Saturday, September 30, 2006

It's Me!

Well, cartoon me that is. My roommate Scott (read: awesome guy) drew a cartoon caricature of me. I think it's pretty good! It even has the new beard that I'm sporting! What I'm saying in it actually makes sense too, since I tend not to trust sandwiches I either did not make or purchase myself, since they might have fatty things in them like mayonnaise or cheddar!



Sunday, September 24, 2006

You Must Spawn More Overlords!

People are jumping ship at Borders faster than rats on a sinking ship also being swallowed by a black hole (the first person who points out that the time dilation due to gravity would slow the rats down gets nasty email). More specifically, supervisors are leaving. In fact, even managers are leaving, and other supervisors are threatening to quit if they don't get the positions they want. This is no way for a hive cluster to be run; if those genetically inferior humans decide to attack, we'll be a chaotic mess.

Pasta!

Two great evenings, and one minor disaster. My friend Mike can make some very good food, and he seriously goes out of his way to make it gourmet. On a Saturday, he and my sister planned a dinner party where he would make the pasta and she would make pizzas, with various appetizers all around of course. Mike wasn't going to settle for canned tomatoes, so he blanched and then hand-peeled and deseeded a whole shit load of tomatoes, which really isn't a quick task. Kimberly made some great little pizzas, margherita pizza, stuffed crust pizza, goats cheese pizza, all really good.

Mike didn't finish his past until about 10:30, but it was so good that we all agreed it was worth the wait, and I mean it was seriously delicious. It was a type of olive tomato sauce, I forget the name of it, but it involved at least an hour of cook time just to make the base sauce, which you run through a mill and then move to the second phase of the sauce, which is at least another hour of cooktime I think. However, like I said, all worth it.

The second evening was a Borders movie night of my own design, with American style bolognese fusili pasta, and by American bolognese I mean lots of tomatoes, very simple, not cooked in an oven, etc. Unfortunately, the afore mentioned disaster is that I broke what is probably the cardinal rule of cooking, and that is to not leave your cooking food unattended, which I did, so that I could show my friend Steph what half-life 2 looks like. Suffice to say...I burned the sauce. The bottom of the pot had that tell-tale feeling of something stuck to the bottom, and while I did the best that I could do, which is simply pouring whatever isn't burned directly into another pot, the sauce had taken on a distinct smoky/burnt flavor. The sauce had a while left to cook, so I was hoping that the extra flavor I would get from the ingredients plus a little extra salt and some sugar, I could cover up the smoky taste.

Well, I insisted that it still tasted burned, but other people insisted it was delicious and even took home some left overs so I guess I shouldn't complain.

The theme of the evening was "action heroes and their ditzy fish-out-of-water companions," so we watched Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, and Romancing the Stone. A good time was had by all, and I think I want to do it again and this time NOT burn the sauce.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Swarming With Dishonest Nigerians

Borders learned one of their favorite costly lessons again, and I say "again" because they really don't ever seem to learn that if you want to make a profit selling video games then you actually have to put effort behind your venture. For about the 3rd time since I've started working their, our pissant video game inventory is going half off in order to clear out stock and forget the whole idea ever existed until the over-paid folk in higher decision making jobs decide its time to try and fail again.

What's cool about it this time is that all of our video game systems are also half off, and while I missed out on the opportunity to buy an xbox 360 for half off, I did pick up a PSP. Not for my own enjoyment, since I can't really afford it right now and since only 3 games appeal to me (Lumines, Loco Roco, and the Gradius collection), but to try and sell it on ebay for at least enough profit to justify the purchase of something I actually want. Well, easy enough right? Well not if my friends in Nigeria have anything to say about it.

About 1 hour after I place the auction up, just after midnight, the item sells with the "buy it now" feature. I get an email from the buyer, an ebay account created minutes before buying the item:

Hello ,
Season's Greetings to you.I am Mark Smith from Orlando, Fl ,US.I'm contacting you concerning your item on Ebay which i eventually became the winning bidder for your item.Morever i'm presently serving our beloved nation here in with the United Nation and i intend sending this item to my son who works with the American Embassy in Nigeria as a visa Officer.So i will like you Ship the package via Global Express Guaranteed Non-Document or USPS 2-5 DAYS POSTAL SERVICE Shipping to Nigeria and I will like you to go know the Shipping cost and calculate the shipping cost and the item for Payment get back with the amount i will be paying immediately..I will be sending you my payment via PayPal,So kindly send me your (PAYPAL EMAIL ADDRESS) So as to immediately make out my payment.Make sure you get the package ready for immediate or next day shipment okay?.Expecting your reply so as to immediately make out my payment.
Regards
Mark Smith


The bad english, the strange too-much-info description of why he's buying it and who it's for (like I care), and of course, the fact that he wants me to send it to Nigeria (read: Nigeria and 419 scams). I was interested to see how he planned on using paypal in his scam, since paypal is pretty fool proof, and of course that simply turned out to mean that he would send me an email that looked like it was from paypal, which he did, telling me that the funds wouldn't be credited to my account until I provided proof of shipment. No such paypal policy, practice, or option exists.

Anyway, fun for all I'm sure. I figured no big deal since I can relist it once for free and have the final value fee refunded (although it's a minor hassle). I relist the auction, set an option that prevents people from bidding or buying if they have negative feedback or have no paypal account, and the next morning find that I have a question from another buyer, no doubt thwarted by the security measures I had placed but who, nonetheless, decided to go fishing anyway:

Dear seller,
My name is Ales Frank From Uk. I am interested in Buying your item on Ebay.I want the item urgently i can't wait till bid end So let me know the cost of the item. I need to send this item to my Son in west africa as their gifts. I will make my payments via MONEY ORDER CASH ON DELIVERY PAYMENT which as I was told is reliable and Secured.. SO to ship the package i will require USPS SERVICE for the shipment I will only need the Below information so as for me to make the payment.


I think, wow, it's more common that I had thought. Later that day, I find that my auction had been bought out again, this time by an ebay user with a positive rating of 3 out of 3, and (obviously) a paypal account. This is their email:

Dear Seller, I won this item above and I just want to inform you that I will like to buy this item for my friend's son who is studying in Africa and I will like to make an immediate payment for this item. Please do calculate the shipping cost, plus the money for the item and give me the total price so that I can send out your money, I would have love to hardly the shipping but due to my job, as I travel a lot to attend to medical calls. So please do get back to me ASAP for payment for this item.I will be making the payment through Stormpay Money Order or through my Paypal account.Do e-mail me your paypal ID if you want me to pay through paypal. Your urgent response will be highly appreciated.
Regards,
Mr Carissa Heim.


So, what...did this guy go through 3 legitimate purchases before trying to scam me? Were those the positive feedbacks left by people before they had realized they had been scammed? Or had the account simply been hacked? I don't care either way, because at this point I'm getting pissed. As it stands I have ebay fees of $20 for two listing fees and two final value fees that I now have to get credited back to me. My auction is relisted again and now in its third run. This time, I've added the last possible measure against these douchebags, an option that forces people to pay immediately through paypal the moment they use the "Buy it Now" option. If they don't, my auction stays up.

Fuck Nigeria.

And something I'll add after I ran the spell checker, fuck their terrible spelling too. I should have pasted the emails after I ran spell check.

Saturday, September 16, 2006

Magical Girl Transformation Sequence Done Right...Done Spicy

It's been so long since the idea was recommended to me that I've forgotten who originally recommended it, and I only remember that I shared the idea with my friend and coworker Nate very shortly after. Nate beat me to task, and the idea was to do a brief write-up on our very own magical girl transformation (MGT) sequences.

Here’s the deal: in anime there is a particular genre sometimes called “magical girl” that involves the main character, usually female, having special powers. Invoking these powers usually means a very long and drawn out sequence of fan-fare and special effects, and it usually represents the most expensive animation for the series and is shown at least once every episode. The most familiar example would of course be Sailor Moon’s transformation sequence, with all of its ribbons and blurry background speed-lines and dramatic music and you get the idea. I had wanted to photoshop up a nice image to show my MGT, but I have taken so long to do this already, which is unfair to Nate, that I’ll just add it sometime in the future.

Being a link to Nate’s blog, this sentence reveals a description of his MGT. As for myself:

All is quite. All is very quiet, in fact, one wouldn’t even say you could hear a pin drop because the pin knows better. Either narration of some omniscient presence, or a comment of my own has let my enemies, my teammates, indeed, all of the surrounding on lookers know that I’m about to transform in to something absurdly bad ass.

Silence is broken with a menacing sound of string instruments in 5/4 time slowly crescendoing as Holst’s Mars: Bringer of War begins to play from jerry-rigged telecom satellites, commandeered and transformed into giant speakers through will alone. Swarms of African Grey parrots fill the sky chanting in unison to the dramatic score, “dah-nah-nah-nah, dah, dah… dah-nah-nah-nah dah dah” in a perfectly mimicked voice of Bea Arthur (African Greys can mimic human voice almost perfectly so the on-lookers have no problem believing this). The swarms of birds are so thick that they begin to block out the dark clouds that have been forming, which had been beginning to block out the sun, which had been moving in to an eclipse.

In most magical girl transformations, the hero usually has some sort of incantation or title to her powers that she feels the need to share, but since it’s usually only a couple words long, and since the transformation needs to take a long time to spend every drop of the special effects budget, this usually results in some milking along the lines of Sailor Moon pushing her breath capacity to the limits:

“MooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooOOOOOOOOOOOONNNNN ……… pooooooooooooooooooowwwwweeeeeeeeeeeeeeeRRRRRRRRRRRRRSSSSSSS ………” and so on.

No such bullshit here. In order to make full use of the time, all along I’ve been reciting Benedick’s soliloquy on bachelorism from Oscar Wilde’s Much Ado About Nothing. Just as I’m about to reach the last line in the dialogue the ground beneath us begins to violently shake. I act surprised, but that’s just for show since I of course know what’s coming. Without warning...Holst’s Mars: Bringer of War becomes Queen’s Don’t Stop Me Now, and Moai statue heads burst from the ground firing bright blue beams from their eyes in to the surrounding crowds. As each individual is lanced by the terrible azure light, their clothing is transformed in to fabulous sequenced slacks, jackets, and top hats and everyone falls in to formation to perform a spectacular musical number choreographed to Queen’s exciting and upbeat music with occasional jazz tap solos by people whom I favored over others for no particular reason.

Near the end of the act, an old woman strangely resembling Maggie Smith descends from the heavens in a rocking chair to fashion me a fresh costume from her seamstress tools. Just as she’s finished, and throws me down the costume, the old seamstress strangely resembling Maggie Smith bursts into a small nova of rainbow confetti, so thick that I am able to change in to my costume without compromising the entire sequence’s PG-13 rating.

Completely avoiding the fight, I convince my enemies to surrender under the threat that I have an entire arsenal of exploding old women who resemble famous British actresses that explode with more than just rainbow confetti.

The entire production having then seemed to be for naught, many on-lookers return home disappointed and a little angry that they didn’t transform out of their gilded costumes automatically and back in to their street clothes.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

I Thought Not Having Internet Was Bad

The power is out here at our little castle on Placer drive. There is also a small lock attached to our breaker box and a pamphlet from the power company letting us know how we can do our part to fight terrorism by paying our bill on time. A couple days back Cox had cut our internet connection because we had paid our bill too late, and the payment didn't go through before the cut-off date.

I imagine the same thing has happened here. My roommate has had a lot on his plate recently related to his band and putting on large events, so I hope this is a rare thing. Cox service going down for part of the day is one thing, having no power in your house is really another.

Oh...right...for the curious, I'm currently on my laptop and stealing bandwidth through the walls off of my neighbors 802.11 signal. He was kind enough to no encrypt it.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Unrest At Work

Things are getting strange at work. People are complaining more about the working environment more than they ever have in the past, and people are also jumping ship. I don't know where this leaves me, since I've always said that it's pretty much just the people who are keeping me at Borders. I'm just about as fed up with all of the petty shit I have to deal with and also the customers, but the company I keep makes it all worth it and perhaps then some. Of course, if everyone leaves, or if most people leave, that might leave me in a position to quit as well.