Last Monday, Jenny and I went to the mall. While there, I bought this little pewter statue. It's got a wizard standing with his hand outstretched, looking down. He's got a jewel on his hat, a book in his right hand, and a computer mouse in his outstretched left hand. He's pointing it, like he's casting a spell on the computer he's looking down on. On his cloak is written C:\CD\WIZARD. The computer screen has metallic, reflective spirals and whorls on it. All in all, it's pretty cool. It's now sitting between my monitor and my mouse.
Also, while at the mall, I bought Tron on DVD. I've wanted to buy it for a while now, and finally decided to. It's the 20th anniversary collector's edition. I watched the movie on Monday and the special features DVD on Tuesday.
I beat Tron 2.0 on Wednesday. Watching Tron one day and beating its sequel game the next is a little prophetic, don't you think? Tron 2.0 has got a pretty cool ending, even if the last boss is a little lame. I'm going to download and install the patch to it soon, and try it again. This time, however, I'm documenting what's in those boxes and where the optimizer routines are, so I'm not running around upgrading a routine with an optimizer when I could just download the better version around the corner. That optimizer could be better used on something else. This is basically for when I try to attack the game on settings harder than "Easy" the next time around.
On Thursday, I started playing Dungeon Siege and have been playing it sporadically ever since.
On the book scene, I finished the second part of The Eugenics Wars. It's a great book and it's cool how it ties together such "background" Trek characters as Gary Seven, Jackson Roykirk, Shannon O'Donnell, Doc Carlson, and Rain Robinson into Khan's life. It's also very interesting to see the present-day ramifications of Trek time travel, particularly in the instances of "Little Green Men," Star Trek IV, and "Future's End." I recommend this book to anyone who loves Trek, especially TOS fans. (Side note: Greg Cox, the author of this book, was also one of the co-writers of "Devil in the Sky." I think he should stay out of DS9 and stick to TOS.)
I also just finished Grounded by David Bischoff. It's quite an interesting story, if a bit short. It's good light reading for Trek fans.
I'm currently starting Debtor's Planet by W. R. Thompson. It looks promising.
I missed Enterprise on last Friday, and I missed the one the previous Friday, too. Anyone watch the second and third parts of the "Augments" trilogy? Were they any good?
On the work scene, things are getting frustrating. Alex is continuing to be a real prick, and I'm having trouble all around.
First, Alex had sleep apnea, and, therefore, falls asleep for minutes right in the middle of things, without realizing it. However, I think he abuses his condition. He also goes out partying most nights, therefore making him more tired in the mornings. He also doesn't usually come in until 9 AM, 9:30 AM, or even 10 AM, when work starts at 8:30 AM.
Secondly, instead of him trying to fix problems, he spends time assigning blame, acting superior, and being condescending. In his mind, he's the Einstein of the computers and everyone else is an idiot.
Thirdly, he never even tries to help out. Take the other day, for example. We had a large job come in and still had the daily work to do, as well. Well, I was trying to get the daily work printed and keep everything running smoothly. We basically delegated me to printing and scanning that day. Jimmie was pretty much billing and talking to clients all day. Scott was coordinating the drivers and binding the daily work, while Josh was doing most of the binding of the big job. However, what is Alex doing? Simply sitting down at the computer most of the day, fiddling with unimportant things. Instead of helping us with the binding, he was basically twiddling his thumbs. A Clark job came in, and he printed it, bound it up, and got it ready for shipping, then went back to the computer. The job was four pages. That was it. He didn't help us bind. He didn't offer to help. He didn't even ask us if we needed help. He just sat behind the computer, fiddling and dozing off. If any job from Clark or Erickson comes in, he'll work on it, but any other jobs don't seem to be worth his time. (I confess that I'm a bit partial to the GBL and Stone Hill jobs, but I don't prioritize them on top of other jobs that need my attention before them.)
Fourthly, he considers the computer he works at, which I stress is not his but is owned by the company, his own personal domain and he is "God" within it. Anyone else, other than Jimmie, Tom, or Mac, who are superior to him, gets on the computer, and he gets all pissed and starts cussing. He gets all protective and thinks we're ruining it.
It must be great to be the owner's nephew and get away with this crap.
Then, there's the owner's son, Josh, who's very lazy and won't do anything without being told to do it. He'll do whatever he can to get out of work. That just pisses me off.
You, then, have Tom, the general manager, who generally doesn't manage. He started as a salesman, kissed a lot of butt, and became a general manager within a year. However, he's still doing the job of a salesman, going out and seeing clients and schmoozing them up. He's almost never there after 3 PM and before then, he's only there sporadically. He's also got this very dirty sense of humor, and that offends me a bit. I mean, I can appreciate a dirty joke now and then, but all the time is too much.
Then, there's Jimmie, the manager. He's got a great personality, sometimes, but his attitude needs some adjustment. He's got a "Rush! Rush! Rush!" attitude, even when there's no hurry, and that grates on me. He's also got a superior attitude. Now, being a manager, he's superior in company decisions. However, with him, he's got to be superior in everything. He's got to be better than everyone else at everything, and he's always got to be right, even when he's wrong. Some people say he's got "Short Man Syndrome," and I'm starting to believe them. The other thing that bothers me is that he'll just swoop in and take over a job when he thinks it's not going fast enough. He'll say nothing and just work on the job, no questions asked, leaving me confused and frustrated in his wake.
My dad's great at his job, but he's not a joy to work with. He works well, but he's solitary. He also gets very frustrated at the machines and yells at them. I try to stay away when he's working because anything you say might distract him, make him forget what he was working on, or make him lose his concentration. He gets very angry and frustrated when that happens.
I get along well with Scott Paulus, even if his repetitive jokes grate on me a bit. Little Dennis is great, but he talks too much and complains way too much.
The drivers are pretty much slackers, with Big Dennis being pretty much the only competent one. Rob and Nick are a bit too new to make a call on, though.
Mac, Scott F., Drew, and Trish don't interact that much with me, so I don't have any problems with them. My only thing with Scott is that he's got this superior attitude and he thinks that anything he does up in the color section is infinitely more important than anything we do down in the black and white section. The thing, though, is that, three quarters of the time, he's right. Those jobs are the money-makers and we'd be lost without them.
On the upside of work, Tom just gave me a $0.50 raise on Wednesday, which is alright. It's not great, but at least it's something for my time.
In an ideal world, I wouldn't even be in that job. I'd be off someplace else, programming things.
(It actually feels quite good to vent about work. Perhaps next time, I'll vent about the mismanaged space and machinery in the place.)
One the home scene, I can't believe I forgot to mention that Suzie's sibling isn't a sister, but a brother. His name is now Opie, and he and his sister are bonding quite well.
I've got a small bout of athlete's foot. It's nothing serious and I'm going the route of curing it.
My diet seems to be working, since I've lost about five pounds. I'll keep it up and see how it goes. I may need to add more exercise in there somewhere, but I'm taking it one step at a time.
My cousin Mary Lee died Wednesday morning at 1:35 AM from a heart attack. She was in the hospital recovering for a previous heart attack, and was actually doing quite well, before this happened. She was 93 years old and went without pain. We're in the process of dealing with the emotions, informing the family and friends, working out funeral arrangements, and finding places for her valuables.
We went to the funeral today. There were very few people there. I guess it's hard being the last of a generation to die. However, it was, all in all, a nice funeral.
My dad is continuing in his depression and anger.
I think I should finally give some background to this problem. (deceptica will be pleased that I'm finally answering her question from a while back within this explanation.)
In 1985, my dad started his own printing business. In 2001, he was forced to close it up, due to a lack of work, mainly due to technological advances in personal computing. That was the first major blow. My mom said he came home after he got everything packed away and declared that he was a failure. He went to work for Maryland Repro, which was the competition. His work there has been a roller coaster ride, but it's had more valleys than peaks. The printing business isn't the world's most respected or glamorous job.
The second blow came when we were forced to change churches. In 2000, Loch Hill Chapel realized it was literally dying off, with many old members passing away, but very little new influx either from the surrounding neighborhood or from new generations of the families. Ecclesia Bible Chapel, a sister church, was expanding beyond its capacity, and it was struggling to pay the mortgage on its building. A proposal was announced to merge the two churches and use the Loch Hill building, while selling the other one. There was tension on both sides. Loch Hill was a mostly white church and Ecclesia was all black. The racial issue, even though petty, was enough to drive away half of Loch Hill and a quarter of Ecclesia.
Then, there was the fact that Loch Hill was what is usually described as the "Frozen Chosen," where we basically sit back silently and let the preacher preach. Ecclesia was a more vibrant congregation, where people would shout "Amen!" "Praise the Lord!" and "Thank you, Jesus!" in the middle of preaching. It's very difficult when those two types are put side by side. The interruptions are very distracting to us, and I bet we seem apathetic to them. However, the thing that has driven most of the people away is that Ecclesia has done more of a take-over than a merger. Every time something was changed to try to compromise between the two churches, there would be a subsequent change a few weeks later to make it almost completely like the way Ecclesia had it before the merger.
Take the times of the services. Loch Hill had a 9 AM Breaking of Bread, followed by 10 AM Bible Study, and 11 AM Worship Service. Ecclesia had a 9:30 AM Bible Study, 10:30 AM Worship Service, and 11:30 AM Breaking of Bread. Our schedule was used after the merger, but the Ecclesia people straggled in at 9:30 AM, even though the commute to the new building was shorter than it was for the old building. So, Breaking of Bread was moved up to 9:30 AM to accommodate this. What happens then? The Ecclesia people end up showing up at 9:45 AM or 10 AM.
Then, there's the Elements. We had bread and grape juice. Ecclesia had Matzah crackers and grape juice. What does the merged church have? Matzah crackers and grape juice. My dad talked to many people and apparently, there was no communication, since many of the people prefer bread.
Then, there's the bulletins. Claire Nolan had been doing the Loch Hill bulletins for years. When the merger was announced, she expected to collaborate with the person from Ecclesia. She was left waiting, because the next Sunday, they just came in with their shoddy-looking bulletins. They just pushed her aside and took over.
Then, you have the committees. Ecclesia is a typical black church in that there's a committee for everything. In Loch Hill, when something needed to be done, we just asked one of the Elders, and it was OKed or not. Now, if we even need to change some light bulbs, we have to talk to the housekeeping committee and it'll be stuck in the committee for months. Nothing gets done now until it's too late.
Well, those and other problems contributed to discomfort in the church. However, there was something that went over the line.
My dad had an incident with Ron, one of the elders, three years ago. I don't know what was said or what the incident was about, but it shook him up enough that he immediately went to me and said, "Come on. Let's go." We left the church that day, and, ever since that day, my dad has only been coming to the Breaking of Bread service. The thing that got to him, though, was not the incident itself, but what Ron did afterwards. Ron called the next Saturday. He talked to him about the incident, but never apologized for it. By now, he's probably forgotten about the incident, but my dad hasn't. However, recently, my dad was talked to by another elder. That elder talked about him not coming to anything but the Breaking of Bread service. Then, the elder talked about a lady they excommunicated from their church years before the merger. There was nothing said about my dad being excommunicated, but the meaning was underlying the words.
So, we started going to Brooklyn. For the first few weeks, he came to all the services, but recently, he's only been coming to the Breaking of Bread, like he was at Loch Hill. He feels he's been rejected by his home church.
The third blow was this roof we've been fixing up for over a year. We're almost done now, but it's been a vicious struggle all the way.
The fourth blow is his age. In January, he'll be turning 50. He'll be middle-aged. He's been joking about it for a few years, especially when he's been asking for senior coffees at McDonald's and getting them without question, but I think it's finally caught up with him emotionally.
So, through a combination of factors, he's been depressed and angry.
Things are tough around here with him, and the only things that keep him happy are his visits to Randy, collecting stamps, collecting coins, and going to flea markets.
Well, things are backed up on the Internet scene, so I'm getting to work on that. Catch you guys later.