Interview
At about 10:30AM Saturday morning I waltzed into Best Buy ready for my first interview. I was early, so I poked around and checked out the store. It was about the same as I remember it. A few things have changed with the layout of the store since I last worked there six or more years ago. But the demographics were about the same. A mix of highschool aged and early twenty-somethings manning the posts. About the only older fellow I noticed was a retiree running the Loss Prevention podium by the door.

At around 11:00AM I wandered to the customer service desk and alerted them that I was there to be interviewed. They parked me off to the side of customer service where there were some chairs for customers to wait in while their PC's were worked on. This waiting period gave me a good opperunity to spy on the "Geek Squad" bench that I would be working at. They had certainly cleaned up that area. When I was working there, it was a sad little extension to customer service with little to do other than send out PC's for repair somewhere else. Now, it was a bright orange and black "Geek Squad" center. They have a nice line up of overhead flat screens, and mounted keyboards. So you can drop a PC and plug er' in for service. There were two employees working the counter and they were keeping pretty busy with a small line of customers forming. One woman brought a PC in, and they hooked it up for a "quick analysis". The screen read "NTLDR not found or missing". If you have seen this message before, it doesn't need much analyzing to realize that this won't be a quick fix. At this point, they sent the customer away to shop around and they began a virus scan from a bootable CD.

About 11:15AM a young girl emerged from what used to be (and probably still is) a conference room. She walked me back to the "storage room" to be interviewed. She apoligized for the mess. The interview area was just a couple of folding chairs in the corner of a messy closet full of cleaning supplies and junk. In my day of working there, this was known as "the smoking room". She found that rather amusing, because they had stopped letting people smoke inside years before she started working there. She says "when I came here, I wondered why this room had it's own ventilation system".

It was a little strange being interviewed by someone so young, but then it is a retail job. I will probably be one of the few "older" people there. It's actually quite refreshing. I have good memories of working in that store because the people were a lot of fun to work with. It will be a nice change to having worked with people who take their jobs far too seriously. Ah, but focus. I am being interviewed.

I wasn't ready for the questions. "Give us one time when you helped someone, but you didn't have to". I tried to explain that in the training industry, that's "what we do all the time". It was hard coming up with anything specific. "Would you call yourself dependable?". "Yes!", that one was easy. "Tell us about a time that you let someone down on a committment and felt bad about it". I totally drew a blank on that one. "Work related?", I asked. She said, "It can be anything ... I just have to write down something". I replied, "I'm sure in all my years of marriage I have let my wife down a couple of times. That makes me feel lousy ... but I can't think of anything specific". Good enough, next question.

I could see that this interview was more of a formality than a hiring process. They had all ready looked at my information and were pleased. "I see you are A+ certfified", she said. "Yes", I added, "I currently hold seven CompTIA certifications". She nodded. She admittidly knew nothing about the IT field. I was being interviewed by the Operations Manager. He day to day tasks are financial, not really technical.

After 15 minutes or so of strange questions, and extra paperwork, she said "I have no problem recommending you for a third interview". This was actually only my first interview, but I wasn't going to argue. At that point she took me out to meet the store manager who she said "is really cool". He was stuck on the phone at the time, probably trying to put out a fire with a customer. So she popped open the master schedule and found a spot for me. "Monday at six?". I agreed. And so, tomorrow at six, I will have my third and final interview with the store manager.

I would have to go out of my way NOT to get this job. It then dawned on my that I would need black pants. I'm not sure how much of the "Geek Squad" uniform they provide. I'm hoping the clip-on tie is something the store provides. It's not something that I would wear to any other function, and I don't know of anyone off hand selling them. The same goes for "short sleeve" white button up shirts. Nobody is selling those during the cold months. The rest of the store wears company owned Polo shirts. So maybe they will flip the bill for the white button up shirts. At any rate, I know for sure they aren't buying my pants. And I don't have a single pair of black pants.

So off to the the thrift shops I went. I had to hit about three in all, and out of that I got two pairs of good fitting pants. One pair was $3.99 with 50% off. Can't beat that! There was nowhere to try them on, so buying them was a gamble. But after a good wash, I slipped into them. Like a glove.

Now, as my weekend rolls to a close I have to put my priorities in order. I am teaching/mentoring a woman on Microsoft Access the first three days next week. I really don't know why. I don't use Access. But they volunteered me because "Steve has taught that before". She will certainly be asking me how to do things, that I won't know how to do. But nobody at the office wanted to hear that. They had made promises without speaking to me about it. If it all goes to hell in a hand-basket I will surely be blamed. I LOVE MY JOB.

I also need to be studying for my last MCSE exam, 70-298. I have done very little to prepare for this test, and I have to schedule to take the exam on Friday. I would like to plan it so that by the time Thursday rolls around I will be "cramming" instead of "starting to study for it". Time will tell.

Thursday, November 04, 2004

The Internet Sucks
I haven't even bothered firing up my instant messenger lately. The ISP who hosts has been "down" more than up the past few days. Every once in a while I try to grab my mail before it loses it's connection again. But then, I don't have any mail because nobody the server has been disconnected.

I decided I would add something to my Blog about what's been happening, but Blogger is having problems. Sometimes I really HATE IT. It's been one of those weeks.

My buddy Rob tells me a couple of days ago, "you need to join the Geek Squad". I wasn't sure what the hell he was talking about so he sent me the URL to The "Geek Squad" looks like some strange cult where you have to wear short sleeve white shirts and black clip on ties (seriously). If you go "on call" you get to drive around the swank company cars which are black and white beetles (new ones) with a big logo on the side. Neat. The goal is to "repair PC problems". It's a bit like a glorified help desk

The company is owned by Best Buy, and it seems that all Best Buys are getting "geek squads" if they don't all ready have them. So I applied. I need the money. It would be nice to perhaps pay off my Honda someday. And I bounced my last mortgage check (which in turn bounced a few other checks). Additionally my wife and I are going to try and stow away some cash so that we can take a vacation in Canada to 'check it out'. The bottom line is ... we need money. More than I make.

The application went through Best Buy who "owns" and hosts the Geek Squad. Their online application process was horrific. It included all sorts of weird questions about welfare and a 20 page personality test. Grueling. Today, I got a call from Best Buy (they left a message on my machine) that said "we want to talk to you! Call us!". But ... they didn't leave a number. Doing the application on the web page, I had no idea who to call. Luckily, it was the first store on my list.

I will be interviewing for the job Saturday morning. I don't think it should be too hard to land this job. If anything, I am overqualified. But I am applying for the Geek Squad, and that's all I want to do. I'm not going to let them stick me in "stereos" or "video" in Best Buy.

I'm not sure what my employer will make of me working a retail gig on the side. I don't think anyone in management would ever consider working a retail position. They would sooner collect unemployment and live off of their savings I gather. But I felt it is probably a good idea to tell my boss what I am up to. It shouldn't be a conflict of interest, or a breach of my non-compete contract. But just so that they don't can me for working a part time gig, I sent her an e-mail.

Britain Thinks We're Dumb
I was watching one of the news channels today and it seems that Britain called Americans retards on one of their popular papers. While not very nice, I doubt the rest of the world feels any different about things. I think when the election results began pouring in, people around the world stood in front of their TV sets slapping their foreheads and doing that Homer Simpson thing. At least I did. Are Americans this easily misled? Yes.

I also watched on the news as the local school commissioner stepped up to the podium with her colleagues and announced that she was "disappointed" in the votes. With tears in her eyes she informed everyone that there would be cut backs, and most likely lay-offs. She added that she didn't understand the lack of support for our children. Nor did I.

I know those of you who supported Bush are happy that he made it. But to see supporters of the other team weep, should strike a nerve. It's not like losing a football game. They are weeping because they care about this country and they are concerned about it's future. We all should be.

My Blog comments have been really interesting. I am glad that you all are taking an interest in what's going on. I hope that you all continue to share your thoughts and learn from each other. It's been getting a little viscous in there, but that's to be expected. We are lucky enough to have the right to slander each other and our president for that matter. I say we use that right!

Keep your fingers crossed for me Saturday when I interview for my $8.00 an hour job, will ya? When I get hired, I think I will send a letter to Bush. You know, to thank him for this opportunity at one of his 1.6 million jobs.

Wednesday, November 03, 2004

The Right Wings Win
It is a sad, sad, week for me. I spent last week wondering what I could do with my career. Would I be fired? Would I be forced out after the e-mail I sent to my boss? Would I be the next "John" to be fired for speaking out against how this company operates? That weekend I watched my son lose his first championship game. He cried. We did our best to cheer him up and put him in good spirits. After all, they started off the season as the absolute worst team in the league. It was a victory to have shown up. Yet, the officials didn't seem to notice any of the foul play in the game. Perhaps because the commissioner was coaching the winning team. In the end, he awarded himself the trophy, and it left a bad taste in our mouths. He had hand picked his winning team at the start of the season, and took home his own prize at the seasons end.

I woke up at 6:00AM yesterday morning and rushed to the polls to vote. I returned home at 9:30AM to grab my laptop and rush off to work. It was a long, grueling three hours in line. My wife would later also wait about the same length of time to cast her vote. And then we prayed. We prayed that maybe there was some hope. Yet, last evening, we watched in horror as red poured over the map. Like blood pouring from the soil. It was a shameful victory. This country is obviously fooled. Put a bible under your arm, tell people you are "pro life" and suddenly, the real issues don't matter any more. I heard one woman for the Republican party tell the camera "in a time of war we need a president with morals". Nevermind that we are only in a war, because the president launched an attack with the wrong enemy. She added "it's a bad time to switch presidents". Yeah, so let's re-elect the president to show the president our support.

People were blinded to the issues. We watched issue one become adopted. This will not only ban gay marriages in Ohio, but it will also disallow them the right to healthcare, and transferring ownership of property. Did you notice how they snuck that in? Nobody else did. But gay people are bad. They don't deserve rights. God doesn't like them, and neither should YOU!

We also watched our local zoo win a levy that will allow them to take from our taxes to make it better. Yet, the zoo is actually based in a different county that doesn't pay any taxes for it.

Our schools will now certainly be laying off teachers, because people couldn't part with some tax dollars to pay for school development. Thank you for fucking over my children to save a few bucks. I will be knocking on your doors to sell shitty fundraiser items now. So don't complain when I come to your house.

It was a win for the dark side.

Now, I am left with rising health care costs and my wife with a chronic disease. I am working in an industry which is closing up and moving overseas. My so called leader is going to further screw over countries, remove leaders, and wonder why terrorism is at an all time high. So where does that leave me?

My friends, I am taking a long serious look into leaving this country. I give up. You can have it. My wife and I are going to make every attempt to take a quick trip into Canada to check it out. I cannot afford to stay here. And I am not saying that to be sarcastic. I honestly don't have the money. I can't pay the rising healthcare costs. I have nothing to give the hospitals. I can barely pay my mortgage and car payments. In Canada, healthcare grows on trees.

My children are going to be deprived of a good education. They are being pulled out of class now to attend workshops where they are trained on how to pass the state mandated exams. This is part of Bush's fabulous "no child left behind" act. Nevermind that they don't have the resources to train the foriegn children who barely speak English.

Canada is looking pretty green my friends. Who's with me?