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Monday, October 18, 2010

Post office games

     This should be a fun blog.  Each time I've written a book, with the exception of the very first one, I've put them up for a free giveaway on a web site called  It's a nice way to get my work out there, and people enter to win a copy (or copies, depending on how many you want to provide) of my books.  The contest ends, and goodreads lets me know who the decided I need to give my free copy away to, and I have to mail them off.  No problem.  You also get to decide what countries you want people to be able to enter from.  What countries?  People from other countries can enter?  Oh, that's so cool that I can maybe go international!  So I allow America, Canada, England and Australia to enter.  And of course, a girl from Australia wins a copy.  No problem, I know how to fill out a customs tag.

     I buy an envelope, address it, and head to the post office to mai lthe book.  Congratulations, hooray!  I find out it costs me $14.20 to mail the book overseas!  HOLY COW!  Do you believe this?  Oh well, I guess it's a small price to pay for having someone from another country read my stuff, right?  While I'm waiting to pay, I notice the "pre-paid boxes" hanging on the back wall with signs telling how much it costs to mail each one.  I mailed one of those boxes out to another author who was having some kind of book fair giveaway thing last week! size of box I used shows a mailing price of $10.90 or something like that.  I mailed mine with a cheaper stamp.  My stamp said $5.40 or something.  Oh no, now maybe the box didn't make it?  Oh &^%$!

     So I run home and check my computer.  I did have tracking on the package, so I can see where it went...hopefully.  I check, and the package went anyway, even with the short postage.  Where did it go?  It was MISSENT!  The post office sent it to Seattle when it was supposed to go to some other Washington city.  They figured it out, and finally send it to the right place, though. one picked it up.  It says a notice was left.  Hopefully someone will pick it up soon. 

I hate the post office.


Friday, October 15, 2010

Paying to write

     I just read a friend's blog.  She did a long thing about a new "self publishing" service she had heard about.  It's another "pay and we'll pay you" scam.  At least that's what it looks like to me.  What the hell is with these people who want money up front before you even start to sell your books?  My friend gets a bit more technical.

     Yes, her blog is called "Written in Blood."  Great title for a Vampire book author's blog!  Anyway, she makes a few technical points on the good and bad points of the new program.  I'll just go simple and call it a scam.  People want money for everything now!  Gimmee, gimmee, gimmee!  Las Vegas is notorious for greed.  It seems like every night I go to work I end up dealing with some idiot who's yelling "I lost $50,000 here!  You need to let me do whatever I want!"  Is that supposed to matter to me?  The person was dumb enough to lose that kind of money and that's supposed to mean I let them destroy property, or attack someone else?  Having, or losing money doesn't mean anything to me.

"I'm sorry sir, but losing a lot of money here doesn't mean you can swim in the decorative pond with the coy fish!"

     You have no idea how many coy have died from eating vomit.  That's probably why there aren't too many coy ponds around Vegas anymore.  At least none that aren't behind about six inches of protective glass.  Everything here needs to be behind some kind of glass.  Things even need to be protected from the casino EMPLOYEES!  They decided to paint a path going to an employee entrance.  So as not to block the entrance off, they only painted half at a time.  After painting, they blocked off the painted half with barricades.  Some employees still climbed over the barricades and left footprints across the paint.

     The other night I ended up back in dispatch.  I hadn't been there for a while.  Before the shift was over, there were a couple officers downstairs in the security manager's office complaining that I had assigned them to do security details!  They felt that I shouldn't have been telling officers what to do!  If there were details to be done, someone else should have had to do them, not the people who were hired to do them.  No, I don't understand this either.  In a time when there is so much unemployment, you would think people would want to be thought of as a valuable employee, not someone who refuses to do his job!  I'm honestly stunned by these people.  They want to be paid, but they don't want to actually do any kind of work for the pay.  And as security, most of the time you just stand somewhere and watch someone else.  This is apparently too difficult for some of these people.  If not for security, I wonder what these people would do for work?  Maybe get a job as a Walmart greeter and then complain all day that it's too much trouble to actually greet people?

     What does all this have to do with self publishing, and paying to get your work out there?  Nothing.  If you read the things I write, you know I ramble on.  Oh well, if you're really interested in publishing yourself, read Katie's blog.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Pawn Pawns

This is complete and utter fiction...hopefully.

     A few weeks ago after watching the tv show Pawn Stars, I decided I wanted to see if I could get a part time job in a pawn shop.  It looked like fun, and I would be able to see a variety of items that people wanted to get money for.  I mentioned this to Chinstrap, and he decided he wanted to go for a job, too.  I happened to have a friend named "Charles" who had a small pawn shop near where I live, so I asked him.  He told me it's always hard to find good help and would welcome us as clerks as long as we were careful.  So one Saturday afternoon I met Chinstrap outside the pawn shop.  

     I had thought it would just be me and Chinstrap, but he had also brought along a Chinese guy named "Choy Su."  I don't know where he found this guy, but Chinstrap guaranteed me Choy Su would be great in the shop.  Charles went over the basics with us, and after watching me make an offer on a watch a customer had brought in to sell, decided that he could trust us three with the shop while he went to lunch.  What could possibly happen in a hour, right?

     I was at one counter, while across the store Chinstrap and Choy Su worked another counter.  A guy walks into the store with a small pistol and comes over to my counter.  He starts to go on and on to me about how the pistol is 600 years old and how he had paperwork to prove it.  I start to look at the papers he pulls out, and out of the corner of my eye notice Choy Su talking to another guy holding what looks like a beat up, old record.  I then hear Chinstrap yelling.

     "I told you you're too fat to try on the rings!"  He's yelling this at a large, female customer.  I want to go over and stop him from yelling, but the idiot with the gun keeps going on and on about the paperwork.  Now I see Choy Su counting out a pile of hundred dollar bills to the guy who had the beat up record.  Finally, after a few minutes, I can't stand to listen to this guy anymore and tell him he needs to come back in an hour when the expert (owner) comes back to look at the gun.  After getting rid of him, I quickly go over to Choy Su and ask why he was giving the guy with the record all that money.  He holds up a really old Hawaiian shirt and the beat up record and says, "Mambo kit!"  I ask how much he paid for the "Mambo kit" and he says "Si tausan"  I don't understand him.  I ask him again, and again he says "Si tausan."  I call Chinstrap over to translate, and he tells me Choy Su has paid SIX THOUSAND DOLLARS FOR A BEAT UP RECORD AND OLD SHIRT!  I can't believe this, we're now going to be in so much trouble when the owner comes back from lunch!  I tell Choy Su he is no longer allowed to buy anything from the customers!

     Chinstrap is now back at his counter and with a customer.  He's showing Chinstrap a watch.  Chinstrap tells him the watch is fake.  The guy insists the watch is real, and again, Chinstrap tells him it's fake.  The man tells Chinstrap he doesn't know what he's talking about, and Chinstrap picks up the watch, and throws it at a nearby wall.  Now he tells the man, "Fake or not, now it doesn't even work!"  I think I'm in a waking nightmare!  The man, now clearly very upset, picks up the watch and says we'll be hearing from his lawyer.  But at least he leaves the shop.

     A man in an electric golf cart now tries to drive through the shop door.  The cart won't fit, but he keeps ramming the doorway anyway.  Chinstrap leaves his counter and goes over to the front door to yell at the man in the cart.  The man stops the cart long enough to pull out a large knife and wave it around wildly.  Chinstrap grabs the knife, and throws it inside the store, into a painting hanging on the wall with a price tag of $2,000.  He's now leaning out the door, across the cart, trying to punch the driver.  As he's leaning over the front of the cart, the driver backs up, and then goes speeding out across the parking lot with Chinstrap across the front of the cart.  I remember being amazed at how fast the little cart drove.  Finally, Chinstrap rolls off the cart across the lot, and the man zooms away.  I want to go outside and see if he's ok, but he jumps quickly up and stalks his way angrily back towards the shop before I can.  
     Choy Su is now taking some money from a customer and smiling ear to ear.  After the customer leaves, I go over and mention to him again that he's not supposed to be buying anything else.  He says "No, I sell!"  He proudly shows me the tag he removed from the watch he's just sold to the customer.  It says "Rolex watch:  $5,000."  I ask him to show me the money he got for the watch, and he proudly shows me two twenty dollar bills and one ten.  "I make fify dollar!" he says proudly!  He then stuffs the money into his own pocket instead of into the nearby cash register.  I now start to think I may be going to prison after my shift.  My stomach starts to hurt, and I'm about to go over and tell Chinstrap that I might just go home and leave him and Choy Su to wait for the owner to come back.  But just as I'm going over to his counter:

     Chinstrap leans across the counter and slaps a guy.  He slaps him hard, too!  He slaps the guy so hard, the man actually spins in a complete circle!  It was like watching an old Charlie Chaplin movie.  I'm so stunned, I don't know what to do!  The man stands there stunned for a few seconds, and then turns and staggers unsteadily out the door.  I go up and yell "Why the hell did you hit that customer?"  He answers "What customer?"  I can't believe this.  "You just slapped a guy so hard, he spun in a circle!"  Chinstrap smiles and says "Yeah, that was neat, wasn't it?"  He still doesn't bother to tell me why he slapped the guy, though!  I really want to leave because now it's almost been an hour and the owner should be back any minute.  I now see Choy Su wearing all the watches that were in the case in front of him a few minutes ago.  

     I go up and start to ask why the hell he has all the watches on, but stop myself.  I just yell for him to take them off!  He smiles at me and says "You buy watch?"  I grab him and try to drag him across the counter, and as we're struggling, the owner walks back in.  I stop struggling with Choy Su and he yells "You no buy watch!"  The owner, Charles, walks calmly across the store and pulls the knife Chinstrap had thrown earlier out of the painting.  He looks around and then asks how much money went out the door.  Chinstrap leans casually on the counter nearby as I'm trying to tell Charles how sorry I am.  He asks again how much money went out the door.  I tell him $6,000 and a $5,000 watch.  He rubs his chin and asks "That's all?"  I tell him yes, that was the painting, and the man saying he was going to call his lawyer, and the slapping.  He actually thanks us for our help and tells us to go home.  Before we leave, he tells me the last people he left in the shop while he went to lunch destroyed the shop.  So he was actually happy there was no damage to the store.  Charles is good people.

And you know what?  I don't think Choy Su took off the watches before he left!

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Laziest in HISTORY!

     I really do live in Wonderland.  And not the "Oh wow, look how wonderful everything is here!" kind of wonderland either.  I live in the "I can't believe you actually did that" kind of wonderland.

"I'm not trained."

     This is what I hear every night I work.  This seems to be what you say anytime you don't want to do something where I work.  You just say you aren't trained, and then walk away from something.  It can even be something as simple as filling out a paper.  One guy was "trained" three nights in a row on how to fill out this small paper that takes maybe a minute and a half to do.  On the fourth night, he refused to fill the paper out saying he wasn't "trained."  I'm not sure how some of the people I work with get their shoes tied before they come to work.

     As a security officer you need to write reports sometimes.  Most of the people I work with refuse to write a report saying they aren't "trained."  Even if they're involved in an incident I'm handling, and all they need to do is get someone's name, or ID, or something, they still do nothing.  Do I have an extreme example?  Of course!  I get sent to a room where a guy has stopped breathing.  His wife is frantic, and I call for the paramedics and start CPR on him!  I do CPR until the paramedics arrive and they put him on a their gurney and take him away.  While I was doing CPR and waiting for the paramedics, there were 3 other people in the room related to the man.  Everyone leaves with the paramedics and I find the three other officers who were on the call with me.  Actually I only find two, one has decided everything was too traumatic for him to handle and went home.  He didn't do CPR, or even come inside the room to help me, but he went home anyway.  I ask the other two officers what the guy's name was that I was doing CPR on.  I get this:

"I dunno."

     Ok, I was doing CPR on him for 15 minutes!  No one else bothered to get his ID, or talk to his wife, or anything like that?

"I dunno."

     When I talk to a supervisor later, what I get is the same thing:  They talk to the other officers who were up on the call with me and the explanation they get is "I'm not trained."  How are you not trained to ask for someone's ID, or gather information?  I really wonder what these people are actually "trained" to do!  I have NEVER in my life seen people this lazy!

     So now the "management" people have decided that everyone will be sent to a lot of "classes."  I guess these will be classes like how to stand upright, or how not to drool on people while you're claiming you aren't "trained."

     Back to writing reports.  Last night an officer was tasked to write a report because they called for the paramedics.  That's fine, you can call for the paramedics if you need them.  But then you are responsible to write a report about what happened.  I can't put the report in this blog, but I can write something similar:

'i saw guy there on the floor  he said oooo.  i said aaa and asked if he was on the floor  he said oof and tried to tell me the wather.  he was not responsiveable and so i called for amr.  they came and said ooothen he went to the hspital.'

     I honestly think I could recruit more security officers from a local kindergarten who could write reports that make more sense.  You might think I exaggerate these things to make what I write funnier, but that couldn't be further from the truth!  I guess the person who writes like that isn't "trained?"  But trained in what, modern English?  Holy cow!  How would you even train someone like that?  And what would you even start to train them in?  People complain about working with maids that only speak Spanish and no English, but what do you say about someone who's primary language is English and also speaks just the way I wrote the above 'fake' report?

     These are the people who write "maybe" on their employment application where it asked for "sex."  They check both boxes they see, both "male" and "female" and think it's some kind of "perk" if they get the job.  I'm just...stunned.

     I'm usually assigned to the security podium every night now because no one else is "trained" to work up there.  I know not to drink any water while I'm working, even if I'm thirsty, because if I have to go to the bathroom later I either can't find any other security on the floor, or if I do, they won't sit at the booth while I run to take a minute and a half piss because they aren't "trained."  Someone might come up and ask them something!

     I know I'm venting a lot here.  And some of this is fiction.  (Probably just the part about what people write on their applications?)  But honestly...REALLY?  Are people really this dumb and lazy?  Oy.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Reviewing confusing stuff

     I was surprised to find an email asking me to review some screen capture software called "Snapit."  After doing the review in my blog and forwarding the link, I would get the software for free.  First question, do I even need screen capture software?  What the hell would I even do with it?  Well, the easy answer for that would be that I would use it with my blog.  I can take pictures of anything I find while I'm surfing around the net, and then make other people see it here.  HA!  Sounds good, right?  What the hell, let's give it a go.  If you're interested in the web site, or where you can get this program, here's the link:

     I tried to download and open the trial version through America Online, and it didn't work.  I got some kind of error that told me it somehow didn't finish loading correctly.  But then AOL isn't the most reliable way to download things.  I switched over to MSN and downloaded it that way and it worked fine.  The program is a bit confusing at first, and I wasn't sure what the hell was happening.  It put a little camera icon down on my little system tray on the bottom.  What the hell, I'll use the program to show the icon!

     See?  It's the little camera below the eyeball thing, and next to the little...guy thing.  Whatever.  Now I'm all ready to go!  Hooray!  I click on the camera and nothing happens.  I click on the screen, nothing.  Now I'm confused and don't even know if the program is doing anything.  So I went back to the web site and read the directions.  Once I got the hang of things, it wasn't hard.  The directions said to click "PrtScr."  What the hell is that?  I looked and looked, and eventually found the "PrtScrn" (Print Screen) button on my keyboard.  Ok.  So now I press that and my cursor turns into something that lets me make a box around whatever I want to snap a picture of.  Easy enough.  Now what?  Where did the picture go?  Now I'm still confused, but I'm determined to figure things out because this program has the potential to be neat...if I can figure it out.  I guess whatever I put the box around went to the "clipboard?"  Where's the clipboard?  This seems a bit complicated, but after reading a bit further, I find out that after making the box, I can right click on the camera icon and save the picture where ever I want.  Ok, I'm learning.  Now to try it out on something big.  I like books, so let's snap a picture of a book on!  Katie's a great author, you should read her books!

     Ok, I need to also push one of my own books:

     Ooo, it worked.  The capture is exactly the screen I was looking at, and what I selected to capture!  So far, so good!  So now of course, comes the fun part.  I can break just about anything.  But, since I can't bang this program against the wall, I need to see if I can find other ways to make it not work.  I've gotta try to push the limits.  Let's try moving pictures!  How do you suppose it'll do trying to take a picture of a video?  Well, let's find out:

     No, I won't be buying the sweater.  As soon as I pushed the "PrtScrn" button, the video froze.  The sound still played, but it stops right when you push the button.  So if you want a part of a video, you need to make sure you're pushing the button right when whatever you want to capture comes on the screen.

     Capturing from youtube worked great, too!  This is becoming fun!  Now let's try a movie.  Let's see how the capture works, or if it even works, when I try to grab a screen shot of the movie Star Trek while it's playing on Itunes:

     It's Spock!  Fabulous!

     And the Joker!  Wow, this actually works pretty well!  I can see right now how useful it can be when I blog, if I want to show pictures of things.  And the way it allows you to capture just what part of the screen you want works well.  It took me a few minutes to figure out, but once I got the hang of things, I really liked the program!  You can even set the program up so that it will automatically save your captures where ever you want.  Very nice.

     So I guess I'd give the program an A+ for the review.  It does exactly what it's supposed to do, and even froze and took snapshots of video for me.  I guess this program is only for a pc as of now, so sorry Mac users.  I do have a Mac laptop and am sorry I can't use this program on it.  But for my pc, this is actually pretty convienent.  Be careful with it, though.  I'm certain somewhere someone will throw a fit about copyright infringement. 

     So if you need a good screen capture program, Snapit might just be the one for you.  And as it has a free trial, you can try before you buy.  So give it a shot, just like I did and see what you think.