Copy That

Damn copier...I tend to consider myself a multi-tasker in that I can do many different things but not necessarily all at the same time. And if you know me just from what I write about here, you may be somewhat surprised with what it is I can do without any difficulty.

For example, did you know I am a somewhat decent calligrapher? Yes, I have all sorts of nibs, India inks, pens, etc. in my art box should the need ever arise. I even have a steel brush nib in case, for some reason, somebody needs something written in calligraphy in a ridiculously huge size. I have the tools to do it; it’s just not something the average person knows how to do.

Here’s another one. I’m also pretty hard to top when it comes to color correcting. Having worked in photo labs for years, I became rather good at correcting for accurate flesh tones and background (depending on what was more important to the customer). I was so good at it that a few professional photographers wanted me to print their stuff regularly. This didn’t sit well with a certain female coworker who insisted that women had a better eye for color, something I debated when she showed me the set she printed vs. mine. This was when one of the pros decided they wanted me to print their work: my prints were superior to my coworker’s prints but her ego wouldn’t allow her to admit it. In your face, lady.

Despite those and so many more wonderful things I’m capable of doing, there’s one office task that kills me every time and I mean every time: copying.

There was a time when all I had to do was open the top, slip my original face-down on the glass, and let it rip. BANG! I had my copy and I skipped away from the copier with what I needed.

But as technology progressed, things got complicated: collating, stapling, 11×14 paper, color, black-and-white, two-sided, etc. There are now so many options on the average copier that I’m simply lost when I do it.

In fact I prefer to not do any copying at the office because I know that, no matter how hard I try to set the copier to print a single-sided black copy of two sheets, I will end up with 20 of the fucking things, all collated, stapled, two-sided and in color – on 11×14 paper and enlarged accordingly to the size.

Look, I swear I’m not stupid. I really do know my stuff. But when it comes to copiers, it’s safe to say that we just don’t get along and probably never will.

But then again, I could never Magic Eye, either.





You know, there are certain signs once should heed. It could be one of those instinctive things that your gut just naturally tells you not to do or it could be one incident that might just eventually lead to a chain of catastrophic events.

Mine came a few weeks ago and yes, I should have listened.

I’m a brown-bag lunch kind of guy and have been since I decided to lose weight. Granted there are times when I decide to eat out for lunch or tag along when a group of co-workers goes somewhere but for the most part, I pack my own. And on occasion I look in my bag and decide that what I packed wasn’t quite enough or not exactly what I wanted.

That’s when vending machines come in handy–or drive you crazy.

It was a few weeks ago when I posted this picture to Twitpic, expressing my overall disappointment in the fact that my bag of Pop Chips was thrown into a state of suspended animation as it was dispensed. As you might be able to see, there is another door inside the vending machine that I suppose is designed to deter or discourage theft. When you stick your hand in the machine, the secondary door appears from out of nowhere and protects the machine’s precious cargo from those looking for a freebie. (But should you be fortunate enough to have pliable limbs like Plasticman, you’re still good.)

This somewhat superfluous door, however, presents a few problems as well. First, it increases the chances of items getting caught while making their break for freedom and, if they do get stuck and no matter how hard you shake the machine, it’s damn near impossible to get them out.

But let’s get back to the signs.

This morning, instead of opting for what’s becoming an extremely unwanted habit of drinking a cup of Michael Jackson Coffee (you figure that one out), I meandered over to the cafeteria for a can of Diet Pepsi. I had brought enough change from home to easily buy a few if I needed to.

So I plop 75 cents into the machine and make my selection. Nothing happened.

I try it again and still, nothing. It was then when I looked at the blue LED screen and it was flashing “EXACT CHANGE ONLY” (or 65 cents). Only having quarters I figured I might as well try the bottle machine instead. I wanted my fix.

I take a few steps over to the bottle machine which gladly took my 5 quarters. I make my selection and this time the machine’s display reads, “Please Make Another Selection”. I guess I didn’t want that Diet Pepsi today.

A bit disappointed, I hit the Change Return button–and only get 4 quarters back. Sonofa…

Dejected, I trudge my way back to my desk and get to work. Hours pass and it’s now lunchtime so I head back.

I entered the cafeteria and gave both machines the stink-eye. I could almost hear them telling me, “GET OUT OF HERE, MORENO!” But I didn’t. Instead, I walked right past them and thought I’d take my chances with the food machine again. After all, what were the chances of having another bag of chips get caught in there, right?

There were bags of Harvest Cheddar SunChips in there. My favorite. Much like Sun-Dried Tomato Wheat Thins, I think the secret ingredient is crack or something because once I start eating them I just can’t stop.

I reached into my pocket, grabbed 4 quarters and dropped them in, make my selection and as the machine dispensed my 15 cents in change, I could almost taste the cheddar cheese goodness that was about to hit my tongue.

Except for one small problem… Continue reading

On the Cheap, Part Deux

Several posts ago, I was practically bragging about how I was getting a bunch of stuff for nothing or practically nothing. Well, I thought I’d take a moment to update you on all of this.

Lips (MSRP): $49.99
My cost (with Points and tax): $10.83
Savings: $39.16

Bad planning on Microsoft’s part has prevented me from taking advantage of this offer.

You see, Lips was listed on their ExpertZone site as one of the Rewards (with 500 Points and $10 + tax), so I went ahead and ordered it, thinking I would have some cool wireless mics in time for The Beatles: Rock Band release and get a game to boot.

About a week after placing my order, I checked its status on the Web site and I was dumbfounded when I learned that—at that very moment—my order was cancelled. I sent an e-mail explaining my situation and was told that Lips had since been discontinued and no longer being offered, so my order was cancelled. It was a good thing I was told about this ahead of time.

No, wait, I wasn’t. Because of this snafu, not only were my 500 Points credited but I was also awarded an additional 500 Points to use as I please. Good, but not exactly what I wanted. And no, I wasn’t charged for the order, either.

Office 2007 Standard Edition (MSRP): $399.95 (full version)
My cost: $0
Savings: $399.95

Where Microsoft failed on Lips, the made up for on Office 2007! I got my copy a few days ago:


The Beatles: Rock Band (MSRP, game only): $59.99
My cost (after two $25 GameStop gift cards from e-Rewards): $10 + tax
Savings: $50

After completing a series of surveys, they pretty much stopped coming in. My balance was stuck just below the $50 level required for the GameStop gift card and I was getting worried. Then they started to arrive in my inbox and after taking a few surveys I finally got to $50, where I immediately redeemed them for the $25 gift card.

The question then became, would it arrive on time? The e-mail said it could take up to 30 days, or 9/28/09—that would never do. I never had a problem with the gift cards arriving late in the past so I was hoping this would be the case once again.

And so it was. This arrived today:


I then ran a few errands and then stopped by GameStop. The Beatles: Rock Band has been paid for and will be in my hot little hands tomorrow! (And if they had a midnight release time, I’d be there for it!)

But wait, there’s more! In addition to all of this, I took more quizzes at the ExpertZone site and was able to buy a copy of Windows 7 Ultimate for $10, so I saved about $200 there.

So I lost out on one offer and gained another. I’d say that’s not too bad!

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On the Cheap

pink_piggy_bank-735041You know, your ol’ pal Dave considers himself to be pretty frugal, especially now when spending more than $30 for anything seems incredibly irrational. That’s why I’ve been pretty excited to be getting some goodies for practically nothing, and here’s how.

As a member of Microsoft ExpertZone (membership required), a site designed exclusively for resellers of Microsoft products, I take quizzes and get points redeemable for all sorts of merchandise. After a recent site redesign, I had to re-register, got a cool 1,000 points and used 500 (plus $10 cash) for a copy of Lips for Xbox 360. So…

Lips (MSRP): $49.99
My cost (with points and tax): $10.83
Savings: $39.16

Another ExpertZone offering was a free copy of Microsoft Office 2007 Standard Edition upon the successful completion of an Office product course, so after taking that course and passing it…

Office 2007 Standard Edition (MSRP): $399.95 (full version)
My cost: $0
Savings: $399.95

Granted I already have a copy of Office 2007 but I’m sure I can use this one on the laptop or the other computer–or Ann can take it to her office. Either way, free is free!

And then there’s e-Rewards, where I take surveys, get actual dollar amounts which can buy gift cards, magazine subscriptions, or online discounts for various retailers. Right now, I’m working on my 2nd $50 level for a $25 GameStop gift card, which I will be using to buy The Beatles: Rock Band. And did anyone mention that this is going to be the greatest video game ever?

The Beatles: Rock Band (MSRP, game only): $59.99
My cost (after two $25 GameStop gift cards from e-Rewards): $10 plus tax
Savings: $50

See, the whole game thing is gonna work out. I figure that Lips comes with two wireless microphones which, if the rumors are correct, will work with TB:RB. So the way I look at it, ten bucks for a new game and two microphones is an incredible deal!

Want in on this? Well, I can’t help you with the ExpertZone membership, but here’s a link to the GameStop/e-Rewards Invitation-Only site. This is the only way you can get GameStop gift cards through e-Rewards; the regular site does not offer them. I’ve been a member for years and have had no problems with them whatsoever.

The final tally: $20 or so for almost $510 (MSRP) of merchandise.

Not too shabby, eh?

UPDATE: With the money I saved, I just renewed my Flickr Pro account so all previous links to said account that were inactive are not now active again 🙂

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Inaugural Throng @ Work

Inaugural Throng @ Work, originally uploaded by aeromat.

Watching the inauguration ceremonies in El Segundo, CA.