Monday, July 31, 2006

Moving day

I found a new place today, the thirtieth. Move out day is tomorrow. I drove down ninety-five percent of my with-me possessions and am about to pack the car with the last of it.

Now this is God picking you up and setting you down where you need to be. My new landlord will probably drive me insane with cleaning but after this place, he is welcome to do so. A former Colombian, he works in Catholic and immigrant outreach. Sometime, I will write up our conversation with the one I had with an American kid who lived in Saudi Arabia and the one I had at KLUG with the Russian exchange um, students? Businessmen? Whichever, I will post it here; truly, we live in Fortress Disneyland and the world is much scarier than we thought.

A day of discovery:
  1. I always surprise myself with how well I learned packing from Dad. I stuffed almost everything I brought down here into a single carload. I only have a chair, the computer, bedding and a few clothes left. When I crept out of the apartment complex, the speed bumps bottomed out my suspension.
  2. How empty even carpeted rooms sound with nothing in them; surprising even after all these years and moves. A lonely sound.
  3. I need furniture: a bed, especially, perhaps a dresser. I may make that an excuse to shift my days around and drive up to Kalamazoo, though really, I could not bring down a bed with my car. Maybe if I bought a supercheap ticket, I could fly? But what would I do if showed up and the rental truck was not available?
  4. My new place, on Sunday afternoon at least, is nine minutes from work. Bliss. Happiness. A lot cheaper.
Time to pack the chair and computer. My landlord has Wifi (wireless) internet only so my computer will be disconnected until I get such a card and hook it up. So use work email only, and do not send to my Google Mail address because I can't access it from work.

Guh. Bed. Now. While I can enjoy it.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Wonky of sleep...

Speaking of wonky, I was on the phone till a little after ten tonight. I can barely think straight. The woman and I were joking about each of us downing some Scotch after we hung up.

Two places, and a couple people who will hotel room with me if they fall through. Feeling a bit twitchy, here.

And another thing about the 30-day contract people... I am basically their slave until they get tired and release me from the phone. I feel like a genie, which reminds me:

A genie, imprisoned in a lamp, alone and desperate to escape, promised it would grant three wishes to whomever released it.

A thousand years later, the genie swore to bring untold riches and treasure to whomever would free it from its prison.

A thousand years after that the genie swore unending pain and torment on whichever luckless bastard finally set it free.

Genie, I so totally understand you.

Monday, July 24, 2006

Another lesson...

Don't read H.P. Lovecraft just before going to bed... especially do not read "The Shadow Over Innsmouth" because that one is the scariest of the bunch...

I am still looking for a new apartment. I have a number of good leads, though, including a couple very near where I work. For that matter, I have been looking through jobs ads as well, and found an opening in Ypsilanti which might be interesting, though it lists GM as one of its customers and I am not sure how much longer GM will be around.

I found one duplex which would be fantastic. It is in Inglewood, which is right across the Cumberland in a little neck of the river, with a fantastic, gorgeous park just down the street. Cross your fingers...

My current schedule is Mon-Tue-Fri-Sat, 9 am to 8 pm. Traffic is much lighter then, which is nice. My call volume is up and my refunds are down, which is also nice.

I lost some personal possessions when my group got moved while I was out for two days. The guy who took my desk threw out the notebook I kept during my training and my aspirin. I hope to get my headphones back, at least. Nice guy. I am currently sitting next to two guys who are pretty cool. The one is friendly, the other is post-modern cynical. Better than isolation, I guess.

I am not looking forward to moving, but I have little choice, as staying here with all new roommates does not attract me. Also, I do want to live closer to Nashville and a night life of some sort, even if it is only some cafés.

Yes, I should be sleeping. But that story...

"Iä! Iä! Cthulhu fhtagn! Ph'nglui mglw'nafh Cthulhu R'lyeh wgah-nagl fhtaga--"


QOTD: "In his house in Raleigh, dead Elvis lies dreaming."

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Things I failed to mention, being wonky with lack of sleep

I bought a watch, one of those hybrid pocket watches that hang, upside-down, from a belt loop. With my keys, key card and my new watch all hanging from my belt loops, I am starting to resemble Batman. With the key card on one of those retractable reels, I can swing across caverns created by the Building Densification project (I am not joking, that is the name) or, for stubborn problems, garrote people to death like a British commando.

This watch rocks. I used it to time my breaks. Two breaks of exactly 30 minutes total time. Heh. But I find myself wanting a watch fob for it. Also, I regret that I could choose the stopwatch OR the compass.

I bought an umbrella. I got to use it about twenty minutes later. Thunderstorms here hit like a wall; you drive along and suddenly, you can't see. The rain also comes in bands that you pass in and out of. Surprisingly, aside from the ant situation created by roommates too dumb to realize that ANTS LIVE ON SUGAR and that DRIED SODA POP on the counters is nothing more than DRIED SUGAR WITH FOOD COLORING, the bugs here are not too scary. Excepting, of course, the beetle I saw crawling along the parking lot next door which I saw while standing on a THIRD FLOOR BALCONY. I think it was a beetle, puppies do not glint in the sodium lights like that.

I have today and tomorrow off, therefore I will be apartment hunting for these two days. I have a bunch of numbers to call. Here's hoping.

Monday, July 10, 2006

Great, now I can't sleep

Okay, my earlier post? The one that claimed I would be feeling better, and posting more?

Well, that was a load of happy horsesh… um, you know.

I apologize for not posting here since my job actually started. My energy is very low as this job is extremely stressful. I have three categories of customers:

Normals: these are the ones with the 30-day getting started contracts. They are not necessarily smarter nor better prepared than my other customers: they simply have not had their computers long enough to do any damage to them. Some normals are tricky, though. One guy, who sounded nice enough, wanted to “fix AOL”. Without reinstalling. Folks, AOL has released three different versions of AOL 9.0! They don't know how to fix it either! I was on the phone for two hours before I pounded that through his skull!

Okay, so maybe they are stressful, too.

Muggers: using threats and abuse, they try to get what I can not give them: free support and/or miracles. A decided minority, but more upsetting when they do show up.

Leapers: they have term papers, theses, and business reports they need to recover now, exactly in the form they were in before they messed up their M$ Office installation. Suicide is a definite undertone in these conversations; police negotiators should train with DOC to learn just how desperate the people standing on those building ledges are. Fortunately, I have an ace up my sleeve that many others do not: I know about, the free software M$ Office-compatible software suite. It works, it is easy, and installing it won't mess up their current Office installations any more or less than they were before.

Ten hour days are very exhausting. Gene, our trainer, advised us to keep our favorite analgesic pain relievers in our desk drawers; he was, of course, absolutely right.

I have slowly begun to beat myself into a proper tool for this job. I am too easily affected by other people's emotions and that is a critical failing in this job. Almost by definition, most of our customers are simply irrational.

I have been getting a lot of fan mail, though: I am a hit with some people. I had one woman at Boeing with a problem we were basically powerless to solve, but I managed to cheer her up by asking about the 787 versus the A380, comparing the latter to the Concorde: an impressive money hole. Government in civilian aviation: really, did the R101 teach us nothing??

Honestly, though, my calls are down and my refund rate is too high. I fear I will not make it at this rate. Which is a bit overblown: I am learning a lot about Windows (aside from learning that I will never, ever run Windows on my computer ever in my life). But it is obvious I need to learn faster, and more.

One spot of good news: my new schedule is nine AM to eight. Yay! No more rush hour traffic!

I also need an apartment, and have a few phone numbers to call. I also drove around looking at places listed in one of those free apartment guides (gaining familiarity with the local neighborhoods). Other than that, I have not moved forward on this, and I need to. I am just so drained that I am incapable of writing, or coding, or doing anything other than surfing the net (which is just watching TV, 21st century-style). I sit in front of a computer all day, but web surfing is out: I am jumping almost every minute of the day.

So what have I learned?

Some good news on cystic fibrosis.

Reading this article gave me instant flashbacks, “Yeah, that is why I moved, too!” In Michigan, the lawmakers fund huge tax breaks for old industries that repay them by going out of business or moving out of state. They pay for these with high taxes; exactly like Europe, they cosy up to cartels, then tax the hell out of the little guy starting a business in his garage.

Socialism is for the people? Which ones?

In the New York Times, meanwhile, we discover that “the supply siders” are trying to paint the growth of America's economy as overly stellar: after all, revenues have not reached 2000 levels (they do not specify real dollars or not). Interesting, though, that they are so close with such a radically lowered tax base. The rest of the article is not worth the foolscap it is printed on, of course, for they cite no names for “revenues did not match expectations.” It is all spin.

[H]ow many big al Qaeda secret plans has the New York Times revealed?… A [British reporter] went undercover at some mosque at Brighton, in England, and came out with all kinds of material. How come nobody at the New York Times seems to be interested in devoting any editorial energy to exposing what the enemy's up to? That's an important question. —Mark Steyn

In other news, Ann Althouse is still cool. My favorite comment: “I would use a stronger example. Creationism is relatively benign. Why not allow Neo-nazi's to diverge from Western Civ to teach the Protocols of the Elders of Zion? Or Ex-Keagles diverge from a biology or genetics class to teach race theory?” In the world of slippery slopes (a code word for “stop thinking here”), how shall we oppose teaching creationism in biology (as opposed to social or religious studies) unless we oppose Barrett teaching that CIA controlled demolitions destroyed the Towers?

The U-W is reconsidering their hiring policies since getting tarred-by-association with Barrett:

If my arguments that the “Islamic terrorist threat” is fabricated, that “al-Qaida” is really al-CIA-duh, that the “Bin Laden confession video” is ludicrously phony, and so on, were viewed as crazy, I would hardly have been chosen to teach the introductory courses on Islam at both the University of Wisconsin-Madison and Edgewood College of Madison next fall.

Wait for it.

Modern Grotesque

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