That Joke Isn’t Funny Anymore

PHOTO_20131024_135307-picsayThe image you see to the left is how the front yard of our house, the one we’ve lived in since 2004, starts to look as the leaves begin to fall from the sweet gum tree situated in the parkway. It’s a big tree on city property that yields shade in the Summer and as is obvious, requires a little maintenance in Fall.

This is not the worst the front yard has looked, though. Over the years the tree has dropped enough leaves for Anthony to play in a pile of them which makes for a fantastic backdrop but a few years ago, that problem was solved when the city decided to trim the tree down a bit. The leaves you see are just about all we get now.

Yet someone still complains.

You know the person because every neighborhood has one: the resident who has been there the longest and knows everything there is to know about everyone who ever set foot on the sidewalks. The resident who lives on gossip, is always right, and whose grandkids are much more superior than your kids in every category.

Yes, that one. In this case and for obvious reasons, we’ll call her Mrs. Kravitz.

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When we first moved into our place (formerly the home of Ann’s grandfather), we had already known Mrs. Kravitz and a little about her tendencies to gossip as well as her nosiness. Once we were settled and raking up the leaves on the front yard became my normal weekend activity, Mrs. Kravitz dutifully reminded me of how Ann’s grandfather would rake them up every day and make sure there were no leaves left behind.

Fine and well. He was also retired and had little to do outside of dining out every meal of the day.

(An aside: because of her gossipy ways, I tend not to speak with her nor give her information. She once saw me and Anthony in the store after I had taken him to the doctor. She asked why he wasn’t in school and my simple response was, “He’s sick.” She needs to know nothing else.)

She also liked to point out, while smirking, that leaves would swirl around in the wind and often land on her yard, or how they would just be over there in general. Mrs. Kravitz suddenly labeled the leaves of the sweet gum tree “your leaves” and she would remind me every time she saw me with that same smirk and goofy slack-jawed expression when she first noticed them falling.

That was in 2004. Over the years, Mrs. Kravitz still went out of her way to tell me that my leaves were falling on her yard. It’s not like it was a total surprise since it happens each Fall and my God, the woman has lived here longer than the tree. But as 2004 turned into 2005, 2006, etc., the joke had definitely run its course.

I remember one time a few years ago. I had just pulled up in front of the house after a long day at work and before I could set foot on the ground, Mrs. Kravitz who was watering her grass told me, with that same smirk on her mug, that “your leaves” were on her yard.

“You have a rake, don’t you? Clean them up.” That was about all I said as I went into the house.

Other responses have been for her to call the city and have them cut the tree down, a simple shrug of my shoulders as I walked away (pretending I didn’t hear her), or just a smug look on my face and not a single word being spoken with the latter being after the tree had already been trimmed and the leaves no longer being in excess.

There’s only so far you can take a joke before it becomes as old and stale as the person telling it, and Mrs. Kravitz reached that milestone many years ago.

So Mrs. Kravitz, I don’t care where “my leaves” fall because that’s what they do this time of year. It’s property of the city so it’s not my concern since I didn’t plant the thing. They will fall where they will fall and pretty-up the landscape whether you like them or not.

And I don’t need to be reminded of them, tomorrow or ever again.

That joke isn’t funny anymore. Let it go, man. Just let it go.

Job Fairs

I don’t recall where I was coming from or why I was there but one day I came across a huge banner in a nearby city that was advertising their annual Job Fair (or Job Faire if you’re one of those Medieval types).

I haphazardly made a mental note of the date – I don’t jot and drive – and added it to my Google Calendar as soon as I got home so I could have a constant reminder on my PC and phone as to when it was.

Well, today was the day so I put on my Sunday best and headed out to the location.

That’s when I realized how much I dislike these things.

First of all, parking is always an issue even when the economy is thriving. People are always looking for jobs no matter the reason or season but with the way things are these days, there are even more people looking for work (myself included). I ended up parking about a block away, fitting into a space that only a Toyota Yaris would fit into.

I then made the trek to the event where I was greeted by a line of people that stretched out the door. Fortunately, it was moving at a rapid pace so I didn’t have to wait too long.

Once inside, all participants had to sign in at a desk and listen to someone give details on a few forms they were handing out: a survey and postcard, the latter to be filled out and sent if you got a job that day.

And here’s the first issue I have with these events: nobody is actually hiring, per se. Sure, you can distribute your resume and fill out applications nine ways from Sunday but as far as leaving the Job Fair with a wonderful new retail position that will set the world on fire, yeah, that’s not happening. If anything, most of the employers are just a human element that searching online doesn’t provide and in the end, most of them will just hand you a flier with a URL that lists all of their available positions.

In other words, Job Fairs are just a congested way of conducting an online job search. You really are better off staying at home and using your Internet job website of choice. By going to a Job Fair, you’re just using up gas, getting dressed up, and dealing with a ridiculous parking situation and getting very little in return.

And there’s a lot less noise at home as well, unless you listen to Avenged Sevenfold while you job hunt which I may or may not do from time to time. Actually, it would serve me better to do that as opposed to dealing with the constant stream of talking from attendees and potential employers. To give you an idea, here’s what the view was like when I was in line waiting to speak to representatives from Mitsubishi.

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The pitch was such that it really was aggravating my tinnitus. I can handle noise if it’s at the right level but this was a little too much.

As far as the jobs go you have a cornucopia to choose from, most of which are sales, retail, and marketing. And the retail jobs at this time of year are no doubt seasonal so there’s no real hope in applying with any of them. There were also lots of companies I’d never heard of before who were also hiring for sales and marketing (which is obviously why I’d never heard of them). In the end, I spoke with about five companies and applied with only one that billed itself as “the Asian Starbucks” and is doing lots of expanding over the next few years. They were the only one who spoke with me at length and were beyond cordial, as well as the only one who didn’t look at me like I had lobsters crawling out of my ears when I told them I wanted to leave Walt Disney’s Wonderful World of Proofreading. In fact, they were sort of in awe at how someone could spend 40 hours a week doing such a tedious job. I was admired for a moment but who knows what will come of it.

Speaking of proofreaders, nobody likes them. It’s a fact. With the exception of the aforementioned company, every single company rep I spoke with (including Mitsubishi) sort of cringed when I told them I wanted to transition out of said career and into something else. It was akin to saying, “Hi! I have the Black Plague and would love to give it to you as well. Can we shake hands?”

Nobody apparently heard the “I want to transition out of this career” portion of my elevator pitch because they all said that they didn’t have anything in that field.

Every. Single. One. Of. Them. Oh well.

I spent about an hour meandering the hall in which the event was held and refrained from taking any candy placed on the tables. It was after speaking with Mitsubishi when I decided that a) this totally wasn’t worth the effort and b) maybe I shouldn’t mention that I’m a proofreader to anyone ever again. I’ll think twice before attending another Job Fair and keep on searching online as well as locally.

But the upside of going to a Job Fair?

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You take home lots of craps.

But it’s still not worth it.

The New Computer

I’m writing a second post tonight because I’m in the mood. It’s a fantastically cool evening and I’ve got the patio doors open as well as the one behind me, letting a nice breeze come rolling through.

So anyway, you might recall a post I wrote over a year ago about my being involved in a class action lawsuit that might yield me more than just a free month of service to [insert defendant here] or a measly five bucks. No, this class action lawsuit appeared to be much more fruitful which kind of made me a bit skeptical about the whole thing.

But as you will read in this post, it was anything but a scam.

About a few weeks ago, I received a letter from Lawsuit HQ informing me that a settlement had been reached and that I still had the option to take the $62.50 cash or redeem the voucher code on the letter at a certain website to get a brand-spanking-factory-refurbished item of my choice (up to $365 retail value): laptop, desktop, tablet, or monitor.

And being our computer had trouble mixing the ingredients and adding sugar while waiting for Candy Crush Saga to load, we opted for the computer.

Then the fun began.

The selection on that website is horrible to say the least. I literally spent hours at a time at the computer F5ing as often as possible in the hopes they’d get something better. Then one day, after refreshing umpteen times, one showed up that was most excellent. I added it to my cart and started the checkout process.

The item disappeared as I was at the last checkout step and I got a warning that the item was no longer available. Wait, how does that happen? Did someone really snag that thing out of my virtual cart and put it into theirs?

Grrr. It was gone and the mediocre selection of AMD-powered PCs returned but I didn’t want any of those. I wanted an Intel chip, more memory, and a bigger hard drive. The rest would be details.

So I spent another day – it’s a good thing I’m not working – hitting F5 and hoping for the best and once again, a decent model showed up. This time I ran with it like O.J. Simpson through an airport terminal getting to his Hertz Rent-A-Car.*

And it was mine – free of charge, no less.

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Then a couple of days ago, it arrived and I was so happy.

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That’s the new beast in all its refurbished glory. Can’t you just hear the angels and harps? But along with the euphoria I felt with opening the UPS-delivered box I also came to the realization all new computer owners face: setup and transferring.

But being I’m constantly backing up my stuff** to a 2TB external drive as well as Dropbox and MegaCloud, transferring this time around wasn’t that much of a task. Once I installed Dropbox and MegaCloud, all of the files uploaded to those respective clouds downloaded to the new computer. Boom. Done. Like nothing happened.

Then a few essential things had to be installed: Chrome, Photoshop, Office, iTunes, etc. Of course, along with installing came the removing of bloatware (surprisingly, not a lot).

I wasn’t too concerned about pictures yet since they are on the external drive as well as the old PC, but music was another issue. Today I was finally daring enough to transfer the folder on the external drive called Music and along with that came duplicate and sometimes triplicate mp3 files. There was a total of 70GB worth of music including 20GB of duplicate files which I deleted today, and I know there’s more.

Along with this “new” computer being fast (it would never give you an indication it was refurbished), it came equipped with Windows 8 which I was not fond of at first but am growing to really enjoy. On the surface (see what I did there?) you can tell that it’s strictly an OS designed to be touched but Microsoft did a good job in transitioning Windows 8 into a PC format OS that works almost flawlessly. It takes some time getting used to how it works but it functions amazingly well.

As for specs, here’s what’s under the hood.

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As you can see it’s got a whopping 1TB hard drive so between that and the 2TB external drive, I’ve got more storage than I know what to do with. I kind of like that feeling.

For now, I’m pretty much done with the basic setting up of the computer. I’ve got enough of my most frequently used programs on there to do whatever I need to do and then some. I know there will be more stuff down the road but for the moment, I’m very satisfied with its performance.

And all of this for free because of a faulty floppy disk drive that the computer I owned well over 10 years ago didn’t even have.

Not too shabby. I’d say I made out alright with this deal.

*For you younger folks
**It’s a terrible habit, I know

Frustration

Have you ever been in a situation where you’ve been so frustrated that you just throw your hands up and want to walk away from it?

That’s what we’re dealing with now. Without getting into too much detail, it involves all of us and an organization to which Anthony belongs but not for much longer.

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We’ve voiced our concerns about the way things were handled via email and Twitter, the latter of which garnered an email from the organization’s president. Humorously, they seemed concerned that my tweet might give a bad impression to all 35 of their followers, a Twitter account that contains tweets unrelated to this organization as well as the last tweet – 1 of 90 total – dated sometime in July.

It was telling me, the guy with over 7,200 tweets since 2007 and a few celebrity followers, how Twitter works. I’m pretty sure I know how.

But back to the point. As I continue to weave my way down the path of enlightenment and deal with situations the best possible way I can, there are sometimes certain dynamics involved that will put your patience to the test and we’ve encountered them here. I admit to being reasonably hot-headed when I read the email from the president which implied that, being neophytes to the organization, our ignorance was the source of the problem.

I agreed to disagree and did not reply. Instead, I sent an email to another person involved in the organization whom I spoke with yesterday, indicating that what we discussed was somehow accepted and justified in the president’s email.

Action speaks louder than words, so action will it will be. It was apparent to me that nothing would be taken care of and that nepotism is still alive and well. Dealing with this organization is no longer worth the effort for any of us, so Anthony has agreed to part ways and continue doing what he loves with the organizations he’s dealt with in the past, all of which have been excellent.

As for this one, well, all I can wish them is good luck because if our experience was any indication of how things are run, they will need it.