Saturday, June 28, 2014

Wild Florida!

I took a quick phone video of the wooded area behind Pine House at work to record the frog cacophony. Then a helicopter approached overhead.

 

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

MB Undies And The Cali Question

It seems like forever since I've done a post pertaining to the present so here we go...

This past month it seems like "The Man" (that is, anyone in a position of authority) is coming down on me extra hard. This is the reference to MB undies which stands for Milk Bone underwear.

I don't know why, but when the chips are stacked against me like they seem to be this past month, I always think back to one of the one-liner quips that became a staple of the "Norm" character on the '80s sitcom "Cheers." Usually presented as the soft opening, Norm would walk in the bar, the crowd would yell "Norm!" and he'd say some smart-assed one-liner. The pertinent one here was "It's a dog-eat-dog world and I'm wearing Milk Bone underwear." Corny, I know, but it stuck with me and I think of it whenever the world seems pitted against me.

My landlord decided to charge all us tenants here at the Bellagio Apartments (definitely NOT anything like the luxurious Bellagio in Vegas) for some bullshit mark-up fee called a Stormwater Fee. This will now be an extra $7 or so a month along with the $30 we have already been paying for Water Fee, Trash Fee and Admin Fee (not to be confused with Sewer Fee, either, since that charge, another $30 a month, comes from the electric company) But, the kicker with this new fee is we're being charged retroactively back to the end of 2012 over the course of the next three months to the tune of some extra $40 a month! They say they "forgot" to bill us. So my monthly rent bill shot up unexpectedly and without warning or recourse some $50 a month over night! Is this legal, you ask? Sure. Here in Florida the Republicans have made the rental laws obnoxiously one-sided in favor of the landowners. Renters here are treated like second-class citizens.

My doctor, or should I say now my former doctor since after this stunt I'm never going back there, had the gall to charge me, 7 months after the appointment, a co-pay for an annual physical. Normally, physicals have a waived co-pay. The reason? If the doctor talks about anything of an ongoing chronic nature they can bill for it in addition to the physical, thus it comes with a co-pay due. So now I have to mail this $30 in using a check (How 20th century, I had to dig up my checkbook from the bottom of a storage bin.) even though I was told at the time I didn't need to pay a co-pay.

My eye doctor's office was already on my shit list for their buffoonery and inflated prices failed to cancel my "upcoming" appointment when I called to cancel a month ago. They sent an email a couple weeks ago reminding me of my "appointment" and giving me the option to reply to the email saying I cancel which I did. Then I get a voicemail this week of someone from that office reminding me of my upcoming appointment. I called them up, asked them for the third time to cancel the appointment and left them with some choice curses to make them remember it this time.

The Cali Question has been the other big thing this past month. Not a day goes by now that I'm not thinking of doing it. Moving to California when the lease here at the Not-So-Luxurious-Bellagio runs out in November.

But the old fears crop up. Not of getting familiar with new surroundings...I'm oh so ready for that and I just know it will be a good fit. But of letting go. Letting go of some of my possessions I've accumulated over the past few years (all very affordably replaceable) and my job (there are nut houses in Cali, I'm sure) and the cost of living (it's high there but it's no longer a bargain here, that's for sure).

Do I think moving to California will fix all my woes? Not at all. My biggest problems are going to follow me wherever I go, of course. But clock's-a-tickin', and the Cali Question was always a part of the long-term equation. There will be struggles with the implementation of all of this but then again there are some aspects of my life that make the move more achievable than other people might have. namely, there's nothing, and no one, holding me back. Of course that also means there's nothing and no one helping me out either. I'm, as always, totally alone on this. But I think I'm kinda used to that by now.

Sunday, June 08, 2014

FLASHBACK SPECIAL: Day Runner Notes, August/September, 1998

August

1 - Claudia, Rich and Tascha vacation.  I don't remember where they went.(Shows they came back on the 7th)

3 - False Epiphany.  Ok, if I remember correctly, here's what happened. I was driving down John Young Parkway past nearby 33rd Street Jail when a song came on the radio. I don't remember what song but I do remember getting the chills because it was a song that for at least part of the lyrics I felt like it was "speaking to me" telling me to find Jesus' love, visit my parents and honor them. (On researching likely songs of the day that could have been the one I heard I think it may have been either "Truly Madly Deeply" by Savage Garden or "Torn" by Natalie Imbruglia. Both songs have some lyrics that could be construed as spiritual love.) I interpreted the fact this song played just as I was coming up to an I-4 on-ramp as a call to get on I-4, drive to DeLand and visit my parents. So I did drive there but they weren't home. On the ride back to Orlando, I started to re-analyze my 'epiphany" and decided I was hungover and just needed more sleep so I went home and took a nap. 

BTW, semi-related side note. IMHO, 1998 was the last year pop music made sense to me. '99 was much worse than '98 in terms of quality, originality and appeal. And 2000 saw the obnoxious overkill airtime for absolute crap like "The Thong Song", "Who Let the Dogs Out" and "She Bangs." Pop music was dead.

4 - Initialized "Trainee Input Form"  In all my managerial jobs I tried to shine by coming up with unique little forms, graphs and other junk to make my bosses think I was the best thing since sliced bread. Or so I thought. Likely, they may have snickered behind my back and thought I was a retarded noob. Oh well, this form and others I'd create as my career progressed at DM made me feel better about my abilities and I guess that's something.

6 - Sent out LAST GMAC check.  I guess this is the replacement for July's bounced check.

8 - Visited Jay Richard's house w/ Jessie.  I guess it was around this time I was starting to become friends with Jay. I do remember the condition of his apartment was deplorable. It smelled of cat piss, two cats were scampering around and there was just a shitload of junk everywhere. Jay was a hoarder-in-training. A couple years later when he'd be evicted, it really hit home for him when he had to abandon a lot of his shit since he had only a few hours to vacate before the sheriff's deputies would come.

9 - Visited M&D.  Without the glowing beam of light from Heaven this time, and they were home.

10 - Oil change 74,500. Called J&L, Steve will be mailed check this week.  Yikes, it's hard to remember having a car with that many miles on it. J&L was the bail bonds place. The bond for my little run-in with the law the prior month was $500. Steve paid it via credit card while I was in the pokey and I gave him half the day I was released and the rest when I got paid.  Now, it being a couple weeks after the disposition of my case the bondsman was mailing him a check for the bond he secured which he would cash and give the money to me.

25 - Ken moves back.  Not sure when he moved out since I neglected to record that anywhere. I think it may have been shortly after he applied to DM then quit within a few days. (I think I noted last post that he didn't take the job but I'm thinking now that he did but hated it and quit after a day or two.)

26 - Claudia suggests Jan 1 move date for all.  So I was planning to stay with Claudia, Rich et al even when the lease at the Spinnaker house was over, moving to a new place with them. Of course I didn't. As it turns out I became friendly with Ric who, right about now, summer of '98, had just been promoted from the floor to a part-time supervisor and we decided to rent an apartment together in November of this year.

27 - Bought new computer! Title rec'd from GMAC, car is mine!  Bought Mildred VII an AMD K6-2 3-D Now! 300MhZ 64MB RAM 4G HDD system with a 15" Shamrock SVGA monitor. I remember the reseller had this system configured with a 13" monitor which I upgraded to 15" and 32Meg of RAM which I paid to bring up to 64. This wasn't state-of-the-art for 1998 but it was a decent budget system. I think I paid something in the neighborhood of $850 for it. Also, notice I now fully own my little red "Gumby Honey" 1993 Geo Metro, guzzling oil, no A/C, nearly 75,000 miles and a smashed front end. Woo Hoo!

Recorded 194 as my weight on the 1st of the month but according to the two other weight notes on the 10th and 11th, it came back down to 186 and 185 respectively. No other weight recordings for the entire year after this.

Drinking looks slightly increased to around 12/week again.

Movies:

Snake Eyes
A Perfect Murder*(second run)
X-Files

September was the last month to feature any notations in these Day Runner pages for 1998. Most are now just work reminders, work committee notations and appointments. Very boring. (Like this FLASHBACK series hasn't been as well, eh? LOL)

The one interesting string of notes are jotted in for the 2nd through the 4th:

September

2 - Ken moves out (again)  Can't keep a transient in one place, ya know.

3 - Mike from New Orleans shows up: Ken stole $1000 and his truck.  So we'd already found out when Ken came back that he'd been to New Orleans, now this guy shows up and breaks this info to us.

4 - Numerous items missing (Claudia's ring, Chris' watch...)  How fucked up to steal from nice people who take you in and provide a roof over your head? I don't think he was paying rent either since he was staying in Chris' room. I'm sure Chris learned a valuable lesson from this about trusting homeless ex-cons...Nah, I'm sure he didn't, not if they had a hot body.

September through to the end of the year has nothing about weight, exercise or movies.

Saturday, June 07, 2014

FLASHBACK SPECIAL: Day Runner Notes, July, 1998

July

3 - Office closed at 6:30.  Holidays and the evenings before were a mixed bag in the traditional telemarketing world. More people at home since they're off work but they're far less tolerant of a telemarketing call so you reach more but they're a more hostile audience. So sometimes, like this night, telemarketers just pack up and go home. So then THEY can get telemarketing calls.

6 - Out to Southern with Chris & Hedy. Hedy was Chris' fag hag. She was actually a couple years younger than Chris. Most hags are older.

9 - GMAC $286.98 Total Payoff! Roger "Super Mad" speech. So I had finally paid off the Metro. Or so I thought... At work on this night, at about 7:30 or so, the height of calling prime time, Roger had us shut down the dialer and ordered everyone off the phones. Normally a happy-go-lucky, glad-hands managerial type, tonight he was hoppin' mad about some bad calls he'd monitored. Sales were hot, so reps were intolerant of intolerant prospects. "You will NOT hang up on MY customers!!!" Roger screamed loud enough for people in Orlando I to hear. (2 large sales floors away) I never knew him to be so passionate about quality concerns before. I think Lecroix (his boss) might have been the one monitoring.

10 - Reopened checking @ bank. $156 in fees.  I had opened a Huntington Bank checking account back in '97 when I first moved to Florida but that fall when my financial situation was crumbling I'd racked up a hefty number of bounced checks. The $156 was the result of a negotiation I worked out with the bank manager, they were DOUBLE that!

11 - First Sat. in my hands.  On Saturdays, the room was staffed with only one ABM and a part-time supe. So I was basically the Saturday shift leader. I could feel the power. Arrrrg!

13 - A visit to 33rd.  Ugh! On this day-off Monday, I was driving down Kirkman Blvd. not far from the house when I saw a cop pull up behind me at a stop light. I could see him squinting at the back of my car from the rearview mirror. It took me a second to realize what he was looking at, I'd almost forgotten about it. I had stuck a hand-drawn copy of a current registration sticker to my licence plate since I didn't have insurance or registration fee money in April for a lawful registration renewal. Long story short, he flashed his strobes, I pulled over and after a few minutes sitting in the hot Florida sun, I was put in cuffs and taken to jail. Yup, for a forged sticker on the licence plate it's an Altered Tag charge which sounds like I tried to doctor up a license plate numbers on a stolen vehicle. And that's exactly what most people charged with this offence are trying to do so they treated me akin to a car thief! I called Roger from my holding cell, told him what happened and asked if he could bail me out. He couldn't (or likely wouldn't) but Steve did. I got out the next morning, walked over to the McDonald's on John Young Parkway and 33rd and called Chris who came to pick me up.

14 - Pirated checking. Got insurance $170. Renewed reg. $35. Got car out of lot $96. Pay to Steve $250. Just reopened the checking account and I was overdrawing it again. Ugh.

15 - Completed benefit forms. Ed Aldous visiting this week. Ed was Claudia's dad. He reminded me of Roman Castavet from "Rosemary's Baby." Worldly, suave, kindly but seemed to have a dark secret. But he wasn't a devil worshiper. LOL. "You name a place, I've been there."

16 - GMAC check bounced. It was expected as a result of the pirating I'd done. Pirating a checking account BTW is what I call making a (usually total) cash withdrawal of the account even though there are outstanding checks. Obviously not a good thing and I usually did it if I was also doing a Crash and Burn of the account...knowingly writing bad checks, taking all the cash out and forever ignoring the account, including the debt of the NSF charges the bank places on it. I'd done this many times which made it harder and harder as the power of the Internet and ChexSystems grew throughout the '90s and early 2000s. It's a wonder I never got arrested for check fraud. Ooh, I was so bad back in the day.

19 - Ed leaves for Bangkok.  Claudia's dad goes home to Singapore via Bangkok.

20 - Rec'd new check card. Tascha seizure, admitted to hosp. New client, BMG.  1. So my VISA check card came in the mail, to bad I couldn't use it, I'd just wiped out the account. 2. Tascha had seizures before, she was very sickly, but this one was bad. 3. BMG Music, oh what a great account, we made a lot of money with this client. People were still suckers for the old "Buy one CD at full price, Get 10 others FREE!" continuity thing.

21 - Ken moves in with Chris; yet another roommate.  Ken was a former prison inmate Chris got to know through correspondence (Yes, Chris was the type who wrote letters to convicts who solicited for contacts from gay guys. Usually the cons aren't gay but pretend they are so they can "befriend" a lonely gay guy and then hit him up for money.) Chris had only a twin size bed in his room so Ken slept on the floor. And was Ken one of these predators I mention above? We'll see...

23 - Tascha back. Poor thing. She'd have more medical scares as the months went on, of course. Who knew that she'd only have a bit more than 5 months to live though?

28 - 475 W. Storey Rd., Ocoee, FL 7:45am.  This was the court date for my Altered Tag charge. The judge, luckily, saw it for what it really was, just a poor guy trying to delay paying for insurance and registration. I made the court aware that I'd since the arrest gotten the required insurance and registration and they were happy about that. I think he looked at my fake sticker and how pitifully bad it looked, so he showed mercy towards me. (It really wasn't done well, it looked fake from yards away and I'd used yellow construction paper "laminated" with glossy scotch tape since the legit sticker was yellow. Well, months in the sun and rain had faded it to white and the ink had run in streaks.) Anyway, he charged me court costs, no fine and expunged the charges from my record. Whew!

30 - Sent in app fee to United Nat. MC. Ken applies to DM.  Despite my recent financial hiccup, I must have been feeling great to again be getting offers for credit cards. Unfortunately this was one of those sucker cards with astronomical fees and interest. I'm pretty sure I declined getting it once I saw the "fine print." (If I recall correctly, this was back in the days before they had to disclose those fee obligations in their solicitation material.) Also, Ken applied at DM upon my suggestion since he said he needed a job. Did he take it? (Of course he was hired, anyone can get hired there.) No. Hmmm.

Weight stubbornly staying in upper 180s. Daily weight notations drops off sharply; after the 20th I stop consistently recording it. Drinking decreased by half the previous month...or maybe I became lax with recording drinks consistently as well?

Movies:

Armageddon
Saving Private Ryan

Thursday, June 05, 2014

FLASHBACK SPECIAL: Day Runner Notes, June, 1998

June

2 - Carlos to trans. to Orl. I, Promotion to ABM by end of month assured.  I never got the skinny on why but one of the ABM in our office (Orlando III) transferred to Orlando I and went back on the phones! He said it was because he could make a lot more money on the phones and he needed the extra income right now. But it blew my mind! I'd never heard of self-demoting to a part time, no insurance entry-level job by a full-time, salaried manager before. (True, I self-demoted in March of '92 at NRIARC but the position was still full-time and came with insurance.) With him out, there was now room for me and Roger assured me I'd get it by month's end.

6 - Out to P-House. 18 drinks.  Yikes! But just a year after getting a DUI at least I didn't drive, right?

9 - Noticed 2 hubcaps missing.  I assumed they'd been stolen off my Metro while it was parked across the street from the P-House since their lots were full. Um, yes I drove. Ugh.

11 - Out to Uno's after work (Roger, Pam, Steve) Pam worked in HR if I remember correctly. Steve was the other night shift supervisor who was also being groomed for ABM. Question was, each shift had 2 ABMs; a Team Leader and a Shift Leader. The Shift Leader was the higher rank and higher pay grade. Who would get the Shift Lead? Steve or me?

13 - Pride Fest Cent. FL Fairgrounds. I wasn't volunteering for this event but went as a spectator. By the time I got there, most of the events and booths had packed up as it rained hard all afternoon.

16 - Completed resume for home office.  Though Roger in person made it sound like a shoe-in, I had to perform all the preliminary steps and undergo a full background check. I didn't think they'd be that thorough since I was an in-house promotion so I felt free to doctor up this resume saying I graduated with a BA from Rhode Island College. Oopsi, they found out and I had to feign ignorance and report my actual tenure as a non-graduating community college alumnus. Gulp. Coulda cost me the position. Doh!

19 - Busch Gardens Tampa  I sure got around back in the '90s. Explorin' my new home.

22 - Visited w/ M&D. Went to Seminole Town Square Mall.  I was even visiting the parents then.

29 - Start day as ABM. As the Shift Leader? No. That went to Steve. No surprise, Roger and Steve were then and still are to this day thick as thieves. Shit, we were telemarketers dammit...we were all thieves.

In June, I started putting on a little weight, edging towards an average in the upper 180s. (Those nights out with Roger and the gang at Uno's were all about the big 20 oz. beers and fattening bar food!) Average of 22 drinks per week. Only one day of exercise all month! Ugh.

Movies (first run and *second run):

Man In The Iron Mask
The Truman Show
Nightwatch*
Good Will Hunting*

Wednesday, June 04, 2014

FLASHBACK SPECIAL: Day Runner Notes, May, 1998

And now, back to our regularly scheduled FLASHBACK:

May

1 - Out w/Howard after work...Chili's/movie planned but...  So here's the date we set up earlier in the week. I'm not sure what happened with the planned activities (dinner/movie) and what the deal is with the ellipsis. Did I not show up? I don't think so 'cause I remember seeing the inside of his house (And thinking what a dump it was. I'd never seen interior cinderblock walls in a house and it looked absolutely depressing.) and I recall making out with him in his car he was so freakin' in love with (a brand-new 1998 red Camaro, I think) so I'm sure I showed up, but we may have called it an early night for some other reason. Oh well, wasn't into him at all so no great loss.

2 - Called Wayne. Cocoa beach. ...postponed 'till tonite. (Howard=dull, naive) Oh, so that's what the ellipsis mean't, guess I should have read further. So we did have our date, but it was this night. Still, see my comments about him? Like I said, wasn't into him. Also, looks like I was still talking to Wayne on occasion.

3 - Orlando Museum of Art I think this was the one and only time I've been there.

9 - GLCS last Sat.  My last volunteer hours at the Gay and Lesbian Center. I wanted to continue but my hours at work now incorporated Saturdays so I had to give it up.

10 - 5th anniversary beginning of WRP '92.  Here I commemorate the start of my successful diet and exercise turn around in Spring of '92. I note my weight for this date being 180, so, in essence, I was celebrating the fact that here, five years after I began my fitness journey, I was still fit and trim. Hurray! But as we know, it wouldn't last forever...

11 - Out to Southern w/Chris (Chris owes lunch and movie=$12) So I'm financially stable enough now to help out friends with some everyday expenses. Although, just as a loan, you see.

13 - Mailed out GMAC check, $139.99 (4 left)  This was my monthly car bill on the Metro. I had been a few months behind, caught up on those late payments the week before and now was sending in my regular payments, counting down the last four until it was paid off. Ah, the relief of finally making money and paying off debt.

17 - Marriott World Center w/Chris, Hedy, Martin, Claudia and Tascha. Out to Southern.

19 - Training.  So by now less than a month as a supervisor I was already conducting the weekly training classes for new hires. Movin' on up.

20 - Yolanda called into meeting w/Roger

21 - Yolanda transferred. Howard fired.  Ok, so remember Yolanda was my supervisor when I was a rep and I complained about her whaling in on my attendance? Well she was one of the few on the team that wasn't hand-picked by Roger. She was a layover from the previous manager, Bev. So Roger had been looking to get rid of her. Something came up, I guess, 'cause that's what happened here. Also, the Howard termination had nothing to do with anything. I think it might have been related to his calls. Probably too many bad sales. That's one of the only common ways you could get fired from there. It had nothing to do with my date with him.

24 - Party @ Roger's. This wasn't the infamous Halloween party where I dressed as Monica Lewinsky (see the pic of that here) but an earlier BBQ style party.

31 - Out to Southern.

For this month, my weight stayed generally in the mid-180's still. Slacked off on exercise, only average of twice a week. Drinking at an average of 12 -18 per week.

I also started keeping track of the first run (*and second run) movies I saw in the theaters. For May they were:

Species II
Deep Impact
US Marshalls
LA Confidential*
Primary Colors
Godzilla (The 1998 version, of course, which, despite the critics' acrimony, I actually liked.)

Tuesday, June 03, 2014

We Interrupt This FLASHBACK With A Flashback

King Juan Carlos abdicates. But Chevy, is Francisco Franco able to make a comeback? Please have Garrett Morris shout your response for me since I must be very old to think of this gag when I heard about the Spanish king today.

Sunday, June 01, 2014

FLASHBACK SPECIAL: Day Runner Notes, April, 1998

April

4 - GLCS 2-5 Out w/Lee Lost in Space @ Downtown Disney  This was kinda a date with Lee but by the end of the night, at least I knew it wouldn't be going anywhere. He wasn't "that" bad but I found him boring and a little petty. Add that to his lumpy Droopy Dog looks and it was the clincher.

6 - Start day as supervisor. This was my first venture back into management since my demotion from Gaskill St. Assistant Manager back in '93 so I was a little apprehensive hanging my hopes and efforts on a management career again. And at a call center. Talk about shaky foundation. Places like DM go through managers like crazy.

8 - Bev out, Roger in. The Branch Manager of Orlando III, Bev, who approved my promotion just a few days before was replaced by Roger the ABM (Assistant Branch Manager) of the night shift. This quick jump up irritated the day shift ABM who felt he had more qualifications for the promotion. that guy? None other than my soon-to-be-bud Jay Richard. And his ire towards Roger never really settled well, even though Roger was now his boss. This would play to his eventual relocation to Orlando I (a few doors down) and then a quick termination.

9 - Other than a notation saying Happy Birthday to myself, there's this Delivery to Tampa C. Club crossed out like this. I occasionally used my Geo to make deliveries of cases of wine through Rich's job. Rich, not Ric. Rich was Claudia's boyfriend and Tascha's father who was also another of the roommates that shared our Metrowest home. He was the senior delivery coordinator for a local wine broker and I did deliveries for about $20 a pop for small orders that were a bit out of the way for the regular deliveries. Guess I either couldn't do today or it was cancelled.

10 - New license. 10am. SOBT & Holden. Get contacts. Delivered to Sushi.  When I hooked up with Evan a couple weeks earlier (remember the cops behind us on the road?) I lost my license so I got the replacement on this day.

17 - Interview 2pm w/Joe @ BCSC. So here's the thing. I'd just gotten promoted at DM but I wasn't making much since it was only part-time. I kept asking Roger when I could estimate getting a promotion to ABM and he gave wishy-washy answers so I decided to look into management options with other telemarketing companies. This BCSC was one of those places that comes up with various little scammy business models that do well for the short-term in an outbound call center model. In this scheme, the rep would call small business owners and try to get them to buy a web design and management package. But I got the feeling that even though I would be titled "management" I'd actually be doing the selling myself. This scam is common in boiler rooms. They either promise you'll make hundreds of thousands of dollars or you'll be the boss. Neither is ever true at all, of course.

20 - Got card for Mom. I actually still had a good relationship with my parents back around this time. It started falling apart after the start of the new millennium.

21 - Start day @ BCSC.

23 - Declined BCSC option. Don't know if I called out for the 21st or no-show and they contacted me or what? I know I dropped this scam like a hot potato.

25 - Tascha's B-day. I posted a very emotional FLASHBACK a few years ago talking about my time I was lucky to have with this beautiful little girl, Rich and Claudia's daughter. Here it is.

26 - Treasure Island, St. Pete. Hard to believe that as I type this I think I can say that this may have been the only time I'd ever gone to a west coast Florida Beach. It was nice, but let's face it, we're closer to the east coast beaches here in Orlando.

28 - Asked Howard out on a date. Howard was this cute Indian guy who worked at DM. The date wasn't all that impressive and like the date with lee earlier in the month, I knew it was over, relationship-wise, before the end of the night.