Friday, March 31, 2006

For the love of all that is holy

My job deals with the public, either retailers, players, distributors, volunteers, tournament organizers. In a typical week I talk to a few dozen players/volunteers/tournament organizers plus an additional 20 or so retailers. I don't know most of them from Adam. Emails like these just don't offer much help.

"I didn't get my prize support"
"My rating is wrong"
"I have a store in western Colorado can I be listed in your store locator"
"I would like to host tournaments"
"My tournament organizer made a mistake"
"I want to apply for an event"

All of these without things like your name or location. Even an email set up correctly so it gives me your name instead of saying it is from the Hydro Alchemist is a start. Grrr... I spend so much time replying to them trying to get the correct information. My favorite this week is someone complaining about his tournament organizer.

Random player email to me "My TO made X mistake, he isn't very good" or some slightly longer email with no real information.

Trevor to random player "I need more information such as the event date, location, the TOs name, your name"

Random now named player to me "My name is X, the TO was Bill, it was on a Saturday at the store I usually play at"

The youth of America, just awesome.

Opening Day!

Opening Day is on Sunday! The Braves open on Monday in Los Angeles and then next Monday in Atlanta. Since 1996 this will be only the third Braves home opener I've missed. I've been to some great opening day games. I've seen Maddux, Glavine, Smoltz, Neagle, and even Horacio Ramirez start the opener. I've seen 2-0 games, 10-8 games, wins, losses, home runs, double steals, passed balls, blown saves, lead changes, great plays, bad plays, you name it. There have been some good opponents like the Giants, Cubs, Mets, even the Phillies (they were good sometimes) and of course some junk ones like the Brewers (although they seem to be better now), Expos, and Rockies. I've been with a friend, a group of friends, both my brothers, and even Pretty Bird. Pretty Bird and I were at Turner Field's first regular season game. First Braves hit, Chipper, home run Michael Tucker!

Next Monday while the three of us are having a great time at Disney World a little part of me will be sad that I'm not watching Smoltz vs. the Phillies. Go Braves!

Monday, March 27, 2006

I just don't get it

I really don't get the people who make wireless internet cards/adaptors. I've installed or at least tried to install five of them now on five different computers. I've helped friends and family do it, being the 'computer guy' can sometimes be a pain. I've installed PCI, USB, and the plain laptop PCMCAI cards from Linksys, Netgear, some random company and whoever makes the Compaq ones (I know it isn't Compaq). They should be easy to install and get to work, they really should but they aren't.

Everyone of them has produced the same problem. They each come with their own software that wants to manage how the computer connects to a wireless network. Windows XP also has its own software to manage how the computer connects to a wireless network. With both pieces of software doing the same thing, using the same hardware to do it, well it doesn't work. Instead of one working neither of them works and the computer doesn't connect to the network. What really gets me is there has been almost an entirely different solution for each brand/type of wireless adaptor. Some you must disable the Windows software and let the adaptor's software do its thing. Others you must disable the companies software and let Windows do it. Others you must unistall the software and just install the driver, usually not included in the disk that came with the adaptor. My favorite was the one that wanted me to disable both and then manually look input the IP address, lots of fun if you're traveling and want to use a wireless access point.

Everyone has been different. I've actually had to talk to tech support for two different ones, the first one and then my most recent one. Typically I can figure it out myself, there is only so many possibilities, or I can find the information on the web. The first one was because well it was the first time. The most recent was for a USB adaptor we recently purchased to move one of our computers to a different part of the house.

I had to talk to tech support, after being on hold for 25 minutes twice yesterday. The first time was someone who just refused to deviate from his script. I told him where I was, what the problem was, etc. He just kept starting from the beginning. "Make sure to insert the installation CD into a working CD drive", "Now plug the adaptor into the USB port", and on and on. The guy was an idiot. The second guy was helpful but we still didn't come to a result that I like. This is the one that wanted me to input the IP address manually. Not good at all. Everytime I would restart or shutdown the computer Windows would reset the settings and start looking for it automatically. I would have to then manually do everything all over again. Also my ISP resets my IP about every three to six weeks, I would also have to change the settings then. We've just to buy $20 worth of cat 5 cable and hardwire it.

What gets me is how these things actually ever sell. I've made a living in the past building and fixing computers. I'm not saying I'm Michael Dell or Bill Gates, of course they probably couldn't do it either, I'm saying I'm okay with a computer. If I've spent an hour or so the first time plus any phone/hold time getting it to work how long does a computer novice spend doing this. I would like to say it is an isolated incident but literally every one has involved some sort of conflict with Windows. It isn't like these adaptors aren't going to be installed on a Windows XP machine, design the things to work with XP not against it.

My advice, just buy a computer with a built in wireless adaptor. Both of our machines have one, no problem :)

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

March Madness

While I love the NCAA tournament, this is much better!

My bracket predications has a Final Four has Alba, Cuthbert, Keibler, and Brooke Burke with Jessica Alba defeating Stacey Keibler in the Finals.

Monday, March 20, 2006

First Day of Spring

And it is snowing here in Charlotte.

Sunday, March 12, 2006

See ya Friday!

Off to Vegas!

Saturday, March 11, 2006

You woke up this morning, got yourself a gun

Second Wife?

Tomorrow I will be in fabulous Las Vegas. It is far and away my favorite city to visit, at least of the cities I have visited so far in my 30 years on this planet. Since last March this will be my 5th trip to Las Vegas, sixth if you go back to last December. Not one but two people yesterday asked me if I have a second wife in Las Vegas. Hell the only time I've been drunk in Vegas was when I was there with my lovely wife. So no, no second wife. Every trip except one of my eight trips to Vegas have had a really solid reason that just didn't involve me wanting to be there.

This is my fourth trip to the GAMA Trade Show, the only business to business trade show in my industry.
One trip to take my two brothers to Vegas for the first and celebrate the youngest one's 21st birthday.
One trip to take Pretty Bird on a much needed vacation. We hadn't been on one for a few years before that.
One trip was a 30th birthday present from Pretty Bird and some family to see Aerosmith.

The last trip was just a few friends wanting to go to Vegas. Actually it was one of a few scouting trip for Baldy to see if he really wanted to move to Vegas. Obviously he did, his first day living in Vegas is tomorrow.

Viva Las Vegas!

Friday, March 10, 2006

Bonus Coverage

Today is bonus day! I've had jobs previously that featured bonus compensation, I've had some that didn't. Managers at Taco Bell were eligible for a bonus every period, I wasn't the GM of the store though so it usually wasn't much. A GM can get a bonus up to 10% of money over the stores plan, so a GM's yearly bonus could be as high as $15,000 to $20,000. As an assistant manager I would get $25-$100 a period, 13 periods a year. Not that bad.

The movie theater I managed I also got a bonus, twice a year. Once was very tiny and based completely on theater performance as graded by the district manager. The cash pool started at $1,000 and increased every year you worked there by $200. Most theaters scored around 60-80% on the grading, so you would get 60-80% of your bonus. You also only got paid 50% of that during the middle of the year, the remaining 50% was awarded with your year end bonus. Our year end bonus was the 50% of the previous bonus plus another pool of money that was one of three amounts, based on which was higher. The same pool you had from your mid year bonus, say $1000 again if your threater wasn't within 5% of its budget for the year. If your theater was within 5% or met its budget then your pool started at 2x your mid year number, so $2000. The number you really shot for was betting your budget. If you beat your budget your bonus was your mid year number plus 1% of what you beat your budget by for a theater manager. Theater General Managers actually got 5% of how much you beat your bonus by, most people in charge of a theater didn't actually get the GM title. They reserved those for the theaters with 12+ screens, I worked there in the mid-90s when there was a lot more of theaters that size. GMs for monster theaters like any 16+ screen theater could bonus over $30,000 a year. I would get around a $1500-$2500 bonus at the end of the year.

RC2 offers a bonus to everyone above a certain pay grade, two below mine apparently. Only one person in the office here in Charlotte wouldn't be eligible for a bonus and he will probably be promoted before next year's bonus. I'm not really sure how they're calculated, they are talked about frequently over the year. The pool of money is generated based of your yearly income. I can't really talk about how much mine is or even what percentage, it is different per person and people from work sometimes read my blog. Let me just say it was a nice bonus.

The reason I'm writing about it is more to bitch about the stupid tax rate. Bonuses have their own tax codes and thus are taxed a tremendous amount more than your normal income. Just the fed income tax alone was more than I bring home on a check. I've always hated it, it has been years since I've had a bonus so I hate it now probably even more. It is like an old injury that hasn't bothered you for years but then creeps up and bites you again. The only nice thing is that is taxed higher than I pay annually in taxes so I will get most of the difference back, the IRS just needed it for an interest free loan.

Thursday, March 9, 2006

So Funny

Normally I'm not a huge fan of the Daily Show, it does have plenty of moments though. I do dislike Barry Bonds much more however.

"I tried talking to Barry Bonds"
"How did that go"
"Not very well Jon"
"Really? How so, what happened?"
"Well Jon, he tore a phone book in half and tried to fuck a Coke machine"
Then Jon almost loses it, the audience including Pretty Bird and I lose it, much laughter
"That machine now only accepts exact change"

Great stuff. Barry if you think the press is out to get you or this is racial related you can suck it.

Two Renewed Agreements

Two agreements were renewed this week.

Patriot Act = Bad
NFL Labor Agreement = Good

Wednesday, March 8, 2006

Gmail > Work

I usually don't vent about work on my blog but I'm going to anyways. I really like my job and the ride I've been on in this industry for the past three plus years. I'm not going to bitch about that. What I am going to bitch about is our IT Support guy, he is horrible. I know most of you who know anything about my last job would wonder how it is possible that I would ever complain about any companies IT performance. Overall our IT department is great, they're all out of another office though. The other IT person in our office is the Support person and this guy is just not good at all.

About every month our email goes down in this office for two to five hours. The reason our email goes down is because the local server fills up. I would go into why that shuts down email completely but that is just too much information. Lets just say that when it is full we can't send or receive email. I would think a halfway decent guy would know to check up on our email server space, this happens about once a month.

His solution instead of doing his job better is to limit the space we can have on our email accounts. I'm all for this, some people don't know any better than to send multiple huge files over and over again over email. We have FTP capabilities and a robust server set up to drop and transfer files, no need to clog everything with huge files. In fact the company has a 100 meg 'limit' on our email accounts. I say 'limit' because all you get is a message when you get close to that telling you to archive files/messages. Well our brilliant IT guys solution is a 10 meg limit on accounts. WTF, I get 4 gigs free from Google with their Gmail service. He wants it this low so it is easier to keep track of the people who don't listen.

I could go on for days about how bad this guy is in other ways but this is enough venting about work.

Tuesday, March 7, 2006

Words of Wisdom

from Armageddon?

If you don't know the story then you're probably lucky but I'm not going to tell you. So they land the shuttle, they have to drill into the asteroid but they landed incorrectly and are on a big plate of iron. Bruce Willis' character and a few others are really worried about being able to drill through iron, apparantly that is tough. Having never drilled through an asteroid before I guess I'll have to take their word for it. Everyone is all worried about being able to drill through to the necessary depth. They must hit random X feet to be able to put the bomb into the asteroid so they can properly blow it up. Obviously if you don't put the bomb into the asteroid at a certain depth, you can't blow it up. They must do this before the asteroid hits the Earth killing Liv Tyler, Jason Isaacs, Billy Bob, Spawn, and a few billion other people. So now onto the wisdom, which I use a lot in my life, moreso at my current job.

Bruce - "Well the iron can't be more than 50 ft. deep"
Other guy - "How do you know that?"
Bruce - "Because if it is, we're fucked"

Certain things I have control over, certain things I don't. I can't sit around worrying about things that I have really no control over, even if they could ruin whatever it is that I'm worried about. Words to live by.

BTW, that is the only thing important out of Armageddon you now don't need to see it, if you've been able to avoid that hell to this point.

In the Spotlight or Out

One thing I didn't explain, one of the main reasons I don't let celebrity deaths even enter into my life, is we don't know who they really are, or at least I don't. I loved Kirby Puckett on the field, he was a player that any fan of baseball could root for and enjoy watching. Like I said earlier he is one of the main reasons, along with Dale Murphy, Roger Clemens, Andre Dawson, and Don Mattingly, that I started to like baseball. If you look hard enough though you find that maybe Kirby wasn't the best person off the field. Everyone has things they regret or at least would like to change in their past and I'm not going to throw dirt on one of my baseball favorites. Let's just say that out of the spotlight celebrities probably aren't saints.

Then you look at Dana Reeve. Her claim to fame, why she is in the headlines, is for being Superman's widow. She wasn't a typical celebrity wife though, she was there for her man even when it got hard. She is celebrity not for hitting a HR, robbing Ron Gant of a hit, being a movie star, or anything like that. She is a celebrity because she was there for her husband when her husband needed her the most. Isn't that what a celebrity should be?

Rest In Peace Dana.

This will be my last mourning post, at least until the third celebrity dies. Things happen in threes. Admitting that I'm superstitious is the first step to recovery. However I like my little quirks, so I'm not admitting anything.

Monday, March 6, 2006

Rest In Peace Kirby

One of my absolute favorite players when I was a kid, even before I liked baseball. I usually don't celebrity deaths bother me, I don't know them from Adam, heck I don't even really know an Adam. People die everyday, all the time, if I start letting an actor or artist or athlete's death bother me, it just doesn't seem right. Anyways back to Kirby, I just loved him, even when he took Leibrandt deep, what was Bobby thinking, Kirby destroys lefties.

So yeah, I could go on for days and days about how Kirby helped me become a big baseball fan and I really enjoy being a baseball fan but I'm not. I just want to say thanks Kirby.

Did you wash your hands?

"No...because I'm evil"

I love Justice League Unlimited

I got a fever

You can never have enough Cow Bell.

Wednesday, March 1, 2006

Who would win, RoboCop vs. Jack Bauer

...Chuck Norris? I guess we'll get to find out next Monday :)

And finally, Kim is back!