Thursday, November 6, 2014

In Case You Were Wondering...

I'm not dead. I haven't been abducted by aliens, kidnapped by ninjas, or sucked into a parallel universe, or anything like that. I'm not suffering from a case of writer's block either (most surprising of all). Nope. This blog is still alive and well. Well... as alive and well as blogs that don’t get posted to regularly go, I guess.

Some of you will have noticed a sudden lack of commenting from me as well. Okay, most of you probably wouldn’t have noticed but either way. I’ve been MIA. Sure I took a day and looked some of you up but that was basically a fluke. Not that I don’t want to come hang out with you all. I do. I’ve just had stuff going on.

...And things...
"ENOUGH WITH THE "STUFF 'N THANGS" ALREADY!!!"
The reason I've been away from the old blog here - and basically the internet in general - is because I’m stuck trying to figure out a tough assignment for my current class and I’m devoting  all of my focus towards it.

Simple as that. Actually, sort of anticlimactic, to be honest.

I have to write an interview piece which involves getting perspectives from various experts in the field of... sports... Soccer (or football, as we know it here), to be specific.

I know next to nothing about sports. If I've never mentioned it before, I’m not a “sports” kind of guy. I don’t have to a favorite team. I don’t have a favorite event. Well... maybe I'll watch a women's beach volleyball game or two but I have... reasons.
I know barely enough to fake my way through a conversation about any type of sport so I usually just try to avoid interaction with sporting aficionados altogether. This means I have to do a lot of research on the game just to figure out what I’m supposed to ask.

Then again I generally try to avoid interaction with most types of people so I guess no one would really notice anyway.

So, basically, until I get this assignment over and done with, I expect I’m going to be AWOL for a bit longer. Until then, you guys just keep doing what you’re doing and I’ll catch up as soon as I’m done.

Friday, October 17, 2014

If We Were Friends.






Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Word Vomit.

I've been trying to figure out why I've been avoiding writing lately. It isn't that I don't have anything to say, or that I've lost interest, or anything like that. I still want to write and I have tons of stuff going on. There’s the new house, the new puppy, stuff at work, etc. Tons of stuff! It’s just, every time I think about dropping a few lines (HOLLA!!!) I just... can't. I've started composing posts in my head more than a few times and, as soon as I sit down to write... nothing.

Like I said, I got stuff going on.. and thangs... s-stuff 'n thangs.
Why is it that, as bloggers who basically chronicle even the smallest and most inane (okay, maybe I'm just referring to myself with that one) aspects of our lives, the things that should provide us with excellent material for our posts end up actually keeping us from posting. I'm talking about all the really big things. We always talk about life getting in the way.

At the end of the day, though, these big things aren't as blog-worthy as you'd think. Take my stuff... and things... for example:

NEW HOME:  You'd think becoming a homeowner for the first time would be a big enough of a deal that you'd get tons of blog fodder from the experience. Right? But, after you say, “Hey, guys, I'm buying a house,” there really isn't much more you can add to the story and still keep it interesting:

- got approved for house.
- went and saw the house.
- signed all the legal documents.
- frantically trying to scrape up the down payment because they called us earlier than expected to do the closing.

That's it. Sure, it's mostly good news but  BOR-ING!

MARRIAGE: All good! Mrs C and I had our eleventh wedding anniversary on Sunday. We didn't make a big deal about it (we had pizza and wine as our celebratory meal - 'cause that's how we roll) so there isn't really much to tell there.

WORK: I started my new contract three weeks ago and will be gainfully employed for another two years (YAY!)...

They left me at the same desk they put me on while I was on loan to help with the - now stalled -White Paper project. Essentially, no one bothered to think about moving be back to my old desk or to anywhere else where I could be more productive so I'm just sitting around most days trying to keep myself busy (BOO!) It seems like a big deal on the surface but what else is there for me to say about that situation that would be worth mentioning (and not just end up becoming a swear-laden rant)?

SCHOOL: At the end of this semester, I'll have my Associate's degree and be at the halfway point to earning my Bachelor's degree. Sure it's more like two-thirds the way since it took me twice as long as it should have to get this far when I changed majors. But I made it. It's great... huge, actually, but I'm particularly inclined to do a practice valedictorian speech (I'm not giving any at school either, thankfully) about it.

PUPPY: Still there, still cute, eats her poop, thinks shoes are chew toys. Nothing new to report.
"I think my cuteness deserves a little more mentioning than that."
The more I think about it, the more I realize it really is the little things that matter. I think I've been stressing so much about writing about each of these big things and giving them their proper place of importance with grand, well worded posts, filled with humor and excitement that I forgot that inane is what I do best. Maybe now that I've listed all these and got them out of the way I'll be able to get back to business as usual.


We'll see.

Monday, September 22, 2014

Conversations With Mrs C - Right In The Eye!

Me (getting home from the store): I'm back.

Kawaii, our new puppy. runs up, all excited and making this whimpering sound that could only be translated as, "Where were you?! I thought you were gone forever! I MISSED YOU!!! I might have peed a little." She then proceeds to run circles around and between my feet, making it almost impossible for me to walk.

Me: Jeez, Kawaii! I wasn't even gone for an hour. Last thing I need is another needy, clingy-

Mrs. C (who was studying at the dinner table at the time): I will stab you right in the eye!

She holds up her pen to show me she already has a weapon at hand.

Me: Yeah, yeah. So you keep saying.

Mrs. C: Oh, by the way, did I tell you one of my coworkers said they'd stab me the eye the other day?

Me: No. I'm not surprised, though. You say that to enough people so it makes sense that, eventually, someone'll say it back on you. What exactly did you do to cause that?

Mrs. C: Nothing serious. It was more banter than anything else. But it was my supervisor who said it... In front of the customer I was dealing with.

Me: Huh... So, just to recap, not only did you did you drive your supervisor to threaten you with bodily harm, but you got her to do it in front of customers. Congratulations! You've leveled up. Proceed to the next dungeon.
I can only imagine what was going through your customer's mind at the time.

Mrs. C: It's no problem. The customer at the time just happened to be Psycho (one of Mrs. C's close friends).

Me: Oh. Well I guess Psycho's known you long enough to have heard you use your catch phrase. You've probably said it to her more than enough times too.

Mrs. C: Probably...

Me: Wait... Did your supervisor know your customer was one of your friends at the time?

Mrs. C: I... guess...

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

The "C"s Just Got Kawaii.

Not too long ago I posted on this ye olde book of faces:
Thankfully, I was talked down and able go back to my usual state of childishness. The news of the house shouldn't come as a surprise since I posted about that not too long ago. By the way, we went & did the walkthrough of the soon-to-be new House of C. Here's how it looks on the outside:
Our house... In the middle of abunchofhousesthatlookjustlikeit! Sing it with me!
Moving right along.

As for the car thing, I also mentioned how bad Mrs C wants one of those. Let's just say she isn't too disappointed by the fact that this may speed-up our plans to get one.

As such, I'm not talking about either of those today. Those are still a ways off. See that third thing? The one about the dog. Yeah, that happened. Ladies and gentlemen, please welcome the newest member of the C family:

Kawaii!
She refused to let me type this post unless I let her sit next to me. Needy much?
Kawaii is a two-month-old Lhasa Apso. For those who aren't aware, "kawaii" is Japanese for "cute", "adorable", etc and as you can tell by looking at her, it fits. And, yes, I did pick the name. Considering my fascination with Japan that should come as a surprise to no one.

The short-short version of the story is that one of Mrs C's regular customers at the bank owns a pet store and one of the things she always wanted to get was a dog. Preferably a small and cute one. Recently, he offered to sell Kawaii to us at a huge discount. We had dogs before, when we first got married and always said we'd get another when we had a suitable place to take care of it so she jumped at the offer.

Then, last Friday, I went and picked her up. When I got her home, I emailed a photo and a quick update to Mrs C.

Me: So you know, she likes to bite me & is a little clumsy (as evident by her running into a wall & my foot). You two are perfect for each other!
Mrs C: kk. She's photogenic.
Me: Maybe, but she has a bad habit of looking away at the exact moment the picture is taken.

I wasn't kidding there. It took me, on average, about eight tries just to get one good picture where some part of her body, mostly her head, wasn't a blur.

Kawaii's already fitting in. She keeps to herself until she's bored or hungry and, with the exception of trying to chew off our fingers and toes, she's pretty well behaved.
This, I can do without.
She does have a bad habit of following you too close, though (as in, just-under-your-next-step too close) but I think she's smart enough to figure out how this could work to her disadvantage.

Time will tell.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Subtle Differences.

Me + nighttime cold medication:
 
However, Mrs C + nighttime cold medication...

Thursday, August 14, 2014

And That's What I Did During My One-Month Vacation.

Yes, it has been a month since I last posted. No, I'm not going to explain myself. Actually, my plan was to just keep posting like nothing happened but, since I'm not a total douche I've decided to just give you guys some updates of what's been going on in my life in the past month.

See? So not a total douche.

First off, remember the special assignment I told you I was put on at work? And then I said that due to circumstances mentioned here they moved us back to the main office and the project was taking a while to get going again? Well... almost four months later... nothing has changed.

Not. a. damn. thing.

Actually, that's not totally true. What little work I had to finish up on the section of the paper I was working on when we moved was done and submitted back in May. Since then, nothing. I mean, literally no more work has been done on the white paper by any of the other team members. One of them even quit before even submitting anything.

That's not the best part, though. As I mentioned, I was loaned out to another division for the assignment. That means that everyone else on the team was free to go back to their original duties from before the project. I, on the other hand, have been basically abandoned in a new division with almost nothing to do for the last three months. For a lazy slacker this would be paradise. Unfortunately, I'm not a lazy slacker. This is almost like my old job at TinyCo. The only difference is, here, I'm surrounded by people who all have stuff to do and I can't just say, "screw it all!" and take a nap at my desk.

That's s all the sucky news I'm going to share today. On to happier things.

Second on the list: I go on vacation in less than two weeks. It'll be a month long and my first paid vacation in four years. My previous vacations during those years were without pay as they weren't so much "vacations" and were more "unemployment". So, yeah, I've actually been continuously employed long enough to qualify for vacation. I've already got my entire vacation itinerary planned too.
Of course, this also means my one year contract with the government is up but that brings me to update number three:

They gave me two more years! Remember all that stuff I wrote about them saying I was efficient? Well, it turns out they weren't just blowing smoke up my ass. They're so impressed with my performance they decided to approve a new two-year contract for me without me having to go through the usual process of reapplying for the position.

I'm not sure where exactly they plan to put me when I get back but this could be my chance to get out of this stalled project for good. Win-win, I say.

The fourth and final update it's the big one. Mrs C and I will soon become homeowners.

Yes, you read right. We're getting our own house. To properly tell the story, I'll take you back a bit...

About six years ago we applied to the government for a flat in one of their housing schemes. They build low-to-medium income homes all over the country and the terms are much easier to manage than going through real estate agencies and the bank. We went through the entire application process and were sure we qualified. Then I lost my job at the bank and we basically put the whole thing on the back burner. After that, an election came, the government changed and our application was apparently lost in the void.

I can't lie, Mrs C deserves a lot of credit for this. While I was trying to get back on my feet, my wife never gave up and she would check up on it every so often. Her last resort was to get our representative for the area to write them and that was when our old application finally turned up. Of course, we head to reapply after so much time had passed. Then, last week, I got the call that we were allocated a unit in a new development in the east.

SWEET!!!

We'll have to  leave the town we've called home for most of our married lives (which was conveniently close to the capital too), and move all the way to practically the other side of the island where we'll have to battle insane rush hour traffic to-and-from work. But we won't be renters anymore so it'll be worth it.

Right?

So that is basically what I've been up to in the past month. See? Nothing special really.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Also In The News... The Case Of The Twice-Sold Baby.

It’s been a while since I posted something from the headlines. However, I recently came across a story that filled me with an overwhelming feeling of “WTF?” and I thought I’d share it with you all. If you had any faith left in humanity be prepared to lose it.

Our tale - which I read here - comes from China, where a couple in the Guangdong Province has been arrested for selling their young son... TWICE!

In jail are 20-year-old sperm donor, A-hui and his girlfriend the 19-year-old “mother”, A-mei.
After these parents-of-the-year contenders got off the hook in January for selling their 4-day-old son, they turned right around and did it again last month.

Their excuse the first time was that they were neither married nor ready for the responsibilities of parenthood. They decided to sell the child to a trafficker for 20,000 Chinese Yuan (about US$3,225). This would have been the end of the matter, as far as they were concerned, were it not for the child’s grandfather, on the father’s side. When he found out what they had done, he found the trafficker and bought the child back, having to pay the marked-up price of 30,000 Yuan (US$4,836).

Unfortunately, grandpa made the questionable decision of returning the boy to the custody of his parents and they all kept the incident between themselves.

Still, it seemed like things were going okay for a while after that incident. In May, A-hui and A-mei moved to another city, A-hui got a job in a restaurant while A-mei stayed home and took care of baby. A-hui’s income was modest, to say the least (he only brought in 3,000 Yuan (US$484) a month from his job) but they appeared to be managing.

Until daddy’s little obsession reared its ugly head.

Before I go any further let me confess, I play video games. I LOVE video games. I’d dedicate at least one-third of my waking hours playing video games if I could (the other two-thirds would be evenly distributed between watching Japanese anime and blogging, FYI). That being said, I've also spent money on, as well as, in video games. Still, I know where to draw the line. There are some, however, who do not. Once upon a time when I wrote on Sprocket, I shared a story about a promising young Japanese police officer who tried (and failed) to blackmail a woman to fund his gaming addiction. A-hui takes things a step further, though.

Instead of feeding his new family, A-hui spent his modest paycheck in internet cafes where he played online games well into the night, as he used up the family’s only source of income to level up his in-game weapons and armor. Then, in June, when it became clear his salary alone wasn't going to cut it, the couple made the decision to get in touch with the traffickers they sold the child to before so they could put him up for sale the second time.

Yeah...

This time around they only got 16,000 Yuan (US$2,580) for their son. Whether this was because the traffickers knew they were desperate or because they factored in the diminishing value on return babies is unknown.

Sorry.

Again, grandpa found out. This time, however, he was fed up and decided to put the matter into the hands of the police. Both “parents” were arrested and now police are trying to track the baby down.

During her incarceration, A-mei said her baby daddy blatantly declared to her that he did not care what happened to the child. Even when she went so far as to threaten to beat the child up, he remained totally unconcerned and said she could do whatever she wanted.

Yeah, isn't he a piece of... work!

My only hope is that the police are able to find the child and, at the end of all this, he ends up in a good home with parents who place much value on him that the cost of virtual gaming gear. Well... that and for someone to sell A-hui on the black market.

They probably won't get much, though.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Oh! So *You're* Vinny C!

Have you ever felt like you were being watched? Like there are people... talking about you? I think we all feel that way. We wonder if people acknowledge our existence outside of direct interaction or having some specific need of us. In the workplace, I’m always wondering if my name comes up when my office superiors sit in their dimly-lit boardrooms, discussing top-level executive-type things (while someone is stroking a white cat). They probably mention me somewhere between discussing their plans for world domination and divisional budget strategies.

I guess it’s not uncommon for people to think their bosses talk about them. Of course, common sense will dictate that management has more important things to worry about (world domination can be a logistical nightmare after all) than one lowly office drone. It’s just as easy to convince oneself that those in the upper echelons don’t even know your name, much less set aside the time to actually talk about you. Just who do you think you are, anyway?!

Either way, unless you did something – good or bad – to get on their radar, odds are you probably won’t know whether they talk about you or not.

Until you know...

The other day, I was passing a coworker on the stairs. I’ve seen her around but she works in a different division and we’ve almost never spoken to each other before then. As we neared each other, she did the whole “glance at me casually, smile, nod and look away” routine, as is standard office etiquette when encountering a coworker with whom you didn’t have any particular dealings. I greeted her in kind and was prepared to continue on my way when she suddenly stopped.

Coworker: You’re Vinny, right?
Me: Uh... Yeah. Why?
Coworker: Oh, nothing. I just remember hearing some of the managers mentioning you.
Me: Huh?

If you’re anything like me, I'm sorry you probably would have thought the same thing I thought at that moment: “Oh crap! This is bad. Attention from the people on the top floor is never good. They’re on to me. They've figured out I have no idea what I’m doing and they’re discussing what should be done about me.”

It’s at this point I casually try to get some more info out of her...

Me: Not all bad, I hope? *nervous chuckle*

I know! Smooth, right?

Coworker: No-no. Nothing bad at all. (She pauses) I hear you’re very efficient.
Me: Oh... Thanks.

She nodded and the conversation basically tapered off there and we continued about our respective businesses.

You’d think hearing that I found favor with the people in charge would make me comfortable but, oddly enough, I wasn't. Not completely, anyway. I mean, it’s good in that I have a good chance of getting my contract renewed lat the end of the year. So there’s that...

Maybe for those types who have ambition and want to climb the corporate ladder, getting positive attention from your employers is a good thing. But I’m not so much the ambitious type. Not any more, that is. I know what climbing the ladder is like back when I was in banking. It’s work! A lot of work. And what you are you working for? More work! Higher paid positions come with a lot of responsibility... and pressure. Let’s not forget the pressure. It’s not like I don’t want to climb a step or two. But when words like “efficient” start getting thrown around people start getting high expectations and start thinking up other dangerous words like “potential” and “capable” Next thing  you know they’re “expanding your portfolio”.

I don’t know if I can handle that.

It’s okay to suspect you’re on the higher-ups’ radar. At least, then, you can dispel the thought and tell yourself you are being full of yourself. When you know they’re watching you, that’s something else. I did say this was one of my paranoid suspicions. Didn't I? What if they’re watching me? What if they really do have my phone bugged? At any point I could have left my cell unguarded and they could have gotten into it. I've seen Person of Interest! I know how easy it is to clone someone’s phone! Every text, tweet, status update and call I've ever made since I got here could be stored on one of the office servers (right next to the plans for the weather manipulation device). Hell! My last boss, the Big Man, had spyware on my office computer. And he’s a cheapskate! I work for the government now!!!

Aside from that, what if this is all a trick? What if they don’t actually think I’m efficient after all?

- Secret Paranoid Suspicion # 8: People don’t actually approve of me, they just pretend to and say nice things to make me believe there’s something about they like.

I’m not quite sure what the reason behind this is yet but whatever it is, it can’t be good.

I need to find a way to become anonymous. I have to blend in! I’m normally pretty good at that. What am I doing wrong? Maybe I should start sleeping at my desk like so many of my coworkers. I bet I could blend in if I did like the group in the cube right next to mine and spent more than half the day carrying on loud conversations about every TV show/movie I watched (or book I read... or what I had for dinner... or where I went clubbing) the night before. Did I mention they were loud?


I need to nip this “efficiency” talk in the bud before something bad happens.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Her Special Day.

Today’s a very special day. Not for me - well, not directly anyway – but for someone very special to me. Join me in wishing her a great big “Happy birthday” to my lovely wife and muse, Mrs C!
She wears glasses now. She totally rocks them too.
I know. I know. You love her too. What, with her cute antics and witty retorts, what’s not to love?

But, you know? We wish each other a happy birthday all the time. We say it to friends, family and coworkers whenever that special day rolls around but when it’s for the person who means more to you than anyone, how are the same words you use for everyone else good enough?

I've been told I’m good with words and there are probably a million things I could say if I stopped to think about it. Still, none of those words could come close to representing how grateful I am for you being put here on this Earth and while I could bore you and the rest of the internet with pages and pages of words to express how appreciative I am that I have you (and considering the financial constraints, frilly words are all I can afford right now anyway), I guess sometimes the simplest ways are best. So, to the second half of this comedy duo, my second half, I wish you the happiest of birthdays and I that you have many, many more to come...

...And that I’m right there beside you for all of them.

Happy birthday, babe.