Thursday, July 31, 2014

Blogger 365 Day 212 - 10 Players I Hate More Than You (Part 1)

     Well it would seem there is a pretty good chance that once again this year I will be participating in a fantasy football league.  It will not be the bar league I was in for almost 20 years, I am pretty sure that league is dead and buried, but a couple of my friends have a league and they are looking for another team or two to join and it will be nice to get back in the saddle again, so to speak.  Plus it will give me plenty  of things to write about in the coming days, and when trying to grind out a daily blog a variety of topics is always a good thing.  Not that this will be nothing but a clearing house for all things football, there are plenty of blogs out there that do a far better job than I ever could, but since this is page does tend to focus on things that are of interest to me and fantasy football is one of them, then that topic will come up from time to time in the future.

     With the explanation out of the way, I am going to update a blog I did a few times in the past, that being the 10 Players I Hate.....   Yes, I stole the idea, but when writing a column/blog like this, it isn't so much the idea that matters, because for any person those 10 players could be vastly different and with a different set of arguments for what brought about that conclusion.  The 10 Players blog is not meant as an argument against adding the named players to your fantasy team (should you play fantasy football) rather it is an argument that the players listed are being drafted in fantasy leagues far sooner than I would draft them.  For purposes of where players are being selected the rules are simple, assume a 12 team league and the data regarding where picks are being taken is courtesy of Yahoo sports, so if a person is being projected as the 16th pick overall, that would be the 4th pick of the second round.  Okay, with all of the explanations and ramblings by me out of the way, let's get this party started.

     1) DeMarco Murray RB Dallas - Average draft position 19.9 - The problem with Murray isn't in he potential, rather in the results.  In three NFL seasons he has yet to play a full 16 game schedule, having missed 11games out of the first 48 of his NFL career.  When he is on the field the numbers are very nice, arguably RB1 worthy, but when there is a 20%+ chance that he will not be playing, well that is a bet that I don't want to tae, certainly not in the second round.

     2) Montee Ball RB Denver - Average draft position 10.4 -  A rookie last season, Ball has a relatively small sample size and given he lost the starting job to Knowshon Moreno last season, Ball probably did not get enough carries to prove himself.  With Moreno no longer in Denver Ball will get a chance to show what he can do, but if his pass blocking does not improve, which was one of the major reasons he lost the starting job last year, there is no reason to believe he will not be on a short leash again this year.  With an average draft spot in the first round, that is not a risk I would be willing to take with that high a pick, there are better, more consistent picks that can be made that early in the draft.

     3) Seattle DEF Seattle - Average draft position 55.1 - This is simply because I make this argument almost every year, unless you are in a league that significantly skews defensive scoring, the average point differential in defenses is pretty minimal among the better units.  What was the difference between the best unit  last season (Seattle) and the 7th best unit (St Louis)?  Roughly 2 points a game, and St Louis is going over 20 picks later in leagues right now.  So you could spend a pick in the 6th round and get Seattle, or you could wait for three rounds, and get a unit and all it will cost you is a couple of points a week, points that you will easily make back by drafting an offensive player in the 6th round. 

     4) Stephen Gostkowski K NE - Average draft position 73.5 - All of the arguments against drafting a defense too soon apply here as well, but moreso.  Taking all of the kickers that are currently being selected in mock drafts this year, the difference between Gostkowski and the last kicker being taken Shaun Suisham (ADP 146.3) is 2 1/2 points per game.

    5)  Robert Griffin III QB WAS - Average draft position 61.0 -  This is simply a matter of who is currently being drafted behind RG III, as RG III could easily be a QB1 for the coming NFL season, but last season, albeit in an injury shortened season, RG III was the 31st ranked passer on throws downfield of 10 yards or more.    While RG III can make plays with his legs that other quarterbacks in the league caan't, I am not sold on him nearly enough to be drafting him ahead of other QBs, such as Tom Brady (ADP 69.1), Tony Romo (ADP 85.9) or even Ben Roethlisberger (ADP 119.0).

     Okay, we are halfway home, I suppose I could bang out another 5 names but then, why would you come back tomorrow?  No, I think I will call it a night and get back at this manana. 

  

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Blogger 365 Day 211 - Lebron watch

     Now that the media firestorm has subsided somewhat I guess I should take a run at my opinion of Lebron James playing basketball in Cleveland this coming year.  I don't care.  Easy enough, right?  I am not much of an NBA fan to begin with and I did not lose all that much sleep over whichever team decided that they were going to pay him tens of millions of dollars a year to play in their city.  It's just not one of my pressing concerns.

     That being said, the initial narrative when Lebron first joined the NBA was that here was the typical story of hometown boys does good, playing for the closest thing to a hometown team that the NBA could offer in the Cleveland Cavaliers.  But during his first stint in Cleveland there were plenty of incidents where Lebron put pressure on the team to sign certain players he liked and let go of players he did not. While his basketball skills are quite formidable, Lebron's skills as a general manager aren't quite as good, because even surrounding King James with players pretty much of his own choosing, the Cavaliers went nowhere.  So when his contract ran out, Lebron did what any self respecting guy would do after helping to create the situation Cleveland was in, he made a giant media spectacle of deciding he would rather play in Miami.  Because with teammates like Dwayne Wade and Chris Bosh, surely King James would win a title.  In fact he won two there, though when he first showed up in Miami he though about winning a few more than that....




But again after hand picking his teammates, once things started to get tough in Miami Lebron did what Lebron does best, he left.  This time though he didn't have a television spectacle telling us where he would play this coming year, he grew up and learned from his mistakes after all (or so was the narrative), instead it was a quietier media circus this time around before announcing that he was going back to Cleveland.  And Clevelanders, who must suffer some sort of short term memory loss, acted as if a conquering hero had returned home, as opposed to a spoiled athlete who left their town when he couldn't get everything his own way and returned only to start the process again, pressuring his new/old team to sign certain players that he wanted to play with. 

There has always been an argument as to who the greatest basketball player of all time is, and usually the names of people on that list are pretty short, including Michael Jordan, Kobe Bryant and Lebron James.  I honestly don't know who is or isn't but I do know that Jordan and Bryant never quit on their teams.

Blogger 365 day 210 - No apologies

     Yes, I know I am late.  I went to the bar after work and managed to have a few, some may argue a few too many, then meandered my way home.  After ordering dinner and staying upright long enough for it to get here, I ate and fell asleep.  Honestly it was probably the best I have slept in about two weeks, so I am going to get back at it if I can.  Night!!!!

Monday, July 28, 2014

Blogger 365 Day 209 - What we've learned so far

     I am not sure why I picked today, unlike a few days ago there is no numerical significance to today, nor is there any underlying rhyme or reason to why I decided to take stock of how this little project of mine is doing at this point.  I guess curiosity just got the best of me and I decided to do a little digging to see what might come up with.

     On the plus side of things I have managed to post a blog every day, only missing a deadline once because I had fallen asleep before actually posting the entry, so it made the page 2 hours late.  Still I will take  a 209 for 209 batting average at this point.   And despite the blog being hit and miss as far as content goes, the traffic here has been remarkably consistent, usually about 20 page views a day.  Unlike when I first got reinvolved with blogging last year and the popularity of my posts spiked somewhat, now everything has just leveled off.  If I go by the all time traffic numbers that Google uses, only one post during the Blogger 365 project (my birthday) cracked the top ten posts all time in traffic, whereas when I first rededicated myself last October, 7 of my top ten were from that month.  The other two came from when the blog was on Multiply (2009 and 2011 respectively).   Now there are no spikes, just a steady stream of viewers (and bots), but steady is good.

     On the minus side is time, were there just doesn't seem to be enough hours in the day.  Since I got promoted back in June I have probably had less than 10 days off in total and that was with me taking off an entire weekend for a family reunion.  That Sunday was (July 13th) was my last day off, I have been in the office every day since then.  I don't say that to bitch about my job, I say that only because it is hard to consistently generate content when at least part of every day is spent some place else.  I am sure if there was quality control regarding this page, that would be an issue too.  Everything is still hit and miss where good writing (or what I would call good writing) is concerned.  Some days I read over what I wrote and I bore me, which is quite a talent.  It probably doesn't help when I go back and read good (or what I call good) posts that I created in the past because that does raise my own level of expectations somewhat, I know what I am capable of and often I don't hit that mark. 

     Anyway enough of the mental gymnastics from me for one evening, this entry is turning into what I would not call good writing so I am better off killing it before it grows like a weed.

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Blogger 365 Day 208 - Am I done yet?

     I guess this is a bit of a followup to yesterday's blog, but I decided that I would go in today and do the extra cigarette order that came in after I left, so I woke up really early, like 4am early and putzed around my apartment for a bit before getting ready and leaving my apartment around 5am.  Because it is Sunday and I am out the door very early, I know that I am probably not going to catch a bus right away , so before going to the bus stop I once again stopped at the gas station and grabbed my morning coffee, and then made my way into work. 

     Sure enough I got to the bus stop and waited.  And waited.  And was just about to say waited again when Mary came to the bus stop and her and I talked for a bit.  For those who don't know Mary (and that would probably be just about everyone who reads this blog), I worked with Mary like 20+ years ago when I was working at the Original Hot Dog Shop.  While I have since left there, she did not and apparently they had her on the night shift last night because she was just getting off work at like 5:30am.  We hadn't had a chance to talk in a few months, last time was when she had stopped in Gus Millers (when we still owned it) to buy lottery tickets and cigarettes and I was there doing something, probably grabbing the morning reports or some such nonsense.  To see a familiar face hat early in the morning while waiting for a bus was a good thing though, we were both headed into town, me to go to work, she was going to change buses downtown to go home, so we talked for a bit, blowing off two buses that would have taken us to our destination. 

    Finally we decided to board a bus, still talking on our way into town, but by the time I got off of my bus downtown it was 6:20am.  Oh well, I only had to do the cigarette order then leave, but since I was going to be there anyway I decided to start tackling the shelf tags that were left behind from the store reset a couple of weeks ago.  The store was supposed to be retagged, but ever since that day I have noticed that a number of shelf tags we had are no longer there and other tags were put up in such a half assed fashion (like sticking them on the product itself rather that on the shelf below the product) that each time I place an order I find more things that they screwed up.  On top of their less than stellar reset, they also left behind two full sets of shelf tags for literally every item that they carry and we could possibly buy from them, including plenty of items that we will never use.  I decided I would started the process of weeding through them, looking for replacements for some of the tags that are now missing and finding tags for items for which there was no tag.  As an added bonus it gave me a chance to order some things I may have missed on Saturday as well as give me ideas for filling existing holes in the coolers and shelf spaces with new product ideas.  So what was going to be a 15 minute cigarette order/project I managed to turn into a two hour project instead.

     Just as I was getting ready to leave one of the girls on duty (we had a shift change at 7am) said she wasn't feeling well, so I had to call around and find someone to come in and replace her.  On top of that, the fountain soda machine was out of ice and when I went to grab some bags of ice to refill it, there was no ice, so I had to call our ice vendor and verify that we had an order coming in today and if so hopefully they could put a rush on it. 

     Finally about 9:30 I make my way back to the bus stop where there is a sign saying the us stop is closed because of construction further down the street and I could catch my bus on the adjacent street corner, so rather than catch my bus on 5th Avenue, I would catch it on Smithfield Street.  Except the bus never came on Smithfield Street, instead it stopped on 5th Avenue, exactly where the sign said it was not stopping.  Groan.

    I did eventually catch a bus and make my way back to Oakland, as I got off the bus my cell phone rang confirming that Brian (not the owner, another Brian) was indeed coming in to replace Lindsay who was sick.  Cool.  I finally get into my apartment and after settling in I took a short nap, now I need to get up and be functional, do some laundry and cleaning and get my old TV out of my apartment now that I have set up the new one.  It works quite, which is good, but my need for having two TVs in a studio apartment is pretty much nonexistent, so I need to put the smaller one out on the curb for trash day on Tuesday.   Lots to do yet, so I best get back at it.  Toodles.

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Blogger 365 Day 207 - Fuck me, bend me over and fuck me

      Don't you just love how one phone call can ruin what otherwise would have been a pretty decent day?   For the longest time today had been going pretty good, I had to be at work early, at least early for me on a weekend where usually I get to set my own schedule.  But today our accountant was coming in to do some paperwork, she usually stops by on Mondays and Thursdays but I think she is taking off this Monday because on Friday I was asked to call her and the gist of the conversation was she was coming in on Saturday and wanted to know what time I would be there.  Me being all gentlemanly and stuff asked what time I was needed, I didn't have anything scheduled on Saturday anyway, so being there early or late didn't really matter.  We ended up settling on 8:30am, early but not too early.  Of course my Saturdays always start by paying a visit to the store formerly known as Gus Miller's and picking up an order to be put in on Saturday for Monday morning.

     Well I woke up a little late, 7:30am, so I ended up just throwing some clothes on and rushing out the door.  On my way to get the order I called our accountant and said I might be a little late,  not that I necessarily would be, but I wanted to put that out there just in case.  I stopped for my gas station coffee and then went down the street and picked up the order to be put in and then headed off the to the bus stop, where I actually passed on the first two buses that came by because I was enjoying a cigarette.  Even by waiting I still made it to my store at 8:35am, so I was right, I was a little late. 

     I opened the office and let the accountant do her thing, while I dealt with the lottery machines.  Our new touch screen machine needed ticket paper added, it was the first time I reloaded that so it was a little trickier than what I normally do.  Then I set about doing my things for the day, even as the accountant finished up and left.  I loaded our new Muscle Milk cooler that I moved last week (there was still no product in it, surprise), reloaded the milkshake machine, put out desserts for the deli (the dessert shelf was empty), went through 6 pages of price changes, fixing them in the register system first and then changing the shelf tags up stairs as well or repricing items with the pricing gun, created a new menu screen on the registers for the deli so that sliced lunch meats and cheeses can now be run up by the pound (thanks for the assist Art), pulled more stuff from the basement that needed to go on the floor, put in the order that I picked up earlier in the day as well as generate an invoice for it, and then did two orders for my store, one for Sledd (our main grocery order) and one for GFS, who we use for some odds and ends we carry both on the sales floor and in the deli. 

      By the end of the day I was pretty tired, not sure why, but for the last hour or so of my shift I was just willing my way through it as opposed to actually attacking things with a level of gusto.  I finish up around 3:30pm, grab some things for home and head off to the bus stop.  My bus comes relatively quickly and I am on board and headed home about 4pm, just relaxing and reading some of my book that I am trying to stay focused on (though not always succeeding).  My bus drops me off in Oakland about 15 minutes later and as I am walking home I grab my cell phone out of my back pocket, and there on the screen was a text message from Brett, he wants me to do an order for him for Monday too.  I checked the time on the message and it was 4:09 pm, so it wasn't like I ignored my phone at work, if that were the case then I would feel at least somewhat responsible but it wasn't.   I don't know how many fucking times I have to say that if someone wants an order they need to get it in early.  I really shouldn't have to spend my entire day at work waiting around for stores that we don't even own to place an order. 

     So I am left we a few options, I could go back in either tonight or tomorrow and place an order for him, I could see if what he needs is in our existing inventory on Monday morning (on top of everything else that will be due Monday morning) or I could just ignore him.  And right now ignoring him is not sounding like a bad option. 

Friday, July 25, 2014

Blogger 365 Day 206 - Karaoke Friday - Historical revisits

     If some of this sounds familiar, and it may to some long time readers of the blog, then that is because this particular item has been covered before.  I am revisiting this item simply because earlier this year the video was remastered and reposted on Youtube, offered a much better version of it then when I had first posted it years before.  Today's song is musical reference to Ronald Clark O'Bryan, who is most infamusly known as "The Candyman".  How O'Bryan earned that moniker is a lesson in human depravity, one that is still with us in many communities to this very day.  On Halloween night in 1974, O'Bryan and his children went trick or treating with their neighbors, the Bates'.  Ronald O'Bryan would go with the children as they knocked on doors with Jim Bates waiting for them back on the sidewalk.  At one particular house where the view of the front door was blocked from the sidewalk, the children knocked on the door and when no one answered they ran back down to the sidewalk to join Jim and head off to the next house.  O'Bryan stayed behind for a minute or so, then caught up with the others bearing Pixie Sticks, a powder like candy in a tube like paper wrapper. O'Bryan claimed that after the kids left, the homeowner came to the door and gave him the candies for the kids who had already left. 

     Upon completing their trick or treating for the evening the children returned home.  Timothy O'Bryan decided to eat some of his Halloween candy, including the Pixie Stick, which was laced with cyanide.  Timothy fell ill and ended up dieing from eating the tainted candy, which it turned out was actually created not by an evil home owner looking to poison children on Halloween, but by Timothy's own father, Ronald Clark O'Bryan, who was simply looking to cash in on his own son's life insurance policy.  Despite this fact, many communities to this very day have either banned or curtailed the practice of trick or treating out of the simple fear that Mr. O'Bryan helped create, that people could try to poison little kids.  Even some hospitals offer x-ray screening of Halloween candy (which does nothing for candy that has been laced with poison) in the hopes of allaying parents' concerns. 

      Withe the brief historical narrative out of the way, I believe it is singing time, though that story isn't much to sing about, is it?


Sickly sweet, his poison seeks
For the young ones who don't understand
The danger in his hands
With a jaundiced wink see his cunning slink
Oh trust in me my pretty one
Come walk with me my helpless one
Candyman

Syrup lies upon your tongue
Ge latine saliva spills
The flash of a guillotine a smile

Candyman - oh candyman
No pity for him, their misery screams
Unspeakable things

A cool missile, yes it's in his smile
With open arms to welcome you
Beware the masked pretender
He always lies, this candyman
Those lips conspire in treachery
To strike in cloak and dagger, see!

Candyman - oh candyman
And all the children, he warns ''don't tell,''
Those threats are sold
With their guilt and shame they think they're to blane
For candyman - oh candyman

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Blogger 365 Day 205 - Pulling a Macaulay Culkin

     For those people that know me or interact with me on a semi regular basis, they are probably familiar with that half of one of the lines I say from time to time.  ususally in conversation, or just before a conversation is about to end I will say something like "it is time once again for me to pull a Macaulay Culkin and go "Home Alone" again."  The line is usually good for a chuckle or two, not uproarious laughter or anything, but maybe a slight guffaw.

     The thing is, the older I get, the more I am just getting comfortable with that notion that that particular aspect of my life is never going to change.  Not that I sit around longing for someone when I get home, or doing the "Woe is me" act, I am more than content to play the cards that life deals me when it comes to relationships.  It just so happens that the cards I have been dealt are not very good ones.

     Usually things fall into one of a two categories; the person I am attracted to is unobtainable.  By this I don't mean that they are spoken for, I am not my father and have no desire to go around wrecking existing relationships and/or marriages, but I have some of my own built in rules that preclude me from even approaching certain people.  The rules are not simply how someone looks, while looks matter in initial attraction (and I challenge anyone who says they don't unless that person is legally blind, there is always something visual there that says someone is or isn't appealing) I really don't have a type I look for, there is not one set of physical characteristics that I find I prefer, tall, short, eye color, hair color, none of that really figures into my personal equation so much as how it all comes together in the end in one cohesive package.  Not that anyone asked but yes, part of that package is mental as well, I need to be able to carry on a legitimate conversation with whomever it is that I am attracted to.  Just the same, someone could meet all of the criteria but still be unobtainable, it could be age (I refuse to be the lecherous old man looking for someone young enough to be my daughter), it could be that in my own warped mental caste system I don't find myself worthy of the person I am attracted to.  The football analogy is someone who has out kicked their coverage, and it is something I don't think I will ever worry about because it would violate one of the rules.  The other issue is that over the course of 45+ years on this planet I have found that usually the ones that I am attracted to and are attracted to me are people who ultimately are extremely bad for me.  It becomes very easy then to treat any potential relationship as a voyage made for Icarus, so far better to sit off to the side then hop on the carriage that is bound for the sun.  I have seen how that turns out enough times and I know my judgement in such situations is usually disastrous in that I ignore every conceivable sign to the contrary and convince myself that this time will be different.  So when you can't trust your own judgement, sometimes the best thing to do is create a situation where judgement is no longer called for.

     So tonight I am pulling a Macaulay Culkin, tomorrow night I will probably do the same, and the next night and the night after that.  It's "Home Alone" meets "Groundhog Day" and I don't see it changing any time soon.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Blogger 365 Day 204 - Fall back options

     The one cool thing about have a few themes that run throughout the blog from time to time is that when stuck in a creative rut, as I am right now, I can at least go back and revisit something that I have done before.  Today is one of those occasions when I will do such a thing.  When I last left the change meter the total stood at $505.76, though I did have a gift card floating out there that could potentially add to the total.  I still haven't used the gift card yet, so I still will not add the total of the card, but I have found another $2.83 since my last update way back in May, so the new change meter total is now $508.59.  Not great for roughly a month and a half worth of work, but not awful either.  It is what it is I guess.  At least now I can erase the running total from my iPad.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Blogger 365 Day 203 - And?

     This is just another one of those days where for whatever reason I can't think of much to write.  My mind is like a guy who is sterile, just shooting blanks when it comes to what to put on the page.  It probably doesn't help that it is just incredibly uncomfortable this evening, just all kinds of muggy and blah.  It's one of those days or nights where everything just wants to shut down and not do anything, my head included. Rather than try to force something out of me that just isn't there, I am going to go to bed and try my hand at this tomorrow instead.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Blogger 365 Day 202 - Unofficial taste tests

     I didn't plan on this being my next foray into blogging, but events from last night pretty much precipitated it.  In truth I guess this particular entry started last Tuesday, when I was sitting in my apartment mulling over what I would have dinner.  I had decided that I was in the mood for pizza, which usually would mean I would go out and head up the street and get one of the cheapie pizza's from Antoon's, where they offer a large cheese pizza for $5, but I was being lazy and as I was going through my email I saw that there was a special at Papa John's, where you would get a large two topping pizza for $10.  I figure this option would kill two birds with one stone, one by fulfilling the craving I was having and two by meeting my need for laziness by delivering the pizza to me rather than forcing me to go get it.

     Now I am not a fan of the politics of the owner of Papa John's, in fact it is one of the reasons I do not order from them more often than I do, but I still usually order from them maybe once or twice a year.  They generally make a pretty consistent pizza, and I do love their breadsticks and garlic dipping sauce. Big fluffy bread sticks, I can usually fill up just on those without even making it to the pizza.  If I had any complaint about tehir breadsticks it would only be that they are pretty plain, not a lot of seasoning going on, but for me that is what the garlic sauce is for (though they could do with putting two sides of it with an order rather than one).   I usually find their pizza pretty consistent in flavor as well, and Tuesday was no different when I went with pepperoni and ground beef as my two toppings.  Papa John's is not the best pizza I have ever had, but they have a McDonald's like quality about them in that it is usually pretty consistent no matter where you order it from, you know going in what you are going to get.  So overally my dinner was solid if not spectacular.

     Last night I again was online, I think I was just finishing up with that long-ish blog that I had put together and was looking to either make dinner or forage around the apartment for something to eat when I saw a banner ad on a website, Domino's was offering 50% off any pizza ordered online, a special that they apparently had been running all of last week and Sunday was the last day for that particular offer.  As infrequently as I order from Papa John's, it would be almost an everyday occurrence compared to how often I order from Domino's.  In fact the last time I had ordered from Domino's would have been before the whole advertising campaign they ran a few years back where they said that they were now going to make their pizzas better, a concept I had actually blogged about at the time if only to complain about it, arguing that if Domino's had it in their ability  to make a better pizza and were changing their recipe to do so, why advertise it and basically tell people that for your last 30+ years of existence you were content to sell your customers shit; just make the tweaks you need to make and move on.

     Still, I saw the offer in front of me and while I didn't have the craving I had earlier in the week, if I was going to give them another chance no better time than when the pizza was half off, if the changes were good then maybe they would pry away my order or two a year from Papa John's and if not then I wouldn't be out as much money as if I had bought their pizza at full price.  Perusing the menu, I settled on a meat lovers pizza (I think it was called a meatzza or some such nonsense) and again I opted for the order of breadsticks.

     I had no issues with the delivery, all went smoothly on that end (the same can be said for the Papa John's order as well) but when I got the food into my apartment it was a different matter entirely.  First I opened the breadsticks and on the plus side you do get two sides of sauce with your order versus one from Papa Johns.  The breadsticks were seasoned with what looked like Parmesan cheese (a plus) and some oil or butter concotion (a minus) that left a puddle of some greasy nonsense throughout the box.  The breadsticks themselves were not really breadsticks at all, it was a half pounded out pizza dough with lines in it almost like perforations on say a check stub, so I had to actually tear the breadsticks apart.  Now if I am camping in the woods and I ask someone to gather some sticks for a fire, I would not expect them to come back with a tree and a bunch of lines on it to mark how to cut the tree in order to get the sticks I require.  As much as I could complain about the breadsticks, they were the highlight of the meal, the pizza literally had puddles of grease on the top and biting into it, the dough was only half cooked, there was a layer of undercooked chewiness between the toppings and the bottom of the crust that was completely unappetizing.  The fact that the pizza came in a black box with all kinds of writing on it saying how their pizzas are made by hand and use fresh dough every day was not a selling point for me, all it meant was that they manually fucked this thing up.  It was a disastrous experience, one that honestly I will never repeat. 

     So if given a choice between the two in the future I guess I would go with papa Johns, not because they are great, but because Domino's is just that bad.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Blogger 365 Day 201 - A day late and......

     The good news is that this morning when I woke up I went pawing around looking for my wallet and keys, I was thinking of heading out to enjoy some of my day off when I happened upon the missing camera cable.  Apparently I didn't leave it at my mom's place after all, it was just buried under stuff on my table, so it looks like I will be able to do the blog I wanted o do yesterday after all, just a day late.   Let's see if I can erase some of the fog in my memory and jump into the Wayback Machine, circa 7/19/2014.

     It seems like just yesterday, perhaps because it was just yesterday that all of this happened.  I originally woke up around 4:30am, not that I had to be up that early, but I am a restless sleeper to begin with and when I woke up at 4:30 I was have a mental tug of war with myself about the idea of going to breakfast before going into work.   Of course any place that I might want to go (save for IHOP which is open 24 hours) would not open until at least 7am, so I would have time to decide where to go.  The only problem with this plan is that my first stop on Saturday is at the store formerly known as Gus Miller's, where I had to pick up a cigarette order to put in for Monday, and they too do not open until 7am, so my options would consist of 1) Go to the Strip District and have breakfast first, either at Kelly O's or Deluca's, then backtrack to Oakland to get the cigarette order and then go into work, 2) Get the cigarette order first, then go to the Strip, hope the waits aren't too long and from there walk into work or 3) Have breakfast at Pamela's in Oakland instead.  Since they do not open to 7:30am, I could get the cigarette order first, walk the two blocks to Pamela's, eat and then catch a bus into work.  The thing about all of these plans is that none of them really require me to be up at 4:30am, so after careful deliberation and a few games of Marvel Puzzle Quest on the iPad I decided to go back to bed for a couple of hours. 

     The problem with that plan was that I overslept, I didn't wake up until 9:30am and now plans 1 and 2 would be very time consuming, taking up far too much of the morning before I got into work.  Plan #3 also would be problematic because if there was a line at Pamela's it would be time consuming as well.  Plus for the vast majority of summer Pamela's has been running the same special, either blueberry pancakes or blueberry waffles.  If I didn't know better I would say Ed must have ordered blueberries for them and now they just can't get rid of all of them, because that is all that is on the sidewalk a-frame on weekends when I walk by.  I like blueberries, but I also like a little variation in the specials and I have yet to see gyro or cheesesteak omelets pop up on the special board, things that might draw me in because I can't get them every day.  So I came up with Plan #4, which sadly is my plan most Saturdays; go to the gas station on my corner, get a cup of coffee and try to attack the day with a caffeine buzz.   After getting showered and dressed I decided there was no time like the present and with as much motivation as I could muster, I headed out to attack the day.

    
      This is what I walked outside to, a grey, overcast, wet, dreary kind of day.    Not the most emotionally uplifting kind of day, that's for sure.  In fact it was one of those days where climbing back under the covers and going back to bed would be nice, if that were actually an option, but I had far too much that needed to get done so that was just out of the question.

      I successfully completed the first of my challenges, I made it all the way to the end of my street to the gas station.  I still had one punch left on my coffee card before I would get a free one (I used that one this morning) but ever since we sold the store formerly known as Gus Miller's I have went from making  5 or 6 trips a week here for coffee down to just one or two.  This doesn't mean I have cut back on my coffee consumption, quite the opposite has occurred recently, I just don't get as much coffee at this particular location as I used to is all.
      After getting my coffee and then walking down the street to pick up the cigarette order, I headed off to the bus stop to make my way into town and get this day officially started.  Once I am on the bus there really is no turning back, before then I guess there is still the remote possibility I will go home and back to bed or call in sick or something, but once I get on the bus and the wheels start turning then the die has been cast.

      One good thing about this bus stop is right there on top of the garbage can.  You see it, you know you do.  It's that green thing there in the right side of the can.  It's a Coke cap.  So no matter how bad today goes, I am at least three Coke points ahead of where I was when I woke up.  I need to start saving some caps again too, I just cashed in 1100 points a couple of weeks back for a movie package, two free movie tickets, a large popcorn and two large Cokes at a theater near me.  Now I just need a movie worth seeing and a person to go with.  I actually did ask someone a few weeks back but that was before I cashed in the points and I am not sure how serious she took the offer.  Don't get me wrong, it's not like I was suggesting a date or anything because that would be the most uncool date ever to say hey, how about we go out because I have a coupon.  Yikes, I am not even that socially inept.  As for movies worth seeing that is the other problem, I doubt the two movies that are on my radar for seeing (Sin City 2, Dracula Untold) are the same as most other people's movies.  I have no desire to see a Disney flick, or a romantic comedy and even the super hero movie coming out (Guardians of the Galaxy) seems lame by comic book movie standards.  Good thing I have upwards of a year to solve those problems before the coupon expires.

      Okay, I am off the bus at the corner of 6th Ave and Smithfield Street and work is just 5 blocks that a way.  Two things about this picture, one being that in the front is a Yellow Cab, which in Pittsburgh isn't the same as most cities.  In most places you can just hail a cab while you are on the street and they will stop and pick you up.  Here you have to call their number and they dispatch a cab to your location, or that is at least how they claim to operate.  Usually you call and about 45 minutes later you call back and ask about the status of your cab and 30 minutes after that you call again, wondering where your cab is meanwhile most of the people out driving cabs are parked either at the airport or outside one of the local hotels waiting for the elusive airport run, where they can make $30-$50 a trip.  If you want to be picked up just to go from one section of town to another, well, good luck with that plan.  You will have a better chance of sprouting wings and flying to your destination first.    The second thing is the second building down on the right hand side of the street, the shorter, black building is what used to be Saks 5th Avenue in Pittsburgh before they, like most of retail in downtown Pittsburgh, packed up and left.  A week or so ago that building was being used as a stand in for the entrance of Madison Square Garden for a movie that was being shot here featuring Will Smith.  Just useless trivia that you probably didn't need to know.

     I got to work and cracked open the office door.  Time to make the donuts as it were.  First thing I had to do was grab the lottery keys out of my desk and go upstairs and take the money out of the lottery machines. Not that we need the money right away, I can't do any bank deposits on Saturday, but usually there is a decent amount of 1s and 5s in the machines and there is a chance that the store may need that change, so I go ahead and run a report on both machines on Saturday anyway and balance them.  Plus it gives me a chance to reload any missing tickets and fix any jams that may be in the bill acceptors rather than leave the machines either empty or unusable until Monday morning.

      
     Next I took over Brian's desk and started doing a number of things in the office.  I settled the credit cards from Friday so that money would be in the account Monday morning.  If I leave that go for the entire weekend then the entire amount will not be available until Tuesday.  I also had to check the balance in the ATM upstairs, if it is too low I had money put away in the safe that I could have used to reload it, but it was fine so there were no issues there either.  Instead I got to jump into doing all of the invoices that had accumulated on my desk over the course of the last 5 days.  Each invoice has to be check to make sure we are not being overcharged on pricing and after that, they all need broken down into categories for our accountant, because our profit margins are different based on the items being bought and sold.  IT isn't hard per se, it is just a time consuming process.


      By time consuming this is what I mean, after I finish I put the invoices in a bag for the accountant to pick up Monday morning.  This bag represents just 5 days of invoices.  After a while staring at numbers starts to suck.

     The fun isn't even remotely done yet though.  Up next is the joy of changing prices.  On Saturday there were only 6 pages of price changes that needed done plus I had to add a handful of products to the system that we had just gotten in in the last week or so that were new and if I don't put them in the system then they do not scan at the register.  I had 8 different varieties of Everfresh juice to add, a new Monster drink (Red Ultra), and three different varieties of Bugles that were missing, probably because they were items that didn't switch over when the information went from our old register system to the new one.  I also had to add a new hire to the system so that he could log into the registers upstairs under his own name rather than run the register under someone else's name.

      Next was straightening up the shelves in the basement.  There were a handful of different items that needed to go from the stock room to the shelves upstairs and the the stuff downstairs needed to be reorganized in such a manner that people could actually find it if they came looking for it.  I would like it if this was the only shelf I had to do (though even on this shelf there were plenty of boxes that needed to be opened and then placed on the shelf) but there were three other sets of shelves just like this that also needed fixed.
     
      Next was the cigarette room, where I had to do an inventory of how many cartons of cigarettes we had on hand prior to placing my orders later on.  Usually this room had roughly 400 cartons in it, Saturday was a little bit of a lower amount, there were only 379, but I had to make sure that the number I came up with was the same as the number on the dry erase board on the door to the room, if the numbers are different then I have to find out why we are missing cigarettes, did someone take something out and forget to mark it, did I miscount when adding cartons to the room or did something far more nefarious take place.  Lucky for me I didn't have to go all Inspector Clouseau, the numbers matched and everything was cool.




     I put the next two pictures together only because I took them at the same time, while I was on a cigarette break, I just decided to play with one of the crazy features on my digital camera that makes pictures look like drawings.  As you can see, it does a pretty good job.  Besides, my pictures to this point have been pretty bland, I had to mix things up a bit.





      Back to work, I start looking at the coolers and while my job no longer requires me to stock coolers (which I miss doing actually) I did see some problems that needed addressed, like the fact that we had products sitting in the basement that were unopened and were not even on the floor yet, so I had to remerchandise this cooler, cutting back on some of the items that don't sell that well yet were taking up way too much space in the cooler.  So I had to pull literally cases of products and make room for the new stuff.


     More of the same, this time it was that Monster Red Ultra I talked about earlier.  This cooler was missing that, as well as Monster Absolute Zero, yet there were 4 rows of Monster Low Carb.  I see stuff like this and I wonder if there are enough hours in the day to do all of the things that need done, because I am one of those people that would just rather do something myself, that way I know it is done properly.
 

      Since I was busy rearranging things, I went ahead and straightened up the Little Debbie snack section, then brought up another 4 cases of milkshakes from the basement to top off the Freal station.  The Freal station is cool because not only is there a freezer but there is a mixer attached to it as well, so you actually get your milkshake blended right there in the store.  It was an expensive piece of machinery that Ed bought, in fact it took the first year of milkshake sales just to pay for the machine itself.  And let's not talk about how much of a pain in the ass it was to get that machine on the counter, first the counter had to be recut to accommodate it, then it still took three people to lift it into place, partially because it was very heavy but also because it was very bulky.





     
       With my work on the floor done, I headed back into the office and fired up Pandora on my laptop to commence with the beginning of the ordering.  Much like when I blog, usually if I am doing work in the office and no one else is there I will be blasting my Pandora stuff.  I am getting my station to the point where I can listen to it most days with minimal skips.  Not sure if it is just because of the amount of time I am on the site or if it has something to do with their Music Genome Project.  Chances are it is probably a little bit of both.  All I know is I have the coolest Pandora station ever.  And if you're not down with that I've got two words for you.


    



  
      With my music playing I go ahead and start the ordering.  Before I can do anything for my store I have three other orders that have to be done first, I have the order from the store formerly known as Gus Millers that I picked up on the way into work, I have an order from Brett who run Mini Mitch, a very small store about two blocks from us on Ross Street.  He had sent me his order via text message (did I ever say how much I hate my cell phone?) and a third order for Williams Vending, who has accounts for cigarette vending machines in a number of bars in the area. Only after I have these three orders squared away and created invoices for them can I then go about the business of doing the order for the store that actually employs me. 




    
      I get those three orders done, then get the tobacco order done Belinda left me for our store on Friday  and then revisit the cigarette room so I can do our cigarette order and finally I make my way back upstairs where I get to tackle the grocery order for this place as well.  The only plus (and it really isn't a plus, I am sure I will hear about it Monday morning) was that the deli did not leave me an order to put in, so I didn't order them anything.  There are only so many hours in the day though and I can only do so much before mentally I just say enough already.  In fact one of the things that I did that I didn't mention yet but this picture reminded me of is I also put that cooler in that is in the center of the screen.  When Saturday started there was a rack in that spot, the cooler that we got to go there had been sitting in the same spot for better than a week when finally I had just had enough and moved it myself to where it was supposed to go and took the rack that was there and moved it downstairs to the stock room for the time being. 


     Finally, after being at work for about 10 1/2 hours I decided to call it a day and head home.  I got outside and it was still all wet and dreary, the only real difference since I started was that it was now dark outside as well.  I would find out as I walked back down Smithfield Street and made my way home that my bus stop was closed for some reason, they had detoured my bus so I had to catch my bus a couple of blocks from where I normally would.  In the grand scheme it wasn't that big a deal, I only mention it because it happened, not that it was all that much of an issue.





      And back to McKee Place and the two block walk from my bus stop to my apartment.  I think we know how this goes from here, I get home, roughly 10pm or so, and settle in only to lose my camera cable and not be able to do last night what I am doing right now.  So instead of celebrating entry number 200 with this story it is relegated to entry 201 and tomorrow will beget another day and another entry.  202 for those of you keeping score at home.  Anyway, it's time for me to go, I have to think about making dinner at some point.  I did get to go to breakfast today and afterward made a trip to Scratch N Dent grocery, so I have the fixins for making a few meals in my humble abode, now comes the fun part of figuring out just what I will make for tonight.




Saturday, July 19, 2014

Blogger 365 Day 200 - At my finest

     Here it is, the 200th installment in my effort to blog once a day and I had plans, glorious plans.  I took my camera with me to work and I was going to do a day in the life of to celebrate the occasion.  Of course things don't always go as planned.  First there was my day, which consisted of a work shift that lasted almost 11 hours.  That was okay though, I got to take lots of pictures for the blog.  All was cool.  Then I got home and fired up the laptop, which is kind of where we are right now.  The problem is that I can't seem to find my camera cable.  I am hoping it is around here somewhere, but it is entirely possible I went all full blown retard and left it at my mom's place last weekend.  In which case god only knows when I will get the pictures off of my camera.  I am hoping it is here, and just in my hurry to get things set up and try to get something on the page before midnight I am just overlooking where I put it.  This is not how I wanted my day to end, but since there isn't much I can do at this point I am just going to check my emails and messages and call it a night.

Friday, July 18, 2014

Blogger 365 Day 199 - Quicksand

     I don't know what it is about the last few days but I can't seem to focus, it is almost like I feel like I a always two steps behind and just can't quite catch up.  No matter what I am doing, I just can't stay focused.  Even tonight after work I decided to run over to the casino and spend the free money they send me every week and I almost fell asleep sitting on a stool in front of a slot machine.  I don't know if it is a lack of sleep, if I just have too much on my plate that I don't even know where to begin, or if it is something more serious but I just seemed to have lost my edge.  I should go to sleep and just see if it is a good night's rest that I am missing, but my neighbor's are throwing a party and the crappy music they are playing is almost certainly going to keep that from happening.   But I can't think of anything else to do so I will give that a try.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Blogger 365 Day 198 - This is taking longer than I thought

      Okay, I think I have pretty well covered my first two days off from this weekend, day three was pretty uneventful for the most part.  Again I woke up early,  went outside and had a cigarette.  Some neighbors were working on the makeshift memorial across the street, trimming weeds from around it, rearranging the flowers and toys left there.  It was nice to see but sad also.  Obviously sad because that the whole reason the memorial is there in the first place is three people died, including a nine year old girl.  But it was also sad because for as much as my mom says she never gets to go anywhere or do anything, there are people literally right outside her house, bonding as a sense of community and yet she is either unaware of that fact, or just unwilling to be part of anything outside of her own home.  Admittedly I don't know the neighbors there very well, I know them enough to at least say hi when they drive by and that is about it, so maybe they are a bunch of assholes, I don't know but it doesn't seem like much of an asshole move to be up early on a Sunday morning to tend to a memorial for a few neighbors who tragically are no longer with us. 

      I went back inside and was going to get a cup of coffee when my mom said she wanted to run out and get a Sunday paper.  I decided to tag along, in part because this meant I could get a cup of non instant coffee.  There is always a method to my madness kids, and coffee to go with my new found breakfast treat of Oatmeal Delights Pop Tarts seemed like a very good plan on my part.

      So after a quick trip to the store and with my brewed coffee in hand I hopped on my laptop and worked on invoices for the store, which beat the Christmas stuff that was still on the TV.  I also started to pack up some of the things I wasn't going to be using on Sunday, last thing I needed to do was get half way home and find out I left something behind, which has happened before.  It wouldn't have been that big a thing except what I left behind before was only my apartment keys.  Nothing major.  Now I am much more anal about making sure I have everything before I leave.  So I stashed away all of my clothes that I wasn't wearing as well as my laptop, camera and cables an just went with my iPad for all of my internet needs (which weren't many) and to assist in finishing my invoices from work.

     Once all of the creatures were up and stirring in the house the decision was made to go to lunch or brunch or whatever it is called on Sunday, so we ended up at Ponderosa.  Honestly it was my first trip there in probably 5 years or so, so I had to relearn how the place operated since it is basically half regular restaurant and half do it yourself buffet (if you get the buffet option with your meal).  Most of my recent buffet excursions were at Golden Corral where you get everything yourself save for your drinks, and Ponderosa has more than just a salad bar.  In fact, they had haluski, which may have vaulted them over Golden Corral in my dining pantheon.  If anyone ever wants to win my heart (provided I have a heart, that hasn't been scientifically proven yet) a good place to start would be Polish food.  They also had strawberry glazed bananas in the dessert area, which were quite tasty.

      After lunch/brunch we went back to the house and really didn't do much for a while, it was pretty uneventful until we decided to load up the car to leave.  That was when my mom decide to tell me that her neighbor (one of the few she speaks to) got a new TV and gave her the old set, and I could have it.  So now, on top of lugging my things back to my place, I am taking a 25" TV too.  Don't get me wrong, I am grateful as all get out, but just when I thought I had cut my load down coming back, I had gotten rid of the cookies and the presents for the reunion which made my bags lighter, I was treated to that law of physics that says nature abhors a vacuum in my luggage.

     So we got the car packed, the TV in the back seat because it wouldn't fit in the trunk and made the journey back to Pittsburgh.  We actually made pretty good time, it usually takes about an hour or so and on Sunday the drive only took about 50 minutes, traffic was lighter than usual coming into town which helped immensely.   And while the driveway next to my place is leased parking, nobody was there so we actually pulled the car up next to my door, which beat lugging a 25" TV half a block.  

      We did our goodbyes and things and then I came inside and started to unpack my stuff.  My mom had sent a few groceries with me as well (more of that vacuum principle at work) so I wanted to get them put away but once that was done I didn't want to sit in my apartment.  I saw on my table stuff for the casino and decided I would go down and blow whatever free money they were offering this weekend.  I hadn't used the weekly $25 they always give out and they had a pull tab promotion for Sunday which ended up being good for another $35 so I had $60 to blow on free gaming, which I did quite well.  I think after a couple of hours I was up maybe $15 or something but it was getting dark outside and not just because it was dusk but it looked like it was going to storm, so I left the casino and raced back to the subway station to catch a ride back into the city, when I pondered whether being on an elevated subway station in necessarily good judgement during a thunderstorm.  Yes, I ponder stupid things at stupid times.  Luckily the subway came before we could test that hypothesis.

      I got back into town and caught y connecting bus pretty quickly, quickly enough that I was still ahead of the rain.  At least until I got off the bus, rather than come straight home I ducked into CVS for a few things and when I came out it was pouring down.  So I did that waiting thing where you try to stay close enough to the buildingyou don't get wet, but also try to stay out of everyone's way that is coming in or going out.  Finally there was enough of a break in the rain that I made the walk home (about two blocks) without getting soaked at least, wet for sure but not soaked so I will take that as a win.

     Next thing you know I was here, working on a blog and catching up on my emails that I missed over the weekend.  And that, finally, should complete the story.  Now if you will excuse me, I am going to give my typing fingers the rest of the night off.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Blogger 365 Day 197 - Let's see how this goes

     First off, apologies for yesterday, but by the time I got home I was in no shape whatsoever to actually try to blog.  I made the mistake of deciding to go out after work and have a beer or two, which turned into 8 or 9.  I managed to keep enough of my equilibrium that I fried up a couple of steaks for dinner and actually had my laptop open and wrote what was supposed to be yesterday's entry (which basically said I was in no shape to blog) but stupid me forgot to post it before I passed out and so the entry went up late, I think I woke up around 1:30am or so.  Not that I was sober at 1:30 either, but more sober than when I was originally typing. 

     I believe the last time when I was sober and typing (not that I am sober now, I went to the bar again tonight, but drank less so we will see how this goes) I was writing about my weekend although I got no further than Friday night before I realized I had rambled on quite a bit and stopped for the day.  So I will try to pick up where I left off if that is okay.

      Because of the fire damage to the house, my mother and I ended up sleeping on the couches in the living room.  Not sure which one of us fell to sleep first since she was busy watching Christmas nonsense on Hallmark and I was staring at my computer screen, fight to keep my eyes open after working a 10+ hour day and then making the trek home.

     Saturday morning I was up early, like 5:30am early, so I went outside and had a cigarette and tried to get my bearings for the day.  I had told Amy that I would help set up for the family reunion and clean up afterwards if she needed me to, so after smoking a cigarette and lounging for a bit and a cup of instant coffee (yuck!) I started getting my stuff together for the reunion.  My mom woke up around 7:30 or so, Mike was still either sleeping or being antisocial in his room when my phone rang a little after 9am.  It was Amy.  A tragedy had struck.  We were going to be short plastic forks at the family reunion.  No problem I said, I would get them on the way there, so my mom and I hopped in the car and went to WalMart where I bough two packages of forks (100 each) and grabbed a couple of bags of Doritos also, thus showing the extent of my cooking talents for the reunion, 3 dozen store bought cookies from Giant Eagle and two bags of Doritos.  Can I get a hell ya?

     So we grabbed the stuff, my mom tried paying for it but I went all Dennis Rodman and boxed her out at the register.  It wasn't all that much money to begin with and I still had about $7 on a gift card from Christmas for WalMart, so it was even less for me.  We then head back and go to grab the stuff from the house we will need for the reunion, the gifts and covered dishes and what not and start to load the car.  But getting my family moving is like herding cats, so while the reunion was scheduled to start at 12pm, Amy was going to be there at 10 to start setting up.  We didn't get there till almost 11am., and by the time we did most of the setting up was in fact done.  I even missed the first argument of the family reunion, when there was a dispute on where the prizes for the raffles and Chinese auction would be set up and if they would be displayed on a table or a bench.  I know, pretty heady stuff right? 

     Most everyone else started arriving around noon, and the event went off pretty much hitchless.  I didn't buy any tickets for the auctions or raffles, usually some of that money goes back into paying for the next reunion, but I just have no desire to buy tickets for prizes that either I don't want or have no place for in my miniscule apartment.  And I hate to buy tickets for a 50/50 raffle because I didn't show up at the reunioj to potentially make money off of my presence there.  If you need me to donate x amount of dollars for the next years festivities, just ask me, if I have it it's yours.  No big thing.

     I do need to get Amy's recipe for buffalo chicken dip though, that stuff was amazing.  I ate way too much of it, but I couldn't help myself, I kept going back for more, originally using it on some tortilla chips and later Doritos.  That dip may make Doritos even better than they normally are, which is quite an achievement.

     I even learned a new game, well it is new for me, I have seen other people play it before but I have never participated.  It is called ladder ball (at least that is what everyone there called it) and involves having to targets about 20 or so feet apart, each one is two bars that go up vertically and are connected by three horizontal bars.  Each person (or team) is given three attempts to hit the other target with these objects that are thrown, the best way to describe them would be two golf ball sized balls, with a 6"inch (approx) piece of rope connecting the two balls.  You throw this almost bolo like object at the target opposite you, trying to land it (and hopefully wrap it around) one of the three horizontal bars on the target, the bottom bar is one point, middle bar is two points and the top bar is three points.  Each game goes to 21 points, the trick is you can't go over 21 or you lose points.  It is a variation on the horseshoe concept, but it is fun and I did okay for my first time playing (I think).

     While I didn't get to help set up much, I at least got to help with the clean up, getting the trash taken care of, helping load cars and moving some tables and benches back to where they were before we started, so I wasn't completely useless but admittedly I easily could have done more.   Still it was nice to see some family members that I haven't seen in literally years, and some whose names completely escape me.  Perhaps it is just early Alzheimer's, I don't know.  Turn out seemed to be a little less this year and I still think I heard there was a head count of around 50 or so.  Yes I am the genetic freak of the family because I do not have dozens of offspring of my own.  Not that I want dozens of offspring, hell I can barely take care of myself, last thing I need is dozens of little me's running around.

     Everything wrapped up around 5:30 or so, we went home and I once again hid my head in my laptop as opposed to being subject to Christmas movie weekend on Hallmark.  There was a slight break in the Christmas programming, but it was only because my mom wanted to watch reruns of The Nanny and Big Bang Theory for a while.  IT was the first time I have ever seen the Big Bang Theory (told you I don't watch TV much) and it was okay, not sure what all of the fuss is about.  If that is one of the better comedies on TV right not, that is saying more about how crappy TV is in general then how great of a show that is.  JUst saying.

      We did cook out on the grill Saturday night, steaks (yum!!! yum!!!) and there was Angel food cake w/strawberries for dessert, which help alleviate the bad TV pain I had been suffering.  Again I was somewhat rushed in blogging, I still had no privacy and the internet connection still sucked, so I did what I could given the circumstances.

     There, I now have two days down, only one to go, but before I deal with Sunday I am going to go grab a shower and do some paperwork so I am not completely drowning in it by Saturday.  Looks like this story isn't over yet.

Blogger 365 Day 196 - Off day

   Sorry about this but time and circumstances make today's blog a near impossibility.. Be back manana.

Monday, July 14, 2014

Blogger 365 Day 195 - The weekend that was

     Told you I would be back to talk about my weekend foray into the hinterlands, or at least to Indiana, PA and thereabouts.  Since I have some time now, I might as well get down to the business at hand.  First to Pandora, this will require some blogging music......

"Dominion/Mother Russia" - Sisters of Mercy

     The story really begins back on July 4th.  My family has a reunion every year normally around the end of June or the beginning of July and for the most part I am a regular attender of said event, but the last few years I just haven't had the desire to go.  In part it was because of all of the infighting that was taking place after my grandmother's and the bickering that came with who got what from her will.  Not that I got or wanted anything, anything that was in the will was split between her kids (I am the oldest of the grandkids) and the remaining possessions in the house were either sold off or offered to everyone else in the family.  I did not ask for nor did I want anything, my memories are more than enough.  But afterward there was lots of chattering about who got what and why did this person get such and such.  It was just very toxic and it wasn't a situation that I wanted to immerse myself in and since the family reunion is her branch of the family tree. it just seemed best for my mental health to stay away until the dust settled.  Then last year the reunion happened right after Ruth had come to visit me.  Between the fact that I had blown all of my vacation time on her and how miserable the actual visit went, I could neither afford to take the time off, nor would I have been pleasant company to be around.  There are times where I lock my doors for your safety kids, last year was one of those times.

"Something I Can Never Have" - Nine Inch Nails

     Pardon me while I say "Fuck you Pandora", stop coming up with mood music that fits what I am talking about.

      So for the last few years my interactions with my family have mostly consisted of one or two trips home, where I end up staying with my mom and we end up doing nothing of a social nature or my excursions (usually to breakfast) with my aunt Amy.  Given our age difference and when and how we grew up Amy is almost more like a big sister than an aunt.  She is 6 years older than me and a large portion of my childhood was spent in the presence of my grandmother, Amy her youngest daughter and my uncle Will, who is 3 years older than me.

"Pretty in Pink" - The Psychedelic Furs

     Anyway back to our present day story, Amy and I had went to breakfast a few weeks ago (along with my cousin Sarah) and during breakfast the subject of the reunion came up.  I was hoping to go this year, but I was hping that my mother would go as well.  My mom hasn't been to a reunion for a few years now either, in fact I don't know the last time she had left the house to visit anyone from the family.  And for the life of me I have no idea why, most days she just sits around the house.  Her husband goes out with his friends sometimes, but she really doesn't go out and see people or do things.

"But Not Tonight" - Depeche Mode

      As bad as I am inn keeping in touch with my family, I at least send them messages on Facebook, my mom wasn't even doing that, she is almost a shut in.  Not that she is afraid to go outside, she just doesn't.    I wanted to go to the reunion this year in part because I thought if I said I was going then maybe shed would be motivated to go as well.  So as Amy and I talked over breakfast and the topic of the reunion came up I said that I would like to go this year.  Amy said that if I wanted to I could ride up with her, which would have been cool enough, I can get to her house via bus in town even though she lives out in the suburbs, so no one would have had to come and pick me up if I took her up on that offer.

"Araidne" - Dead Can Dance

     She mentioned also that she was coming down to Pittsburgh on the 4th of July to check out some of the Pittsburgh Regatta, so I said that I could meet up with her if she wanted, we lease a couple of parking spots downtown that would not be being used at that time and she could use one if she wanted to save on parking in a garage, which can run upwards of $20 a day, depending on when and for how long you park.  So we made it a date to go hang out together at the Regatta and my personal clock started ticking.

"Sadness Pt 1" - Enigma

     I called my mom a day or so later and mentioned about the date of the reunion and said that I was going.  I don't know if she originally wanted to go because she was tired of sitting at home or if she just showed an interest in going because I said I was definitely going, but my mom said she was going this year too and if I wanted they would come and pick me up for the weekend so we could go together.  I told her once I knew more about my work schedule I would know when I could get off, though I am not technically on the schedule on any Saturday, I just go in because it is easier for me to do my ordering that way and get caught up on my paperwork than it is to sit in the store half the night on a Friday, so I just told Ed I would do my ordering on Friday instead of Saturday and he was cool with it.  Then again the store owes me like 9 paid days off, so for me to request a weekend day when I am not on the schedule isn't exactly taking advantage of anyone. 

"Song Sung Blue" - Neil Diamond

     July 4th comes around and I meet up with Amy, Sarah, Ethan (her son) and Fred (her husband) and I tell them that I am coming but I do not need a ride, I just need to know what I need to bring.  Usually the family reunion is just bring a covered dish of some sort, and some prizes for games that are played.  The same rules applied this year, bring at least one adult gift and one kid's gift and bring a covered dish.  Now most of the men don't bring a covered dish, they leave their wives do the cooking.

"What A Wonderful World" - Louis Armstrong

"The Ghost in You" - The Psychedelic Furs

     Sorry, catching up on my Pandora music there.  Anyway, most of you know that I am all kinds of unattached and nobody answered my craigslist ad so I could sucker someone into cooking for me, so instead I just decided to grab some cookies from Giant Eagle to take and I picked up a couple of gifts, nothing extravagant by any means, just things that maybe someone would want.  The adult gift was for something called a Chinese auction and after sitting through it I am still not sure exactly what it is.  I know it isn't like Chinese food, I was not looking to auction again an hour after the last auction, but that doesn't really give me any better of an understanding of what it actually is.


"Blue Monday" - New Order

     The best I can tell is you by tickets and then put the tickets into baskets next to the prizes you like and then it is just a bunch of mini raffle drawings, picking only from the tickets that are in the basket next to the gift, so you never get a gift you didn't want and hopefully nobody brings something that it so horrid that nobody else wants it.

     But I am getting ahead of myself here.  I tell Amy that I am going with my mom, ask if she needs me to do or bring anything in specific.  I end up bringing plastic forks and helping with cleanup afterward, I was supposed to help set up as well, but we will get to that.

     I call my mom and make arrangements, she asks when I will be getting off of work on Friday and I say that I don't know yet, it might be better if they wait and I will call when I get home from work rather than have them leave and possibly get here and me not be back from work yet.  So I go into work Friday, it was a busy day as to be expected, made busier because after everything was done I still had to turn around and do three different orders for Monday morning, so by the time I got off of work it was already 5:30 and till I got home it was almost 6pm.  I figure first thing I will do is grab a quick shower to get my work stench off of me and then call and say I am home, so I hop into the shower and am getting all soapy and stuff.  I start singing "Rub a Dub, Three Men in a Tub", but then I think that three men in a tub sounds like a really bad gay porn title, so I stop singing.

"Policy of Truth" - Depeche Mode

     I get out of the shower and dry off and throw some clothes on and call home to say that I am home, thinking that the hour it takes for them to get here from there would be enough time to throw all of the things I need into a bag or three.  Between my laptop, my camera, my cell phone and my iPad I had an entire section in one of my bags that was just cables, let alone the clothes I needed and the gifts and cookies for the reunion.  So I call their number and no answer, they had already left.  I just love it when a plan comes together.  So, instead of having an hour to just organize the things I was taking, I had no idea how much time I would have, so I entered the realm of speed packing where you just throw shit in a bag and hope its right.  For the most part it was, I didn't leave too much behind, I even packed a book to read (which I never opened while there).

"Higher Ground" - Stevie Wonder

     About a half hour after I called they arrived, so I had more time than I thought, but not much more.  I quickly threw my stuff in the car and we left.  On the way home they had decided they wanted to stop and get something to eat.  I had planned on this happening, I had enough money with me so we could go out to eat a few times, it is one of the few forays into the outside world my mom does make when I am home.  They decide to stop at Denny's, which is fine, I am hungry anyway and I haven't eaten at Denny's in years so it would be a nice change of pace for me. 

"Bizarre Love Triangle" - New Order

      While we are at dinner I go to scratch the back of my neck, I recently had about ten pounds of hair lopped off and being able to feel my neck without a bunch of natty hair in the way is a pretty good sensation.  But when I go to scratch my neck I feel a bump back there and leave it to me to pop a blister or something on my neck while in a restaurant.  I am sure it was most appetizing for anyone who might have seen it.  Luckily it didn't bleed or anything, but I just sat there wondering to myself how long that had been hiding under my mop of a hairdo.  Thankfully the check came and I paid the bill and we escaped without any further repulsive behavior on my part.  I didn't stick my fingers up my nose or anything.

    We got back around 9:30 at night and my mom turned on the TV.  I am still at a loss for how my mom finds the most awful television programs to watch and then actually sits through them as if they are good or something.  This weekend was no different.

"I Was Wrong" - Social Distortion

     They have Dish Network, they have literally hundreds of channels to choose from, yet my mom managed to find out thy were doing a made for TV Christmas movie marathon on the Hallmark Channel this weekend, so yes, the viewing choice for Friday (and most of the weekend for that matter) was Christmas programming.   I fired up my laptop and left a brief blog about being home, I didn't want to get into details because my mom was sitting in the very same room.  It didn't help that I was having problems with the internet connection, for whatever reason I was lagging on their connection, a problem that I do not have here in the Fortress of Solitude. 

"Jumping Someone Else's Train" - The Cure

       My mom then said that I could sleep on the big couch if I wanted to and she would sleep on the loveseat.  For long time readers of the blog, you might remember a couple of months ago I mentioned that the place across the street from my mom's place had caught on fire, three people died in that fire including a 9 year old girl.  While my mom's place did not go up in flames, it did get damage from the fire.

"Kiss Me on the Bus" - The Replacements  (I really should sing this song on the way to work someday just to freak out my fellow bus riders.)

     Apparently that damage has yet to be fixed.  This is where I could have used someone like Ed because he never would go for someone putting off work that is supposed to be done for over 2 months now.  Instead there is a giant hole in the ceiling of my mother's bedroom, water damage from when the place was soaked to keep it from catching fire, and the front now looks like this.

     Mind you, this is far better than the alternative, which is just now a makeshift memorial for the people that died in a residence that is no longer there





But still, I am not comfortable blogging with other people around me, not that I am going to divulge state secret's mind you, but because I just like to be in my own element when writing.  There are a couple of places that I am comfortable, here in my apartment, the Squirrel Cage, my bench in Schenley Park and the spot Hope and I used to hang out in front of  the Frick Fine Arts building.  In those places I am in my element, in my mom's living room with Christmas movies on in the middle of July?  Not so much. 

     Wow, I have rambled on quite a bit here and I have just covered Friday so far.  Think I will pick this up again tomorrow, that way I am not rushing through things.  Besides, I am getting tired of listening to Pandora anyway and I have leftover pizza I have to put away for dinner tomorrow night.  So tomorrow is part 2, lol.




Sunday, July 13, 2014

Blogger 365 Day 194 - Back without a vengeance

     Once again I find myself sitting in my Fortress of Solitude, having survived my foray of a family reunion this weekend.  Mostly it was good trip and probably just about the right length too, enough time where I got to enjoy seeing people without reaching the point of pacing the floor waiting to get back here.  I will go through a long drawn out itinerary of things that happened tomorrow, when I have more time and motivation to tackle such a task.  I will say given how well things went this year I am looking forward to next year, and that isn't something I can always say.  For now though I have plenty of unscheduled unpacking to do, for some reason no matter what I take when I go to visit, somehow I end up bringing more stuff back than what I originally took.  There probably is some scientific formula where if the amount of stuff I pack is x, then the amount of stuff I will come home with is x to the t/x power where t is the time spent there.  Yes, math jokes.  I am full of surprises.  For now though there are bags and objects that need dealt with.  Yay!!!

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Blogger 365 Day 193 - I forgot what this is like

     Enjoying my weekend off of work thus far.  I honestly can't remember the last time I had a Saturday off, though I am thinking it was probably the weekend after Christmas, so this being off work thing is nice.  I still have invoices in my bag that I need to finish while I am home and I did get one work related phone call last night, just a text message on how to get into the safe for change, the rest of the time has fairly relaxing. 

     The family reunion was fun, it was nice to be able to see some people that I haven't seen in years.  Now I am just laying around practicing being fat.  I can't wait until I become a professional at it so I can be all about getting paid. 

     Anyway, since I am still away I will keep the blogging short and trying doing some longer stuff when I get back to my fortress of solitude in Pittsburgh.  Laters.

Friday, July 11, 2014

Blogger 365 Day 192 - In and out

     Not going to spend a lot of time on this blog this evening, just got to my mom's place from Pittsburgh where I will be staying for the next couple of days in part to attend a family reunion tomorrow.  Lots to write about but not sure this is the time or place.  If you were here you would understand, but alas you are not and I am.  I think I will table some of this for Sunday when I am back in the solitude of my apartment and I can ramble on aimlessly at my own pace.


Thursday, July 10, 2014

Blogger 365 Day 191 - You ought to be in pictures

    Since there is currently a movie being shot here in Pittsburgh starring Will Smith, rather than go on some long blog I though instead I would post a neat little mashup I found on Youtube of other movies that were shot here.  Enjoy.....


Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Blogger 365 Day 190 - Balancing act

     Brian did make it back into the office today, and after looking over all of my work for the last 10 days or so the verdict is, I guess I did okay.  All of the bank accounts balanced properly, though I did admittedly transfer $500 too much to the payroll account but everything else was fine and there was even enough money in the main account to cover all of the checks that I sent out.  Imagine that, we paid our bills.

    The only hiccup of note we had was a check return fee of $12 because someone wrote us a bad check.  That is something that I would have no control over, so I am pretty much blame free on that.  Now I just have to catch up on my paperwork, which I did let get behind but with our accountant off this week I do have a few days to catch up on that and some of the reports Ed likes, like shift breakdowns, that I just didn't have the time to get too last week.  I banged out 5 days worth of those today before I left the office and I have my invoices here at home with me, I am thinking of taking them to the laundrymat tonight when I wash clothes, it will give me something to do besides sit outside and smoke cigarettes and numb my brain with TV while I am there.   Plus, as long as I am doing paperwork, then I can get paid for doing my clothes at the same time.  It is almost like working from home, save for the being at home part.  I just wonder if they will pay me in quarters, because the washers and dryers don't take dollar bills.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Blogger 365 Day 189 - He's baaaaack!!!

     Tomorrow mark the end of Brian's vacation and his first day back at the store in about a week and a half.  During the interim I was left in charge of all of the store's banking.  Mind you, this is different than just running deposits to the bank, instead it is a matter of juggling roughly 12 different bank accounts and making sure that the money is in all of the appropriate places for bills to get paid.  It isn't necessarily a labor intensive task, but it is a mentally challenging one when tossed in on top of everything else I do, because if any of the accounts should come up short then we have some pretty big issues on our hands.

     Not that his day back means my life suddenly gets easy, I have a Sledd order coming in, a cooler being delivered, another cooler being taken off the floor and a reset team from Sledd coming in to retag the entire store.  It is going to make for a most hectic day.

     I keep telling myself I only have to make it until Friday night, I am going home for the weekend to attend a family reunion.  Hopefully I will be able to recharge the mental batteries while I am away,  but I have a feeling I am going to be doing more running than relaxing. 

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