Odd Phone Call

I was preparing to make a left-hand turn out of the shopping center onto northbound Jarrettsville Pike — the exact same place I was when these dipshits pulled their dipshitiness.

My cell phone began to vibrate in my pocket. It felt soooo good. Anyway, I checked it thinking I might’ve forgotten a side item or something and the store was calling to tell me to get my ass back right quick before I’d gone too far.

It was a phone number I didn’t recognize — Maryland area code. This is how the conversation went:

Me: “Hello?”

Her: “Hello?”

Me: … “Hello?”

Her: “Hello?”

Me: “Can you hear me?”

Her: “Can you hear me?”

Me: “Yes. Can you hear me?”

Her: “Yes. Can you hear me?”

Realizing I have better things to do with time than listen to someone repeat everything I say over the phone, I hung up and gunned it on my delivery. They didn’t call back. I wonder if I can do a reverse search over WhitePages.com using the phone number to try to figure out who called me.

Or, y’know, not.

Who Wears The Footwear in this Family?

I spent the last six hours or so helping this guy move.

(I wish I’d taken the night off from work, because I’ve been having a hankering for grilled hot dogs since last weekend’s grill-party got rained out, and what would you guess is in Neckbone’s backyard? Yep, a grill. Alas.)

This is all I’m going to say: Neckbone, when you have FOUR boxes of shoes to your wife’s ONE … well, that, in fact, is all I am going to say.

(And as if spending hours today climbing in and out of a U-Haul truck wasn’t bad enough, I get home to find a U-Haul truck parked in front of the door to my building. I hope — hope! — that the crazies in apartment B are moving. They’ve been the fourth group of people to live in that apartment since I moved in here, just under three years ago. Place has a fuckin’ curse.)

Delivery Charge

Greg has instituted a delivery charge, starting last Wednesday (yesterday).

The delivery charge is one dollar. All drivers have recieved a thirty-cents increase on their mileage compensation. This means that I now make a buck-thirty in gas compensation for each delivery I take.

It also means that Greg has cut his out-of-the-store’s-pockets expenses by seventy cents a delivery. I understand that rent is going up, energy costs are going up, and of course both the commissary and Coca-a-Cola are adding the increasing costs of gasoline to what Greg has to pay. So he’s decided the customers need to pick up a bit of those costs — not an unfair expectation, right? Except that since carryout customers don’t pay a delivery charge … it’s the delivery customer base now being expected to subsidize the store’s operating costs. Personally, I’d rather see a price increase.

It’s not that I’m ungrateful for the boost in mileage. Seriously, this should put me comfortably into the black for awhile (let’s see how high gas costs rise in the summer). So far, tonight anyway, the delivery charge didn’t adversely affect my tips — in fact, even discounting the mileage increase, my run average was higher than normal.

My new goal is to talk Greg into giving me a raise. I currently make $6.15 per hour, which is the new minimum wage in Maryland. On one hand, I’m not going to complain about making that. On the other hand, before the wage increase, I was making sixty-cents higher than minimum wage ($5.75 an hour, minimum was $5.15). My arguement is going to be hinged thusly:

First, I’m going to try the “loyal as a dog” routine:

I have worked for you for nearly two years. You are aware that I consistently arrive for my shifts, rarely call out (and then only due to hazzardous weather conditions, family emergencies, and/or involvement in major car accidents), and often work days scheduled or requested off to assist staffing levels. As a driver, I know the area intimately, and am never rude to a customer in their presence. I drive safely and ensure the product arrives to its destination as quickly as possible.

If that doesn’t work, I’ll get mathematical:

1. I take more than one delivery per hour. Factoring out the thirty-cents per run in mileage compensation the store pays, this means the store makes seventy cents per delivery.

2. For every hour I work, I take approximately two and a half deliveries.

2a. This means, that in any given hour, the store is making $1.75 off of the runs that I am delivering.

3. Giving me a raise of .35 cents will do two things.

3a. First, and most important, I will stop yapping your ear off about how I am worth more than minimum wage.
3b. Second, you will still be earning an a dollar forty per hour off the runs I take.

Assuming that doesn’t work … well, we still have the “nuclear option.”

Hey, did you know that if I quit, you don’t have enough drivers to work my shifts?

Battlestar Galactica – Spinoff/Prequel

Like a sledgehammer, y’know?

The backstory of BSG has always been a bit vague. Humans invented robots to make their lives easier. These robots — called “Cylons” — developed sentience, and turned against their masters in a bloody conflict. The Battlestar Galactica was one of twelve battleship/aircraft carriers built in the early days of the war. The war continued until an armistace was agreed upon, at which point the Cylons vanished to a world of their own, and the Colonials built up their military in fear of a hostile return by the Cylons. As the series begins, the Galactica is decomissioned, and the big mighty military of the Colonials is cut to shreds in hours, their planets are nuked into near oblivion, and only 50,000 people — on the run — are left of the human race (with only an aging, decrepid, falling-apart Battlestar to defend them!)

Well, that backstory is going to get fleshed out:

“Caprica” will be set more than 50 years prior to the events of “Battlestar Galactica” and focus on the lives of two families — the Adamas (ancestors of future Galactica commander William) and the Graystones. Humankind’s Twelve Colonies are at peace and on the verge of a technological breakthrough: the first Cylon.

As “Battlestar Galactica” is about a lot more than space battles, “Caprica” will be as much family drama as sci-fi tale. Remi Aubuchon (“The Lyon’s Den,” “24″) is writing the pilot script; “Galactica” veterans Ronald D. Moore and David Eick will executive produce it.

I won’t lie — I’m both very anticipatory and very nervous.

As a series, we’re looking at a sci-fi version of, say, “30-Something” with scientists. From what we’ve seen of life on Caprica immediately before and after the nuclear holocaust, the Colonials enjoy an existance very similar to 21st century America — people smoke cigars, go to bars, shop at strip-malls, and Starbuck drives an AMC Humvee. With the exception of interstellar travel, life on Caprica really isn’t all that different from life in, say, Baltimore (or, uh, Montreal).

On the Colonies, humanity has not reached some Star Trek-epiphany, where people work to better themselves. There are no transporters, or machines which produce food out of thin air. “We still kill each over petty grievances,” Bill Adama says in a speech during the miniseries. I think these elements will make the prequel an exciting show to watch — a family-drama sci-fi with no fancy gadgets (er, except Cylons), where every episode is overshadowed by the audiences’ knowledge that in fifty years, all will be vaporized …

My predictions:

* There will, at some point, be a reference to a “state of the art” ship called Galactica. We might even go aboard Galactica, in which case the dirtied sets of the spun-off series will be cleaned up, painted, and redressed (slightly) to look both older and newer than what we’re used to.

* James Edward Olmos and Jaimie Bamber will guest-star as one or more of Bill & Lee Adama’s ancestors.

* Hopefully, there will be no “cutsey” references to ancestors of BSG characters whose last name is not “Adama”. (I.E., Roslin’s great-granddad gets it on with Bill’s great-grandmom).

Diecast Cylon (II)

(Diecast Cylon here).

Target in Cockeysville, bless their hearts, had apparently just re-stocked the Titanium section. Titanium is a series of Hasbro toys, originally geared for Star Wars, which feature die-cast recreations of various ships from the Star Wars movie series. Recently, the line was expanded to include Transformers and Battlestar Galactica.

Long story short …

blue_viper_mk_2

Bloody Envelope (as in, “picture of a…”)

I had a bloody nose in my car enroute to my delivery. Nothing too serious, it wasn’t dripping out of the nostril or anything, I could see in my rear-view mirror that the interior of my right nostril was no longer green and hairy, but rather, red and hairy. Odd to have a non-bleeding nosebleed, but whatever.

When I got out of my car, a tendril of blood dripped down onto my lip. I smeared it away with the back of my hand, and inspected my face in the elevator mirror on the way up to the 6th floor. No trace, except for the blood smear on my hand. I wiped it against my black shirt until my hand looked new.

I walked into the office, put the bag on the counter, and the woman handed me the money in a white envelope. I thanked her, left, and took the elevator back to the lobby. As I walked outside towards my car, I felt a sneeze rapidly approaching explosion.

When I sneezed, I brought the envelope up towards my face to absorb the snot.

This is what I saw*:

bloody_envelope

After I sneezed, and looked at the envelope, I noticed that my nostril was not red, nor green, and considerably less hairy.

Nostril cleaning by nose-bleed-sneezing. I like it.

*Of course, it hadn’t dried yet so it was still wet, juicy, and running.

Bloody Envelope (as in, "picture of a…")

I had a bloody nose in my car enroute to my delivery. Nothing too serious, it wasn’t dripping out of the nostril or anything, I could see in my rear-view mirror that the interior of my right nostril was no longer green and hairy, but rather, red and hairy. Odd to have a non-bleeding nosebleed, but whatever.

When I got out of my car, a tendril of blood dripped down onto my lip. I smeared it away with the back of my hand, and inspected my face in the elevator mirror on the way up to the 6th floor. No trace, except for the blood smear on my hand. I wiped it against my black shirt until my hand looked new.

I walked into the office, put the bag on the counter, and the woman handed me the money in a white envelope. I thanked her, left, and took the elevator back to the lobby. As I walked outside towards my car, I felt a sneeze rapidly approaching explosion.

When I sneezed, I brought the envelope up towards my face to absorb the snot.

This is what I saw*:

bloody_envelope

After I sneezed, and looked at the envelope, I noticed that my nostril was not red, nor green, and considerably less hairy.

Nostril cleaning by nose-bleed-sneezing. I like it.

*Of course, it hadn’t dried yet so it was still wet, juicy, and running.

Snow Crash

I’m re-reading Snow Crash.

I’d forgotten how awesome it is.

The hero’s name? Hiro Protagonist. Gotta love that humor.

Excerpt, ‘cuz I’m cool like that (plus I want to get sued by publishers):

The Deliverator belongs to an elite order, a hallowed subcategory. He’s got esprit up to here. Right now, he is preparing to carry out his third mission of the night. His uniform is black as activated charcoal, filtering the very light out of the air. A bullet will bounce off its arachnofiber weave like a wren hitting a patio door, but excess perspiration wafts through it like a breeze through a freshly napalmed forest. Where his body has bony extremities, the suit has sintered armorgel: feels like gritty jello, protects like a stack of telephone books.

When they gave him the job, they gave him a gun. The Deliverator never deals in cash, but someone might come after him anyway — might want his car, or his cargo. The gun is tiny, aero-styled, lightweight, the kind of a gun a fashion designer would carry; it fires teensy darts that fly at five times the velocity of an SR-71 spy plane, and when you get done using it, you have to plug it into the cigarette lighter, because it runs on electricity.

The Deliverator never pulled that gun in anger, or in fear. He pulled it once in Gila Highlands. Some punks in Gila Highlands, a fancy Burbclave, wanted themselves a delivery, and they didn’t want to pay for it. Thought they would impress the Deliverator with a baseball bat. The Deliverator took out his gun, centered its laser doo-hickey on that poised Louisville Slugger, fired it. The recoil was immense, as though the weapon had blown up in his hand. The middle third of the baseball bat turned into a column of burning sawdust accelerating in all directions like a bursting star. Punk ended up holding this bat handle with milky smoke pouring out the end. Stupid look on his face. Didn’t get nothing but trouble from the Deliverator.

Since then the Deliverator has kept the gun in the glove compartment and relied, instead, on a matched set of samurai swords, which have always been his weapon of choice anyhow. The punks in Gila Highlands weren’t afraid of the gun, so the Deliverator was forced to use it. But swords need no demonstrations.

The Deliverator’s car has enough potential energy packed into its batteries to fire a pound of bacon into the Asteroid Belt. Unlike a bimbo box or a Burb beater, the Deliverator’s car unloads that power through gaping, gleaming, polished sphincters. When the Deliverator puts the hammer down, shit happens. You want to talk contact patches? Your car’s tires have tiny contact patches, talk to the asphalt in four places the size of your tongue. The Deliverator’s car has big sticky tires with contact patches the size of a fat lady’s thighs. The Deliverator is in touch with the road, starts like a bad day, stops on a peseta.

Why is the Deliverator so equipped? Because people rely on him. He is a roll model. This is America. People do whatever the fuck they feel like doing, you got a problem with that? Because they have a right to. And because they have guns and no one can fucking stop them. As a result, this country has one of the worst economies in the world. When it gets down to it — talking trade balances here — once we’ve brain-drained all our technology into other countries, once things have evened out, they’re making cars in Bolivia and microwave ovens in Tadzhikistan and selling them here — once our edge in natural resources has been made irrelevant by giant Hong Kong ships and dirigibles that can ship North Dakota all the way to New Zealand for a nickel — once the Invisible Hand has taken all those historical inequities and smeared them out into a broad global layer of what a Pakistani brickmaker would consider to be prosperity — y’know what? There’s only four things we do better than anyone else

music
movies
microcode (software)
high-speed pizza delivery

The Deliverator used to make software. Still does, sometimes. But if life were a mellow elementary school run by well-meaning education Ph.D.s, the Deliverator’s report card would say: “Hiro is so bright and creative but needs to work harder on his cooperation skills.”

So now he has this other job. No brightness or creativity involved — but no cooperation either. Just a single principle: The Deliverator stands tall, your pie in thirty minutes or you can have it free, shoot the driver, take his car, file a class-action suit. The Deliverator has been working this job for six months, a rich and lengthy tenure by his standards, and has never delivered a pizza in more than twenty-one minutes.

Oh, they used to argue over times, many corporate driver-years lost to it: homeowners, red-faced and sweaty with their own lies, stinking of Old Spice and job-related stress, standing in their glowing yellow doorways brandishing their Seikos and waving at the clock over the kitchen sink, I swear, can’t you guys tell time?

If you’ve never read Neal Stephenson, you should read Snow Crash, and also Zodiac. And Cryptonomicron.

Wait for Gasoline

People waited in a line for Gasoline. Everyone should wait in a line for gasoline, that’s why its spelled gasoline.

Seriously.

Shell runs a special every Tuesday — .05 cents off each gallon of gasoline. ABC-2-News did a report on people lining up for gas. Literally. People just waited in long lines in their SUVs and cars and trucks (and I guarantee you they let their vehicles idle instead of turning them off). One woman even brought a book to read while she waited.

There are lots of things I thought when I saw this story. The first was, “Holy crap, how cheap do you have to be to wait in line for so long to save a measely five cents?” Second might’ve been, “Gosh, wanna bet how shitty the major roads were today with lines of cars overflowing the station parking lots because people can be so chintzy?”

My Celica has a capacity of thirteen gallons, if memory serves. That means that assuming I ran my car all the way to empty, I would save a grand total of … wait for it … sixty-five cents by utilizing the Shell station for my gas.

Don’t get me wrong … generally, I get my gas from Enroy up in Harford County because it’s cheaper than what’s in “downtown” Jacksonville (usually cheaper by ten cents or more), but if there’s a line stretching out from the Enroy, do you think I’d just casually wait more than a minute for a pump to open up? Eff no! Shit, I’d waste more gasoline waiting for a pump to open up than I’d spend paying an extra five cents a fuckin’ gallon at another station.

Of course, my driving habits aren’t the same as a lot of people — I drive 30k a year, roughly. I fill up my car every night, rarely letting the tank drop below a quarter empty. I suppose if I drove a tank that had a fifty-gallon tank and got seven miles to the gallon, I’d wait for that five cent savings too.

On the other hand, I’d probably sell the tank and buy a Toyota hybrid.

Weight Seventeen

As I stepped on the scale, lo’ not five minutes ago, both of my fingers were crossed. As the digital display processed its holding pattern, I trembled. And as the numbers came up, I restrained from jumping in the air with a celebratory hoo-ray!

After gaining two pounds last week and rising from a weight of 223 pounds to 225, I have lost a total of FOUR pounds, which leaves me at a current weight of 221. Overall, it’s actually only a loss of two pounds since two weeks ago, but any loss is a good loss.

As of today, I have currently lost twenty-seven pounds since I began this diet in January. If you’re interested, this means my average weight loss is .22 pounds per day.

Go me!

Monthly Expenses

Inspired by this post by Messy Hair Girl, about how fucked Maryland is.

Income: Varies by Month

Outcome: Varies by Month as regards BGE and gas useage

Rent: $709 p/month ($734 beginning in June)

Health Insurance: $107 p/ month

Comcast (Internet & television): $130

Property Tax: $0.00 (hooray!)

Gas: Estimated $70-$80+ per week, depending on prices at the pump*

Car & Rental Insurance: $132 p/ month

BGE: $40 p/month off-peak rising to $80-$100 p/month peak (this doesn’t include any forth-coming rate hike, which would bring my bill to $69 off-peak and up to $172 peak).

AT&T Home Phone: $40 p/month

Cingular Cellular Plan: $40 p/month

Savings: $217 p/ month

Debt Payments (to Parents): $700 p/month

Groceries: $200 p/month (supplimented with “donations” from work)

Water: $0.00 (paid for by landlord … I mean, paid for in my rent)

Car Maintenance: Est. $250 p/ month. Including oil changes, tune-ups, replacement light bulbs, brakes, tires (I go through a set of tires every year), and major repairs, about $2-3,000 per year.

I am fortunate in that I rarely have difficulty making income sufficient to cover these expenses. Of course, it’s a seasonal thing — February and March are tough, as are August and September.

I am currently fortunate in that, if I’m short on money, I can beg, cajol, threaten, and otherwise intimidate co-workers into giving me additional shifts to work. Thankfully, most of my coworkers are shiftless bastards who don’t like working anyway, so getting their hours is easy. :)

*Mileage compensation at work covers most of my gas expenses (working & otherwise).