Good Stuff – Got the Jimmy Legs

Good Stuff

Brain freeze

To lighten the mood, here's a parable: We were playing host to Jeannie's nephew again this past week, culminating in a trip to Manhattan on Saturday to ostensibly check out some colleges. We went up to the NYU area first, checking first to see if there were any 7-Elevens around the campus. Jeannie and her sister were big on Slurpees and kept talking about how much they wanted one, so we looked online but there weren't any in the vicinity.  (more…)

Keep those balls in the air


The last couple of weeks took an extra helping of crazy, all of it a logical result of several things I set in motion recently. Briefly, after a recent drought, I suddenly had more work than I knew what to do with, between freelance, temp and contract jobs. I'm still in the midst of this, though much of that smoke has now cleared. But it has been amazing to me how greatly changed my life has become so quickly. Other things remain squarely in familiar territory. (more…)

A victim of someone's evil plan

While I'm running out the clock at this job, I'm trying to use all the resources available to me while it lasts. One big issue is health insurance. Sure, there's some kind of Obama-subsidized COBRA thing but in all honesty I will probably forget to sign the forms or whatever when the time comes. So I'm trying to get some doctor-related stuff taken care of while I have full employer-backed coverage.

To that end, I just had my eyes checked and am happy to report that my vision has improved yet again! A few years ago I had my eyes checked and my scrip went down from -2.25 to -2.0. This time around I'm down to -1.75. At this rate by the time I retire my vision will be so strong I should be able to cut steel girder with a mere glance. In the meantime, I need new glasses!

I ordered some frames at the eye doctor that basically look like the ones I usually wear. But I just discovered this place that sells glasses, lenses and all, for $8. At first I thought they just meant frames for 8 bucks, which is not bad in of itself. But here it turns out you can get the whole kit 'n kaboodle for less than $10, not counting the 'shipping' charge. But which frames should I get?

I went through a bunch, the $8 frames as well as the more expensive types. I need to check with the optometrist to get the full prescription details before I order, but then I'm gonna go hog wild. I'll have glasses for every occasion! Cuz, you know, I have so many occasions to attend.

What I look like under a microscope

If you thought this site was single-minded before, get ready for "All Job-Loss Talk." As usual, I'm about 18 months behind everybody else on the trends, so you're probably all full up with whining about losing one's job. So maybe I won't do that, even though I sure am thinking about it. I guess I would care more if I liked my job. But here at the flute end of things, I gotta say that the tedium had long won out over the interesting parts of this work. Ideally I'd like to get out of this business altogether and work in a field I actually care about. And I would … if I hadn't bought this damn house!

The one big trade off of my lousy job was that it provided me with, literally, more money than I knew what to do with. I saved up enough to jointly buy a house, and then had enough left over I was able to let every cat in the neighborhood move in with us. It was the thing that allowed me to say Yes to stuff I would never have been able to otherwise; in some cases it became the thing that forced me to say Yes (would I have all these cats if I had the self-control that limited funds provides?).

So now I am guessing that whatever job I can finagle, it won't be as much as I've been making. I've been looking at my expenses and if I whittle it down to the bare necessities, I might be able to get by doing production art work for a temp agency, which was my very first job in this town, and still one of my favorite things to do (hours spent nudging graphics and tweaking layouts). But that's not a career, and maybe it's time I got one of those.

So I'm going to spend the next 3 months trying to really think of what I'd like to do with my time. Since I know I can scrape by for a while if I have to, I'll try not to let that little voice (who sounds just like my Dad) flare up too much with comments of "Hey! You! You have to get a new job RIGHT NOW. Don't wait for the severance!" I don't know if it will yield anything useful, maybe the best way I can serve humankind is through 6AM conference calls with testy Flash developers and belligerent middle managers.

She's gonna love me in my Chevy van

Lucy makes sure nothing happens to the cat food

You people with cars won't understand this, but sometimes we sit around and discuss all the things we could do if we had one. How we could go to Ikea, to Costco, to the Catskills (I don't know why we bring that up, neither of us knows anything about the Catskills). The idea that we could have something to not only transport us around but also hold heavy items so that we may bring them to our door, well, let's just say we understand the allure.

Eventually these conversation descend into all the reasons we SHOULDN'T ever have a car: the costs, the worries about theft, the moving from one side of the street to the other all the time. So we end feeling pleased we are still reliant on mass transit. But this weekend we were able to tool around and block the box like all those SOBs who act like they don't see me jaywalking on 23rd St.

Empty Cages had put out a request for a washing machine, and a woman offered up her washer and dryer for free. Someone would need to go get them, but nearly every member of the group was working an adoption event scheduled for the same day. They needed a Transporter.

I saw this not only as an opportunity to help out the group but to turn the whole thing to my selfish advantage and take the van out shopping after my chores were done. So I picked up the van at my favorite Uhaul spot in East New York where the receptionist calls everybody "Honey" and your transactions are constantly interrupted by people buying bags of ice (their other business) and people yelling at each other loudly. I got the van and an appliance dolly and started up to the BQE. Before getting on the highway, I stopped off at a friend's house to finally pick up the air conditioner she said I could have months before. Originally I intended to use this AC myself, but somehow I promised it to Empty Cages along the way (maybe it's a cult). With the AC stowed, I was off to Bay Ridge.

I got there way faster than I thought (thank you Robert Moses), located the apartment and found the donators ready for me. The woman's burly son, along with his burly friend, were ready with the washer/dryer. These things were huge, front-loading machines, the washing machine itself weighing almost 250 pounds. With effort we got them into the van with millimeters to spare.

As I headed up to the shelter space, I was already doing the math: 2 Burly Guys + Me = Barely got it into the van, therefore me + [UNKNOWN] = spinal injury. I got up to the space and amassed a few people to help move them. It didn't look good, unfortunately it appears that cat rescue attracts few really muscular people. But lucky for us, some truly tough guys were right down the block.

There's been a big bus on the block for a while now, all painted and graffiti-covered, and big dudes are always around working on it. It's one of those biodiesel conversions, which is better for the environment (even better for it is the fact that it hasn't moved in weeks). We asked a couple of the guys if they would help and they agreed.

We tried to pitch in but they basically did all the work, strapping the machines to the dolly and lugging it up the narrow stairs. Their only remuneration: they wanted to meet the roosters (liberated from cockfighting dens in the Bronx). They said they hear them crowing all the time and had wondered where it came from. The rooster complied loudly.

With the machines dropped off, the job was essentially over. This gave me the perfect excuse to commandeer the van and use it to my own nefarious purposes. I drove home, picked up Jeannie and we drove to the Sunset Park Costco.

I haven't been in a wholesale store in years and Jeannie had never been. It's pretty overwhelming at first. We got memberships and ID card and waded through the enormous crowds with our oversize cart. We knew we wanted cat supplies but we didn't have a list or even a clear idea of what Costco carried. I was convinced they would have 'everything' from kitty litter to furniture, while Jeannie thought it would be far more limited. The truth was somewhere in the middle, an odd collection of stuff with no discernible theme. You could buy 20-packs of bar soap, but they didn't carry Ivory. You could select from a huge variety in brands of laundry detergent but no one brand had the oil-drum size I was searching for. However in some areas they had exactly what we were looking for.

I had been told by Lisacat that Costco carried a decent-quality cat food, and indeed, it is higher quality that it has any need to be. It's all chicken and rice, no wheat and no meat by-products. It's sold in 25-lb. bags, of which we bought 5. They also had cases of canned Friskies which we also picked up. But there wasn't much else in the way of cat supplies, just some Iams and 40-lb. buckets of Scoop Away litter (we bought one even though I find Scoop Away overly perfumey). I still can't figure out why the cat food was so premium when they don't appear to have much interest in cats beyond these few supplies, but I'll take it.

After getting that, everything else was gravy. The place is huge; at first I thought it was merely big until I realized there was a whole other floor to the place. We bought as much stuff as we could justify and by the time we got to the check-out, we both had to push the cart, it was so heavy. We lucked with a short check-out line and got back to the van in plenty of time (and oh yeah, we stopped at the liquor store next door and bought a couple of huge bottles of Jim Beam, just in case we need several gallons of whiskey soon).

We got the stuff home and dumped it off (the cats were very excited to see the cat food so it had to be stowed in the bathroom until we could deal with it). We got the van back before the office closed, so we didn't have to worry about getting up in the morning to return it. I can't believe it all went down without any mishaps, usually these vehicle encounters always result in some injury, however small. But I managed to drive without running into anything/anybody, and near as I can figure the equipment we transported suffered no real damage. Mission Accomplished.

So it was fun having an excuse to drive around and do stuff in a car, but by the end of the day I was happy to return it and walk away. There's just too many things to worry about when you own a car, and I got enough stuff to obsess over these days. But maybe I will sign up for that Zipcar thing, although I'm not sure it's worth it when the Uhaul van is closer and cheaper. And really, is there anything cooler than driving a cargo van that tells everyone how cheap you are?