Saturday, March 29, 2014

Et Tu, Ric? Again.

The halcyon days of yesteryear
In the midst of my stresses at work and the Roman Forum-like intrigue going on there, I get a text from Ric saying that Christian, his latest boy toy-to-be (if all works out according to his Uncle Pervy-esque plans) wants to stay another night in Orlando so Ric wants to share his bed with him in our pre-booked hotel room at the Royal Pacific next Saturday night.

Quick backstory: A few weeks ago I got an email offer from Universal boasting heavily-discounted rates for annual passholders like me on certain nights at Cabana Bay, their newest on-site resort hotel. I texted Ric and later talked with him about us possibly booking a couple nights and enjoying a nice weekend at the parks like we've talked about doing for years. He's done similar weekends at one of Universal's other resort hotels, Portofino, with Gary and also another time with Scott when he was down from Indy and he said it was a blast each time. No doubt, I thought, Universal, like their mouse-eared neighbors a couple miles down the road, does a critically-acclaimed fantastic job making on-site resort guests feel special.

He was up for it but, as usual, tried to make this less about him and I and more about him and someone else. This time Christian. He does this constantly. The one time he didn't pull this crap was the New Orleans trip back in '07. He couldn't. At that time he was low on alternate friends to try to wiggle into our deal. But anytime Ric has a younger, cuter more appealing prospect, even really just a budding acquaintance (which this Christian guy is) he wants to make it more about them than us. I guess I never seem to get the obvious...there really is no "us." No, not the sexual way, that never was and never would be, but just simply friends. Ric doesn't enjoy friends for the simple benefit of companionship and shared experiences most of the time. It's usually about what he can get from them.

At first I was okay with the idea of him inviting Christian along for one of the weekend days despite my foreknowledge of the likely scene, ie. he'd almost exclusively be talking with him, dragging him on rides, trying to man-handle him at every juncture with me in tow like a wobbly third wheel, slowing them down. And once Ric got to that magical point in his drinking then I'd be fair game for any degrading insults he thinks hilarious to cast my way. Oh what joy.

But then Christian wanted to come down (he lives near Tampa) a day earlier and stay with Ric. So even though Ric whined about paying half the hotel charge for a night with me and got me to concede to paying 75% of it he was going to pay for another night for just him and Christian all by himself, not asking Christian for anything. (We'd originally planned booking Cabana Bay at an incredible $74/night rate but the offer I got was for non-weekend days and that didn't work with Ric's time off so we went with Royal Pacific at the "special" discount rate of "only" $215 a night. For me, a Comfort Inn, Motel 6 kinda guy, this is outrageous. Especially as it's a hotel accommodation in the city I live!)

Now with the latest text he wants to bring this boy toy into our room. Oh yes they'll have their own bed but what, I'm going to have to listen to them grunting like warthogs and smelling "that smell" from two feet away? Or, worse yet, this kid will be like many of his past "boyfriends" and find me more appealing thus setting off a night of good ol' fashioned Rock 'Em, Sock 'Em Robots 'tween two fat old drunken queens.

I'm getting too old for this drama.

I cancelled my reservation and texted Ric that I couldn't get the time off from work. Oh the text was worded so it seemed I was pissed at my job for doing this to me. Texting makes it oh so easy to lie.

He texted back and said if he had to he'd be able to put Christian up at his house for the night we were going to stay together. He didn't express any remorse over the situation really. I think he's probably relieved.

So next weekend I'll just be doing the usual. Hanging out with my only true friend: myself. As usual.

Friday, March 28, 2014

Here We Go Again

As you may recall, almost three years ago I found myself having to wage office politics war with various employees at the Center but most especially with my night shift coworker June. Unbelievably, I'm becoming embroiled in it again. Not with June and her cronies; she and they are all gone now, but with someone who has many of the same traits as her.

Kym, like June, is a hard-to-read loner-type, plays online video games, uses over-the-ear headphones similar to the ones June did, wears hoodies, eats in the office, is rudely loud, laughing weirdly and trash-talkin' her online buddies. Loudly. Distractingly. Filthy-mouthed. Munching on food in our shared office space, smelling the place up. Uggh! Oh, and she, like June, is a control-freak, obstinate, whitey-hating, African-American lesbian who is not about to let a fat, middle-aged, snippy-assed, power-queen, honkey faggot have a say over her. Uh uh.

Is it me? I don't think so. I found especially in regards to entry-level (ie. pretty much only high school educated) work here in Florida that there is a definite rift among the races. If a white person expresses their fidelity to the emerging hip-hop culture and talks "black" then they are accepted among black people as "ok." But if some oldster like me comes along, hates rap, hip-hop and all the current trends in "Black culture" not because he's racist but because he sees it as a divisive and confrontational movement against a greater American cultural unity, and speaks proper English, he's labeled "RACIST" and that is the end of that.

My years here in the South have opened my eyes to the fact that yes, racism is still alive here. But from my point of view, it's not what you's surprisingly from black people prejudiced against whites.

I've been a life-long lover of history and was an A+ student of it in school. I had never heard of "40 acres and a mule" before coming here. But even after researching the issue I see it as just another instance in the long timeline of world history of people in power lying to those not and fucking them over. Boo hoo. I do agree it's a bum rap. But I found out that black people here in the South still expect something of it. Over a hundred years later! And they look to persons of fair skin to provide it. Well don't look at me, buddy. My 20th century ancestors are all from New England. Before that Canada. (Only my maternal grandfather's ancestry deviates since that line is directly from Poland.) And while in the 17th century English settlers in Canada may have enslaved Native Americans, French settlers, like my ancestors, preferred to have families with them.

Meanwhile, back at the Center, I've emailed Charmaine about Kym, since it's clear now that her past few weeks of snippy behavior is indicative of her goal to "topple me from my throne." She's too youthfully ignorant to see the difference between de facto power and de jure power. The email is rather scathing, exposing all her vices. She does have several I can exploit. After the prior bo-bos on this shift before her, I was careful to not give any armament by way of my own vices to this new one lest she prove to be reticent to find comfort in my glory. She's proved. And she'll have nothing logical or truthful to back up a query from above as to why she performs as she does. Pity. And she showed such good progress.

So, either I'll be soon awaiting yet another replacement staff for the ship of overnight, or, I might have underestimated the whole thing and I'll be myself on the unemployment line.

Either way, I'm ready to accept my fate.

Monday, March 24, 2014

The Irish Green Glass Egg

Through all the years of my adult life, in good times and bad, I've amazingly had one stalwart companion. If that companion were another person, that would be quite laudable since interpersonal relationships over time are so fragile, prone to a myriad of disasters. But this is just a knick knack really. Nothing more. The thing is, just like people, it's incredibly fragile. It's entirely made of glass.

I know I bought this before the end of high school, not sure when exactly but probably about 1980. I had a subscription to Smithsonian magazine and saw an ad for Cashs of Ireland. I filled out the catalog request in their ad, cut it out and mailed it to them. (That's how you ordered catalogs back then...before the internet.)

A week or so later, I got the catalog in the mail and browsed through it. Like today, they had high-end Waterford crystal, Wedgwood China and hand-blown glass ornaments and paperweights. I think the paperweight I bought had been featured because it was around March and they were comparing the "forty shades of green" in both Ireland in the Spring and in this paperweight. Not sure, but I think it was on sale because of the promotion though I definitely remember that the price was $20. Not horrifically expensive for a teenager but enough, especially as it was just a decorative item, to say...Can I afford this?

I sent in my money order for $20 and a couple of weeks later, my green glass egg was with me. And so it has been ever since.

I've moved countless times across thousands of miles since then and lost so much over the years but to think that this vulnerable and delicate thing has remained by my side unscathed is beyond comprehension.

It is now to me a solid, tangible and tactile symbol of endurance, perseverance, preservation and protection. I look upon it, caress its flawlessly smooth surface and assure myself that I will go on, and on, and on, as long as I can.

Friday, March 21, 2014

I'm A Messy Special Someone

Well, the title seems a bit harsh since I really do like the end product of a recent impulse purchase I made, it's just that it arrived a little, ahem, unkempt.

A couple weeks back after watching some of the recent vlogs of the one-time-YouTube-sensation-currently-a YouTube-has-been (sorry, bein' real here) Renetto, aka Paul Robinette, I was inspired to order one of his hand-poured candles he began selling online. The way he made these aromatherapy candles sound was hypnotic. He described over the course of several videos how his new vision for a small online candle shop was starting to take shape, like a phoenix rising from the ashes (pun intended...get it? burning phoenix/burning candles?) of his prior brick and mortar candle shop business.

(Which BTW, he says, closed down in good financial standing but only as a result of the shop's location landlord pressuring him out in order to make way for another business in the building. Umm, I Google Map Street Viewed the area...he could have moved to another location in the same neighborhood...several other shops, I'm sure more than one were available for lease...but I digress.)

His 10 oz. scented soy candles, hand-poured and hand-boxed are all container candles in pretty ruby-amber colored glass jars. (I'm sure, affordable-priced jars wholesale, since they're, by his own words, Anchor Hocking (budget brand) from his home state of Ohio (freight cost-effective?) and ordered in bulk direct from the manufacturer (discount rate)) He designed his own packaging which is really nothing more than cheap stock corrugated cardboard and gift-sized boxes which look kinda like they were bought as part of a close-out at cut-rate prices. Inexpensive ink-pad hand-stamps as "accent" items, untreated, unstained poplar wood "dongles" (bottle toppers) and his stylized signature hand-signed to the glass bottles in gold-colored paint pen.

He sells these for the quite lofty price of $28 each. Now I know that price was reached after consternation as he said so in several videos. He's self-admittedly in a hard place right now financially and I'm sure he needs to reap a presumably initial higher-than-market margin in order to create a cushion for dealing with not only COGS and cap investment quickly but also his personal debts and obligations. I get that. That's why I didn't shirk about the price much since I see it in the same vein as when one buys an item on behalf of know that it may be higher-priced in order to provide an optimal financial benefit to the worthy cause.

Now I know this all sounds like the critique of an unsatisfied customer but I really am not. I like the candle, it does what it's designed to do...provides a pretty accent decorative candle with great aromatic "throw," or whatever it's called. And with his squiggly designer-esque signature on it, it looks cool.

With his decidedly-diminished YouTube fame he's not got the viewing audience (aka potential ready customer base) he used to, but he's not down for the count by any means on YouTube. His subscribers, myself included, love his raw, tell-it-like-it-is old skool vlog style ("old skool", shit, we're talkin' a style that goes back to just about 6 or 7 years ago) and feel a sense of community with him. (More so, likely, than the millions of viewers he used to have in the mid-to-late aughts when he used to do the silly voices and stupid human tricks (like the then popular Diet Coke + Mentos thing) style videos.) Add to the equation email blasts and Facebook posts alerting the former repeat customers of his defunct Columbus, Ohio shop of his new dream and wha la, an instant big flux of orders with virtually free advertising.

(NOTE: I was going to do a line-by-line cost of goods and services estimate of his business to get an idea of his profit margin percentage but when I scoped out USPS to estimate shipping costs, I found that unless he got a better-than-posted price point from them, he's really not reaping any large profits at this time. For example, according to the USPS site, my package, a single candle in a roughly 12"x12"x12" box, approx. 1 lb., cost about $26 via 2-day Priority Mail (which the label on the package attests to). What's more, in a recent video Paul mentions that a shipment to the UK costs over $40...for a $28 candle. Oh Paul, what are you doing? No wonder your finances are a mess. What's the term for the opposite of business acumen?)

The packaging, especially from the standpoint of this candle being solely offered via postal delivery, kinda failed big time as well. The bottle wasn't seated securely enough and as the package shifted about during delivery the bottle broke loose of its weak cardboard seating, the dongle became displaced and since the candle has a high-ratio of essential oils, the very porous cardboard interior of the box drank up splats and spills eagerly creating big, greasy-looking stains everywhere. And mine was not the only one. Apparently most of his shipments failed in this way. As I said in my email about this to him, for me it wasn't a big issue, but if someone was looking to gift this, it may have been a bitter thing to see when they opened their package.

Here are some photos I took of the box and one of the candle itself. As you can see, epic fail with the packaging, but the candle looks great, right?

Oh well, I really feel for him. He's got a better design for the package now so hopefully that issue is cleared up, but even though these candles are fine quality, superior aromatics and a great aesthetic design, he has to work out the balance sheet. Lest wise these cute candles will soon cease to be available as his fledgling business snuffs out unceremoniously due to a fatally leaky bottom line.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Happy 25th, Web?

According to this video produced by CNNMoney, today marks the 25th birthday of the Web.


But this article on Wikipedia acknowledges the start of the World Wide Web as August 6, 1991 when Tim Berners-Lee, the CERN scientist who invented the Web (yup, not Al Gore) made it publicly available.* (*Well if by "public" you meant a very nerdy bunch of newsgroup geeks.)

I think what CNNMoney is commemorating is the initial concept of the Web from a proposal written by Berners-Lee in March 1989 in which he references ESQUIRE, a database and software project he had built in 1980, and described a more elaborate information management system.

Either way, it's fine with me. I'll celebrate the birth of the Web today.

BTW, this link is supposedly, according to the CERN site, the First Web Page and it's running on an origianl NeXT computer acting as a web server.

And this post incorporates one of the most core aspects of the WWW in several instances: hypertext.

The ability to "jump" to a referencing source or another site providing more information on the highlighted subject was, and still is, mindblowingly powerful. It's gotten so commonplace and expected today that if I read something like a traditional newsprint newspaper, I am painfully aware there are no hypertexts giving a more robust experience of the article I'm reading. No wonder print media is dead.

So Happy Birthday Web!

(Oh, and BTW, isn't it ironic that while I was writing this post my Internet crashed. LOL)

EDIT: I noticed after I posted this that the header graphic I selected to represent the WWW looks eerily similar to the raster graphics depiction of international missile volleys on the NORAD "Situation Room" wall monitors shown in the video on my previous post. So we traded imminent global thermonuclear war for global connectedness. Cool.

Oh, and BTW, Google has placed this icon on their search page so I guess it's true. Today is the Web's 25th birthday. If Google says it, it must be true.;)

Thursday, March 06, 2014

Shall We Play A Game?

Shall we play a game? Again, in 1983, "Joshua" imagined it...look closely for "Crimea Crisis" flashing by as a potential wargame precursor to WW3...

Well, it's not really. But it could have been what with the Crimean Tartar Separatist movement of those days. (The pre-Soviet era inhabitant Tartars were systematically moved away from there and displaced by ethnic Russians in the 20th century which brings us to our current situation of the Crimean people reportedly begging to be repatriated to Mother Russia.)

Georgia On My Mind...Again

"All this has happened before and will happen again."
The Sacred Scrolls of Cobol from Battlestar Galactica

All right, ominous sci-fi TV show quote not withstanding, remember this post I made back in 2008? Here we go again. This time in Ukraine.

Crimea Crisis? Frankie Called It In '83

Blind Him With Science, Guys

So he'll make Congress fund NASA properly.

Saturday, March 01, 2014

Pretty Alchy, Stumblin' Down The Street

Pretty alchy, stumblin' down the street,
Pretty alchy, the kind you don't want to meet...

Pretty Alchy - Me (sung to the tune of "Pretty Woman")

So I go into Publix (the one near my house at Lake Fredrica) this morning after I get out of work and I'm about to grab a selection of brewed beverage from the beer case when an employee spots me and (nicely enough) tells me I can't buy it 'till 9:00 am. The same rejection I got a week ago at the Publix at Conway Plaza about a mile away. In both cases they say it's "the law" and in both cases, it was NOT a Sunday.

I've long had a frustration with the alcohol sales laws here in Central Florida on Sunday. On any other day of the week, you can buy beer and wine starting at 7:00 am. (Not sure if that applies to hard liquor as well since I haven't tried it and besides, since liquor is sold only in liquor stores in Florida, what liquor store would be open at 7:00 am?)

On Sunday, well, it all depends. Seminole County has no Sunday specific law so it's treated like any other day...7:00 am start time. Orange County, it seems, allows each community to set their own standards. So, for instance, the Publix at Lake Fredrica Plaza near me is in unincorporated Orange County so it allows 7:00 am Sunday sales whereas the Walmart in the SAME PLAZA happens to be on the west edge of the plaza and falls in the boundaries of the City of Orlando so it makes you wait according to the Orlando City Ordinance which prohibits sales until 12:00 noon. So I've literally had situations where I forgot about this rule and was turned away at one store only to WALK to another and buy from there.

Shit like this drives me crazy. It's bad enough I struggle with almost every decision to buy alcohol in the first place because of my long history of problems with it. But as probably many addicts can agree to, there's nothing that fires up the drive to "use" as much as some stranger telling you what you can and can't do according to them.

Well I called the management at Publix shortly after my disappointing rebuff and they confirmed that there is no "law" or store policy against the sale of beer and wine on any day but Sunday during their business hours (since they open at 7:00) So again I was misinformed by an employee at Publix.

This seems too coincidental to have happened at two different Publix stores and that the employees both said the restriction was 9:00 am. Nothing I could find on the internet could confirm any new laws in this regards. The only thing I found is that last November it seems some web sites announced that Sunday sales in Orlando may move to an earlier time than 12:00 pm, I think one site said it would be 9:00 am.

Is that what these employees are confused by? Did they hear the news that Orlando was moving alcohol sales to 9:00 and didn't hear it was only on Sunday and don't realize that "The City of Orlando" doesn't legally apply to all areas that are called "Orlando?"

I'm not sure and I don't really care but instead of being potentially embarrassed by some idiot no-doubt Southern Baptist, Bible thumping, temperance-inclined Publix employees who hear what they want to hear, I'll just "stumble my way down the street" and buy elsewhere. Then I'll come back, bust through their automatic doors, a 12-pack under each arm and flip my head at the nearest cashier...

"Hi, remember me? I was in here and you wouldn't sell to me?...BIG MISTAKE! Big! Huge!"