Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Multiply 365 Day 150 - Almost record breaking

No, the title does not refer to the 150th edition of Multiply 365, this is technically only the 149th edition after all, and even if this were the 150th straight day of blogging, people have done it longer and better than myself.  Rather it was the temperature, which hit 91 today officially, the record for this date is 92, that merits attention on the top of the page.

Not that I have a problem with it being warm, it sure as hell beats snow, but for Pittsburgh 91 would be a hot summer day, and we are still 3 weeks from summer beginning.  For the record we are also 19 days from my birthday, so be sure to shop now.  It would have been a fine day to ride my bike to work, but I had a errand or two after work that I needed too run, so the bike stayed home today.  Plus I wanted to do some five finger shopping at work.

No, I was not stealing.  Rather I was taking advantage of some screwups in ordering to add to my own cupboards at home.  Most of the products we get at the store are guaranteed, at least within reason.  That is, if we don't rid ourselves of it from the sell by date the vendor will take it back and give us credit for it.  It isn't the same as getting cash back, but close enough and usually those types of vendors we do enough business with that we would be spending that amount in the future anyway.

But there are some that fall outside that realm, those that we will sign up to try something with and the idea just fails.  Because we don't have a regular account with them, and because they are usually small enough that they can't really be taking back product that they can't resell, we just end up stuck with it.  So the product reaches its sell by date, and nothing.  Sometimes we will do like some other outlets do and mark it down in hopes of moving it at a cheaper price.  You will see this happen a lot of times in discount outlet stores to, you will wonder how they are selling candy bars that retail at $1.09 being sold 3 for $1 or something.  usually they are pushing product that is past the sell by date (which is different than a use by date).  Other vtimes we will just eat the loss, and anyone who wants to take stuff home can.

Well that is what happened at work a while back, we signed up for a program with Angle Foods, a protein meal based plan put out by Kurt Angle and and affiliate of the same vendor that was also pushing microwaveable italian dinners.  So Ed bought an entire feezer of this stuff and it pretty much didn't sell, so now I have been taking home three or four dishes a night and just stocking my freezer.  If that weren't enough, while at Universal on Saturday I uncovered more of our ancient Mud Coffee product.  For those that don't know, Mud Coffee is like a Starbucks Frappucino.  The thing is, the sell by date on this stuff was Sept 18th, 2008, and I just drank one, so if I die before I finsh typing this, make sure someone hits the save/publish button for me.

I actually uncovered some of this stuff originally in our basement about a year and a half ago, when I was first getting the stockroom arranged to my liking, then more of it appeared when we closed Weissmart and now I found another 14 cases of it on Saturday.  But health hazard be damned, I am a sucker for free stuff, so I brought a couple of four packs home tonight.  One down, 7 cans to go and I am not dead yet.

I wish I could pontificate on far grander things this evening, buit it is just too hot in my apartment, so rather than try to come up with something, I will just call it a night so that I might catch another white hot episode of "Cheaters" before turning in.  Perhaps someone can stab Joey again tonight, this time for real.


Monday, May 30, 2011

Multiply 365 Day 149 - People that aren't there anymore

I'll start by saying I am not sure where I heard the big news first, maybe I heard it on the radio, maybe it was bouncing between any one of a number of websites that I visit on a daily basis,  But the news was big just the same.  Except it wasn't.

Apparently someone hacked the PBS website and posted a story saying that Tupac was still alive and living in New Zealand.  Really?  Like any of the PBS members go on the website to get hip hop/rap news?  I know, someone was trying to be funny and show that they could hack the PBS website, but why not something more believeable or at least more PBS relevant than than Tupac?  Like "Barack Obama Sex Tape", complete with a picture of the President with a pained look on his face and a "Yes I Can" word balloon.  But if Tupac is the story you are looking to plant, why not TMZ or People or something.  You lose a lot of street cred when you are hanging with your homies talking about how you got all up in the PBS site.  I oughta know, I've done it.  It is usually followed by a blank stare or a question like "PBS is still on the air?" or "They have a website?".  And were it not for my Katie Brown fantasies (she gives good sexy bed head) those same questions would probably have crept across my radar screen as well.

Then I thought about it some more, and while having the website hacked might be an embarrassment for PBS on a national scale, I can't help but think that it is a teasure trove of riches on a local one.  What could be better than to get Rick Sebak out there, camera in hand, for the next of his PBS documentaries, "People That Aren't There Anymore".  And it would be a treasure of riches, there are plenty of dead people he could feature, and with Pittsburgh's aging population, plenty of  opportunities for future programs as well.  After all if Ben Stiller can get still make bank with tha horrid run of Fockers movies, then Rick Sebak should clean up on "People That Aren't There Anymore".  I can see 6, even 7 movies in this series without breaking a sweat.  And to start off with a bang?  How about Tupac?

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Multiply 365 Day 148 - Not quite a 3 hour tour

The problem with running my mouth about things is that then I have to go do them.  So when I said something about pictures and a blog yesterday, then I guess I have to do that too.  Luckily I just fetched me another of those awesome Cuban sandwiches from around the corner to help fuel me through another blog post.  If that can't get me through an entry here, well then nothing can.

Not that I made a big journey today, just a little walk around the neighborhood, enough to break a sweat without being all sweaty.  But if I hadn't made a venture outside on a day like today, where I am off work and it is almost 90 degrees outside I know I would have been kicking myself for the next week at the missed opportunity. Of course in order for this to happen, some preplanning was called for, recharging the batteries on my camera which had been sitting on my desk since the last time I took pictures, and I also had to recharge the MP3 player, since I made the wise decision to leave it on after I got home from work on Friday.  When I got headed out the door for breakfast and work yesterday, I grabbed it and went to click it on for the bike ride and nothing.  I don't mind riding my bike, but it is more enjoyable when I have music to listen to when I do it.  I wasn't going to make the same mistake today, even though I would be sans bike, if I am traipsing around than music would definitely be called for. 

So out the door I went to grab a couple of pictures of the area around me, and the first place I get to is right at the end of my street, Groceria Merante.  This is the little Italian store I brag so much about, they have a small but kick ass deli counter in the back, lots of Boar's Head meat products (I highly reccommend the Buffalo Chicken and the Cracked Black Pepper Turkey, and don't forget the deli mustard), and I also purchase my premade meatballs there.  Some of the stuff is a little pricier than if you go to your local grocery store, like the sauces and pastas, but they aren't buying the cheapie generic or store brand box of pasta either, it is some really good stuff, and for a pasta eater like me that is always a plus.  As it turns out I had left my apartment around 12:30pm today and they usually close at noon on Sunday, but today they had a vendor in doing a sidewalk display/tasting so they were still open.  I would have stopped to try some things, but I had a tastier treat in mind later on.

Next stop was nearby, this little old semi ratty looking buiding.  What is the significance of this you might ask?  Well this is where I had my first ever solo apartment, in fact at one point I had the second floor window in the front.  The building was small, two apartments on each side on the first floor and 3 each on the second and third floors, a total of 16 units in all, plus a laundry facility in the basement.  The apartments were just little one room efficiencies and each floor had one bathroom that had to be shared, but it was me, out from under the clutches of roommates or parental supervision, so it served as a good enough home for me.  This would also be the place I met Hope, someone I have blogged about in the past and possibly the most special person of the female persuasion I had ever had the chance to encounter.  I lived on the second floor on the left side of the building, she lived on the second floor of the right hand side.  I can't even recall what caused us to bump into each other in the building in the first place (though I am leaning towards a lack of space), but whatever it was, while we weren't inseparable, we didn't actually date or anything or even have a relationship, there was something about being in her presence that made that place more like home than it had any right to be. 

Okay, enough with the sappy sentimentality stuff, people will think I am getting soft in my old age.  Rather, because I can't do anything healthy without ruining it somehow (as evidenced by my biking to save cigarette money), one can't go walking without figuring ice cream into the equation.  I know I have taken a picture of Dave and Andy's before, but usually that was to see the line outside the shop when it was really warm and sunny.  Being 12:30 or so, it is still too early for most college kids to even be out of bed, so there was no line outside the shop.  That means the homemade ice cream and waffle cones could be mine, all mine (insert evil laugh, or a hearty 'I am Mojo Jojo) to get some homemade deliciousness.

I opted for this, a rather bad mixture of ice creams, but I was pressed at the counter and couldn't make up my mind a second time.  I was going to get the cinnamon french toast ice cream, but they didn't have enough to call it a full scoop (this cone was a small btw), so they asked if I would like something else on top of it.  I quickly scanned the bins and for some unknown reason I said "birthday cake", which would be the whiter ice cream on the top with all of the sprinkles in it.  They were both good ice creams separately, but just not something that should ever have been put in the same cone.  My bad.

Next stop, well okay not a stop but a quick pause to take a picture would be the IGA Supermarket on Forbes Avenue.  I took a picture only because I used to work there when it wasn't a grocery store, but rather a bar/restaurant called The Attic.  Some of you people from way, way back will remember the old "Big P butters the roll" story, well it originated with co workers in that very building.  Now it is a bunch of apartments, a tanning salon and a grocery store, though I have never shopped there, even if it is just a couple of blocks from my apartment.  I can't shop in a grocery store where I have to climb steps to get in, I think it violates one of the Ferengi Rules of Acquisition or something.  I will take a city bus 20 minutes to a grocery store, but I will not climb a flight of steps for the same goods. 

Here would be the Oakland version of Pamela's, where I sometimes have breakfast if it isn't at Deluca's in the Strip District.  They do make some killer choclate chip and banana pancakes, and it was the first place where I had chorizo, which is now one of my favorite breakfast meats.  Deluca's makes better chorizo, but I have to give credit to Pamela's for first introducing me to that very good spicy sausage.   

Dumpster divers unite!!!!  I didn't find this here, but I set it there so I could get a good picture of it.  It is hard to take pictures of things you find when one hand is holding and ice cream cone and the other the camera.  For those unaware, that is the wrapper off of a 24 pack of Coke cans, and on the back of those are codes, usually inside a black square on the bottom.  This is the gold standard of free Coke points, the highest value they issue on any product, 20 points.  The going rates are; caps (12 oz, 20 oz, 2 liter) are 3, 12 packs of cans are 10 and 24 packs of cans are 20.  There is a limit of how many points you may redeem in a given week (120), and while I haven't hit that limit in a while, I just found 1/6 of it right here.

Next up would be my first ever home away from home, Litchfield Towers on the University of Pittsburgh campus.    This dorms would have made my efficiency apartment look palatial by comparison.  Little wedge type rooms that sleep two people and have room for maybe one. Entertainment was supposed to be provided by the lounges every third floor, where there was a TV in a room about the size of three of the wedges, but I got more entertainment looking out my window, as room 712 in Tower B looked directly across into Holland Hall, an all girls dorm.  I plan on going back some day to get my masters degree in pervishness.

Next up would be this nice little fountain right here, one of those special type places because Hope and I would come over here when it was nice and just sit outside and read.  Usually very little words would be spoken, but that didn't make the company any less enjoyable.  I believe this is where I first read Gibran's "The Prophet" as well as many issues of the Pittsburgh Post Gazette. 

And lastly on this particular journey we come to Forbes Field, or what is left of it anyway.  As the marker states, this was the former home of the Pittsburgh Pirates and host to one of the most memorable games in World Series history (1960 World Series, Game 7 which was won in the ninth inning on a Bill Mazeroski homerun, giving the Pirates the World Series, 4 games to 3).  Now all that is left of the ballpark is this little segment of wall, which is still more than what is left of the next home of the Pittsburgh Pirates, Three Rivers Stadium, which was imploded about a decade ago.  And really, what better way to close a blog than to blow some stuff up.



Protecting the innocent

Just got up and went to the corner store to fetch my coffee, got home and saw this in my email


Yes I did a little editing (erasing the name on the email), but byou get the idea.  Congrats again.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Multiply 365 Day 147 - The unscheduled blog giveaway

There is talk of 90+ degree temps tomorrow. Of course that talk comes from weather people, and we all know how well they can be trusted. But I am thinking that I may have to bust out ye olde trusty camera just the same. It has been a few weeks since I had it out, and I would rather be ouitside if it is going to be that nice, rather than cooped up in the friendly confines of my apartment. Maybe I will make it a two fer, and bust out the bike as well, but honestly I am pretty tired of pedaling, 5 days of riding into work this past week and now I really don't want to get on the bike because it reminds me of work.

As I look I see that I did get a little bit of sun today, nothing great, but you can tell where the sleeves of my t shirt ended. Of course that could just be dirt as well, since I was a sweaty, grimy mess when I came home from work today. Not that it was a bad day, it was just a President of Mexico day, Manual Labor.

Ed wanted to get a smaller cooler put into Universal News, something to replace the Red Bull cooler, since we have given them the boot. Not that we have kicked out their product, just their placement in the store. This goes back to something I have talked about in the blog previously, that many of our vendors pay for space inside our location. Red Bull was one such vendor. For the sum of $600 per year, they had Red Bull coolers in all three of our locations, packed with their products (which sucks if you ask me, but other people like it). So the other day the sales rep comes in and Ed asks about the check for the coming year to retain the space they currently have. The rep says that Red Bull no longer pays to be in locations, so Ed says fine, pack up your cooler and get it out of my store, I will find someone else who will pay for that space. And it didn't take long, within an hour both Pepsi and Coke were there, making Ed offers and counter offers for the spot where the Red Bull cooler was located. Eventually Ed gave the spot to Pepsi (though for less money but more perks like extra Kennywood tickets), but by removing the Red Bull cooler at Universal News as well, that created a spot on the floor and Ed wanted to put one of his own coolers there, so enter my Saturday. Originally Ed wanted me to lug a cooler down the street from our store to Universal, but I make the foolish mistake of saying I thought we already had one in the stockroom above Universal. So part of my Saturday task was to fetch that cooler and set it up at Universal.

Saturday started off okay, I had asked Sammy on Friday if he wanted to come in Saturday, he didn't have to, usually the only thing he has been doing on Saturday is learning from Belinda how to do a dairy order, and with her busy with issues involving her son and the police and jail and SWAT teams and lawyers and what not, suffice it to say, she wasn't working today. So Sammy wasn't going to learn anything about doing a dairy order, but I suggested if he wanted to come in, I could find some things for him to do, since I had stuff to do at our other store. Besides, I had promised to take him to breakfast before the whole bullshit that occurred this week, so while I have no future plans of doing anything with fellow employees outside of work, I am not going to back out on a promise I had made prior either. So, bright and early I am on the bike, pedaling into downtown to meet up with him (he also biked in, I am a bad role model that way), we met up at our usual spot and then pedaled the 15 or so blocks over to Deluca's, where I got the country chicken w/sausage gravy, eggs, homefries and biscuits and he got another of my favorites, the cheeseburger omelet.

After breakfast we pedaled back into town to start work. Originally I had planned on having him look and see if anything needed stocked, since Ed had told Curtis to switch from a morning shift to an evening one for Saturday, meaning there would be no one around to even look at the coolers for 16 hours, but when we showed up there was Curtis, apparently oblivious to what Ed had asked him just the day before. I said nothing, I will leave Ed deal with that this week if he chooses to do so, instead I decided to let Sammy do our ordering for the floor at Smithfield, while I would head over to Universal and do an order for them, look upstairs for the cooler I thought was there and rid them of some severely out of date product I knew they had and just never found the common sense to rid themselves of. The thing is, most (but not all) vendors will take back product that is out of date, provided it is reasonably so. At that point they just assume that their rep had over ordered, so they write up a credit for it and take it away. But if the product is too old, then they assume that it was never properly rotated, or was completely forgotten about by the store. It is kind of like redeeming a winning lottery ticket, you have x amount of time to claim your credit then the offer goes away. Well, we had plenty of lottery tickets down there that were no longer valid. I wanted rid of them, because if I didn't do it no one would.

So I set up Sammy to start our order, grabbed a dolly and head down to Universal. I open up the store (I have the keys and the alarm code, so maybe I am a manager) and set about going upstairs to see if we have a cooler. Sure enough, packed away way in the back is a 3' cooler. But before I can get it out of there I have to remove a bunch of shit that no one bothered to get rid of. Lots of empty card board boxes and what not that should have went out with the trash many moons ago was instead strewn about the place, apparently waiting for someone like me to pick up. And people wonder why part of my training for new employees involves having them remember a simple adage. "Expect nothing and you will never be disappointed." If I had expected people to do their jobs, then there would have been a world of disappointment for me, instead there was none. I just gathered up the trash and put it out with the other trash that hadn't been picked up yet. Then I gathered up the empty soda racks and tried to get them put away in a semi organized fashion. Finally I was able to navigate the cooler to a point where I could get it to the stairwell to be brought downstairs. I grabbed a dolly, slid it under the cooler and gently nudged it toward the edge of the steps. I gently lowered it down the first step when I realized that I am lucky I carry some extra fat on me, because my weight was pretty much the only thing anchoring the cooler and dolly from crashing down the steps into a giant heap of a mess below. And because of my place behind the cooler holding up the dolly, I couldn't realistically change my ill thought out plan of getting this thing out of the stock room, instead I literally had to navigate the entire flight of steps by dropping down a step at a time and hanging on for dear life.

Somehow my plan worked and I managed to get the cooler downstairs without dropping it or the dolly (or both) and got it situated in the store, where John now was. Apparently he had come down to pick up some paperwork. Had I known he was going to be there I could have used the assist, but que sera, que sera. I get the cooler into the store, put it in its rightful place on the floor (I left the cleaning of it to the people who actually work there, so I doubt it will get done, expectations and all that jazz), went and threw together a quickie order for them and then ended up pulling 16 cases of severely out of date product out of the stock room, some stuff was better than two years out of date and brought it up to our store to be dispatched of. Included in it was about two cases of Coke product, which was fine with me, more free Coke caps to add to my rewards account. I am starting to get a decent amount in there again (over 800 pts right now), so I might have to do a blog giveaway at some point. I just haven't checked their catalog recently to see what prizes they have.

Okay, I just looked and I am thinking that I may just do that. Now just to figure out how I want to do the giveaway. Hmmm? Any suggestions? It doesn't help that my Pandora station is playing The Hollies right now and I am more focused on the song (The Air That I Breathe) than on a good giveaway idea.

Wait, I think I got it, just have to do a little research and I will be right back.

And I am back. The contest rules are simple, the contest is open to anyone who reads this blog (either here or on Facebook) and provided Coke will ship the prize to them (I don't know if Coke will ship to foreign contries or not so you may or may not be eligible). Once I have a winner I will announce it in the comments section of this blog and/or Facebook to say that we have a winner. The contest is a relatively simple one, the Multiply 365 project began on January 1st, my attempt at blogging at least one original thing a day, every day, for an entire year. And for the most part I have been very loyal in that regard. But there was a day that I missed, so technically this will end up being the 364 project, unless of course I miss another day somewhere along the line. Your mission, should you choose to accept it, give me the date I missed this year. The first person to come up with that specific date gets a mini web camera. How's that for the shizznit?

Well I didn't plan on doing that in this blog, my inner Santa Claus took over for a moment or three. But it is all good, I needed to change things up around here a little, it was getting stale. And to steal from the Greek philosopher Barack Obama, this is change I can believe in. So rather than me prattle on more about my day, how about I do some proofing and posting and let you go about the business of winning. What say you all? I say thee yea, yea, yea I say.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Multiply 365 Day 146 - Snooze alarm

I am hoping I can get a couple of intelligible words out, but for the last 45 minutes or so I have just been staring at the screen and slowly nodding off, only to snap back awake again before I could enter a restful slumber.  It has just been a long, draining week at work, and tomorrow isn't looking much better.  What should be a short day is looking like at least an 8 hour affair (overtime), but I could use the extra money for the upcoming birthday stuff.  Plus I am working on Memorial Day (time and a half, plus I get an additional paid vacation day), so for a change I may have a better than usual paycheck, if I can stand being around my coworkers that is.  Since my run in with Belinda the other day, I think I have said 50 words to the entire staff (save for Sammy since he is on my crew and the managers since they knew nothing so they couldn't have been the ones running their mouths).  And anyone who has read a blog entry or two of mine knows that 50 words usually works out to about two sentences with me. 

About the only positive to come out of this week is that I finally started making a concentrated effort to ride my bike to work to save some money.  It went well this week too, of the 5 days I worked, I biked it four times, another $18 that will never see the Port Authority coffers.  And I plan on biking to breakfast before work tomorrow as well.  Biking home on that full of a stomach from Deluca goodness may be a challenge, but one I am willing to attempt. 

But for now I think I will sleep, lest I actually nod off with my face pressed against the keyboard and something coherent actually ending up on the page.  Rather than leave you with a typical good bye though, I am going to break the 365 rules a bit and leave you with some Stolen Content.  There is a reason for it, this event happened the day after I had my little pow wow with Belinda.  And the person in the article?  Well, that would be her son.  It borders very close to a "karma is a bitch moment".

Man faces charges in dispute, standoff
Gun jams several times, police say
Friday, May 27, 2011

A Perry Hilltop man faces aggravated assault charges after police said his gun jammed while he tried to open fire on a couple at a bus stop in broad daylight.

Police say Chavez Vera, 18, was later holed up in his home with his grandmother for 90 minutes as members of the SWAT team swarmed his street.

Mr. Vera also is charged with carrying a firearm without a license.

Police said the chain of events started at the intersection of Kennedy and Perrysville avenues around 10:20 a.m. A man who had accompanied his girlfriend to the bus stop told police he thought he saw Mr. Vera involved in a drug deal.

Mr. Vera became angry, police said, and asked the man what he was looking at.

"I'm looking at you," he replied, according to police.

At that point, Mr. Vera started to raise his gun at the couple and pulled the trigger several times, but the gun jammed. A bullet fell from the gun's chamber, but it never fired.

The man and his girlfriend turned and ran, yelling for workers at a nearby child care center to get inside. They then called police as the gunman fled in a car.

Armed with a description of the car, police followed him back to his house at 121 Marshall Ave., but he had gotten inside by the time police arrived.

The SWAT unit was called out, and Marshall Avenue was closed as they attempted to reach him. Finally, his mother came to the scene, and he called her cell phone, telling her he was going to surrender.

He walked out of the home shortly after noon, walking backward into the street with his hands up. An uncle, Clarence Samuel, said he wanted to wait until he had a chance to speak to his mother before he surrendered to police.

Police said he had a juvenile warrant out for his arrest.

Moriah Balingit: mbalingit@post-gazette.com, 412-263-2533.

First published on May 27, 2011 at 12:00 am

Read more: http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/11147/1149518-53.stm#ixzz1Nc8M8RBd

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Multiply 365 Day 145 - Investigative reports

Watching the news the other day I came across a news item that was interesting to me for one reason.  It seems there was a cat throwing lady who got busted.  More on that story is here.  Well, the reason it was interesting is that the crack research staff I employ (namely me), was able to get footage of the cat throwing lady. 




See, we don't have to be serious all the time around here. 

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Multiply 365 Day 144 - Mirror Mirror Matt

Let's begin by saying that you will not be able to tell the players without a program, so I will do my best to do some elementary background first, in hopes that everyone can keep all of the players straight.

Almost two and a half years ago I started my job at Smithfield News and was hired by Dee, one of the 4 main managers of the store. The others would be John, Ed (former owner) and Brian (current owner and Ed's son). Over the course of my 2+ years there I went from being low man on the seniority totem pole to being as of Monday, #5, behind Dan, Brad, Belinda and Rick. I have also went from being lowly cashier to where I do about 75% of the ordering and technically have a crew underneath me, albeit a small one and one's that I really don't boss around all that much. So if you were to ask Ed if I were a manager, he may or may not say yes, I tend to say no just because I don't view my job that way, to me I just do the shit that needs done, if I need help with something then I might ask someone to do it, but I am not the type of guy that hands down edicts from on high, it's just not the way I roll.

Before Monday I was actually #6 on that list, behind a guy named Tom. From what I knew about Tom working with him, I tended to like him. Originally we worked together at Smithfield News before he was shipped out to the ill fated and short lived Weissmart on 5th Avenue. When Weissmart closed he was moved up the street to our other downtown store, Universal News. Again, he started out as just an employee there, but through the course of some shift turnover he ended up becoming the de facto manager of the place, if for no other reason than no one else stepped in to fill the void when the people above him were let go. So for him to be running a store, there was a lot of hand holding on my part. I would give him phone numbers on different vendors he would have to keep in touch with, walk him through how to do different orders, teach him about how to make price changes in the system (they run a different software system than we do for some unknown reason) just to help him out, because help was not coming from any of our main managers in that regard.

The crew in Tom's store I am not all that familiar with, I know some of them because I have worked with them, others I know only because they come in to pick up their check every other Wednesday. Of the ones I have worked with are Cierra, who is Belinda's daughter and was hired probably a year or so after me and while she worked in our store a bit, most of her time has either been at Weissmart or Universal, Brian who I helped train in our store originally, but was moved down to Universal and Darryl who started at our store and was also moved to Universal, though I didn't work with Darryl all that much.

That is some brief background, as needed I will add more to the story, but you have enough for me to get started. Monday afternoon I am in the office, doing something for Ed on the computer (I believe I was in the process of getting tobacco price increases from Sledd that was sent to our email, but I am not positive on that point) when Tom comes into the office and sits down in the chair opposite Ed/Brian's desk. Nobody says anything, so I proceed to make small talk with Tom just to pass the time. Ed is upstairs and John and Dee are both at their desks doing whatever it is they do (I say that because they do do things, they are just things above my pay grade that help the store run and not to be a smartass and suggest they were doing nothing). Anyway, Ed comes in the office and goes around to his desk and calls Dee and John up to his desk also. This is one of those can't be good moments and I am trapped in the office for it. Now Tom has been called to the office before for a tongue lashing or two, we all have, and I have tried to temper those somewhat with Ed by saying, listen,. he hasn't even been trained for the job you all have him in, so it is going to be a work in progress and mistakes will be made. I assumed that would be the tone of this meeting as well, but I didn't really want to be in the room for it. But I am stuck because I have the paperwork in my hands that Ed wanted, and Ed made no call for me to leave the room, so whatever was going to happen, while it would be bad I wouldn 't think it would be that bad. But it was.

Ed starts the conversation by saying "What happened?" If Ed ever asks you that question, there is almost never a right answer. And such was the case for Tom as well. When he wasn't sure what Ed was talking about, Ed followed up with with something along the lines of "Where's the money?" Apparently a newspaper vendor stopped by the store that day and had dropped off $25 in cash, whether that was for credit on old newspapers or just a bonus for selling them, I really have no idea. Tom says, "it's right here, I was going to bring it up after my shift ended" (he normally works 6:30-2:30, but our store is along the route he walks to get to his car to go home) and proceeds to pull the money out of his pocket and give it to Ed. Ed asks what was the money was doing in Tom's pocket to begin with. And why didn't Tom call the store after the money was dropped off to see what Ed or John wanted to do with it. Tom says he was busy and didn't get a chance to call, but he had intended to drop the money off on his way home and explain where it was from. Not a good enough explanation for Ed, Ed believes Tom was going to steal the money and that was why it was in his pocket. And since Tom didn't call the store, or even leave the money in an envelope at Universal saying what it was from, Ed doesn't want Tom working for him anymore. I am of the notion that I can see both sides of this, on one hand the money should never have been in Tom's pocket, it could have been any place else but there and all is good. On the other hand, Tom could very well have been teling the truth, after all if you are going to steal from the store, one would think you would take more than $25. Plus we were getting paid in two days anyway, if Tom needed money that bad he easily could have called and asked for a loan and someone in the office would have given it to him. Or he could have borrowed it from someone, I know he has borrowed money from me a handful of times in the past and has always paid it back, even when I forgot he borrowed it to begin with. So from a solve the puzzle perspective, the pieces there just don't add up for me.

This all being said, after the meeting Ed talks to his managers there (Dee and John) and asks if he handled it okay. John seemed to know more about this situation than Dee, and he said he knew what had happened but was waiting to see what Tom did, if Tom just went home with the money then he would know he had a problem, if he dropped the money off or called later in the day asking what to do with it, well that would answer the question as well. But the determining factor for Ed was that the money was in Tom's pocket.

All of this being said, the big question for me was, how did the office find out to begin with? It is not like they venture down the street all that often to check on the other store, John goes down most frequently and that is usually to do some of their paperwork and grab some invoices so he can balance the books back at Smithfield, but the other three rarely make an appearance at Universal. Enter Cierra into the equation, apparently she called or texted John saying she saw Tom put the money in his pocket and when John didn't do anything right away (we have covered how John wanted to handle it already), she notified Ed as well. And that was when the shizznit hit the fan.

I have had a rocky relatrionship wioth Cierra. While I like her Belinda, her mom, a lot, Cierra got on my wrong side from something that had happened previously. When we first opened the deli section, Ed wanted to start making sandwiches at our store and then ship them down to Universal to put in their open air cooler. Since at the time my crew consisted of just me, it became my job to run the sandwiches down there, so I would wait to hear from them, and then take down whatever it was they needed as they needed it. I didn't take a lot of extra stuff because there were times where stuff just didn't sell and being between two stores I tended to devote my time to what needed my attention most. If I didn't get a call, I assumed they still had enough stuff to get through another day. Well, during this meeting with Cierra, Ed had asked her about something she did or didn't do, I can't recall what the conversation was about because it didn't pertain to me, and I like to stay on a need to know basis on such things and I just didn't need to know. But rather that address Ed's concern, Cierra blurts out that, well, the cooler is empty down there. So, in order to cover her own ass, Cierra opted to throw me under the bus. To make matters worse, it was a day where I had already taken stuff down there, so not only did she throw me under the bus, but lied in doing so. And me, well I am the type of guy that doesn't forget such things. You fuck me over, I don't forget it. Now I find out that the source of this infomation about Tom is that very same person, and more alarm bells go off. That doens't mean Cierra is lying here, but it does make me question the story even more.

Anyway, John calls back down to Universal to let them know what happened, and during the course of the conversation Cierra says something about a radio that was sent to the store like 7 months ago that Tom kept and she wouldn't have said anything save for that radio. This is something I do know about, because I helped broker that deal. What it was was simply, Lipton Tea had started a program where if you ordered X number of cases of their 99 cent 1 liter bottles in a week, you could fill out a form and have some gifts sent to your store. I knew about the program because our store had done it twice already, and with the numbers we were doing, we qualified for all of the prizes, which was 9 t shirts, 5 sweat shirts and a FM alarm clock radio with an ipod dock. And I talked to the Pepsi rep down there and helped broker the deal for that store as well. While they did not order enough for everything, they would still have qualified for the shirts and sweat shirts. As it turned out though, Pepsi screwed up and sent them the radio also. Technically Ed is right when he says the radio should have came up to him and he should have decided what to do with it, but of all of the people there who could have gotten it, Tom was the guy that eventually finalized the deal and did all of the paperwork, so him keeping the radio was but a blip on my radar screen of important things that happened. Yet here it was being brought up again 7 months later. And for all of the complaining about the radio, no one seems to be complaining about the shirts. Shouldn't they have been sent up to our store also for Ed to divvy out as he deemed fit? It would seem no one is complaing about the shit they did get, only the stuff they didn't.

Since the day wasn't over, Monday continued and news got around pretty quickly that Tom got canned. I know I had talked to a few people about it. I went over to the deli and joked with them a bit, saying that they are going to have to make more turkey and swiss sandwiches for Universal now, because Cierra and Darryl had requested more of them previously, and most likely Cierra is now in charge of that location. It was more a flippant thing than anything else, just me trying to smooth over the crap that just happened with a little bit of humor.

But when I talked to some people outside while having a cigarette I did voice some more serious concerns I had over what I had witness transpire, much if not all of which you have already read about and this blog is long enough that I need not be repeating myself. All good, right? Wrong.

Today I am at work, just doing whatever it is I do, and Belinda catches me downstairs and asks to talk to me, and proceeds to bring up many of the things I had said the previous day to a select number of people, including an almost verbatim retelling of my joke to the deli, but she wasn't taking it as a joke. To Belinda's credit, I get she is defending her daughter and she didn't get all hysterical on me or anything and I believe we are still relatively cool, but the notion that the minute I say something to some people they feel this need to go repeating what I said to whomever they choose does piss me off a bit. See, again while I am a sort of manager, I have tended to be the cool guy as much as I can be the cool guy there. When Belinda was looking for a house to buy, I gave her the name and number of a friend who is a real estate agent, I have helped 4 different employees get computers via my ebay account, a handful of times I sprung for lunch (usually pizza) for the entire crew out of my own pocket, or I have made stuff at home and taken it in and shared it. I have hung out and drank with them, even putting a few rounds on my tab. And this is how I am eventually repaid? That the minute I say something my words will be used against me for whatever reason. Fine, lesson learned.

Tomorrow is a brand new day at work, because tomorrow I am a dick. No more favors, no more nice guy joking around with the staff, I am just punching my clock, doing my job and going home. That's it. I don't have to like people, I just have to work with them.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Multiply 365 Day 143 - Blogging for dummies

It all starts with a blank page, not unlike the one I am beginning with right now. What happens next is really anyone's guess. For those that haven't figured out what it is I am talking about, it is how I blog. I wish I could sit here and say there is a lot of planning and mapping out, with splashes of extensive research thrown in for good measure, but that is not really what takes place.

Usually there are two types of blogs that come out, one in which I have a clue and one in which I don't. The easiest blogs are the ones where I have a clue, something came across my radar screen, maybe a news story, maybe something that just struck me through the course of a day, but a germination of an idea is there that I can work with, and like clay, mold it into something that is worthy of being put on a page and posted.

The harder ones are where I don't have a clue and I have to create something out of whole cloth so to speak. I just sit down at the computer and bang on some keys and hope I am the millionth monkey that bangs out something that is readable. Whether that is truly the case I suppose is up to you the reader, there are surely some things that you take a quick glance and say that your time is better spent elsewhere. Other times I get the genie in a bottle and something magical happens. At least magical by my standards, which means it is better than it had any right of being when I first started.

Just because the method I approach the blog would leave a lot to be desired from those that would call themselves writers, or worse bloggers, doesn't mean that there aren't a couple of standards that I try to live by while on the page. If I am approaching something of a factual nature, then it is my job to get get the facts right, or as right as I can get them. For me that means staying away from those sources that I deem questionable in favor of more credible outlets. So you will not see me citing what are obviously biased outlets (WorldNetDaily, Media Matters, etc.) or kooks (Alex Jones, Jerome Corsi) unless the object of the piece is purely ridicule of said sources. There are far more reliable places from which to get information that aren't so obviously agenda driven. In an ideal world (which is made moreso by having access to the internet) I tend to take the advice of my old time radio partner Jerry Bowyer, who instilled in me the fundamental principle of using the actual source material whenever possible. So if a post has to do with a bill before Congress, I will make the effort of at least making myself familiar with the bill, rather than relying on someone's interpretation of it. For me that is just common sense, which I find is more lacking by the day as laziness has become the rule and not the exception.

If I am approaching a topic that is more my opinion on something, the standards don't get lessened, if anything they are more strict. Because in order to have a solid world view of things, there has to be a consistency with the argument and a reason for believing what I do. It pisses some people off, those looking for me to kiss a particular party's ass, but if I can't a core set of principles for myself from which to branch outward, then I really have nothing to fall back on. So when Republicans start bandying about the argument of smaller government, I can't help but laugh, as they supported the creation of the Department of Homeland Security, one of the largest expansions of government in our nation's history. Likewise when I don't hear Democrats complaining about the detainees being held at Guantanamo now, when they spent 7 years bitching about it when President Bush was in office, again I laugh. I am not going to have my opinions, or this blog, blow in favor of one party or the other just to keep a friend or two. It's just not how I roll.

None of the above means I can't be wrong, I am human after all (well unless I am feeling God-like, then all bets are off), and I surely welcome criticism where it is warranted. Heck it is one of the best learning tools out there, either in being able to defend a position or in recognizing when I may have run off the reservation as it were. I can't be right all of the time, can I?

Of course anything on the page has to be interesting to me in some way, shape or form. I realize that means not everything I write is going to be everyone's cup of tea (my glogs will never be all that popular, I get that) but I can't be all things to all people. So you will never get a blog from me on something like gardening, because that subject just does nothing for me. There are plenty of places out there that are better suited for people looking for that type of information and while I am sure I could make myself familiar enough with the subject after a few years of reading, it just doesn't have enough of my interest to be devoting years worth of time to just to come up with a blog entry or two. There are limits to what I will and will not do for the page. As I argued very early in my blogging career, blogging is for many people, myself included, the illusion of work. That by sitting down at the computer and banging out a few sentences here and there I have actually accomplished something of merit, when in the grand scheme of things I almost assuredly have not, I just spent time doing this rather than something else. Sure there are some people who can make a career out of doing what I am doing, or who at least use this type of platform to augment that which they are already doing, but for the most part if people were truly honest with themselves, they would realize that blogging really isn't work. That doesn't meant I don't like reading their stuff, I tend to be an avid reader after all, and I always love taking in differing styles of writing and reasoning, but I also try to keep blogging in its proper perspective. We aren't exactly reinventing the wheel here.

And through all of the above, some how, some way, I try to come up with something that is entertaining or informative on some level. Some days it works, and I still go back and reread those entries from time to time. Other days, not so much, but hopefully even from those entries I can pick up a thing or two so that I might write better next time. As I sit here on day 143 of a self imposed 365 day project I can only hope that the scribblings are getting better, because I know my typing isn't. Speaking of which, now would be a good time to check on that very same typing and see how many fixes are needed.

So while I do that, you do whatever it is you do and maybe we will do this thing again tomorrow, and the next day and the next day and so on and so on.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Multiply 365 Day 142 - The best laid plans

Still working out what all I want to do for my birthday.. Deluca's breakfast sundaes on Saturday are a definite, but I am thinking about what to do on the Friday before and the Sunday after.  Friday would be the more difficult, since I will be working and all, though I might sneak a trip to the 110 afterward for some post work drinks.  Sunday I am off, and I am thinking of getting a few people together and crashing Sandcastle or Kennywood.  I like both places, Sandcastle is a waterpark and Kennywood is an amusement park.  If I end up flying solo it would probably be Sandcastle, just because you don't need partners for water slides, if I can gather up a few people we might end up crashing Kennywood instead.  Cross my fingers, I might even be able to pull some strings and get some tickets to either place through Pepsi, since they have the beverage rights to both places.  I might not be in radio anymore, but I have some connections in my current position.  But first things first, I still have a few days before the big day, so I best get cracking on the planning.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Multiply 365 Day 141 - Change we can and can't believe in

The title can only mean a few things, a couple of which are correct.  Those familiar with the page know exactly what they are, so rather than spend an inordinate amount of time explaining myself I will just go about the good and the bad.

The change meter total is getting updated again.  By another $2.09 to be precise.  I still haven't reached the magical $300 mark yet, but I am creeping ever so much closer.  With the additional monies the new total is $295.47.  I would like to think I will crack $300 by the end of the year, but I have experience with this thing, the first three years I did this I only managed to average around $13 a year, so I make no assumption that I can get the required $4.53 needed by the end of December, though it would seem to be almost a given I am taking nothing for granted. 

And that my friends is the good change, as for the bad, well that would be Barack Obama himself.  I don't know, I just don't get it.  I mean, in general I like the guy, but his statements regarding Israel recently leave me completely dumbfounded.  Don't get me wrong, when it comes to Israel and the Palestinians I am all for a two state solution, and I believe for that to eventually happen there will most certainly have to be concessions on the part of Israel to some degree, but the claim that Israel should begin the process by returning to their 1967 borders is just ludicrous.  We may get to the point where some of that land is used in a final two state solution (provided the process ever gets that far) but the idea that Israel should make that concession before the process even begins is flat out stupid.  Suppose for a minute that Israel were to do exactly what the President suggests, then who takes over the conceded land?  Most likely it would be the very same people that were planning to use it to attack Israel in 67.  I know, you were thinking that the Palestinians would get it, but let's be honest here, there isn't a nation in the Middle East that gives a rat's ass about the ultimate fate of the Palestinians, they use the plight of the Palestinians for their own propoganda purposes.  After all, roughly half of the population of Jordan is Palestinian, yet they are not being brought to the table in order to carve up their country as part of a two state solution.  Syria and Lebanon are home to another 1.5 million Palestinians, and again no one is asking either state to give up land in this process.  We need only look at the events of Black September in Jordan, or the expulsion of the Palestinians from Kuwait after the Iraq-Kuwait War to see how much the Palestinian people are welcomed by other states within the Middle East.  So should land become available, there is no guarantee that those nations would recognize the Palestinians right to it, regardless of what the original intention was.

Like I said, if the process is to succeed most likely Israel will have to concede some land, but the idea that they should do so before the process even begins is just lunacy.  It goes to show how weak the Republican candidates for President in 2012 really are that Obama can suggest such a thing without being taken to task for it.  If the Palestinians are to get land, it will be earned at the bargaining table, not bequeathed via some executive fiat from thousands of miles away.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Multiply 365 Day 140 - The end times came and all I got was a lousy t shirt

I guess the apocolypse or the rapture or something was supposed to happen today. Therefore I was thinking that would be a good excuse to get out of blogging, but alas it did not come to pass, so now I am sitting here with about an hour left before this has to be posted with nothing written and I haven't even made dinner yet. After all, if today is the end times, who needs to eat, right? Apparently I do, because it isn't the end times after all.

It was a pretty good apocolypse Saturday all things considered. Sammy suggested going to breakfast on Friday, and since it was his turn to buy I went ahead and took him up on the offer, provided he could survive Friday that is. We received a bike from Pepsi via UPS the other day at work. The bike was a 15 speed mountain bike and was given to us because we are in the process of adding some more Polar Shock machines to our stores. For those who are unfamiliar, Polar Shock is Pepsi's version of Slush Puppy. It is a nice machine in that you don't have to do any manual mixing of the product, rather it is run a lot like a fountain machine, you order the syrup in boxes and the machine is tied into both the syrup box and your existing water line, so the machine does all of the mixing as well. And we are getting four of them, two more for our location (we already have one) as well as one for both Universal News and Gus Millers, our other two locations. To reward us for being such good customers, Pepsi decided to give us three mountain bikes, the first of which arrived on Wednesday. The thing is, the bikes only come partially assembled. The gears, breaks and frame are all attached, but we still had to attach the pedals, the front tire, the handle bars and the chain. And anyone who knows me and tools knows that is akin to oil and water, bad things man, bad things. But Ed wanted me to put the bike together because he had plans for it. Okay, I'll do what I can. But I did mention to Ed that the last time I rode my bike into work Sammy had mentioned that he would like tgo go out and buy a bike, and since we have three coming in, if one isn't accounted for, would it be possible for him to get one, seeing as how he busts his ass for us and all. Ed assured me that one of the bikes would go to Sammy, which is just one of the reasons I like Ed, he does take care of his peeps. So I go about putting the bike together, and I let Sammy know that one of the other bikes coming in will be going to him. I think he was excited about the prospect. Anyway, we get the bike built, sans air in the tires, because usually newsstands have little use for air pumps. But I had one at home, so I said I would bring mine in on Friday. That meant I had to take my bike out of mothballs again, because nothing would look more dorky than taking a bicycle pump on a city bus to work. So Friday I ride into work, and after a day from hell (8 different deliveries; two freezers, Bob Marley order, Pepsi order, Coke order, grocery order, Rainbow del Rey order, Pricemaster order) I finish the day by pumping up the tires on the new bike. Ed tells us that Sammy can have that bike, he will use the next one for whatever it is he plans on doing with it. So Sammy has a bike to ride home, the problem being it is a bike I built, so there is no saying he will get home in one piece.

But this morning, I hop on my bike again around 6am, make the ride into town in about 15 minutes, stash my bike in the basement at Smithfield, and go to meet Sammy at our designated meet up point for some breakfast. He is there and in one piece, so the bike didn't fall apart yet. In fact, he said it rode quite well, which is always an issue on the free stuff some of the vendors hand out, some of it just sucks. But apparently the bike was cool. And since the apocolypse hadn't arrived yet, we headed over to Deluca's for breakfast. I had the special (pepperoni omelet) and Sammy went with the Philly cheesteak omelet. Good eats, good chatting. A genuine nice start to the day if it were to be my last one on earth. We get back to Smithfield News around 8:30, and I start grabbing stuff from the basement to put on the floor. While I don't have to do any stocking on Saturday, technically all I have to do is my ordering, it helps knowing what we do and do not have by first bringing some stuff upstairs. Then I head to the basement and start doing the cigarette inventory and I see that Kenny's boom box is still in there. Kenny has a boom box with satellite radio on it, so I got to tune in the First Wave channel on Sirius and listen to some good music. The music was so good I didn't want to leave the basement, or as I call it, the "Land of the Mole People". Instead I set about organizing some shelves down there and just bee bopping along. Shortly thereafter, Belinda gives me her tobacco order, so I sit at the table down there that I call my office, since I do most of my paperwork there, and continue listening to cool music while getting the second part of my order done. The only bad part came when I eventually had to go upstairs and actually order stuff for the floor, just because it meant I had to give up the music for a while.

Finished, I bought a couple of things at work for this weekend and headed back to enjoy the rest of my rapturous day with a ride home on the bike (Note to the Port Authority Transit, you lost $9 the last two days thanks to me, expect it to happen more often). I get home, fire up the laptop and sit on the bed just catching up on some things on Facebook and checking out some blog posts and what not. Then it hits me that there should be a hockey game on, so I turn on the TV and sure enough, Boston and Tampa Bay are playing and after one period Boston is up 3-0. The game has all of the makings of a stinker. But a funny thing happened, Tampa rolled off the next 4 goals to take a 4-3 lead about halfway through the third period, and while Boston tried to get the tying goal, Tampa would instead notch an empty net tally late to make the final 5-3. So I tuned in just in time from an entertainment perspective. The last day on earth continues to go well. A little more web browsing later and all of a sudden I realize I haven't eaten yet, so I head over to the corner store to get some snacks for the coming end times. But the end times never come, and instead I am stuck with rushing this thing to press because it appears there will be people around tomorrow to read it. Fucking religious bastards anyway. Let me just say if the Mayans fuck this up in 2012, heads will roll. They think Chac was bad, they haven't dealt with a pissed off me.

Stolen Content - Your government hard at work

Yes, on these pages I tend to mock what I call government work, work which is either unneccessary or for which there in no accountability after the fact.  But I don't think I have ever seen actual government work quite like this.  The following comes from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC).  Enjoy and remember, they really like brains.

Social Media: Preparedness 101: Zombie Apocalypse

The following was originally posted on CDC Public Health Matters Blog on May 16th, 2011 by Ali S. Khan.

There are all kinds of emergencies out there that we can prepare for. Take a zombie apocalypse for example. That’s right, I said z-o-m-b-i-e a-p-o-c-a-l-y-p-s-e. You may laugh now, but when it happens you’ll be happy you read this, and hey, maybe you’ll even learn a thing or two about how to prepare for a real emergency.

A Brief History of Zombies
We’ve all seen at least one movie about flesh-eating zombies taking over (my personal favorite is Resident EvilExternal Web Site Icon.), but where do zombies come from and why do they love eating brains so much? The word zombie comes from Haitian and New Orleans voodoo origins. Although its meaning has changed slightly over the years, it refers to a human corpse mysteriously reanimated to serve the undead. Through ancient voodoo and folk-lore traditions, shows like the Walking Dead were born.

In movies, shows, and literature, zombies are often depicted as being created by an infectious virus, which is passed on via bites and contact with bodily fluids. Harvard psychiatrist Steven Schoolman wrote a (fictional) medical paper on the zombies presented in Night of the Living Dead and refers to the condition as Ataxic Neurodegenerative Satiety Deficiency Syndrome caused by an infectious agent. The Zombie Survival Guide identifies the cause of zombies as a virus called solanum. Other zombie origins shown in films include radiation from a destroyed NASA Venus probe (as in Night of the Living Dead), as well as mutations of existing conditions such as prions, mad-cow disease, measles and rabies.

The rise of zombies in pop culture has given credence to the idea that a zombie apocalypse could happen. In such a scenario zombies would take over entire countries, roaming city streets eating anything living that got in their way. The proliferation of this idea has led many people to wonder “How do I prepare for a zombie apocalypse?”

Well, we’re here to answer that question for you, and hopefully share a few tips about preparing for real emergencies too!

Better Safe than Sorry

So what do you need to do before zombies…or hurricanes or pandemics for example, actually happen? First of all, you should have an emergency kit in your house. This includes things like water, food, and other supplies to get you through the first couple of days before you can locate a zombie-free refugee camp (or in the event of a natural disaster, it will buy you some time until you are able to make your way to an evacuation shelter or utility lines are restored). Below are a few items you should include in your kit, for a full list visit the CDC Emergency page.

  • Water (1 gallon per person per day)
  • Food (stock up on non-perishable items that you eat regularly)
  • Medications (this includes prescription and non-prescription meds)
  • Tools and Supplies (utility knife, duct tape, battery powered radio, etc.)
  • Sanitation and Hygiene (household bleach, soap, towels, etc.)
  • Clothing and Bedding (a change of clothes for each family member and blankets)
  • Important documents (copies of your driver’s license, passport, and birth certificate to name a few)
  • First Aid supplies (although you’re a goner if a zombie bites you, you can use these supplies to treat basic cuts and lacerations that you might get during a tornado or hurricane)

Once you’ve made your emergency kit, you should sit down with your family and come up with an emergency plan. This includes where you would go and who you would call if zombies started appearing outside your door step. You can also implement this plan if there is a flood, earthquake, or other emergency.

  1. Identify the types of emergencies that are possible in your area. Besides a zombie apocalypse, this may include floods, tornadoes, or earthquakes. If you are unsure contact your local Red Cross chapter for more information.
  2. Pick a meeting place for your family to regroup in case zombies invade your home…or your town evacuates because of a hurricane. Pick one place right outside your home for sudden emergencies and one place outside of your neighborhood in case you are unable to return home right away.
  3. Identify your emergency contacts. Make a list of local contacts like the police, fire department, and your local zombie response team. Also identify an out-of-state contact that you can call during an emergency to let the rest of your family know you are ok.
  4. Plan your evacuation route. When zombies are hungry they won’t stop until they get food (i.e., brains), which means you need to get out of town fast! Plan where you would go and multiple routes you would take ahead of time so that the flesh eaters don’t have a chance! This is also helpful when natural disasters strike and you have to take shelter fast.

Never Fear – CDC is Ready

If zombies did start roaming the streets, CDC would conduct an investigation much like any other disease outbreak. CDC would provide technical assistance to cities, states, or international partners dealing with a zombie infestation. This assistance might include consultation, lab testing and analysis, patient management and care, tracking of contacts, and infection control (including isolation and quarantine). It’s likely that an investigation of this scenario would seek to accomplish several goals: determine the cause of the illness, the source of the infection/virus/toxin, learn how it is transmitted and how readily it is spread, how to break the cycle of transmission and thus prevent further cases, and how patients can best be treated. Not only would scientists be working to identify the cause and cure of the zombie outbreak, but CDC and other federal agencies would send medical teams and first responders to help those in affected areas (I will be volunteering the young nameless disease detectives for the field work).

To learn more about what CDC does to prepare for and respond to emergencies of all kinds, visit:

To learn more about how you can prepare for and stay safe during an emergency visit:

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Friday, May 20, 2011

Multiply 365 Day 139 - Quiet time

I guess I am at a loss for words. There is literally nothing to talk about, at least nothing blog worthy. Or my blog worthy. I am sure there are things happening out there somewhere that people are commenting on, but not here. Here is is just an evening of quiet seclusion, save for Garbage playing on my Pandora station as I type. The TV isn't on, heck I barely have any lights on. Just a lamp on the desk next to my bed. And I kind of like it like this. No noise, no one asking me to do anything, just a chance to catch my breath before the next wave of stuff comes rolling in. I am sure it makes for really bad reading, but it is okay with me.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Multiply 365 Day 138 When good news isn't

I was looking around for something to blog about today, and for those looking for a "day in the life of" type entry, sorry but you will be disappointed.  As will those that are looking for some tanatlizing political commentary, because it isn't here.  Rather we are going to go to an article in the Pittsburgh Post Gazette, one that would seem to have a positive spin on the region.  The article in question is this, "Census Finds Pittsburgh Is Growing Younger".

Sounds relatively good, doesn't it?  Except it's not.  See the funny thing about the City of Pittsburgh is, well, it has been losing population since the 1950s.  And by strictly age, it is still one of the oldest in the country.  So while the population may be skewing younger slightly, that is attributable at least in small parts to death, because eventually the elderly do die, despite our best efforts to keep them in some sort of zombified-vegetative state for as long as is humanly possible just so we can say they aren't dead yet and an increase in housing of college students at the city's universities (University of Pittsburgh, Carnegie Mellon University, Point Park University, Duquesne University).  The problem with that is the basis for a population is dependent on a class of people that by and large are transients.  Sure they are here now, getting a degree to better themselves, but what happens when that degree arrives?  Are there jobs really here for them?  Or are we just training them to ship them out, only to have another group come in to take there place and have the cycle repeat itself.  There is a fundamental difference between being here and living here. 

As much as the article would have you believe things are looking on the up and up for Pittsburgh, there is scant evidence to support that claim.  There is no evidence of overall growth of the city, only that younger people make up a bigger piece of what may very well still be a shrinking pie.  At one point in time the Pittsburgh region was the 5th largest media market in the country.  While a media market also includes the outlying areas and not just the city proper, it is a good tool for determining the growth or lack thereof of a region.  Pittsburgh is now #25 on that very same list, planted firmly between Charlotte and Riverside/San Bernadino.  So let's not go cutting cake and popping champagne because some old people died, skewing the age curve ever so slightly.  Chances are old people will continue to die and unless the city comes up with a plan of retaining younger people beyond a 4 year college stay all this means is that the last college graduate will be responsible for turning out the lights before they leave.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Multiply 365 Day 137 - You are on the clock.

Let the countdown begin.  This is the first of possibly many warnings for you to get your shopping done now.  It seems that as of today my birthday is now one month away,  the big 42, which I imagine is a lot like 41, but I will learn more about that in 30 days or so. And the planning has already begun.

I have been spreading the word at work that, well, they too have 30 shopping days left.  And as luck would have it my birthday this year comes on a Saturday.  Saturdays for me usually consist of a pretty easy day at work, juts a quick pop in to do an order for Monday.  Maybe two hours tops.  So Saturdays have become one of my potential breakfast days, and that particular Saturday will be no exception.  There will be breakfast and it will be glorious.  And not just any breakfast, it will be a Sundae Saturday at Deluca's, meaning if you come to breakfast with me, you have to have one of the pancake/waffle sundaes in lieu of a normal breakfast.  Ed has already said he would pay for it, though I doubt I will be able to talk him into the unhealthy indulgence that is going to take place.  Sammy is on board, he will be there.  I have selected the Granny Smith Apple sundae (yes I pre plan things, including breakfast a month from now) with the cinnamon bun hotcakes and vanilla ice cream and caramel sauce and apples.  I am hungry just thinking about it.  I haven't signed anyone else up to go yet, though there are a few people who have expressed interest.

I haven't decided what else to do for my birthday yet, but I want it to be a good kickoff to the summer season.  No more Summers of Suck for me.  We did that tour of duty last year and I have no desire to repeat it.  I know that Cinema in the Park starts in early June, and I have picnic basket that I haven't used yet, it might be time for some movie camp outs in Schenley Park.  Or bust out my baby grill and see if I can't get a good meatatarian thing going this summer.  I can't really determine what all the month long extravaganza willl entail (though grilling is subject to it not raining for a change).  I just know it is going to be a blast, because I refuse to let it be anything else.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Multiply 365 Day 136 - Uselessness

Okay, not sure again where the blog is going, but that is a disclaimer that I should probably quit typing, as 9 times out of 10 I don't know where this blog is going. All I really know is that it begins at the beginning and since this is the beginning I guess logic dictates this is the start.

This was one of those days where I am sure I did stuff at work, it just didn't feel like it. I once again had the honor of writing a memo, joy of joys there. I think I have already discussed in this forum how much I hate doing stupid desk work like that, give me a real project, even if it is simply stocking a cooler, but something that feels like I am actually doing something besides sitting in front of a computer, because I do that every night when I get home, and not just for the blog though this has been a recurring theme for a few days (136) now, lol. And when I am sitting in front of a computer, I just don't view that as work. It may or may not be enjoyable, but it isn't work.

As an addeed computer bonus, the other day Ed had mentioned something about the store's email account. His mentioning it basically consisted of "I think we have one", because that is about the extent of his computer literacy. I don't think I have ever seen him on one, I am sure he has been, he has a computer that monitors the cameras in the store so he can watch from home, or Florida if he is there. But I don 't think he has actually ever been on the internet or even has a rudimentary grasp of things like email. But apparently someone at some point set up an email account for the store and after asking around I managed to get the email address and the password and and I went ahead to look into the inbox to see what I would be signing up for by having access to that account. I wish I hadn't. It was akin to blowing the dust off of an ancient relic. Not sure the last time that someone actually checked that email account, but there were almost 2000 unread emails in there. The spam filter was set real well too, it caught one. It looks like two years worth of suck I have to weed through. I haven't had this large of an email project since I worked on putting together a email list for Lynn's radio show listeners when we were being pulled from the air. Lots of work in that one, this will be just as bad, there is stuff in there that is two years old and I have no idea of whether or not it is important.

If that weren't enough, I got to spend some time looking through a vendor catalog, seeing if there was anything in there worth adding to the store's inventory.  More boring non work if you ask me.

I also had a couple orders to do today, one with Arizona and of course our grocery orders for us and Universal News. But again, in large part it is just paperwork. Some actual inventory involved but not a whole lot of physical manual labor. I am sure in the grand scheme of things what I did was of relative importance, it just didn't feel like it.

Not that I got all productive once I got home, I had a meatball hoagie for dinner that I got at work and while I would like to think that I won the battle with the sandwich, I am not so sure. I won the opening rounds to be sure, the sandwich was devoured quickly enough, but then I was forced to take a nap, so at best I would call it a draw.

Now the trick is going to be getting to bed at a decent time after a three hour afternoon nap, after all it was just a three hour tour for the crew of the USS Minnow and look how that turned out. Hopefully this will not turn out quite so bad. I guess there is only one way to find out, and that is to go to bed and see if sleep comes.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Multiply 365 Day 135 - Eye of Newt, pinch of truth

Okay, got the Pandora station fired up, let's see what can come forth in the shape of a blog, besides not much..

I was going to spend at least part of this entry delving into politics, I had actually thought about talking about Newt Gingrich's divorce from his first wife. for those not in the know, it went something like this. According to the wife, he broached the idea of divorce while she was in the hospital for a cancer treatment. Then this past week his daughter comes out and says that it didn't go down that way, and she was in the room so she would know. So it becomes a matter of who is telling the truth, the wife 5 years after the fact or the daughter 20 years after the fact. Both sides would have a motivation to lie if that is what they are doing. But guess what kids? It doesn't matter. If you have learned anything in the first two years of the Obama presidency it is that the truth is not as good as the story. When two years after the election a President has to pull out his birth certificate to appease a few nutbags out there, then it doesn't matter whether Newt did or did not do what his first wife accused him of 15 years ago, as long as the story is out there that is all that matters, truth be damned. Because sometimes the story is better than the truth, in which case we will go with the story. Because we have become a people more worried about maintaining our illusions than worrying about what is and is not factually accurate.

Of course while I had that idea in my head since yesterday evening as a possible blog topic, by today the news cycle had moved past that to the story that Newt was being criticized by people in his own party for his previous support of an individual mandate regarding healthcare coverage and for his criticism of the Paul Ryan budget proposal currently in the House of Representatives. So Newt's political aspirations may be done before they even really began.

His weren't the only ones that ended though, Donald Trump also said he will not seek the nomination. Not that that comes as a shock to anyone with half a brain, Donald is always about Donald first and foremost. And his almost run for office gave him some bargaining leverage for his "Apprentice" shows on NBC. Why it would I do not know, it's not like he is on an important TV night (Sunday) and he regularly gets beat in his time slot (his audience actually shrank during his stunting for political office), but then it is NBC, which these days should stand for NoBody Cares. Reportedly they offered Trump something in the range of $30-$50 million to keep the TV franchise going. And they wonder why they are in 4th place (out of 4) among the major networks.

They did annouce the shows that will be renewed and those that got cancelled today, and as expected one of the shows that got cancelled was Law & Order Los Angeles. I believe that it was the very same person who is typing today's entry that said a few weeks back it a bad sign that this show was using killing off a character as a stunt to get people to watch, when nobody really cared about the character to begin with, and slapping a tag like premiere on a show halfway through it's first season was a cheap ploy to try to get new viewers. Well the new viewers never arrived and the show was handed it's pink slip today. Perhaps they will run a premiere of their one and only season finale.

Another person looking for work is Charlie Sheen, now that CBS has opted to go forward with it's next season of "Two and a Half Men" sans one Mr Sheen. Instead they added Ashton Kutcher to the cast. How this will affect viewership is anyone's guess, I personally never found the show remotely funny to begin with, but apparently some people did. Now I am not going to get all hoity toity on everyone here, I just found the writing and alleged humor on that show to be best described as simple. And for something to make me laugh, well, it just has to be better than that. Is the writing going to be any better with Kutcher than it was with Sheen? Probably not, but I doubt I will watch to find out.

I was going to try to think up something else to opine about but Neil Diamond just came on the Pandora station, and well, Neil is just too good of a note to exit on. So instead of some cumbersome conclusion to this blog I will just sing some "Cherry, Cherry" and make my way out the door.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Multiply 365 Day 134 - All domesticky and stuff

I had some not big, but at least decent plans for today. And then I threw them all away in a spew of domesticity. Now I know that since I live by myself, a certain amount of that has to be expected, after all if I don't do it, who will? But a typical Sunday for me would be sleeping in first, sometimes till as late as 9am. That would be followed by me throwing on some clothes and trudging to the corner store for coffee and then coming back to hop on Facebook and what not. Around 10am maybe watch Meet the Press and then do nothing for the rest of the day. Today I broke with that a bit, actually waking up at 5:30am, running to the store for smokes and syrup, coming home and making pancakes for breakfast (which I never do on weekends, if I eat breakfast it is out someplace), did a little cleaning, baked brownies, and eventually even threw together a respectable dinner (rigatoni and meatballs).

But despite all of that I don't really have much to talk about. I did do the Sunday ritual of watching Meet the Press, Newt Gingrich was on and he was decent enough. I wouldn't vote for him, but he at least came across decently enough.

One of the potential Republican candidates, Mike Huckabee, pulled his name from consideration on Saturday. Huckabee's okay, I like him, just disagree with him on a lot of things. He is a guy I wouldn't mind seeing as the loyal opposition as it were. But he is off the table, and I am not all that impressed with the remaining Republican field. I guess my favorite out of the remainders would be Gov Daniels, but then I like the geeky, policy sort. Not sure if he is electable or not. That will be determined at a later date, probably in Republican primaries, and since I am a registered Democrat, I will not partake in that process. But I think I will save the politics for another time, after all, i still have almost two thirds of a year to go in this project, can't use all of my material in one night. So instead I will just stop, maybe take a breather and try to map out what I want to put on the page next.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Multiply 365 Day 133 - Wilder moment

Just thought I would write a little while I have some french fries in the oven. Yes I am once again attempting dinner, late because my stomach was full most of the day. Sammy and I hit Deluca's for breakfast, the first time in better than a month he and I have broken bread together. Technically it was his turn to buy in our rotation of alternate buying, but since he was a little short on cash I originally offered to buy this time. It was like pulling teeth trying to get him to accept, but when Ed found out we were going to breakfast, he just gave me the money to buy it out of his pocket. Knowing that by Ed buying it and that our rotation remained intact, Sammy was a more willing participant in breakfast festivities.

But before we left work yesterday, Clare had overheard Sammy and I talking about breakfast and she said she wanted to go also. Now we have been down this path before in the blog, Clare says she wants to go but come time to actually go she is nowhere to be found, so I put little faith in her going this time either.

So I get home last nite,. do all of the things you ready about inyesterday's entry, including coming up with a fine story for all ypu kiddies to tell your kiddies some day, and somewhere around 2am I put my head on a pillow, knowing full well that I would have to be downtown to meet Sammy at 6:30am.

So I sleep, perchance to dream, perchance to enter into some fucked up thinking process. I can't recall much of the dream, only the tail end of it, and that was meeting an evil man who was a cross between Gene Wilder in Willie Wonka and a psychotic clown. Some messed up stuff right there. Then I heard an alarm in the background going off and it took me a while to realize that the alarm was actually my alarm clock going off.

Two things about me and my alarm clock, it is set early so that I might actually be awake at the appropriate time, right now it is up to 3 hours early, the thinking being 1) i will hit the snooze at least once and 2) the required math of figuring out the actual time will force my brain to function enough that I will have to wake up.

So my alarm goes off and I have bad time depth perception between how much of it was in my dream and how much was me being aware it was my actual alarm.. But my clock is saying 8:30am, so I am in panic mode, thinking that I am late and Sammy will kill me when I get there. See, my brain hadn't gotten to higher level math functions yet, so i thought 8:30 minus three hours was 6:30, the time I was supposed to meet Sammy, and not an hour before then. So I am scrambling about the place, trying to find clothes, already dreading running to the bus stop when after about 15 minutes of this chaotic behavior my mind decide to work in a more normal fashion and I realized I had an hour to work with. So I instead climbed into the shower, actually cleaned myself up a tad, got out the door and downtown with 10 minutes to spare.

So I meet up with Sammy downtown and just as I suspected, no Clare. Like I said before in the blog, after the last time when she didn't even answer her phone, I don't wait around. We stayed until the 6:30 agreed upon meet up time then left. If you aren't on board, the breakfast train leaves without you.

And what an awesome breakfast it was. Sammy got the bionic omelet (an omelet made with 6 eggs, plus lots of goodies in it), I went with the country chicken and eggs and awesomely enough the chicken wasn't breaded, and the sausage gravy was to die for. Absolute deliciousness, and I am not normally a fan of sausage gravy. Toss in a couple of eggs and some home fries and my stomach has been full for most of the day. I am sure the 6 cups of coffee didn't hurt either.

Anyway, after that it was just the typical saturday stuff, some time at work and some grocery shopping I have been in the house putzing around the rest of the day, and will probably do more of the same tomorrow. But for now, just a copy and paste and I am poutr of here, want to spend a little time on Facebook working on my Madden team tonight if I can. I know, I am still the social butterfly you all envy.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Multiply 365 Day 132 - My other brother Darrell or Return of the Matt

Yes kids, I have gone all kinds of Bullwinkle and Rocky on this entry's title.  Truth be told, I had no idea what I would write, I sat around the house contemplating what would be the next entry.  Still stumped I went back and read old blog entries (and realized I was funnier then) and did everything I could to come up for inspiration.  But since none was forthcoming, I decided to get ice cream instead.  Maybe there was magic in that old silk hat they found, or maybe it was the pint of Java Mashup, but I am back, with a story to tell.  Check that, an update on a story that turns into a story.  Got that?  Good, you'll need it.

Remember a few entries back I was all kind of "what should i say and what shouldn't I say" and then "what should I do and what shouldn't I do"?  You know, that kind of indecisiveness that makes me sound like a fucking pansy.  Well, he's gone.  Sorry you all didn't get to say goodbye.

But when our story left off, I had sent a message saying basically that I would like to get to know a person I had been chatting with better.  Now as we all know, there is only so much you can believe when it comes to web profiles and what not.  For those that think otherwise, I look just like Matt Damon.  In case you were wondering.  Anyway, since this particular female and I (at least I assume it was a female, but again can't be too sure)  chatted a few times and I saw a number of photos that she had, all of the same person, while my guard wasn't completely down, it might have admittedly buckled a bit.

But after saying that I hoped to get to know her better, because I realized that I did know literally almost nothing about her, I thought worst case scenario she would say thanks but no thanks.  So I wait a day, don't hear anything.  Not a problem, we might just be running on differing schedules, after all, I don't even know what she does, if anything at all.  Two days, still nothing.  We can do that cartoon graphic now if you want, where the days fall off of the calendar if you'd like, but I'd rather just continue with the story if that is okay.  Suffice it to say a week passes, there are times where we are online at the same time, but I don't want to say anything because I would like to think I had left that ball in her court.  But after 7 days without even a simple, "leave me the fuck alone" for a response, I felt it was time to break the ice and see what happens, so I send a simple message "hey boss, what's up".  For those that don't know me, I do use the word boss alot as a polite form of greeting, I call everyone boss.  It is one of my quirks, but I can live with it.

Anyway, again no response.  So I am basically like fuck this, I have better things to do with my time.  If the only time I am going to get a response from someone is when I say "Hey, nice tits" then maybe it is an avenue better left unexplored.  But then the funniest thing happened, before I could even have time to ruminate over my decision and second, third and fourth guess my course of action, enter that little lady called luck.  Not only did she kiss my ass, but I think she gave me a rim job while she was back there.

See, the next day I am online, I had just gotten home from work and logged into Facebook, when I saw an update from one Darrell Harmon.  If you are wondering why you never heard of Darrell, it is because I have almost never heard of Darrell.  He and I went to the same high school, different years though and somehow or another we ended up on each other's friends lists.  That would be odd enough, but I have almost 900 friends on Facebook, due to the different apps and games I play, so even if someone is there, I can go weeks before seeing or reading an update from some of them, especially when they don't post all that much.  Darrell and I have said maybe 10-20 words to each other in the course of our existence and I can honestly say I can't recall any of them.  Yet on this particular day, at this particular time he is on my update page.  Not only is he there, but he is sharing a link to another Facebook photo album.  It was the photo that was surprising, it showed an attractive blond sitting on the floor in a beige dress in front of a laptop.  And the face was strikingly familiar.  A little too much, so I followed the link.  It was for a female who lives in Germany, while the person I had been chatting with apparently lives in Virginia.  So I doubt they are the same person.  But then I got to clicking through some photos.  I see her skirt or skort or whatever the hell it is the kids are calling it these days, and it is a lot like one I had seen the person I was allegedly chatting with in another photo.  Then I see a pose in a chair and the chair is the same as I had seen in another photo elsewhere.  But the kicker kids, well that would be this.  The first would be this, one of the photos on the profile I had originally viewed.


Okay, now this would be the one that I found in the album Darrell linked to



Now really kids?  What would be the odds that they are two different people?  Hell, what were the odds that I would stumble across this a mere day after I had pretty much written this whole thing off?  I realize that there are times in this blog where I crack down on conspiracies and scams, but fuck, I wasn't even looking and I stumbled into one.  Now perhaps one of these ladies is the proper owner of these photos and the other just stole them, or maybe neither one is and they just stumbled across the same trove of pics and opted to adopt differing shots of the same female for their profiles.  I don't know, and honestly I don't care.  It's not one of those puzzles that I feel an incredible urge to solve.  If someone else wishes to, great, but my calendar is pretty full now, so thanks but no thanks.  I am just thankful I got away when I did.  If some things had gone differently I might have been sucked into a web of lies and deceit, instead I sit here on a Friday night, blogging to you and eating my Java Mash ice cream, and smile inside that I have the opportunity to do so. 

There, story told, now I got things to do and a blog to post, so good night.



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