Thursday, March 23, 2006

The Late March Roundup

What you see here is the result of my current "carting" efforts at work. $65.50 in quarters since February 28th, seventeen days of work in total. I'm really wondering what to do with the quarters. I don't think it will take me that long to fill up the jar--at the very most three or so months. However, assuming I say at this job for a while I could fill it up several times--and I don't have any desire to just keep filling up jars and jars without any end. I might wait until the jar is filled once, and then just save quarters for a month. It certainly would be great to go to a bookstore once a month with my quarters and go crazy buying books! :-) Speaking of book buying, I had fun today.

I recieved some money for my birthday, so naturally I decided to spend it on something fun! Tonight I spent several hours in the local Borders bookstore. Yes, I spent several hours trying to pick out three paperbacks to buy! But if you know me very well or have ever visited a bookstore with me you won't be surprised at all. I'm am definately a biblioholic (by the way that is an excellent book--Mark, get it! and I intend to blog about it soon) and quite unrepentant about the whole matter. Well I settled on a sci-fi novel rather quickly actually. It is apparently a debut novel, and from the back description and the prolgue I was intrigued. Over the course of my time I also read a bit more, and it stayed good--so that book was good to stay, Phobos by Ty Drago. (You might like it Mark, 'tis a mystery as well as sci-fi) A bit later I settled on a fantasy novel by Simon R. Green, a British author. I'd purchased the first part of his Deathstalker series years ago and partially finished them. Then during the last year I checked them all out from the library (including the most recently published which finished up the series) and read them all. They are definately an excellent epic series, if somewhat lighthearted (i.e. not hard "good phsics" sci-fi) and bloodthirsty space opera. Anyway, I knew he had written other books and so I decided to get the first of his Hawk and Fisher series, Swords of Haven. (Don't go for it Mark, pure fantasy, ;-)). Now we come to the good part.

I spent a couple more hours pouring over the bookshelves that I'd already spent hours in back on the first of the month (when I first got my Borders Rewards card--more on that later). I went back and forth around the sci-fi/fantasy section. I didn't want to just buy books that I need to complete a collection, or experiment with just the first book of a fantasy trilogy. Then I realized I was near the mystery section and I tried to remember one of Mark's favourite authors. I knew I'd read her Turing Harper novels, and that Mark was always trying to get me interested in her other books. Finally on the back shelf (the first alphabetically) I stumbled upon the Donna Andrews novels. I was quite excited to discover that each of her books had not only a normal mass market paperback edition, but one priced at $3.99 as well! After reading the first two chapters of We'll Always Have Parrots I was definately hooked. (Mark, do I read Amazon right, you haven't reviewed this book?!) So I picked up that (the first) and the second, Crouching Buzzard, Leaping Loon.

Right now I'm going back to an experiment that I tried last year with Stephen R. Donaldson's Chronicles of Thomas Covenant the Unbeliever and Tad Williams' Memory, Sorrow and Thorn. I'm reading a chapter of Phobos, and then one of We'll Always Have Parrots. I find it increases the tension, and keeps me in two books at once. The experiment did go well the last time, hopefully it will this time as well.

I was almost ready to close off this posting when I realized that I do have more information to post! It just snowed early this week! I had Tuesday off from bigg's since I was supposed to help conduct training at the museum for some new staff. I haven't yet been so glad not to be out with the carts! We had several inches of snow Tuesday morning before the sun rose, and it kept drifting down (though not much at once) all throughout the day. The roads were somewhat nasty that morning, but thankfully I didn't have to go anywhere all day! :-) Of course, as always seems to happen after a snowfall I was a bit late the next day, so I didn't appreciate the time needed to scrape snow and ice off my windshield. I can only figure that the snow partially melted and then refroze right on the windshield--and hadn't warmed back up at all when I went in to work yesterday morning. But I can't really complain, I wasn't late or anything like that.

Well I'll leave you with a picture of what the front yard looked like earlier today, :(.


PS I'm done posting from Picasa. I finally discovered I can add multiple images directly from Blogger with the same options. It is much easier, and I can save drafts in case anything threatens to go wrong.

Friday, March 17, 2006

Long Overdue

But at least there aren't any fines for late blog posts, eh? Not like the library, but I don't get free books for blogging so perhaps the library is better after all :-) When you read the Superheroes and Villians episode LIV you should notice a reference to this period (or unperiod?) of my blogging. ;-)

Well I have several items of note, I'll start with the most recent first. My birthday was this Tuesday. I've now been residing on this terrestrial ball for twenty-four years! *sigh* I feel old (I know I'm not objectively old, I just feel like I am), I'm sure 25 will feel quite strange.

Along with that comes news of a couple birthday presents. The first is pictured to the right and below. When I moved out I left my mom with some of my favourite shirts that I didn't really have any reason to wear any more. After all I've been out of high school for six years this June, why would I want to wear a senior shirt from my high school anymore? Especially when it is on the other side of the country. Well my mom and dad went the extra mile and made me this quilt/bedspread for this birthday. Wow, I was quite surprised when I opened the package. I hadn't expected anything like this! Included are all of my school shirts--from my elementary schools, junior high, high school (including Academic Decathalon, PE, and my senior class shirt!), as well as several of my favourite Habitat animal shirts and a couple others. (I just realized that many not know about Habitat shirts. Their factory used to be located in Colorado--before they moved to Mexico--and we would buy "damaged shirts there." Usually there was little wrong with them, but the prices were great. Their shirts feature all kinds of wild animals and they usually make shirts for companies like Bush Gardens and other similar venues. All of the animals you can see on the quilt/bedspread are from Habitat shirts) You can also notice that she took smaller logos from the shirts and put them between the other squares, 'tis wonderful!

Oh, and the second picture is a bit messy because I just threw it on my bed for a picture, no thoughts being directed towards neatness at that particular moment.

The second "present" also comes from California. Last year my youngest older sister informed the family that she was pregnant. This is Erin, the one I lived near during college. Well her due date was early March, so of course I hoped for her baby to be born on my birthday. One of my nephews here was born on March 10th and I always tease my eldest sister Laurie about "waiting four more days." Well I now share a birthday with my 18th nephew! :-)

Now strawberries. Strawberries are my favourite food. I cannot get enough of them! This was fine growing up in California with stands literally just down the road. We always had plenty during the season and my parents would fix strawberry shortcake and strawberry pie. Mmmmm...delicious! Well moving to Kentucky has made finding decent strawberries difficult. Nowhere grows strawberries like Southern California, nowhere! Working in bigg's as I have I pass by the produce department every day, so I finally had to buy a box of strawberries for myself. These are huge California berries (I didn't take this picture until I had eaten most of them) that while not as good as those purchased from the stand weren't bad at all.

To make sure that my precious berries wouldn't get eaten by the rest of the family I labeled them very plainly: "Touch and Die! ~Matt" Of course then my sister had to leave her own note: "Not only did I touch them--I thoroughly licked and drooled on them : )" She is an evil person isn't she?

Okay, the job. Well they hired me telling me that I would be doing carts mainly and that housekeeping would come eventually--I shouldn't worry about such duties right now. Well of course it was housekeeping duties that I started off doing--then came carts, ;-). Now I do both fairly regularly, but they each have their ups and downs.

Carts is outside which can be good in nice weather, though it is more physical. But on the plus side I get quarters! The carts at bigg's connect to each other via small chains. To unhook a cart to use you need to place a quarter in the device on the handlebar. Once you return your cart and lock it into place your quarter pops out. It is a great way to encourage people to return carts to the cart corrals. Plus it keeps carts together when we cart people
have to bring them in. Well sometimes people don't retrieve their quarters--and in that case we cart people get to keep them! My best day so far is $8.00!! My lowest was $.025 because I only retrieved one cart that day--every other day has been at least one dollar. Currently I have $45.25 in quarters in a jar. I'm considering saving until the jar is full and then I'll splurge on something, or many somethings! :-)

The other side of my duties is housekeeping. Once an hour I have to walk to about twenty places around the store and scan barcodes. Basically this ensures that I'm visually inspecting the floors of the stoor at least once an hour. In between the "logs" (as these scans are called) I go out and clean up reported spills, I clean the bathrooms, and I go out and help to bring in carts so as to retain my sanity and not just stand around bored. Sometimes I give myself a mission to find some product so that I can beter familarize myself with the store. The bad part of this job is that the store floors are quite hard (harder than the asphalt and concrete outside) and my feet are always sore after a shift indoors. I need to get new reliably waterproof boots anyway. I might make sure to get some gel insoles at the same time to help me out!

Now for some webcomic news. As you may not know I read an ever increasing number of webcomics. Yes, I definately have taste and there are many that I've tried that I'll never touch again. But I also have a good sized bookmark folder waiting for me to sort through, and if I like the comic, I want to go through and read all of the archives. I recently found three awesome strips by the same author. Nip and Tuck is about a pair of fox brothers. They're rednecks, but wonderfully sensible and conservative! Tales of the Questor is normally only published once a week I belive, but it is a larger full colour spread. It is an epic fantasy tale that often leaves me thinking that the author is a genius because he catches and plugs many potential plot holes before they can begin to leak! I've finished reading all of Nip and Tuck but I'm not quite yet done with Questor. Now another reason I'm enjoying it is because of the spiritual implications. I haven't figured out if it is true fantasy, sci-fi, or allegory--whatever it is it is awesome. Finally you have Under the Lemon Tree/Goblin Hollow (I'm not sure which is the real name). I've only started going through this one--but a while back it crossed over with another strip I read. It features Ben the bear and all the physical manifestations of his subconscious. It looks like great fun.

Please go and check these wonderful webcomics out, and if you can help the artist out by buying something. I'm very definately adding these to my list of comics I want (nay need! ;-)) to buy in book form.

Well thanks everyone for bugging me. I've been somewhat worn out for the past few weeks with many 14:00-22:00 and 15:00-23:00 shifts. Plus once I put something off like the work part of this post that action becomes habit and hard to break. ;-)


PS Thanks to Wikipedia for the shopping cart image. The article alco contains a reference to the kind of carts that we use at bigg's:

Sometimes the customer has to pay a small deposit by inserting a coin, which is returned if and when the customer returns the cart to a designated cart parking point. Some retailers sell "trolley tokens" as an alternative to coins, often for charity. The mechanism can often be unlocked by inserting a keyinto the slot to open the lock.
We don't sell tokens, but they give them to the cart control employees so we don't have to use our own quarters to unlock and lock carts. Posted by Picasa