Preparing for the New Year


Now that it’s December, I’m sure that many people are starting to think about their New Year’s resolutions. But I’m not.

That’s because I don’t make resolutions. To resolve to do something means that you are determined to do it, to settle something, etc. It’s a nice little word but it’s not exactly one I’ve used over the past few years and it sounds like a short-term solution to a lifelong problem.

Instead of making resolutions, I make commitments. One is committed to their religion, to pay their bills on time, or to their job. It’s something that you hold in high regard because it needs to be done, much like my weight loss and maintenance over the years. No, at this point the scale isn’t exactly where I would like it to be but I’m still nowhere near my starting weight of 300 pounds. That’s because I made a commitment to change my life by eating right and exercising.

Compare that to the resolutioner who will buy their gym membership in January and stop using it by March because it was more than they could handle. Running is always a kick at the start of the year because my running route and the bike paths are really populous but in a few months they are empty again. I’ve seen it happen every year.

Anyway, I’ve committed myself to doing at least three things in this upcoming year, my 46th year on this material sphere. They are as follows.

Commitment 1: Stay Active and Eat Better
As I had mentioned, the scale hasn’t been in my favor recently so I’m going to change that in 2015. No, I’m still not springing for a gym membership because I really don’t like the environment: parking, sweaty machinery and equipment, the loud boots-and-pants music booming from the usually awful sound system. Just not for me. Instead, my plan is to start eating better and getting much more exercise in. I’ve already started by simply walking rather than running and by eating right, that means not falling for those snake-oil cleanses sold through MLM people who knew nothing about nutrition before signing up for their scheme but now promise to help you lose ridiculous amounts of weight in a short time with their overpriced product (only to gain it all back just as quickly if not sooner). I may run a few miles while I’m out but walking is a welcome change, and change is good. I’m currently averaging 8 miles per walk which is good for burning at least 1,300 calories. This boosts my recommended caloric intake to early 3,500 so if I eat less than that, the weight will start to fall off again. That’s exactly what I need.

Commitment 2: Find a New Job
Working at the ol’ grocery store has been a good time but I’ve decided that I won’t make it to my one-year anniversary in the middle of February. The lethal combination of part-time hours and minimal pay are simply not the way a family should live and we’ve resorted to using credit cards again as a result. That’s not what we wanted to do but when you need a microscope to see your paycheck, you gotta do something. Additionally, the company is looking to hire 1,200 people. I don’t know where those people are going to get their hours if the ones currently working aren’t getting any themselves. Oh, and I found out via a random Google search that the location is up for sale because, as the description states, the company has “not achieved the desired sales at this location and has indicated that it may close the location or sublease the store.” In short, it sounds like our days are numbered to begin with. It would be nice if our management would maybe give us a little insight on this matter but nobody has said anything about it. In other words, it’s time for me to fly.

Commitment 3: Vices
We all have them. Perhaps my most painfully obvious one was my penchant for diet sodas which I know aren’t good for me, but my liking can be compared to Oscar Wilde’s thoughts on cigarettes.

“You must have a cigarette. A cigarette is the perfect type of a perfect pleasure. It is exquisite, and it leaves one unsatisfied. What more can one want?”

I’ve tried to kick the habit in the past and failed miserably but when I decided to lose weight, I committed myself to avoid them and I did. Well, it’s time to do that again and replace it with water and tea. In addition to diet sodas, I have already taken the proper steps in kicking another of my vices to the curb. Without saying exactly what it was, I will say that it was not an addiction to chemical, tobacco, or alcohol nor was it entirely harmful to myself or anyone else. It was not damaging my health or illegal yet it was something that was slowly taking over me and got to the point where I had to think about what I was doing and put a stop to it immediately. In the end when I really think about it, it’s just silly and pointless and something that none of my lifelong friends would probably expect from me. Either way, I’m done with it and you’re not getting me to tell you what it was.

Commitment 4: Zen
I’m currently reading The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Zen Living, a book that covers the ins and outs of what zen is and isn’t. It’s yet another way that I’m trying to incorporate peace and a spiritual awakening in my life, something that I’ve been trying to achieve for a few years. Meditation is still working as are simple Buddha quotes (the ones that are real, at least). Buddhism and zen are extremely complex yet in the end, they come down to simple philosophies that I can adhere to more than any religion I’ve read about. Who knows? I may even commit myself to becoming a Buddhist by the year’s end and visiting temples to see what it’s like. And no, Buddhism isn’t all about reincarnation. It’s much more than that.

Whew, is that enough? Looks like I have plenty to take care of in 2015.

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When Black Friday Comes…


Black Friday is quickly sneaking up on us, what with all the leaked ads popping up on sites and forums all over the Intarwebs. And yes, there are lots of great deals to be had provided you like to stand—or if you prefer, camp overnight in freezing conditions—and fight off throngs of rabid, maniacal shoppers looking for the same bargains you are.

Well, I’m not one of those. Not only do we normally stay as far away as possible from any retail establishment on said day, we usually have our Christmas shopping done well before Halloween and this year was no different. The only post-Halloween purchase I made was for Ann and myself, our early Christmas gifts to each other. They were good deals to begin with and we buy other good deals throughout the year so that once Christmas comes around, we don’t have to spend time fighting off crowds.

With social media being the thing these days and crazy kids shooting videos of anything and everything, we’ve all seen the YouTube clips of blood-thirsty consumers ramming the doors of their local Walmart and running over anyone who was reluctantly in their path. This, however, is nothing new. I recall the days when Ann and I worked for Walmart back in the early ‘90s, when she had to crouch down and sneak into the store through the little door used exclusively for shopping carts because of the crowd gathered around the regular entrance. Even so, with her name tag on and with an associate manning said door to let her in, her entrance nearly caused a riot amongst the crowd.

What is everyone celebrating again?

Maybe some find it fun to be around angry people who will just end up selling their stuff on eBay for a few extra bucks. Well, I don’t and I’ve worked enough years in retail, back when stores were still closed on Thanksgiving, to keep as far away as possible on Black Friday.

Besides, there are already good deals in the days leading up to it. We found this one today via the Walmart app:

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Here’s an iPad mini for $219 with free shipping and free case. Yes, it’s lacking the Retina display as well as the faster processor but some little boy in this house is going to be pretty happy when he opens this up on Christmas morning (compared to Dad who’ll open his Walmart credit card statement and gawk incredulously). All it took was a decision, made from the comfort of our couch, to buy this thing and have it delivered. Done and done.

Let’s compare that to what Wally World is having the evening of Thanksgiving:

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Same item for $20 less, however:

  • It’s Thanksgiving night at Walmart and not online. There are plenty of other places I’d rather be, like on my couch suffering from a tryptophan-enduced food coma.
  • “While supplies last” most assuredly means that unless you are a linebacker or an NHL power forward and can get to the Electronics Department before anyone, forget it.
  • Read the fine print. Nobody reads the fine print. Anything that requires wristband distribution is not promising and could get ugly when they run out.
  • The $30 gift card is a nice touch, but my deal included a case. I’d wager that most of those gift card will be used for cases anyway and those can average around $23. Almost a wash.

Even though the Thanksgiving Day sale may be a better deal in the long run, I consider the extra few bucks I spent a Convenience Fee in that I avoided everything I despise about Black Friday by ordering it now and even having it delivered. No fuss, no muss.

So when Black Friday comes, I’ll be somewhere far, far away from all this madness, and my shopping will be done. It’s just not for me.


I’m aware that this song is a reference to the stock market crash, but I’m playing on the title.

Back to Shooting


A few days ago I wrote about how my muse seemed to be stuck somewhere on the 110 near Staples Center, a metaphor implying that my creative side is just waiting for her to show up so that I can carry on with whatever I was meant to do on this cruel material sphere.

By the end of the post I decided that I can’t wait for her to show up; I had to be the one to make the move. And on Saturday, I did just that.

I was perusing the website of the Evil Empire for some reason or another, perhaps because I had been approved for one of their credit cards and was looking for some last-minute Christmas gifts. That’s right – last minute in October. We are DONE with our shopping before November as is always the case. We are by no means a Black Friday shoppers regardless of the bargain. Even better, we are not Thanksgiving shoppers because that shit’s just not right.

At any rate, I was looking at cameras because, above all else, I really miss taking great pictures with an DSLR. I had bought an Olympus EVOLT E-500 back in 2007 and I used it for the longest time until a little baby Monte decided to get all rubby against my wide angle zoom a few years ago, knocking it to the ground and pretty much destroying the insides. Digital cameras and lenses are nowhere near as durable as old film cameras. I’ve learned.

From that point on, although I still had a zoom lens, I gave up on DSLRs. It’s hard to shoot with only a zoom lens and most were out of my price range. The 8MP Olympus – the company has since trimmed down their camera line to only a few models – cost me well over $600 at Circuit City, a kit that came with the body and two lenses. Granted, you can now buy cameras of greater caliber for less than that but, as always, money was the issue.

But this time I had my Wally World credit card and was hoping to find one on the cheap. HA! How silly to think I could.

Or was it?

I came across one, the Nikon D3100, on clearance for $319: body, wide angle, and zoom lenses included. Even so, I debated about buying it because, you know, credit cards and all. I debated so long that by the time I threw it into my cart, I got this message.

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Aw man. I was crushed. I was this close to having the thing and missed out. Oh well, I guess it wasn’t meant for me to have another DSLR right now.

But I didn’t give up. I shopped the Walmart app which had several different models marked down for even cheaper, despite them only having one lens. I screencapped them the few I wanted and drove over to my local store to see if they had them in stock.

They did and I was happy. But when the associate was flipping boxes around in the storage cabinet, I noticed something: the Nikon D3100 set I had been looking for, the one that was supposed to be sold out online and in-store. No. Way.

I asked the associate if he could look up the price of the set and he told me that it was over $500 the last time he checked. If so, I would have to settle for the Canon Rebel T3i that he had in his other hand.

He scanned the Nikon D3100 bundle and *BOOM* it was $312, $7 less than the sold-out online price.

I’ll deal with the ramifications of credit card payments later. We normally pay them off each year once we get our tax refunds anyway. I whipped out my card and happily signed the cardholder agreement. I was officially back to shooting with a DSLR.

Of course, shooting it wasn’t immediate. I was going from one brand to another and naturally there is a learning curve with all the new bells and whistles that go along with it. Not only that, button placement varies from model to model. What was once the bracketing meter button is now an Info button and so on. I opened the box and gingerly unwrapped each piece of my new toy. I found the battery and charger and immediately plugged it in so that it could get a decent charge and I could test the camera.

About an hour later I put the battery in and went outside to see what it could do. Shooting in Auto mode, here’s one of my first decent shots.

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Why yes, it is an image of fall colors in the gutter after a small rain storm.

I continued to shoot in Auto until I could get a feel for button placement and functions. I tried a handful of lighting situations and most of the shots I took were mediocre at best because, well, Auto. But I have to admit that this takes pretty good shots in low light. This was with the candlelight and a small red bulb to the left off-camera.

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I was already feeling the creative juices coming back and I was so happy to get back to shooting with something other than a crappy smartphone camera because, let’s face it, they are all crap when compared to a device dedicated to doing only one thing: taking pictures.

Sunday came around we had some errands to run, namely buy groceries. You gotta eat. On the way back from the store, we passed Forest Lawn cemetery where Ann’s grandparents were laid to rest. I noticed that there was banner outside for a Dia de lost Muertos celebration happening at 4:30 that night. I thought it would be a great event to shoot and also experience something we’d never seen in person before. Ann, who hadn’t been there since her grandfather’s funeral, was reluctant but I made her go and see them. She needed to.

Before the event I could see her already tearing up with memories of the time she’d rather forget. I saw myself rolling her up the ramp in a wheelchair – she was on doctor-recommended bed rest while pregnant with Anthony – like 2003 was yesterday. It was getting harder for her as we got closer to the mausoleum where her grandparents rested.

But we made it and shed some tears and memories – and a few laughs knowing how mad Grandpa would be for her waiting 11 years to come see him. I can see him sternly standing there like a rock, at ease, shaking his head in disappointment. Once a Marine, always a Marine.

With our visit over, we headed outside and found seats for the event. It was, for all intents and purposes, a bilingual Catholic ceremony as I expected it to be. That meant it would be extremely long as Catholic ceremonies usually are. Plenty of time to take pictures, right?

One of the beautiful things about Dia de los Muertos is that it is a colorful event even with its somber tone. It’s a day when the wall between the spirit world and the real world are torn down and the living spend time with their loved ones who have gone before them. Food, music, and the deceased’s favorite items are shared and displayed on an altar built by their relatives. I couldn’t think of a better place to take pictures, and nowhere I would have rather been regardless.

Before the ceremony began, the audience could leave the name of their loved one on a tree for them to be included in a prayer service. And although I’m no longer Catholic, the feeling I got knowing that this was part of my heritage was overwhelming so I added Dad’s name to it and shed a few more tears.

(Note: In my haste, I seem to have forgotten that Dad was born in 1933. I’ll chalk it up to emotions. Sorry, Dad.)

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Once the event began, Anthony and I left our seats to stand near the altar and take pictures of the Aztec dancers and with the sun setting, the lighting was darn-near perfect.

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The dancers were amazing in the celebrating life/death cycle. Again, I’m proud to call this part of my heritage. Once they were finished, a priest took over the microphone and pontificated, in English and Spanish, about the usual Catholic theme: “Are you ready to die?”

I’m ready to live, thankyouvermuch. We made a hasty retreat to walk around and take more pictures.

By now, I was feeling comfortable with operating my camera and decided to take it off of Auto and go full Manual. Not only that, but full Manual with an external flash. Here’s how that went.

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In my eyes, few things are more beautiful than religious imagery and symbols. Although my beliefs have changes, I still find a bit of comfort looking at these objects. These were on a table under a canopy and I aimed my flash to 90 degrees to have it bounce off of the canopy, gently lighting up everything. Any other flash setting would have been too harsh for the subject matter.

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The priest speaks from the altar. I was at the last row of seating for this shot and the external flash did a nice job illuminating things just right.

And finally, this last shot of the night seems to be my favorite.

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The seated men are Forest Lawn officials and something about their chairs’ shadows struck me as I was wrapping things up. I couldn’t leave without this shot which was taken with no flash, using only the available lighting. They are listening intently to the priest, the sun is still setting, the colorful altar paying tribute to souls lost. This one pretty much captures the spirit of the entire event.

Oh and Anthony? His old man is teaching him to shoot with his old camera so he gets used to a DSLR which I gave him. He’s only 10 now but by high school, he’ll have more experience than I did at his age. He’ll be a pro.

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Here’s one of his shots from that night.

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I give him credit: moving objects aren’t always easy to capture but he did a fine job because like me, he will learn.

So with all that said, I made the decision to forget about my muse ever showing up at my door for tea and going right for the throat by making things happen on my own. I can’t recall the last time I felt this creative or artistic, plus showing Anthony the ropes of digital photography is something I’m really looking forward to.

And for what I’m already getting out of it, this may be the best $312 I’ve ever spent.

You can see the complete set of photos at this Flickr set.

Happy Halloween!


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We just got in from a fun night of trick-or-treating. We saw some cool decorations like this, Anthony and his friend got quite a haul, and a guy a few blocks over was having his annual neighborhood party where he feeds whoever shows up.

And to top it off, it started to rain just as we walked in the door.

Not a bad night at all!

Posted from my HTC one M7 with the WordPress app

My Muse Got Stuck in Traffic and I Don’t Care


My schedule at Big Name Supermarket is sporadic at best. There’s no telling how many hours I’m going to work or in which department I will spend them in but either way, I’m beginning to think that the job has run its course on me after being there only 8.75 months.

Promises were made but have only been fulfilled partially despite the excretion of my (proverbial) blood, (real) sweat, and (frustrated) tears. And although I’m inching up on the grand ol’ age of 46 and feel great, the physical strain of the job—bagging, retrieving shopping carts, stocking merchandise, lifting heavy items—is getting to be a bit much. In the end, for everything I’ve put into it, all I’m getting out of it is a paycheck that equals my tax and health insurance deductions at a previous job.

After working office jobs for years, I thought that going back into a retail/grocery environment would do me some good. It did but not for very long and now I’m thinking that maybe an office job wasn’t that bad after all.

Maybe to some, working a grocery store is a fine and dandy career choice. For the cashier whose husband makes ridiculous amounts of money doing [redacted] for [redacted], scanning bananas for 30 hours a week is simply gas money for their watercraft and ATVs. Throw in working there for well over 20 years with her hourly rate of pay and she’s got enough gas money for her neighbor’s car. Career grocery cashiers can make over $20/hr. plus get all that union gobbledygook once they decide to hang up their apron. For the money and benefits it’s easy to see why they stick around doing the most mundane and brainless job any human can do.

But I’ve got more than cars to feed. I’ve got a family.

picardOh, speaking of unions, here’s another thing about my job: union dues. Granted, they are minimal but when you’re working less than 25 hours a week those few bucks missing from your check would have been nice to have. As of now, the only major thing I’ve seen from my union membership is ridiculously cheap health insurance for me and Anthony. Yes, I’ll take it, but as far as the rest of my contributions go, I have no idea what they do with them. I’m not a big fan of unions to begin with. (An aside: it’s been my experience that the union reps and employees never seem happy unless they are stirring up trouble. When I first went to the local office to join, the environment felt extremely tense, almost as if they were waiting for a strike to break out so they could go out and enjoy some good ol’ picketing and mudslinging.)

Pay raises have been incremental. After so many hours, I get a dime added to my hourly rate so as of now, I think I’ve earned 20 cents since my start in February with my next raise due after working another 970 hours or something like that.  But in the end it doesn’t matter because now that I’ve been “promoted” I have moved up to some new stupid level according to the Great and Powerful Union which means that they are now taking more money from my check. What’s better? If I don’t make sure those deductions are being taken out, I get fired.

I worked hard for this?

Also, my “promotion” simply means that I’ve been trained in a few departments so now they can pass me around like a joint at a Foghat concert. I was made to feel valuable but in the end it only seems like they are getting more work out of me for less labor costs. And what will this “promotion” get me? Eventually working as a cashier years later?

Working in the Bakery has been a sheer joy and I say that tongue-in-cheek. Outside of writing frosted sentiments on tops of cakes, my skills in the department are minimal at best which makes me more of a liability. I can’t make cakes, I’ve been shown very little, and whatever I do has been critiqued by yet another person who has made a career out of doing mundane tasks (read: throwing dough in an oven).

Yeah, so I should be happy to have a job and blah blah blah. I get that and I am, but there are an awful lot of quid pro quos that go along with that. And with all of this worrying/anger, I tend to eat much more than I normally do. Tell that to the two Big Macs I had for dinner yesterday.

I spent last night searching the job sites and found nothing. I then thought about what exactly it is I want to do and I can’t really answer that. All I know is that this place is draining me quicker than any other place I’ve worked and it’s time to move on.

I did that back when I was in college. One semester was filled with art classes, all of which I needed to earn my AA in Advertising Design. I worked hard to keep my grades up and loved every single class I was taking because, for all intents and purposes, I am an artist. One class in particular was Freehand Drawing and the instructor, whose name I forget but will refer to as Alan, was a free spirit like no other I’ve met. At the time I was taking his class, I was working the day shift at a photo processing lab. All was fine until I had heard they were going to move me overnight, a move which would have impeded on my school schedule.

Despite my protests, the move was going to happen anyway and I was faced with the choice of going to school or working. It was impossible to do both. Frustrated, I spoke to Alan about the situation and wanted to get his input on the matter. I told him I felt like quitting on principle because they knew I was going to school. His words still resonate whenever I’m faced with a challenge with work or anything I’m confused about.

He simply smiled and said, “If you don’t do it now, you’re not going to do it at all.”

Damn. Damn. DAMN. Why must you us artistic people be so freaking deep and romantic?

I went to work the next day, walked into the HR office and much to their amazement, quit on the spot. It felt good and Alan was proud of me for being so bold and facing the music. But now things are a bit different. I can’t just up and quit something; I’ve got to have something lined up. And as of now, I don’t and for all that college I took, I didn’t finish my courses to earn my degree.

So after searching for a job last night, I thought it would be good to do some meditation and hopefully get some insight on things. But before I did, I sent out this tweet because, well, that’s what people do with random thoughts these days:

To “summon your muse” in the writing world means you’re looking for inspiration, a plot, an idea. But the thing is that a writer, or any artistic person, should never be void of any idea. I mean, really. I’ve gotten this far on this post telling you how much my job sucks coupled with an old war story from my college days. I find it hard to shut off my mind long enough to meditate.

Anyway, what I got from meditating 15 minutes was a feeling of calmness, of bringing a big, fat ball of positive energy into my life which I could almost physically touch and see even with my eyes closed. At any rate I reached for it, grabbed it, and brought it in. And what I took away from it was this.

I have to be my own muse. I have to do my own thing. Waiting around expecting anyone to do it for me is just silly.

I want to take the family places, do things, even have a nice dinner with them now and then. I can’t do that shoving dough in an oven, bagging groceries, or whatever else I do at the store.

More than ever, I need to make a move and better myself.

And I am starting right now.

Adventures in Smartphones


Okay, so it’s been way too long between posts and I sort of have an idea about today’s topic.

As you may recall, I dropped my Samsung Galaxy S4 Active the day before I was to participate in the Long Beach Marathon Bike Tour and 5k. In case you don’t remember what it looked like after the fall, here’s a refresher.

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Since the day I dropped it, I had been tolerating the ugly display and felt every little crack as I slid my finger across the screen and because of that, I had to buy a cheap screen protector in order to save the tip on my index finger from getting any glass stuck inside of it. And I worked with it as long as I could.

I think it was about a week after The Dropping when I decided that I couldn’t take it anymore and gave AT&T a call to get an idea on what I could do until I’m eligible for an upgrade. The simplest solution, as they told me, was to buy a cheap AT&T GoPhone and slide the SIM card in it and everything would be back to normal.

Thinking it was a good idea, I did just that by purchasing the ZTE Compel at Radio Shack since the nearest AT&T store didn’t have them in stock. In fact, they had very little in stock and shouldn’t even be in business. More on that later.

Thinking I had the problem temporarily solved, I took it home, put my SIM card in the phone, connected to WiFI, and started getting my favorite apps. By the time I hit App #7, the internal memory was already full. I didn’t even think to start moving apps to the memory card; I immediately figured that this phone was lacking and decided to take it back after two solid hours of ownership. It just wasn’t going to work for me.

So now I’m back to using Ol’ Crackly. I started to browse the Best Buy site for some reason, knowing I didn’t have the money to fork over for a new phone but after searching, I did find a Samsung Galaxy that was in my price range—sort of. I still didn’t have enough money to buy the thing. I then made the decision to apply for a Best Buy credit card and, within seconds (which really is some kind of record for me), I was approved and could start shopping immediately. Hey, man. Desperate times, desperate measures.

10697408_10152586326394118_4861105702589338811_oAnd when I buy a phone, I take a lot into consideration (except maybe for that ZTE piece of garbage, which was bought out of sheer desperation). Things like replaceable battery, expandable memory, internal memory, and camera megapixels are all important when I’m comparing. I had narrowed the phones down to a couple of Moto G models (16GB internal memory and no SD card expansion) and the Samsung Galaxy S II (16GB internal memory with SD card expansion) even though the Motorola phones had no removable battery. I don’t know how you iPhone people do it. In the end, I took a chance with the Galaxy S II knowing that it was indeed a few years behind in terms of style, OS, everything. Then the waiting game began as I checked the UPS Tracking Number daily to see when the phone would arrive.

I was very happy when the phone arrived. It was so shiny and…white. But the problem was that, being it was well over three years behind the times, it had a standard SIM card and not the mirco SIM cards that today’s smartphones use. This meant I had to make a trip to my local AT&T store to get a larger SIM card.

They didn’t have any of those, either. Remember when I said this place shouldn’t even be in business? Well, there you go. I had to end up scooting down the local Corporate store where I took a number and waited but not very long. I told them what I needed, they scanned my info to it, I was done and on my way home.

Now it was time. I had a somewhat new phone and my SIM card which I inserted and started the setup process. It all went well and I was ready to once again start installing apps.

Here’s the funny thing about the Samsung Galaxy S II: it has 16GB partitioned memory with a paltry 2GB dedicated to the Android OS and apps. Two. Freaking. Gigabytes. Had I known this from the get-go there would have been no way I would have bought it as I’m a heavy app user.

Anyway, I started installing apps and was relatively satisfied having my most frequently used apps on it. Then came time to give it a test run—and it failed.

The dual-core processor couldn’t handle things very well and it froze up on me frequently. The 11GB of remaining memory are for storage and pictures and I soon realized why that is: the phone was so bad that it couldn’t save images to the SD card. I would take a few pictures and then review them, losing the last couple I had taken. Once I switched to saving them internally, the problem went away but that didn’t solve the freezing-up issue. This was enough for me to decide that it had to go back to Best Buy, where I was asked why I was returning it.

“It’s a horrible phone,” I said. “It really is. It just didn’t work for me.”

That’s two phones within a week and at this point, I was off the grid. Remember, that phone had a standard SIM card and my Galaxy S4 had the micro SIM card, meaning it was useless until I could get my info put back onto a micro SIM card. Ugh.

So I walked around Best Buy looking at unlocked phones and man, I didn’t want to spend a lot which was the main reason I bought the Galaxy S II. The thing was just over $200 which I thought wasn’t too bad for what it was on paper, but I soon learned the truth. But after looking over several models and asking the associates how much internal memory they had (mostly 8 or 16GB), I was starting to feel as if I would be back to using Ol’ Crackly once again.

That was until I saw the HTC one M7.

It was blue, my favorite color. It had 32GB of internal memory. It had a quad-core processor.

And although it has a non-replaceable battery and no memory expansion, in the end (and $299 later) it went home with me.

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Well, I didn’t go straight home just yet. I had to make yet another trip to the AT&T Corporate store to get my info put back on a micro SD card which they happily did in no time flat. And once I got home, I finally cranked this baby up and let it fly.

I was impressed. I’m still impressed. This phone is everything that my previous AT&T phones were not: quick, responsive, a flat-out joy to use. And I hesitate to say that despite it not being waterproof like Ol’ Crackly, I enjoy using the M7 much more.

Then it came time to start chipping away at the 32GB on internal storage, or about 24GB remaining after bloatware and OS are factored in.

Apps installed and ran perfectly. There is absolutely no lag when running anything on this phone. I then transferred the music I had on the micro SD card over to it and as of now, with all of my most frequently used apps installed and enough music to keep me happy, I still have 12.4GB remaining. Ol’ Crackly was just under 8GB remaining but a lot of the stuff was running off the micro SD card which could explain the lag I sometimes experienced. And if the music on the phone isn’t enough, I have over 10,000 songs stored online with Google Music.

Another plus is that I upgraded to Android KitKat, and that this model is on the list of phones that will be getting Android Lollipop next year. I won’t be obsolete for a long time!

Now if there’s one thing I could say I don’t like about this phone, it’s the HTC Sense launcher. While it looks beautiful, it seems to lack a lot of things that the stock Touchwiz launcher does. But I didn’t mess with it for very long as I installed Nova Launcher, a completely customizable Android launcher that looks and functions better than Touchwiz.

Also, the camera is a measly 4MP but with everything else the HTC one M7 brings to the table (quad-core processor, 2GB RAM, Beats audio, FM radio, awesome design, slow-motion HD video, etc.) I’m willing to compromise. In the right hands, even a 4MP camera can look pretty good. Here’s a full-size sample of a picture taken with the M7.

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Definitely not as sharp as the Galaxy S4 Active but still acceptable for me, and I now understand how iPhone users deal with non-expandable memory.

I also bought a case for it, a rather rugged one that will have to do until I can find an Otterbox case. I’m willing to spend…uh, charge the extra money to my credit card for an Otterbox case so that this phone doesn’t suffer the same fate as the Galaxy Active. I’m just not ready to deal with that again.

And oh, it’s good to sit and blog again. I just wish my laptop was still working so that I can retire to privacy of my Creative Corner where I enjoy writing so much more.

This Post’s Title Should Be One Giant F-Bomb


Calm blue ocean. Calm blue ocean.

I guess I should have waited to blog after what happened today at work but as is the case with life, who knows what the next minute will bring? I thought writing about my phone pretty much becoming a useless chunk of microchips would be the most eventful thing to happen to me but, as you might guess, I was wrong.

It was a little after 4pm when in the middle of doing my workplace duties, I saw a customer speaking to one of my coworkers about something he witnessed in the parking lot. The coworker, knowing I owned a scooter and that there was a good chance I’d be the victim, directed the customer to me.

“Do you own one of those motorbikes out there,” he asked. I nodded in agreement.

He then proceeded to tell me that kids from a local school were playing on and around one of them – I didn’t know at this point if it was mine – and knocked it to the ground. By the time he got over to where it was, the kids had already fled the scene.

Now keep in mind what happened with my phone today and remember it’s not just a phone. It’s my lifeline as I no longer have a home phone. It’s also my camera, my music device, my exercise mate and now, it’s just a chunk of shit with a shattered screen. Functional, but still shit.

I had already been through enough emotions regarding the damage sustained to my phone and I was just about coming to grips with what happened to it, ready to accept it and move on knowing that I was the causer of the damage.

But that quickly changed once I exited the store.

I park my scooter along the side of the store and can always see one of the mirrors peeking over the wall of the cartwell. This time, however, I didn’t see it which I knew was bad news. When I did go and take a closer look, this is what I saw.

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Yup. My mode of transportation, my way of getting around, the reason I studied so hard to earn my permit was lying on the ground thanks to the carelessness and downright disrespect of school kids.

I had already crushed once today but this one felt a little more personal, like when my 1991 Nissan Sentra was broken into way back when. This one really hurt – and angered me more than anything else had in a long time.

How mad was I? Let this GIF give you an idea.

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As I stood there incredulously looking at my scooter on the ground, I just about flipped. If it had been a windy day and a strong gust came by to knock it off balance and this was the result, of course I wouldn’t have been so angry. Disappointed for sure, but not angry. But when it’s something that shouldn’t have happened in the first place, that’s where Dave gets human.

I finally came to my senses and decided to pick up the scooter –  it doesn’t have a name – to see what damage it might have sustained.

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The hand deflector that the scooter landed on is not only loose but it also horribly scratched.

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The force of the fall was so strong that it knocked the seat off its fitting. I had to force it back into place. I don’t know if you know this or not but motorbikes, whether a motorcycle or simple scooter, are really heavy.

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The stand was also scratched in the fall…

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…as was the left side mirror cover.

Calm blue ocean. Calm blue ocean.

Now let’s get cover a few things before I go on a diatribe of biblical proportions.

Yes, I’ve been trying my best to keep negative energy and thoughts away by studying Buddhism. Yes, these are only material things and yes, #firstworldproblems. But at the same time, there are things and days that are handed to you and you, being of flesh and blood, sometimes can’t make any sense of them.

That’s where I am now and this is where the rant begins.


To the Kid/s Who Thought It Would Be Fun to Sit on My Scooter and Knock It Over:

Who fucking raised you? A band of apes? Have you no common sense? Are/Is your parents/parent (provided you weren’t the product of a one-night stand) that disassociated with your lives that they don’t have the wherewithal to tell you what’s right or what’s wrong? Do they just let your hoodlum selves run rampant between school and the city bus that drags your criminal asses back home?

What would it be like if I decided to sit in your parent’s car and fuck around with shit inside of it just for the hell of it? Would they like it? What if I slashed the tires after I was done? Break a window? Drop a deuce inside and leave the windows up on a hot day? Would you like it if I found your phone and cracked the screen after intentionally dropping it? OOPS! OH WELL! HAHAHA! LOL! What you did is exactly the same: destruction of personal property and vandalism and that shit is not cool, you shitheads.

And oh, do you have any idea how I got to riding this? The sacrifices I had to make like giving up my 2013 Kia Optima because I could no longer afford to make the payments on the damn thing on my current salary? And that I’m working this job because nothing else has turned up? This is all I can afford and you fucked it up for the sake of your entertainment. Do you think I enjoy watching you little shitfucks running around my store and strealing (yes, I know you do) and bagging groceries for you ungrateful pricks and your parents? I do a lot to earn my pittance (get your dictionary, if you even know what one is) in order to feed my family and pay for this. What do YOU do to earn anything?

The next time you decide to fuck with someone’s shit and cause damage to it in the process, perhaps you should hang around and face the music when the owner realizes what you’ve done. Oh, I’m sorry. That would be the responsible thing to do, something you or your parents obviously have no idea about.

Stay away and off of my shit. For real. I really, really hope your parents are proud for raising little assholes like you.


Ahem.

I think I said what I’ve been meaning to say all day long. I feel only slightly better.

The good thing is that there are cameras outside the store and we know which school the kids came from based on the timeline of events. It’s only a matter of time before we find out who they were and being that kids these days love to post everything on social media, I’d be willing to wager they took a picture or video of it and uploaded it somewhere.

Also, I was told that I could possibly be reimbursed for the damage these senseless little fucks caused. While grateful, it still should not have happened.

Calm blue ocean. Calm blue ocean.

But on the plus side, I did buy a PowerBall ticket for this Saturday…