Friday Five: Payday


Yep, so I’m a day late with this one. With the release of the SNES Classic yesterday, I spent the evening playing Super Mario World with Anthony on my original console.


Seen here with Super Star Wars, it’s ugly, turning yellow and still works, but I’m not sure for how much longer. It couldn’t seem to handle some of the more intense movements in certain games — because, you know, 16 bits — so who knows. Anyway, that’s the reason for not posting this last night.

Let’s go with the Friday Five!

1. From whom did you receive your first real paycheck?

My first job ever was at a one-hour photo lab inside a grocery store (The Giant branch of Ralphs that took over former Zodys locations). It was called PDQ 1 Hour Photo and I still have my name tag somewhere. I made a whopping $4.25 an hour which I think was minimum wage at the time. The Giant was a warehouse-style grocery store ala Costco that featured smaller shops on the inside. It was an interesting concept but it didn’t last.

By the way, saying someone got their clothes at Zodys was an insult back in the day.

2. Among board games involving the exchange of money, which have you enjoyed most?

Easy: none. I hated and still hate Monopoly and never really dealt with board games that involved money. I spent way too much time playing games like Perfection which probably explains why I’m this way.

3. PayDay is the name of a candy bar consisting of salted peanuts rolled in caramel surrounding a firm, nougat-like center. How does it sound to you if you haven’t tried it, and how do you like it if you have? Is there a similar candy bar you like better?

I like PayDay bars but they are hardly satisfying if I want a snack. Lots of protein, yes, but I normally have a box of protein bars in my drawer at work. I get my protein and my chocolate craving in one sitting. I’ll still buy a PayDay now and then but they aren’t at the top of my list.

4. When did you last do something nice for yourself just because it was pay day?

Why, this payday I did! I bought an Xbox One game called Cuphead, a hand-animated scrolling shooter adventure made to look like a 30s-era cartoon. I have been waiting for this one and downloaded it today after Xbox got their server issues in line (*shakes fist*). The music, dialog, animation, everything is to-the-era perfection. It’s like you’re playing a color version of Steamboat Willie but a lot less Disney-fied (read: animated violence).

5. What person with the surname Day are you most familiar with?

Although Morris Day is the first, I’m going to post Doris Day video. Just because.

The kid is venturing out with friends tonight to go to Knott’s Scary Farm/Halloween Haunt, a local event at Knott’s Berry Farm that’s been going on for over 40 years. It’s a big local event that is packed every night and something I myself would never attend. I was scheduled for a few Haunt shifts when I worked at Knott’s. Way too many people for my liking. Nope.

But the good thing is I got fantastic corporate pricing and it gives me and Ann the chance to have a dinner sans kid. It will be nice I’m sure.

Peace out!

Advertisements

Plop Plop, Fizz Fizz


5bbc952a01a7760eb04b8b4bc31da025There are some things in life for which you have no real explanation.

Like getting your leg caught in a ceiling fan, for instance. And on Saturday, I had an odd thing happen to me. Perhaps not as odd as the ceiling fan thing but odd enough.

I dropped my Xbox One controller – yes, an expensive wireless one – in a bowl of water.

I know it sounds silly but it almost makes sense once I explain. Besides, it’s not like I have a houseful of water-filled bowls just sitting around. I only have two: one for the cats and one for the dog.

In this case, it involves the one belonging to Arliss which is in the den or, as Anthony calls it, the man-cave.

I despise that term, by the way.

Anyway, the water bowl in question sits beside to Arliss’ bowl of dry food in the man-ca…den. Both bowls are situated next to a small table that has my nightly essentials strewn upon it: audio/video remotes, a notebook filled with notes pertaining to my ongoing Japanese studies and, of course, my Xbox controllers.

On Saturday morning, I went into the den to grab something off of the table. I don’t remember what it was but at any rate, while I was reaching for it, my Xbox One controller scrambled off the edge of the table and directly into the bowl of water.

*plop*

Oh shit. Really, oh shit. It was submerged for maybe one whole second at the most which is certainly enough time for water to make its presence known on the innards of any electronic device.

I figured it was goner but retrieved it from the bottom of the bowl anyway. I shook it vigorously, hoping to get all of the water out of it. And in my attempt to shake it dry, I slung water all over the den floor and patio doors. I continued to do so until I thought I had it all out.

Then I ran into the bathroom and turned on the hairdryer – trust me, it’s Ann’s not mine – to finish the job at Max Power. If there was anything that would dry it out, this would be it.

This was about all I could do for the time being. I inspected it and it seemed fairly dry on the inside (at least as far as I could see once removing the battery cover). I then tried it out – and there were problems.

When pressing the Xbox button, the system would power-on but the controller wouldn’t stay on. The light on the Xbox button would flash a few times and turn off. Nothing after that.

Then I put some of my reliable rechargeable batteries in the controller since they seem to be much more powerful that the standard alkaline batteries I use. No dice – the controller was doing the same thing.

In the grand scheme of things, it’s not like I use the system very much. I seem to use it more for streaming baseball games online since I can’t watch them otherwise due to the greed of my home team and a certain cable provider watching YouTube videos via Chromecast from either my phone, tablet, or PC in the living room. So if I had to buy a new controller, I could go cheap and just get another wired one.

And that’s what it was looking like at this point.

Hours later, I tried it again. The controller literally looked like it was breathing its last breath with the light slowly fading like it hadn’t done before, almost as if it were saying goodbye.

I could almost hear a little voice crying, “Help meeeeeeeeeeeeee…”

Well, crap.

I had already planned on putting it back in the bowl of water and taking a picture of it to share on social media if it had died. If there was nothing else to be done then I might as well have some fun with it, right?

Then Sunday comes along. After a morning of mishaps (that’s another blog post), I thought I’d give it one more try. So I held the Xbox button down and the system powered up. The good thing was that the controller stayed on.

Resurrected. A true Sunday miracle. Or was it?

I thought I’d give it a try by playing Forza Motorsport 6 and everything seemed to be functioning just fine. Then Anthony wanted to play so I handed it over to him.

He discovered that Change View button wasn’t working. He came across this because he wanted to change the POV in FM6 since he doesn’t like my POV: either the hood or bumper views. I would have never found it myself unless I played another game.

I was now going to have to shell out x-dollars because one stinking button wasn’t working. Isn’t that a pip?

So tonight about an hour ago I gave it one more shot and, using some critical thinking (yes, I’m capable of such things), I found the cause of the problem.

In FM6, you can apply Mods to your car with varying degrees of difficulty to earn more points, XP, etc. Some are one-time use and others will remain until you decide to deactivate them.

So I started my Career, got to the track, and reviewed my Mods. One of the active ones was Hood View, a mod which gives you extra points for only using the hood POV; you cannot changed it once the game starts. I went into the Settings and removed the mod, then started the race.

As soon as it started I hit the Change View button and, lo and behold, it worked.

Resurrection, again.

So even after being submerged in dog-water for about a second, I managed to bring the controller back to life with only a hairdryer and the brute gorilla force used when shaking it dry.

Then again, we managed to wash and dry Anthony’s old iPod twice and while the screen had some water damage, it still worked.

I guess we have that kind of strange luck.

Wii U Experience in Los Angeles


Saturday was a busy day for us.

In addition to attending an L.A. Galaxy soccer game, the family went to the invitation-only Wii U Experience in Los Angeles (or more precisely, Hollywood) to experience firsthand what Nintendo’s latest system has to offer.

CAM01411

The event was held at Siren Studios on Sunset Boulevard and was scheduled to last two hours. There was a pretty big crowd waiting to get in when we got there at around 11 am, our scheduled time. Once we were checked in, we were issued our snazzy IDs with lanyard.

CAM01416

Anthony was more than happy to put his on and get to gaming.

CAM01414

After we were issued our IDs, we made our way into the studio to a small holding area where we waited until the previous group was cleared out and the studio cleaned. I’ll explain why in a bit.

CAM01417

Now this was cool. These kiosks were located at various locations in the studio, each with an event attendant. What they would do was tap your ID on the plus symbol, have you strike a pose, then look at the camera (see the small black dot below the Nintendo logo) for a photo and you were done. If you previously linked your Facebook account to your ID, the images were immediately posted to your page. Here are our pictures taken in the holding area and then with Mario.

194625_10151115648519118_268073978_o

477305_10151115680324118_1577870081_o

I couldn’t get Mario to throw a peace sign. Oh well.

Once inside we were allowed to wander as we pleased.

CAM01453

Music was pumping and all of the event workers were very enthusiastic; it made for a great vibe. (Hall and Oates’ “You Make My Dreams” was first on the playlist and seemed to fit perfectly.) Here’s Anthony giving Scribblenauts Unlimited a try with a little assistance.

CAM01423

Many of the games were still in the development phase and had working titles like The Wonderful 101 and Game & Wario.

CAM01433

One of the more fun games we tried was Wii Fit U, the third entry in the Wii Fit series. Like the other games, it was a demo version and could vary greatly by the system’s  launch. I tried the trampoline minigame and racked a score that the attendant told me was one of the highest she’d seen to date. That or she was just being nice.

CAM01438

I was happy to learn that my current Wii Fit Balance Board is compatible with Wii U but disappointed that like the last generation Wii, it will not support Gamecube games. I guess I’ll just have to hold onto my old Wii system if that’s the case. Aside from that, Wii Fit U looks to be a must-have for anybody who enjoyed the previous incarnations.

Of course with all of this gaming going on, you need some refreshments. There were plenty.

CAM01426

This is what I meant about cleaning the place up since there were plastic bottles everywhere when we left.

One of the other games we tried was Nintendo Land which consists of a bunch of minigames like Mario Party.

CAM01446

The image above shows a hide-and-seek type of game in which the person holding the main controller is Mario and is given a 10-second head start to run and hide. Mario’s exact location is only visible on the control’s display to the player controlling Mario while the other players (up to four) must rely on a hot-cold bar at the bottom of their screen. Overall, I was a bit disappointed at how slow Mario moved and as a result, I was found in no time flat.

CAM01442

New Super Mario Bros. U looks to be everything Mario fans might be expecting: multiplayer, new moves, new powers. It was the most popular game there and while we only tried it once, it was definitely fun.

And if you wanted to try a 3DS system, there were a few of those around as well. Both Ann and Anthony loved it.

CAM01428

The place was riddled with white leather couches and these cubes that changed color. I wanted to take one home.

CAM01452

There were also contests on some of the games with the winners getting small prizes. I almost won the Wii Fit U competition but was edged out. Anthony was near the host as he awarded the winner her prize then looked at Anthony, reached into his goodie bag, and game him a small tin of mushroom candies. Very cool!

CAM01457

Not to be outdone, I also won a prize at the end of the event when the host was asking trivia questions. The question I answered was simple enough if you know Nintendo’s history:

“Which was the first game Nintendo ever made?”

The answer: playing (or hanafuda) cards. Nobody else was even close! I won a little Koopa figurine that I immediately handed over to Anthony.

After the trivia questions, we escorted out and got yet another treat: mushroom cake pops! Could this day get any better?

CAM01461

Here’s a close-up. I ate it and didn’t grow as I had hoped but it was delicious.

CAM01464

And I saw these on the way out which I thought were great. You know, in case you had to go Wii before you went home.

CAM01463 CAM01462

We entered this event knowing very little about the Wii U and left it wanting to put my name on the waiting list. While the chances of that happening are pretty slim at the moment because of the Wii U’s price point of $349.99 for the 32GB system with one game, it’s definitely on my list down the road. It’s taken the Wii concept to a new level that won’t appeal to all gamers but it still a whole lot of fun. Keep in mind that we only played games at this event and did not see all that the Wii U is capable of doing: video chat (controller has a front-facing camera), TV remote control, DVR capabilities, etc.

The Wii U Experience was indeed memorable. Thanks to all involved for being great hosts and for answering all questions we had regarding the system. I’d better start saving my spare change for this one.

There Are No Words…


Just watch the video.

Kay Jewelers Can Suck It


Click to Embiggen

I normally don’t write blog posts in the middle of the day but since the fire inside of me is still burning bright, I need to let it all out.

With the Christmas shopping season almost in full gear, retailers are doing just about anything to get you in their stores. You see that image to the left? This was one of those enticing deals designed to get you to spend, spend, spend.

Those $19.99 specials (regular $80 each) were included in the Kay Jewelers catalog that arrived sometime last week. And the minute Ann laid eyes on that ring, she expressed an interest in it so I agreed that I would buy this for her as a Christmas gift.

No, it’s not exactly a knock-’em-dead diamond ring but remember that it’s been a tough year and we’re just sort of getting back on our feet again. And it was what Ann wanted and what would make her happy this Christmas.

So we loaded up the truck and headed down to the Lakewood Mall to make the purchase. It was actually a dual-purpose trip: we were also going there to get Anthony’s picture taken with Santa Claus with our $10 Groupon (regular $25–go Groupon!).

Once our visit with the Jolly Old Fat Man was complete, we meandered over to Kay Jewelers to check out the ring. We were immediately greeted by, for the sake of description, Girl 1. She smiled and asked if there was anything she could show us.

I expressed an interest in the $19.99 ring. She nodded and headed over to the display to grab one that Ann tried on. It just happened to be the right size. It was a done deal.

And then it began. Girl 1 began her spiel about extended warranties, sizing, etc.

“No, we only want the ring,” Ann smiled and told her. Girl 1 continued.

“Did you get any warranties on those rings,” she asked, pointing to Ann’s diamond wedding set. Yes, we did but then again, that set also cost me a few thousand dollars. Big difference. And she’s starting to get annoying.

And not to get too much off-track here, but when I was making more money back in the day, we literally spend thousands at a place called Weisfield Jewelers which, unfortunately, has since closed up all local stores and merged with Kay Jewelers. They were a first-rate jeweler who never gave us any kind of slack. You asked, they helped. You were never pressured into anything you didn’t want and all of the employees at the South Coast Plaza location were as kind as could be.

Then there’s Kay.

As the conversation continued, we made it clear that we were only interested in purchasing the ring. Come on, it’s $20 and the warranty was another $20. I get that they are trying to upsell stuff this time of year and I went so far as to blatantly tell Girl 1 that I’m on a budget after being unemployed for almost 2 years and that the extra $20 wasn’t in cards.

So Girl 1 walks over to the register to complete the transaction–or so we thought.

While behind the register, she handed the ring over to someone I’ll call, for the sake of being polite, Girl 2. Although there were a few other niceties that come to mind with how she handled the siltation. So it wasn’t enough when we told Girl 1 that we only wanted the ring; she had to sic Girl 2 on us to try to retain us.

Girl 2 begins to tell us about the ring. And then she gets in on the whole warranty thing.

“Are you sure you don’t want the extended warranty,” she asked. Ann spoke up.

“No, I already told the other girl I only wanted the ring.” Girl 2 got agitated and threw up her hands, palms facing us.

“Okay okay, I’m just asking!” she said in a manner implying that we had firearms on our person and were ready to ransack the place for every $20 ring they had in stock.

Ann and I stood there, mouths agape. I turned to Ann.

“So…you still want that ring?”

“No, let’s go.” We left the store with Girls 1 and 2 looking a bit surprised yet smug.

It’s Christmas. It’s going to get busy. And having worked retail for years, yes, I know things can get a bit stressful during the holiday season. But unless a customer is making some wild accusation or claim about a price, is about to throw down with you over something stupid, or just being a pain in the ass in general, be good to them, for Chrissakes. They give you money which is why you are business in the first place!

No, no and no, goddamit. Kay had to see it another way. So fuck you, Kay Jewelers. If you had simply handled the situation in a more kindly manner then perhaps you could have had that extra $20 sale on your take tonight but no, because someone behind the counter had to get all high-and-mighty on us and fling an attitude in our direction, you get no sale–and my wife gets no ring since we both refused to have what little money I now make fund the payroll of someone like that.

Now Ann has to set her heart on something else this holiday season. And I don’t care what I have to do, she will get it. You don’t even know how disappointed she is/was about leaving the store without this little trinket of a ring which she loved and was within my budget.

Bored? Give Kay a call and let them know they suck: (562) 633-7141. And tell them they can stick their extended warranty.

Ironically, Kay’s slogan is “Every kiss begins with Kay.”

Well, guys, here’s my ass. Now go on practice what you preach.

(UPDATE: E-mail about the incident was sent to their Customer Service Department, and I’ve also gone through this post and made a bunch of edits/corrections. I was typing in a blind rage when I posted this and missed quite a bit. Calm blue ocean…calm blue ocean…)

(UPDATE 11/25/10: Kay’s Reply)

I would like to thank you for taking the time to contact us regarding your visit to our Lakewood Center Mall, Kay Jewelers location. Our goal is to exceed our customers’ expectations, and I appreciate the opportunity to respond when there is a concern. We will forward this issue to the management staff at the store location for additional review. I want to apologize for how you feel you were treated. This is not how we want our customers to feel when they leave the store.

Once again, I apologize for the inconvenience that you experienced and hope that you will allow us to provide you the service you deserve in the future.

Sincerely,

Amanda L
Customer Care

Jeez, at least Cost Plus was kind enough to send Ann a $25 Gift Card after contacting their Corporate Office about one of their managers disputing a price/signing issue with us. As far as Kay goes, you couldn’t get me to go back there if you tried and I hope someone got busted for their horrible service.