Friday, October 28, 2011

It All Started With A Simple Request.


Mrs. C: Vinny, could you help me with something tomorrow? I have some letters to post out. I already typed them up but, since our printer is out of ink, you'll have to get them printed somewhere. 

I look at the forms.

Me: It says here that you have to submit some copies of other stuff with them.
Mrs. C: I have those... But only the originals. You can get the copies made in the same place you're doing the printing.
Me: And buy envelopes too.
Mrs. C: Yup. CRAP!
Me: What?
Mrs. C: The deadline on one of them is in two days. I don't want to take the chance to post it and it ends up arriving too late. You'll have to drop it directly at their office for me.

This is the point where I usually whine, cuss and complain voice my objection about her always waiting until the last minute to try and get her thousand and one errands done. However, given her current-um-"disposition", I choose to keep my opinions subdued. I make a mental note to discuss it with her at a different time of the month... when she's less stabby. It is at this point that I remember telling myself the same thing about a month ago. Then I realize that she has been coming to me with requests like these around the same time she's in this condition.

Shrewd!

Mrs. C: Oh, don't forget that you have to pay the electricity bill and buy a new mailbox, while you're at it. Plus, could you drop off these entry forms for this newspaper competition for me too?
Me: Why the hell not?

********

I decide to get started early the next morning on my mission. I leave home at around 8am and soon arrive at a nearby internet café to get the printing and photocopying done. After that I walk across to a nearby supermarket that houses a small post office sub-branch. The atmosphere was fairly grey since the day started so I wasn't too surprised when a light drizzle was falling when I left the internet café.

I got to the corner of the supermarket where the post office had its assigned counter. I get in line but the clerk notices the envelopes in my hand.

Clerk: Do you need stamps?
Me: Yup.
Clerk: Sorry. We're out.


I thank him for not making me waste time in line and head to the taxis. Since I have to head into town anyway to do all the other errands, it isn't any problem to go to the post office there. I get to town and stop to pay the light bill first. This was uneventful as well. The line was long but moved quickly enough.

I move on to the post office for the next leg of my journey. Here, the line was ridiculously long. Not only that, but the clerks didn't seem like they were in a particular hurry either. As the line inched forward, a woman, with child in tow, joined in about two or three people behind me. The child was about two years old and, as soon his mother got tired of holding him and put him down, he started to cry.

Of course he did!

Crying soon became bawling and bawling soon became screaming. All the while, his mom refused to pick him up again. It was clear that everyone in the line was beginning to get irritated, but no one was really willing to say anything. I looked at another (possibly) two-year-old being held by his own mother a few persons in front of me.

"You speak his language. What's up with that?" I thought.

He looked at me and looked the screaming toddler, "Hell if I know," was his facial expression.

Soon the security guard is directed to let them come to the front of the line. They leave soon after that and then people start voicing their complaints about her parenting skills.

Pussies!

Aside from the agonizingly slow pace the rest of this is uneventful. I finish here and drop off the newspaper entries at the next block. I walk across town to get a taxi to drop off Mrs. C's letter.

Me: I need to get to "K" Building. I'm not too sure where it is.
Driver: No problem.

He picks up his other passengers and we're off. Traffic is always heavy in the city on a Friday but eventually we clear it and are leaving the downtown area of Port of Spain. I look at my watch. It's only 10:37am. I'm making better time than I thought. Two of the other passengers drop off along the way, leaving myself, the driver and one other passenger.

Suddenly, the drizzle that had been falling all day turned into a very heavy downpour. The driver put his wipers on high and we could still barely make out the road in front of us.

Driver: Where did you say you were going again?"
Me: "K" Building.
Driver: Shit! We just passed it.

The other passenger is going all the way in and the street was to busy to turn around. He pulls over next to a nearby shopping plaza.

Driver: Sorry about that.
Me: No worries.

I step out under a nearby overhang. He points out "K" Building just down the street and he pulls off. I wait as the rain pours for a few more minutes. Soon, it starts to get lighter but doesn't stop completely. After several more minutes of waiting I get fed up and decide to risk it. "K" Building isn't that far away, after all.

But it was a trap. Once I'm halfway between the safety of my shop-front and "K" Building, the downpour starts up again. I break into a sprint but have to come to a stop at the street separating me from my goal. Once the traffic clears I cross and go inside the building.

By this time, I'm thoroughly soaked. I find the office inside "K" Building, drop off my wife's letter and go back to the exit. The rain is still falling, but, lo and behold, it's lightened up again. I have to cross to get a taxi back and I decide to risk it. AGAIN!!!

I believe my reasoning at this point was that I was already soaked so what's the worst that could happen? Right? It didn't take me long to find out. No sooner do I step out onto the sidewalk in front of the building and prepare to cross the street...

The rest of my trip goes without incident. I get the mailbox and, eventually, I get a taxi to take me home. My phone rings.

Mrs. C: Hey. Just checking in to see how things are going.
Me: Never. Again.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Wordless Wednesday - I Got A Phone Call And...


Monday, October 24, 2011

So The Real Question Is…



Remember when I said that, for the first interview for the reporter job at a newspaper, I was asked a certain icebreaker question? I said that I had answered so uniquely that they just had to have me back for the second interview.

Well, as I said, I was then sworn to secrecy and challenged to figure out the correct answer on my own by the time I got there for the second interview. I also said that the second interview went pretty well but, up to Friday, they still hadn't made their decision. So, in the meantime, why not share that question with you and the answer I provided? Exactly!

It went like this:

“king ... was seen walking and talking half an hour after his head was cut off”
True or False?

Now, for those of you who have come across this type of thing before, the obvious thing is that the sentence is missing a punctuation mark. It makes more sense if you put a comma right after “talking”. I’m sure this would have also occurred to many of you even if you haven’t done this kind of test before.

I, on the other hand, did not exactly answer it in the traditional sense. In fact, I totally missed the point, so to speak. My answer looked more like:

I can’t answer this question without getting some more information first:

- Was it really the king who was executed? It isn’t farfetched to think that he had a double take his place so that he could escape execution.

- Was it the same king ...? Could it have been one “king ...” who was executed and some other “king ...” who was seen both walking and talking somewhere else?

- Was the king who was seen in the act of walking and talking his successor (IE: King… the 2nd, or 3rd, etc)?

- Was the event where he was seen walking and talking a recording played after his execution? No mention of era was given in the above statement.

I stopped there. There were some other things I wanted to know, but I didn’t bother to put down (mostly because I ran out of paper):

- Was the king a walking, talking zombie? You know! As opposed to the more common shuffling & moaning variety.

- What did he do to piss everyone off anyway?

- Did he use time travel? If that was the case, he could have just been saying, “I’ll be the first king to go back in time,” then walked over to the time machine (See? Both talking and walking being done) and used it to go back in time one week. Unfortunately, his feat would have been seen as some sort of sorcery and the people then decided to execute him for practicing the dark arts.

Fortunately, they overlooked the fact that I am an idiot completely missed the point of the question and decided that my need to dig deeper, think outside the box and ask more questions were exactly the characteristics they were looking for in a future journalist. I was then allowed to proceed to interview number two.

I can only conclude that the moral of this story is: If you’re going to get it wrong, get it wrong with style. Things just might work out.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Ripping Someone Off (Now With An Extra Step).

1. Add graphic:


2. Make people think there's yet again an actual post on your blog.

3. By the time they realize there isn't an actual post on your blog, redirect them to where your posts are:




Click here and here.

4. Once again, end abruptly.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Social Interaction - Going Unnoticed.



I’ll admit that I’m not a social person. I know that and I don’t have a problem with it. I’ve never liked one-on-one conversations except with people I am very close to. I always feel awkward and tend to feel responsible for keeping the conversation going. At which point I end up fumbling for things to say. The end result is an awkward train wreck of a dialogue that onlookers want to shield their eyes and ears from but feel compelled to witness the horror as it unfolds.

Me: So… how ya been?
Innocent victim of conversation with me: Great. My wife and I are expecting. You?

(Note the clearly and conveniently provided segue. Taking this avenue would often lead to a stimulating and healthy conversation. However, I often will miss turn-offs such as these and continue careening wildly into conversational oblivion.)

Me: Good… I’m good… Crazy heat we’ve been having these days, huh?
Victim: Yeah, crazy.
Me: Yeah… So… How’s work going?

Believe me, it’s that painful. Situations like these are probably the only reason why I, as much as I dislike them, find crowds useful. It’s very easy to get lost in one. While in a one-on-one conversation you have no choice but to participate, when you’re in a group you can easily step back and let the ones who like the sound of their own voices do their thing while you just nod or grunt in affirmation at the appropriate juncture. In most cases I prefer to just blend in to the background.

Don’t mind me. I’m just sitting here being part of the scenery. Just another innocuous prop here to make the scene more lifelike. Please carry on.

This is something I’ll have to work on when I become a journalist. As a reporter, you’re supposed to be a talker and, especially, a listener. You’re supposed to ask questions and dig deeper and often be the one to initiate a conversation with complete strangers. I guess it’s about time I learned to be something other than scenery.

This is something I have to change, but it won’t be easy. Over the years I’ve developed a very effective chameleon-like ability that allows me to do just that. If I did it just right, the most people would say about me is, “Vinny? He’s quiet and keeps to himself most of the time, but he seems like a nice guy.”

(Interesting side note: if you say that in the past tense, it would basically be the same thing people would say about someone they just found out was a serial killer or who went postal and gunned down his coworkers. I, however, don’t plan on going postal… I think.)

Recently, though, I’ve been beginning to get the impression that people have been misinterpreting my standoffish demeanor. Instead of seeing me as just quiet, they think I’m actually being unfriendly.

Can you believe that? Me! Unfriendly?! Of all the..! This is exactly why I don’t like most of those sons of bitches and when I do if I were to finally snap they’d be the first ones I’d…

Ahem! Sorry.

Anyway, as I was saying, I’ve been noticing people’s behavior towards me seem to suggest that they think I’m not a friendly person. When did I start giving off this “unfriendly” vibe? Oh sure, I can be *cough* a teeny bit *cough* passive aggressive when I’m ready, but I wouldn’t go so far as to say I’m unfriendly.

Those assholes!

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Not My Usual Weekend Wrap-Up.


I've been very inactive on the old interwebz for most of this week so I'll forego my usual weekly recap and just fill you all in on what's been going on here with me.

- It's been just about a week now since I lost internet access at home. Since we moved here we were fortunate to have free internet courtesy of the landlady (she provides free wi-fi access to both her tenants). While I've been busy cursing the ISP for the problem (they're the usual culprits so it's natural), it turns out it was actually the doing of our landlady. Seems she forgot to pay the bill before she took one of her frequent trips overseas, and the rest... well... you can figure it out. She assures us it'll be sorted out on her return at the end of the month. Hey, at least I get to bust this out again:

Which basically sums up how I feel about being unplugged.

- Due to my insane week of internet free living and employment hopes, I had only one post on Sprocket Ink which was on Tuesday. If you missed it, be sure to check out it out. Another dad of the year contender has just emerged and he's ready to fight for the top spot.

- Regarding the job hunt, I had the follow-up interview with the newspaper on Thursday. They say they have an opening for two reporters and have narrowed down their choice to three top contenders. And I'm one of them. They're being very cryptic, but they did say that things were looking good for me. I'll know by the middle of next week. I really hate suspense. You know that?

The other interview I was supposed to have on Friday was postponed. They'll call me back when they're ready to reschedule.

Okay! This one is really funny. For those of you who have been here long enough, remember the job I used to have? The one where I was fired, then promoted, then had the position I was promoted to declared redundant? They called and asked me to come back to fill a temporary position for a few months. I'm not kidding!

To be honest, I'm not sure how I should  respond to this. I don't know whether I should laugh or cuss uncontrollably. I may just do both. Either way, I don't think I'm quite desperate enough to willingly go back to (former) Bossman's and Bosslady's clutches. Even if it is just temporary.

Life's just too short, you know?

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Just Some Quick Updates.


First, I've got another post over at Sprocket Ink today. Seems like there's yet another dad of the year contender making an appearance. Be sure to check it out.


In other news, I'm currently without internet access at home. It's been down since around 8PM last night with no real explanation as to why. While the ISP continue to be "currently in the process of trying to rectify the problem" I've been forced to rely on public internet, like the wi-fi here in school, for the time being. Hopefully, by the time I get home it'll be up and running again.

Finally, I got a call this morning about my follow-up interview. It's set for this Thursday. I did a happy dance and then, about two hours after that call, another place I sent an application to called They wanted to set an appointment for an interview this Friday. It isn't in the journalism field but at least it seems that I'm no longer persona non grata to employers.

And that's about it. Now get on over to Sprocket if you haven't already.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Thinking Economically.


Some time back I mentioned how a major part of the reason I got into blogging was due to journal entries I had to make in one of my classes last year. It was there I shared one of those journals with you all. I was going through some of them again and decided to share another one. Here is my attempt at explaining inflation.

This is one I did back in May 2010. Just like before, I haven’t altered it except that I changed the lecturer’s name to only his initial.

********

Journal Entry VII

INFLATION – Bigger Isn't Always Better.

INFLATION: Here's another one of those things you hear getting tossed about by the politicians and journalists that you think you get... And once again, you don't. I, this time wasn't fooling myself. I knew I didn't have a clue but I was interested in finding out, though.
Our lecturer, Mr. B, described inflation as, “A persistent increase in the general price level in a country.” It's is an easy enough concept: if inflation goes up by 10% that means prices go up by 10% - simple, right? I get that. What I – and apparently many others – didn't know is that if inflation drops to 6% or 4% it means that prices are still increasing but at a lesser rate. Prices actually going down is called “deflation”... I don't remember ever hearing about us going through one of those...

So what causes inflation? There are different causes, as outlined in class that day (The stuff in blue is actually from class):

DEMAND PULL INFLATION – Aggregate Demand (AD) rises faster than supply. (Then, maybe it's time to go on a diet.)

COST PUSH/WAGE PUSH INFLATION – Cost of production increases leading to an increase in prices. (Sad, but true.) Also, an increase in wages is considered a production cost increase.

MONITARY INFLATION – Increases in money supply leading to increased AD leading to increased prices. (Who says too much money can't be a bad thing?)

PRICE PUSH INFLATION – Firms/merchants increase prices to maintain profit margins. (You greedy bastards!)

STRUCTURAL(IST) INFLATION – Bottlenecks (in the supply of raw materials or final goods) exist in the economy structure creating artificial shortages leading to higher prices. (Okay, how is that my fault?! Why  I have to pay?)

IMPORTED INFLATION (What? Our own inflation isn't good enough?) – The source of the inflation lies outside the country. High prices originate in the country of origin leading to high prices in the purchasing country. (Who needs M&M's? Cheers* are just as good.)

There are, of course, different levels of inflation. The best way to describe it is to imagine you're horseback riding – Okay, I never have either. Just follow me on this, alright. First there's an easy, slow creeping/persistent inflation which is an inflation rate of 2% – 6%. Then, ooh, there's trotting inflation and things speed up to 10% – 20%. You're okay, though. Just need to keep in that saddle. Kinda fun in a scary way. About the time you reach excessive/runaway/galloping inflation – 20% plus – you don't care anymore if the girls see you sobbing in terror like a baby, you just want someone to stop this accursed animal. At hyper inflation, which is a whopping 1000% PLUS! (Yes, PLUS!), you (or in this case, your economy) have already been shaken to death like your horse was a British nanny (are metaphors within metaphors really so wrong?) and you're being dragged along the rocks with your foot caught in the stirrup... Gruesome, huh? I thought understanding something made it less scary...

********

* "Cheers" is a locally made chocolate coated candy.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Just Where Have You Been This Week? - Dealing With Secrets & Mysteries.

This was an eventful week for me. I was stressing the whole interview thing right up until the day it happened but turns out things did turn out pretty good. But we'll get to all that during the wrap-up.


As usual, we start with what I was up to here:


- On Monday I shared another conversation with Mrs. C where she seemed to let a secret slip. I'm still investigating. 

- I didn't post again until Thursday. It was just to ramble on a little about the impending job interview the day after that.

- On Friday, after the interview, I announced that I was successful. Unfortunately, that only means that I get to go to round two, A SECOND INTERVIEW! It is true that torture is often most effective when you can drag it out for as long as possible. I guess employers (even potential ones) know this better than most.

Now a few of you have asked and, as I said in the comments to that post, this mystery question is actually the homework. One of the interviewers challenged me to figure out the correct answer for them by the time I returned for the second interview. And, while he did swear me to secrecy, I really do want to see if I can figure it out on my own. Be patient. I'll share it as soon as I can. Promise.

As you know, I also did my thing over at Sprocket Ink:


- On Tuesday I wrote about a family whose exploits in attempted murder could be right out of a movie plot. Albeit a Pegg and Frost movie plot rather than a murder mystery, though.

I dunno... This one seems a little out there. Even for us!
source
- Then, on Thursday, I wrote about boobs again (it's in my imaginary contract). This time it was about a profession I could really see myself getting into... Minus the makeup, of course.

There it is! My week's activities here on the blogasphere. Of course, I'll keep you updated on my progress on the job front and let you know when they call back. Until then, later.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Icebreaker.


 I just had my interview at the newspaper.

I got up at 3:32 this morning. I don't know why. Nerves, I guess. This was the day of my interview and all and I always had a habit of getting up early whenever there was a big event. Things like school trips back in the day, my wedding day, the first day at a new job, anything that could make me anxious did this to me.

I stayed in bed until 5AM when it was time to wake Mrs. C to get ready for work. Once she knew of my situation she then insisted that I do nothing but try to get back to sleep. I did, but try as I would, I couldn't fall asleep again.

This is gonna be fun...

Just like the rules say, I got there early (a minute and a half still counts). Fortunately I wasn't sweating as much as I normally do. Did I ever mention that I sweat? Like A LOT? Especially when I'm nervous. I know! Way to make an impression, right?! Anyway, I mopped what little was on my face and waited. To my surprise, I wasn't left to wait too long. In a few interviews in the past, even though I was early or on time I still ended up waiting for sometimes 20 minutes until they were ready. Well, let's just say this wasn't the first unusual thing to happen during the interview.

It started off (and basically ended) with an icebreaker question. One of the interviewers came in and handed me a sheet of paper with a single question on it I was told to answer it and they'd be with me shortly. Then he left. I looked at the question on the paper and the scenario presented didn't seem to make any sense. So I answered that I couldn't answer it. That is, not until some more information was provided and, instead, I wrote down my own questions that would provide me with some clarification.

Turns out that wasn't exactly what they were expecting. So, in a nutshell, we didn't get much further than that icebreaker. Sure, a few follow-up questions were asked. A formality, I suppose. But after I had answered they had already made up their minds.


To paraphrase, they basically said that my response wasn't what they were looking for but it proved that I thought outside the box and was able to dig deeper for more information. They said that these were important aspects for a journalist and that I had passed (what I was to learn was actually) the first half of the interview. Now I'm just to expect a call for interview number 2.

Holy crap! I pulled it off!?!

That's right! I didn't totally screw it up. I'm not hired (yet) but they definitely are interested. Nothing is confirmed yet other than they'll call me to set an appointment for the second interview, but things are looking good.

Plus... They gave me homework.

No kidding.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Tomorrow.


Tomorrow is the big day. Well, not the big day. It isn't like it's my wedding day (been there, done that), or the due date of my first child (that's for sometime later, I guess), or the day the world's governments sign over total control of the planet to me accepting me unquestionably as their new overlord for life (but one day perhaps). But it's a big day to me all the same. Tomorrow is the day of my job interview at the newspaper.

I started off pretty euphoric after I got the call. I thought, "Yes!!! Finally, someone called! Finally, I was going to get out of this situation". Then, of course, a few days later, reality stepped in as it dawned on me that I might not actually get the job. I'm a total idiot when talking to people face-to-face. Especially when I feel like they're judging me, studying me, looking for my flaws and measuring me on their scale of worthiness. *Shudder*

But then, what would happen even if I did pass the interview? (Is 'pass' the right word? It is like a test, right?) I'm a total noob at journalism. I only started my first classes in the field last month. I don't know if I'm ready for this. Sure, I've researched the job description, the company, yadda, yadda, yadda. The truth is, no amount of reading up on it can ever prepare you for the real thing. Right?

I have to stop thinking about tomorrow. Tomorrow is scary. There are too many variables to consider. Too many things of which I have no control over. If I think about it too much, I'd be a complete bundle of nerves, too afraid to step out the front door in the morning. I'm not going to do it any more for today. It's just too much to worry about.

I've done all I can do about tomorrow (I hope) and all I can really worry about right now is today. All I can do is calm myself and try to be as relaxed as I can be. So that's what I'll do. I'll relax for today and deal with tomorrow when it comes. And, also, as for today, all I can really say is...

There's a story about boobs on Sprocket Ink again. And I put it there. Just click here.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Conversations With Mrs. C - She Seems To Be An Expert.


Walking home one evening after going for a run...

Mrs. C: Ew! What's that smell? (The usual question when we go running)
Me: Nature (The usual answer when this question is asked)


We continue on our way...


Mrs. C: Oh-oh!
Me: What?
Mrs. C: That girl almost fell down climbing over the railing.

Across the street, I see a woman hanging on to an electricity pole, straddling the railing on the side of the street.

Me: Oh. Didn't notice.
Mrs. C: She could have tumbled down the hill on the other side.
Me: Lucky for her that didn't happen.
Mrs. C: Yeah. She should know better. You can't climb a pole that's so wide. You'll never get a good grip.
Me: That makes sense, I guess. I didn't know you were such an expert. Tell me again what exactly you did during that night job you just transferred out of.
Mrs. C: I've already said too much *does mouth zip gesture*.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Just Where Have You Been This Week? Bring You Some Good News.

Good news! After months of sending out applications without so much as a phone call coming my way, I finally got called for an interview! Okay, I know it's just an interview and nothing is anywhere near confirmed yet, but I was beginning to think employers thought I had the plague or something.

I'll take my victories where I can get them.

Added to that, it's for a newspaper. How awesome is that? I sent this application in 7 months ago and they called on Friday. Totally sweet, right? My interview is this coming Friday. I'm hoping all the other crap I've got going on will have me too distracted to be nervous during the interview.

Anyway, enough of the boring stuff. It's recap time!


First, here:


- On Sunday I posted on how my child experiences caused me to create invisible barriers for myself.

- Monday, during one of my always entertaining conversations with the Mrs. we discussed a weird dream she had.

- Tuesday I did a pseudo-post where I introduced a new graphic.

- Wednesday I woke up with a stiff and painful neck. And I bitched told you about it.

- Thursday was pseudo-post# 2 and Friday, pseudo-post# 3.

Now over to Sprocket Ink:


- My Tuesday post looked at a study that would make coffee drinkers everywhere smile and silence those darn naysayers.

- Thursday I followed up on an earlier story about the arrest of a suspected criminal who had an entire town on their toes.

- I filled in on Sprocket on Friday and got all ranty and opinionated this time while discussing a proposed law that would institute temporary marriages in Mexico City.

Yeah, I'll say it's been a busy week. Wouldn't you? Anyway, the interview's not until Friday buy go on ahead and wish me luck from now, if you like. I'm not too proud to take any positive encouragement I can get this early.