Store database; Meat scale

Well it seems that missing every second post is becoming routine. That is unfortunate since it has not been my intention. I am sure you know how it goes when you start doing something thinking that you will only be a few minutes, then something else comes up, then something else, and so on, until at last you realize that an entire day is gone and you never did get around to what you had planned to do that morning. That is kind of what happened to me, with the exception of the fact that going to dinner, and watching a movie, with my wife will always come before updating this website. As for how I pissed the rest of the day away, you got me.

I have written over the last several posts about the tagging of the store leading to a requisite SNAFU, not knowing exactly what course we were going to take to remedy it. Well, I got my answer yesterday. If you recall, the options that I could see were 1) I would get word back from the people at RIS (the software manufacturer) about how to do a mass item delete. 2) I would have to start manually removing the items one at a time. 3) We would add memory to the cash registers so that they could take more items. Now if you knew the way my life works, you would never have thought the solution would have been anything other than having to manually remove old items one at a time, which was what I started to do yesterday.

The following is the process for manually removing each item, after I have brought up a listing of the upc’s I want to remove and the register interface, of course. First I have to click on the blank area where you input numbers (there is no other way to get the cursor there, none of the hot keys that you use in normal windows applications will work in this program) and type in a number, the first was 1120500048. Then I have to take my hand off of the 10key to move the mouse cursor over the button that says “Search PLU” (I actually can use the tab key to make the highlighted button be the correct one, but I have to hit it at least 30 times to get past all of the other paramaters) and click it. Then simply move the mouse over another button that says delete, after which the system will freeze for about a second and then I start the whole process again with the next number. Honestly, it’s not really that bad.

The biggest problem with the process, so far at least, is that if I mistakenly type in a number that I have already deleted, and it has happened a bunch of times, it is not like the list automatically removes the number once it is gone, the program will freeze and I will have to end task on it. It takes about ten seconds per time to open the program, connect to the register, get a listing of the upc’s and bring up the register interface, so you see it really sucks if I type in a number twice. I have taken to holding the cap of a pen on the item that I am deleting so that I won’t forget my place while I am screwing around with the mouse and the buttons, but still I sometimes forget that I have typed in 1120501113, but not 1120501114. It is all a bit irritating, but it is making it so that the program will work for its intended purpose, and I am getting paid to do it, so bitching is futile.

• If you read this page at all, you likely would also have read about the meat scale going out after a series of power-outages late last week. I managed to repair one of our old scales, the ones we used at the cash registers before we upgraded to the scale/scanner system, but they will not print tags, nor do they have Price Look Up numbers, so it is kind of useless for the task. I will say that it was a serious upgrade from what I was doing prior to fixing the old scale. The only thing that actually works on the meat scale is the weighing part. It will tell you exactly what the item weighs, then you just had to use a calculator to multiply the weight by the price; This is exactly what the now-repaired old scale does, which takes a lot of the work out of the process, yet it does not print the tags, so one must remember the price while they carry the item to the wrapping station, wrap it and tape it shut. I know this is the way they had to do it before printing scales were invented, but you see I have always used a printing scale so I often forget the price before the process is done. That is irritating.

I asked the owners what a new scale would cost, and they said it was about 1400 dollars. With a price to beat in mind, I headed for google. There I was able to find new scales with all of the necessary features for a shade under a thousand dollars. Now, knowing what it would actually cost to buy a new one, I hit eBay. Have you ever tried to search for something on eBay when you weren’t quite sure what people would be calling it? I did. The search for “printing scale” showed a bazillion results that were exclusively postal scales. A search for “meat scale” came up with a bunch of vintage crap that a collector might be interested in, but that would not pass health requirements even if they did print, which they didn’t. The term “retail scale” did get a few results for scales, but just the type that weigh but do not print, however, I noticed that they were all in the restaurant category and went to that directory. There were still tons of scales that didn’t have printers, in fact I only found two out of the whole section that did have printers, and, as luck would have it, one of them is damn near identical to the one that we have at work.

My hope had been that I would be able to find a scale that was exactly the same model as the one that we have at work, there are three reasons for this. The first is that we still have over four cases of labels for it. Those thermal printing labels are pretty expensive, like sixty dollars a case. If we have over 240 dollars worth of labels, it would be nice to find a scale that could use them. The second is that both of the owners know how to work the old scale for all of the things they want to use it for; To see how much bologna we sold that day, for instance. I would like to not have to learn the options of a different scale and then teach them, if possible. The third reason is that I spent a few hours of my own time, albeit years ago, making a list of all of the plu’s on the machine. I did it once in numerical order, which I could easily replicate on the new machine so that no one would have to learn different plu’s. But, I also made an alphabetical listing, by type, with a pork section, a beef section, a cheese section, etc. I did not include the first 35 plu’s in my alphabetical listing though, since they all have hot-buttons associated with them. That means, at the very least, I will have to redo that entire alphabetical listing if the scale is not the same.

The scale that I found on ebay does not match any of the three things I was looking for. Wrong labels, different face (therefore different plu format), though the switches on the front are the same, so it is possible that the daily reading options would be the same also. Of course there is no way that I could ever know since the model has been discontinued and the only way to get an owner’s manual for it is to buy it directly through the manufacturer. Now it would be one thing to buy the manual if you actually own the machine, there is no way I am going to do it just to see if I want to own the machine. This will all be pointless by tomorrow anyway, as the price of that scale is less than 10% the price of a new scale, and unless there is a real bidding frenzy I will be able to get it for a hundred bucks or so. Saving the company some 1300 dollars might take the edge off of having to pay 15 dollars for the owner’s manual, eh?

While trying to find an owner’s manual for the scale that we do not yet have, I found an actual scale that is exactly the same as the one that we have in the store. Well, it is not broken all to fuck and it actually works, so I guess it is not exactly the same. The problem is that the item is in a used machine warehouse that is on the east coast so every time I call to ask about the price I get an answering system. I have left my number with an inquiry about the price, but they have yet to call me back about it. My first thought is that they are concerned that the shipping might be so high that I wouldn’t want to buy it, but I tell you what, if we could get an identical system to the one that we currently have we would likely pay a bit more than what I am looking at paying for the one on eBay. So, hopefully, I will remember to call them tomorrow before I put in my bid on the other scale.

Well, I am going to call it a day. Tune in tomorrow for the end(?) of the meat scale saga…

Howard Stern held to different standards of decency than senators; Harry Potter

Skipped yesterday’s post, blah blah, no one noticed, blah blah, no reason why, blah blah.

The truth is that I spent a bit of time first emailing a couple of people that I had not in some time, second, I was getting prepared for this years Vegas Vacation by playing a bit of video poker on I suppose neither of those things should be more important than what I am doing here, but wait, I am doing this site for my own enjoyment, so if I would enjoy doing something else more..Doesn’t that mean that I was obligated to not write anything here? I would have enjoyed it far less than the video poker, that would have made it seem like, well, work to do a post yesterday. That was never my intention.

• One quick thing from the news that is just irritating me. So the vice president says Fuck Off on the Senate floor, albeit after the session had ended, isn’t that wrong on at least some level?

I have defended Howard Stern, even though I do not like him and never listen to his show, on at least a couple of occasions. Here are the ones that I could quickly find; Exhibit A, Exhibit B I am sure that I defended him on at least one other occasion, but as I do not maintain my archives as well as I should I just can’t seem to find it. I have always defended Howard Stern’s freedom of speech based on the fact that no one actually Had to listen to what he was saying. If you don’t like what any person is saying on the radio you can certainly change the station or turn it off completely (which pretty much summarizes how I tolerate Rush Limbaugh). The only people who don’t seem to understand that logic are the stuffy, by-the-book people that we throw into congress (which means old, white men for the most part, that is why Limbaugh can get away with calling Black people cancer, his peers seem to all agree). Those are the only people that seem to find Howard Stern so offensive that they listen to it long enough to figure out why they are offended by it, then take action by getting the FCC involved.

Howard Stern’s show never uses the “F-word”, or it is at least bleeped if they do, and he is catering to a voluntary audience. No one that is listening to the Howard Stern Show actually HAS to be listening to it, while in the case of Cheney saying, “Fuck Off” on the Senate floor, everyone that was there heard it whether they wanted to or not. These are the same people that are trying to get Howard Stern taken off the air for using such offensive words as Vagina, Penis, Clitoris and Orgasm. If Stern were ever to drop the F-Word on a radio show he would simply be gone, there would be no explaining, he would just be gone.

I assume that there must be a pretty harsh consequence for using such a word on the floor of the Senate then, right?

Pressed whether he condones the use of such language in the Senate, Frist pointed out that the chamber was not in session at the time, “so I am not going to condone, I am not going to overly criticize the language that people in the — the language that people use to express themselves.”

Well if that isn’t proof that democracy seems to be far more lenient on those in power I don’t know what is. Not even a, “Hey, by the way, try not to curse on the Senate floor”. No, no, just a defense that he was basically angry. Lots of people get angry, lots of people don’t tell other people to “fuck off” in the face of a lot of media and other witnesses. How far would that anger have had to escalate before they thought he did something wrong? Yes, he ripped the heart out of a child and ate it in front of the reporters, but he was in a bad mood so he shan’t be punished.

I say again, Hell in a hand-basket.

• I am likely about the last person in the entire world to get into the Harry Potter craze. I think that I am doing it more out of curiosity than actual desire, but I am still enjoying the experience. Today, for instance, I read about the last two-thirds of the second book in the morning, then watched the dvd starting at about noon. This is the only time I have watched a movie within ten years or so of having read the book, so I was able to see a lot of the changes that were made when the book went from print to the big screen. I am not sure whether or not that is a good thing.

The books (at least the two that I have read) are children’s books, one wouldn’t expect them to have any major twists in the plot or the target audience just would not be able to follow. The first book was so predictable that I knew the outcome within about the first fifty pages. The second book actually had me tossing around a couple of ideas in my head as to how it would turn out. Neither of which turned out to be accurate. So that was good, I didn’t know the ending in the first chapter -well, I knew Harry was going to defeat whatever it was, I just didn’t know what it was, or who it was-. The movie was pretty faithful to the book, there were a lot of changes that were obviously made due to time constraints, but the plot went about the same. I could sit here and nit-pick about a bunch of stuff that they changed from the book to the movie, but most of it was for the better. Even as simple as the storyline was, it is hard to fit everything into a couple of hours.

My biggest bitch about the book was that there was a diary with the inscription T. M. Riddle on it. About half way through the book it actually spelled out all three names (which it showed on the diary in the movie, but only for a second), and since the last name was riddle, and the name was so weird, I looked at the name for about three minutes until I finally found the anagram. The anagram was revealed later in both the movie and the book. I had taken half of the fun out of reading the rest of the book at that point, but I went ahead anyway, just to finish it. As I said, it is just a brief glimpse in the movie and one would likely not be able to figure it out from that alone.

The movie version did clean up some of Rowling’s sloppy work. The last fifty or so pages of the book I was reading on in WTF mode. Things didn’t fit, things got garbled, there was talk of a rooster…The end of that book just kind of sounded like she was trying to pound it out to meet a deadline so she could get a paycheck. The movie cleaned up a lot of her rough edges, while still leaving major holes in the fabric. I don’t think it will get better in future episodes, but I have been wrong before.

I think there will eventually be two camps on this subject, one that adores the books, the other adoring the films. From what I have seen in the first two books and films, Hollywood makes it seem much more logical than the books. I certainly hope that the next book will prove me wrong, but Rowlings endings just seem to suck. You see it coming, it comes, and you are left to wait for the next book.

All that being said, it is still more enjoyable to read those books than to read this site, you FREAK.

Technology at work

There was nothing posted yesterday, and when I thought about it I read the post from June 23rd, and sure enough I did say, “If I do not post tomorrow, check the registry of jails and prisons in Florence.” There was nothing of the sort that kept me from actually putting anything up, more that I was just tired and only looking to have a bite to eat when I got home. I read the news and all the sites on my list yesterday, but nothing would have motivated me to actually make a post.

Just to clarify before I move on, I did not kill anyone, I am not in jail or prison, and anyone who is spreading those lies may be next on my list…

Now for more discussion of the ‘Great Shelf Tag Adventure’. Yesterday we finsihed the tagging of the store, in theory. There are tags for like 98% of all of the items that we have, most are at or near the price of the items that they are replacing, and the ones that aren’t are behind the tags of the items that we have in stock. That all went pretty well. Where we ran into a problem was when I was trying to get all of the new items uploaded to the register. I had been wondering if there was going to be enough memory in the actual registers to hold all of the new items that were being added, the actual total of new items was actually only around 1,500, since I didn’t put a lot of them in thinking that we may not actually order them, so I would add them later if we did.

I had uploaded about 600 new items to the register, and had about another 400 in the program ready to upload, when I tried to do the upload and got my question answered with the following quote, “Request has over-loaded memory banks”. What this means is that we/I/the store can not add a single item to the register without first deleting an item that is no longer in use. The problem with that is that I only know how to do that one item at a time.

I tried to call the people who made the software that actually interacts with the register to see if they could tell me how to do a large group all at once. I was not able to contact them by phone so I tried to email the guy who sent me a solution to a problem that we previously had with the software, still no response. We could simply be fucked on this. If I take the items out one at a time I can only do about one item per five or seven seconds, and I would need to take out about 400 of them to complete the items that are already in the program but not the register. There are literally thousands that I know can be deleted, I can even print out a list of them since the program will let me display a list of upc’s based on paramaters that I make, unfortunately I can not figure out how to delete them in a similar manner. Being that it is already Friday night there is no way this will be resolved before Monday so I will just have a lot of time to stew on it, and try to figure out a way to circumvent the limitations of the program.

Technology sucks when it is not doing what you want it to.

Now for a bit of background relating to the problem, not because I think you want to read it, but because I really want to say it. This problem has been a long time coming. Our cash registers don’t have monitor screens like a lot of stores, they don’t have hard drives or anything of that sort, all they have is a stick of RAM. The memory was upgraded a couple of years ago, though I don’t really remember why, but it is still just a stick of RAM. There is only so much that one can put onto a memory device of that sort. As they were constantly telling me to add items to the file, items that I knew we were never going to carry again, I was thinking that there was going to be a time when there just wasn’t any more memory to do it. Of course it only happened now, as I was trying to add a thousand items to a list that probably has ten-thousand items already in it. Of those items already in the file we likely still stock less than half of them.

The biggest problem, however, is the store brands. There are always two ‘store brands’. One is one that supposedly rivals the national brands, while the other is a cheap, plain-label type that is always a lot cheaper than anything else on the shelf. When we started using the scanners (and thus when the original database of items was made), the store brands were TV and Rainbow. Very shortly after we had started to use the scanners TV was replaced by Best Yet. That meant that every single item in the store that had been ‘TV’ had to be entered into the register as ‘Best Yet’, and since there are different upc’s for every different brand, that doubled the number of store brands in the register. Fast forward about two years and Rainbow was replaced by Exceptional Value, with the same doubling thing going on with the registers. Then, last year, Fleming went out of business taking with it ‘Best Yet’ and ‘Exceptional Value’, which were simultaneously replaced by ‘Springfield’ and ‘Special Value’, respectively. If your count is working, you should note that we already have SIX store brands stored in the memory of the cash register. This latest undertaking was trying to put in ‘Shurefine’, ‘Super Savings’ and ‘Western Family’. Numbers seven, eight and nine, as far as the number of ‘store brands’ in the register. If, at this point, you have not yet figured out that there is way too much useless shit in the register, you are likely going to vote for Bush since you just don’t understand logic.

Now for the upside. The UPC of every distributor is on every product they sell. The first five digits of that UPC is the company code, while the last five digits is the product code. As a for instance, 51000 is the company code for the Campbell’s company, while the last five digits are their own number to identify what type of soup it is. All of the store brands have to abide by those same rules, so I know that all of the items that were either TV or Rainbow start with the first five digits of 11205. I can list all of the items that start with those five digits by doing a search for all items from 1120500000 to 1120599999, and I get a listing of every TV or Rainbow item that we ever had in the system. I can delete them one by one, then it will let me add one new item to the system for every one that I have removed, but that is slow going. By Monday I am hoping to have gotten an email back from the people who made the software explaining how I can delete them all at once. Deleting all of the 11205 items would free up thousands of item spaces in the register. For that matter I could also delete all of the 42187 codes in the register, since we only have a couple of Best Yet items left on the shelf and I could re-enter them if necessary.

Adding to my frustration is the fact that if the size/weight of a consumer package changes, the UPC must also change. This means that when you buy that thing that says “33% more FREE” it will have a totally different UPC than the item has when it is the normal size item. Similarly, Frito Lay likes to change the weight of the chips that they sell so that they can keep from raising prices- What used to be a 16oz. bag of Doritos is now at 13 1/4oz, and it still has gone up in price- every different weight must have a different UPC, that is something I would have never known had I not been working here, though I did think that the amount of air in the bags had been increasing pretty considerably over the last few years.

Long story short, there are exactly two options at this point. The first is that I get an email from the guys at RIS, or even a call, explaing how to get rid of all of the 11205 and 42187 upc’s, thus clearing the space for thousands of new items. The second is to actually pay to upgrade the registers so that they have enough memory to handle all the upc’s. There is a third, very frightening, option. That third option would be to completely blank the cash registers and go through the program files to send only the current upc’s. The only way I can think to do that would be to do it one at a time. It would take a hell of a lot of time, but I could completely purge the system and thus free up a hell of a lot more space than either of the other options. Estimated time: 100 hours. The quickest, easiest fix would be to slap a bit more memory in the registers, what will actually happen remains to be seen…

Also, the meat scale at work started to malfunction after a series of power outages around noon today. By ‘malfunction’ I mean that it just doesn’t work at all. That scale has been there far longer than I have, I tried all of the troubleshooting things in the owners manual and got nothing. It is just fucking broke.

As with damn near anything, if they were to give me an hour alone with either system I bet I could come up with a way to solve, or at the very least circumvent, the problem. Unfortunately that never happens unless I do it on my own time. Imagine trying to simply do surgery to remove and appendix while someone is constantly hovering over you yelling, “are you almost done? How much longer? Are you sure you know how to do this? I don’t have time for this. You either can or you can’t. Where’s the god damn appendix, we have been here three minutes already.”

Enough Said.

Scanner database

The hard part of the changing wholesalers/tagging the store began today. Myself and five from the crew from New Mexico began at 8a.m. (an hour before the store opens), while the leader of their group was picking up yet another helper at the airport in Phoenix. It went just about as I had been expecting, perhaps dreading. We finished the straight price changes early in the morning, within the first hour, then it was on to the more difficult task. Each of the guys that was on their team was going through the aisles and putting tags for items that were of a similar size/pack/price on the shelf (turned sideways so that we could easily spot them) after which I had to begin going up and down the aisles doing new item scans with the hand set.

While going through the aisles I did have to check to make sure that each item was something comparable to what it was replacing, make sure that it was near enough in price that the consumer would purchase it, and then begin to key it in. The Hand Held Device that we have for this sort of thing is programmed to scan bar codes, and while their tags have bar codes, they are bar codes for the item order number. What I needed was the Univeral Product Code (UPC) from the tag, which was there but had to be keyed in manually. That not only lends itself to operator errors (me being the operator), but it also takes way longer than just zapping the tag with a laser-light.

The first aisle that we actually had totally set was the one with the baking goods, flour, cake mix, that sort of stuff. I wanted to take a test run of that idea to have Steve scan the tags and have his company fax us back a print-out with all of the information I would need to do it at the pc. While waiting for that little venture to come to fruition, I went ahead and started doing the changes manually on the aisle where we have the cooking oils. Once I was done with the cooking oils, I did the part of an aisle where we have pickles and olives, after which I knocked out the rice and dry beans sections. What I did manually was as large if not larger than what he had sent to his office to send back, and I did it quite quickly with the handset. There is a downside to doing it with the handset though; something that I had completely forgotten about since I had not tried to re-tag the store in this manner since we first got the scanning system in like 1994. The new item scans that I was doing do not automatically get put into the file for broadcast to the registers, that means that after I upload all of the new items I also have to use the 10 key on the pc to add them to the broadcast file.

I am pretty good on a 10 key, but I would have thought that having a printout with all of the items would make it faster, though I found that that particular assumption was horribly wrong.

The first upload that I did was 259 items. The program prints out the items that I add, then it is up to me to key them into the broadcast file. All I have to do is type in the 10 digit UPC, then hit enter (which is the top line and says, send current price). I typed the first 259 changes into a broadcast file and sent it to the register in about 12 minutes. That might seem like a long time to type 259 10digit numbers, but I did make a few mistakes where I would have to type the number in again. It is extremely irritating that I have to re-type all of the numbers to add them to the broadcast file, but the company who made this particular software went out of business about four years ago, so there is no one to bitch to about it.

When the fax finally came in with the stuff on the baking goods aisle, it looked horrible. The font size was about the same as your average phone book, there was a number, followed by about ten blank spaces, then the item description, then blank spaces, then the retail price. There were no lines connecting any of the aforementioned attributes, but they were actually line by line. Perhaps I am being a bit pissy in thinking that if you are going to put all of that information on a page you should at least put a space between the lines if you are not going to have, say, dots, at the very least, to hold your eyes on that line. Especially when the guy(me) who is having to read it is doing so through a blurry faxed copy. I gave up on trying to “save time” by entering the info at the pc when it took longer to do the first ten items on the page than it took to do the 259 items on the other aisles.

Once we got into a bit of a flow, that is, when their guys would come and ask me to scan the aisle that they had just re-tagged, it started going pretty well. I was hindered by the fact that the handset can only take about 250 new items before it just dogs down and then I have to upload to make it work again. The fact that they had so many people helping actually slowed the process pretty considerably. Once the aisle was done, for their purposes, the guy would leave. Then another guy would find tags for the same aisle and assume that it hadn’t yet been tagged. I found at least 100 duplicate tags while I was scanning, not because I am all that smart, just because if I have to type the number “51000-02036” it will be in my head long enough that when I come to the second tag, with the same number, I will call one of them over to ask WTF there are two of the same tags for.

It got really bad when we got to the section with the ramen noodles. You know the ones, little pack of noodles with a spice pack, costs about twenty cents unless it is on sale, then it is 10-12 for a buck. Yeah, somehow the new company happened to have the same UPC code on their order tags for at least three of the different flavors. I say ‘at least three’ since I caught three, but that was after I had already been doing the scanning for eight and a half hours. I really hope that they will work to remedy that problem, but somehow I think that they are a bit irritated that I caught it. There were also issues of the same nature where their tags were saying things like “.19” for a can of spam, while I am not an eater of spam, I know that it costs more than that.

Tomorrow will be another day of the same stuff I was dealing with today. With a bit of luck, they will help me get through it all with what is left of my sanity, if not, I may have to skew this page a bit to be more like the diary of a sociopath. There are only so many times that they can thank me for finding their errors before I actually snap and start killing people. I am working a lot of extra hours to get this done and I really think that their solution should be something better than, “we will inquire at the warehouse”.

If I do not post tomorrow, check the registry of jails and prisons in Florence.

Tagging the store

Today brought about the beginning of a pretty monumental task at work. We are changing wholesale sources, and as such we are having to change every single shelf tag in the entire store. That, in and of itself, is not so bad really, just swapping a tag for a tag. What is really making the process so monumental is that we are having to replace all of our ‘Store Brand’ items with different store brands.

The part of the process that we were doing today was the easy part, we were just switching out old price/order labels with the ones from the new distributor. This was just on the national products. So they had six guys swapping out tags and writing price changes on the products so that I could scan them with our hand-held device to upload the new price to the cash register. I am not new to the switching wholesaler thing, so I was making sure to note any price changes that were more than about 20 cents. I put all of those type of items into a separate cart to be dealt with in a much different manner. That being that I will reprint a tag at the old price to put over the tag with the new price. The whole reason that we switched was to make it so that our prices are lower for the consumer, but at the point where you have to sell the stock on the shelf at a twenty percent loss, the consumer needs to foot some of that cost until we are able to buy the stock at the new, lower price. Whether the owners believe me or not, I am not about to actively make a change that is going to cost them a lot of money, I mean they write my paycheck, if I were to knowingly make a decision that would cost them a lot of money that would be a bit foolish.

The team that is helping me in the process didn’t arrive until almost two in the afternoon, and they arrived after having been on a plane for a couple of hours and an equal amount of time in a rental car on the drive down. I kind of admired their stamina as they worked straight through until six, as did I, but they were doing it without ever even seeing the hotel that they are going to stay in or anything of that nature. I would mention that they all worked without lunch, were it not for the fact that I only ate anything today after I was already off of work, and then I just ate a hot dog from the local circle K.

We made some pretty good headway today. Completing about 90% of the direct changes, that being the ones where the item needed a new tag and a price change in the register. The thing about that is that, like I said, there were six of them and one of me. Six of them were tagging and pulling changes, one of me was trying to scan all of the changes and get them uploaded to the register. There were six shopping carts that were constantly being filled with items that needed the changes which I had to scan, as quickly as possible, and then return the items to the shelf, then upload the changes to the register so that the price on the new tag would be the price that the product scanned at.

The team had planned to leave at 5:30p.m., after which I would have completed the price changes myself, but seeing that I was now staring at six whole carts full of additional price changes, they stayed for fifteen more minutes to put the items back on the shelf after I had scanned them for changes. I am quite thankfull that they did, else I would still be there hammering away at the archaic pc in the office as opposed to telling you all about it here.

Mind you, we have basically completed the easy part. Tomorrow we will start at 8a.m. and likely work until 6p.m. on the more complicated part, then with a bit of luck, ten more hours on Thursday and we will be done. The hard part is with the new items (item changes if you like to look at it that way), the store brand items will all be changing. We (the store) was forced to change store brands when Fleming went out of business last year, and to this day our shelf is still not properly tagged for replacement items. That is why we are going to make damn good and sure we get it done right now this time. The previous wholesaler did not help in any way with the new tagging, new items and the such, these guys are willing to, and I am going to hold them to it.

Steve, the guy who is running the team, is going to go up and down every aisle with me tomorrow and work with me on every single item change. The goal is that every single item that is being replaced will already be in our system when it arrives, and at the correct price, which is quite important. I do not know how difficult it is really going to be, nor will I know before tomorrow, what I do know is that if I have to add the items based on typing in UPC’s it would take about a minute per new item. Based on that, it would take me about 34 hours to enter the number of new items that we assume there will be. Now, even working at maximum efficiency, I don’t think I will be able to do 34 hours of work in less than 20 hours time, so I hope we can find a better way to do it. Regardless of time, it will be done. I do not want to be sitting here at this time next year bitching about how long the change has taken, I want it to be done…Done

Steve also mentioned that it would be possible to scan the new item tags by aisle, transmit them to his base in New Mexico, and have them fax back a sheet that would have all of the information that I needed to actually enter the items via the keyboard on the pc. I am thinking that while I am quick on the hand-held device, I am way faster on an actual keyboard. If the fax has all of the information necessary for adding new items we may just try it that way. That would lay all of the necessary information out in a page that would be far easier for me to deal with than to have to type in the UPC’s out in the store (since the new tags have item order codes instead of the UPC’s that I programmed our old system to print on the tag). -I would probably get really mad, again, if you were to ask why I had to reverse engineer the source for the old tags, then modify it so that they looked remotely presentable, please don’t bring it up.-

I don’t know how long they (the team from New Mexico) are planning to stay tomorrow, so I really don’t know when/if I will ever be free to come home. I do know that half of the team is going to fly back tomorrow evening, so they will likely be pretty gung-ho about getting most everything done. If I do not make a post tomorrow, just assume that we all decided to work a bit long to try to take care of this whole thing all at once. It may suck for me in the immediate future, but it will be so much nicer in the long term.


As the title would seem to indicate, it has been a day since the events that transpired yesterday. While I am still far from happy about the outcome of events yesterday I am also a very realistic person. All of the random events that happened yesterday could have happened to anyone, yet they didn’t happen to anyone, they happened to me. Is this the hand of god trying to smite me, but always a step behind, or is this the reason that I just do not like to leave the house?

The cars called “Jaguar” have been the butt of many jokes over the years. I say this knowing that the cars called Toyota have been the butt of even worse jokes. This Car is very much like the one that I had to ride in yesterday. The fluff certainly makes it sound nice, yet, the fact is that it is the worst piece of shit that you have ever encountered. The air-conditioning just does not work, the leather seats make you have to peel yourself off of them. This car is a complete piece of shit that you would do better to never ride in.

The name “Jaguar” should have to take a point off for building this piece of shit. There is roughly seventeen inches of legroom in the back seat, compared to the twenty-six inches offered in your average Honda. The entire “cabin” of this vehicle is about half the size of an average Toyota. Why do people buy this piece of shit? The Name-Plate. There is no other reason that a thinking being would buy such garbage. If you own one of these cars, rid yourself of it immediately. Thay have no resale value, being the shit that they are, get out now, if you still can.

Why someone would pay 8,000 for the actual car, and then pay 35,000 for the name-plate is something that is totally beyond me. Yet, when the car starts to have problems and you then sell it to the unsuspecting couple, that I understand…

Jaguars have entire books written about them, based on the fact that they are so unreliable. I do not know why anyone would actually buy one just for the sticker on it, especially when they are the car that is sitting by the road more often than not.

Restaurants; jaguars

I am not even going to mention yesterday’s missed post. If you care enough to be unhappy about that, go ahead and Shoot me an email.

One other thing to mention before I get into bitching today is that it is Flux’s birthday. Flux being the guy that runs that website over at and who also handles a lot of the stuff over at, and whose site layout I completely ripped off when setting up this site. I knew that his birthday was close on the calendar to mine, but I did not know the date. Now I do, and as it happens I sent him a Terry Pratchett book a couple of weeks ago (totally unrelated to his birthday) which I will call a gift to him for both his birthday and the multiple times he has helped me with issues regarding my own site. It is certainly not something that could/would compensate for the time that he spent helping me, yet, I think that he did appreciate getting the book as a gift, and was not looking for anything in return when he was helping me with issues regarding this site. Of course when I totally ripped off the layout of his site he would have either been pissed off or flattered, I am hoping it is the latter.

• Today was father’s Day also. As I have previously written, my Father died on Christmas Eve in 1990 and I therefore don’t have any real reason to celebrate this day. What I do have is my wife’s step-father, who brought my wife up for the most part, and without whom she would likely be instilled with a lot of different morals and the such. Being father’s Day, we went along with him, my mother-in-law, my brother-in-law, the wife and myself to beautiful Sedona, or that was the plan at least. I guess no one actually thought it through enough to realize that the beautiful Sedona is actually a three hour drive -each way- from our current location. Not the best destination for a day trip.

The Father-in-law was the first to pipe up about maybe just going out to lunch instead, which seemed like a pretty reasonable idea, compared to sitting in the car for six hours, and after all it was his day. Everyone seemed satisfied at this point, except the mother-in-law who went on to bitch about how they had been to Phoenix every day since thursday, and she just wanted to get out of town. That particular story took a right turn, missed some exits, and ended up not being the story that she had originally told, even though there were four witnesses. (more on that later)

So Lee, the father-in-law, wanted to eat at a place called the Texas RoadHouse. My brother-in-law went in to check how long it would be to get into the place. 30 minutes, he said. But that thirty minutes was to get the timer box thing that lets you walk around while you wait, the actual wait time to get any actual food was more like three or four hours. That is a long time to wait for a slab of dead bovine.

What happened next was a nice little ride to the next Black Angus. There was absolutely no wait, as a matter of fact we were wondering if the place was in business when we rolled in. The place was just dead. I came in a bit after everyone else, as there is no smoking in the area where the restaurant is located, and the car I was riding in smelled like dog shit and copenhagen, but somehow the smell of a bit of tobacco smoke would sour the smell of it (that, the tobacco smoke souring the smell of her car, was what the mother-in-law actually said to me, whether she realized that the car currently smells like a cross between dog shit and copenhagen I do not know.)

The server there immediately spilled water all over the table, and as flat surfaces do the water ran to the lowest spot, the lowest spot on this day was my crotch. I had two full glasses of ice-water dumped on my crotch, I would have liked to have gotten angry, but anger never gets you anywhere. Instead, I smiled at the waitress and excused myself to the men’s room. I was actually wearing some rayon-blend shorts so the water didn’t actually soak in, but I was also wearing cotten-blend briefs that felt very cold at just that moment.

We went on to order our food and I just wanted a sandwich. I had a huge sirloin steak just the other day. I actually hoped that Lee (the father-in-law) would have ordered a really big hunk of beef (like a 16oz. T-bone, so I could have paid for it as a gift), what actually happened was that we split the check, I offered at least ten dollars more than what the meals my wife and myself had cost. I would have happily paid for their meal as well had they asked, but what happened is that the mother-in-law took a calculator out of her purse and started running numbers. I put $100 in my wallet before we left the house this morning, thinking that I would pick up the cost of the entire meal (as a gift to my father-in-law), when she took out that calculator to try to figure who owed how much I was so out.

Tommorrow I will likely go into a discussion about “conditioned air”. The thing about air is that you can ‘condition’ it in any way you would like. The fact that we americans are used to the air being conditioned to be, well, colder than the outside air, and hopefully not nearly as humid leads me to wonder if maybe the A/C in that car is just not working. If it is 115 outside, and you are just praying for the car to stop so that you can get outside, wouldn’t that make you think that possibly your A/C is not working quite right?

Yes, it was 115 degrees today outside the car, inside the car it was likely 125 degrees and very humid. I had sweat pouring off of my forehead from the second that I sat in the car. Defend that car to the death and it will still not hold a candle to the A/C that you get out of the cheapest, piece-of-shit car that you can get in Arizona. No A/C=No Fucking Way….

Would you rather ride in a car with a nice nameplate or a car that actually works?

Steakhouse and Deadly Rooms of Death

As anyone who has read this site at all would expect, I went ahead and played some more of that silly DROD game, both yesterday and today. For similar reasons you would also know that whatever board was just “absolutely impossible” yesterday was easily overcome with a bit of thought. As well as a couple of other boards that I had been stuck on for a while. It is for that reason that I will not go into any detail of the particular board that has me stuck currently, since that will be a non issue by the time I post again, at least to follow the trend.

• The wife and I went out to dinner tonight, which is kind of unusual on a Friday night, but not unheard of. The place that we went to was “Yolanda’s Chuckwagon”. I would love to give you a link to a website, but the place doesn’t even accept credit/debit cards so it is probably unlikely that they have a website. The steak was excellent. If you ever happen to be somewhere between Phoenix and Tucson I would highly recommend stopping by for a taste of their Sirloin. Unfortunately there is just the one location, and it is a long way from damn near anywhere. Well worth the drive from where I live, maybe not worth the drive from upstate New York. I must say that it is the best steak that I have ever eaten in a restaurant though, far better than what passes for steak at the Outback Steakhouse.

The only problem that Yolanda’s has is the location. I think that they probably get a lot of traffic from the people who work at the prisons but live in Tucson, those people would have to pass the place twice a day on their commute, and it is the only thing resembling a steak for fifty miles in any direction. The fact that the Steak is extremely good and the portions are simply huge just makes anyone who eats there tell their friends. I would do the same, if I had any friends, instead I will tell you all about it, just in case you ever happen to be in the area. They do offer non-bovine meals as well, but only chicken as far as what I could tell. There were options on the menu for shrimp and lobster but they did not list a price and just simply said ‘varies by market, when available’. You could also just indulge in the salad bar, 6.25 gets you that in unlimited quantities and there are enough things to put on the salad that you certainly would not be disappointed. (unless, of course, you are that one asshole that wants fresh-steamed pumpkin on your salad, even though pumpkin is way out of season).

I sure do wish there were places to eat around here that had more than just one location as I am sure that it is pretty boring to read about a restaurant that you will never dine at. Of course lots of people read about Mc’Donald’s in the news and would never dine there either, so perhaps market saturation alone does not a restaurant make.

For some reason continuing on the restaurant thing, why I got no idea, I began to think about the place that we usually eat our mexican food. I have spoken about the place in at least a few posts, which I am not going to look up currently. L&B has extremely good mexican food, and I suppose it is not a real big surprise that the people who started the restaurant were hispanic. They were serving the chips and salsa prior to the meal long before someone figured out that if you did that you could have smaller entrees. L&B serves huge portions that are far better than any chain restaurant could ever do.

It was only when I started to think of the two local places that I realized why the Denny’s and JB’s of the world do so well. If you roll into a town you have never been to and see a Denny’s sign you kind of know what to expect, while when you see the sign for “Pete’s Good Eats” you don’t really know anything about it. While every town likely has a couple of eateries with wonderful reputations, most also have that one place that no one ever visits. How are you to know which is the one that has a golden reputation and which has recently reopened after bribing the local health officials to hide their insect problem? I guess that is why the Denny’s and the JB’s will spring up on every corner while the local place will get shut down; people would rather eat mediocre food than gamble about whether it will be great or garbage -I am not going to exclude myself from this group of people-.

That is why I find it such a wonder that McDonald’s is as big as it is. We know that the food is mediocre, at best. We know that the food is going to lead directly to obesity and heart conditions, yet we continue to eat it. Subway has started to expand rapidly in the last few years as well, but seriously, if you are eating a 12″ sub sandwich for lunch everyday, and then layering it with mayonaise, cheese, olive oil and the such, you would be better off with a big mac.

There is no way that anyone would mistake me for someone who lives an ‘active lifestyle’, but I was trying to get an estimate of how far I walk in an average day of work. I tried to face it like the way one would try to determine the word count on a thesis. I simply counted my steps during one-minute time-frames (randomly, you know, like when I remembered to do it again) over the course of a day. I averaged the number of steps based on the eleven one-minute examples, then multiplied that by the number of minutes I was at work. Then, assuming that each stride is about (I said 24 inches, since there are a lot of corners and the such that can not be compensated for otherwise) I calculated that I walk just a bit over eight miles while I am at work each day. That might not seem like much, but I also do not have the opportunity to sit down and the motion is pretty much constant. To someone who didn’t do what I do it would be a real cardio work-out. When you add to that the fact that I have to move around boxes of beef (average weight about 70 pounds) in the walk in every day, I think that I probably get more excercise than the majority of people in my age range. Now if I could just quit drinking all the beer I might be able to reverse the nine pounds that I have gained since the neck injury I had earlier this year…

Deadly Rooms of Death; Politics

So yesterday brought about another late day at work, thus nothing new posted here. As usual I was not aware that it was going to be a late day until halfway through my shift. Since that is normally the case I guess it would be a bit senseless to bitch about it. After all, I have been working there for damn near ten years, if I were that annoyed by it I would surely have found a different job by now, right?

As for the day at work today, it sucked and I hated it, thanks for asking. Not that it really sucked, or that I really hated it, but that I spent the extra hours at work last night using a scraper to remove excess was and dirt build-up from the edges of some of the tiles on the aisles that get a lot of traffic. I was pretty impressed with how good they looked, so was the boss, as she suggested that I spend a bit more time today working on it. Problem there is that I have a huge blister on me knee from having spent a good couple of hours kneeling on it during the process yesterday (as well as sliding on it, as it was quicker than actually standing up and taking a step to get to the next tile) so I was in pretty serious pain while I continued the process today. I understand that work is meant to be work, and that it is often uncomfortable, but man that hurt. I tried to be smart and use the other knee while I was doing it today, this lead to the denim on the blistered knee getting stretched really tight over it, which hurt more than actually kneeling on it, but that is all over now. On to the animal porn!

• I don’t know why, but I have taken to playing that silly little Deadly Rooms of Death game again of late. The reason that I stopped playing it originally was that when I got the new computer I didn’t bother to swap my player file from the old machine. I thought it may be fun to play through the first few levels again, see how easy they were in comparison to the level that I was at now. That was all true and such, but I got stuck on exactly the same damn boards for exactly the same reason. The drod forums were down at the time so I couldn’t even get a hint as to what I was doing wrong, that mixture of frustration and anger is not what one is looking for when they try to play a game then, is it? Since having recently started playing again I have managed to defeat all of the boards that I had been having problems with on the old machine, but still can’t seem to make it all the way through the 8th level. I know that I can do it, so I guess maybe a more accurate statement is that I don’t have the patience to do it. All of the monsters in the game act in very predictable ways, so you know what every action will result in, yet, in haste, it is easy to overlook some of the consequences to a certain action. When tar is involved it is easy to overlook a lot of the consequences. The way the tar, in particular, acts makes you need to take at least a few seconds to think about your next move, else you could block your escape, box yourself in, or end up with a tar baby in a position to kill you.

The problems that I am having with the tar are easily overcome if I just think for a few seconds before I slash, but where is the fun in that? I guess the fun may be in actually conquering the boards, I wouldn’t know. Honestly, I know that I could beat each of the boards if I were to take my time and think through each move, yet that seems really tedious at times. If I wanted to spend that kind of time on a game I would just find my copy of Pandora’s Box and give it another go.

I suppose I really shouldn’t bitch about freeware though. I didn’t pay for the opportunity to play it, and I enjoyed it, at times. Not to mention there seem to be legions of followers of the DROD game. I suppose that means that there are legions of people with a hell of a lot more patience than me. Hmmm, who knew.

• The last couple of days have been littered with all sorts of news. The problem with the so-called news is that it has all been about the 9/11 commision’s ruling that Saddam Hussein, and therefore Iraq, were not in any way involved with the attacks on 9/11. This is SO not news. That is exactly what everyone in the free world, with the exception of the current U.S. administration, has been saying since long before Bush was able to start a war with Iraq; A war based totally on the absolute lies that he and his administration fed to the American public.

I do not like to talk about politics, I do not feel that I am informed enough to do so. There are, however, some things that are just so obviously lies or ‘mis-truths’ that it doesn’t even take a three-year-old’s intellect to discern the truth. As is the case here. Much like the following quote, which I gleaned from Reuters (I think) where Bush tries to clear this all up:

“This administration never said that the 9/11 attacks were orchestrated between Saddam and al-Qaida,” Bush said. “We did say there were numerous contacts between Saddam Hussein and al-Qaida. For example, Iraqi intelligence officers met with (Osama) bin Laden, the head of al-Qaida, in the Sudan. There’s numerous contacts between the two.”

Now isn’t that kind of the polar opposite of what he was saying to get us all drummed up to go into a war with Iraq?

To use the logic in Bush’s statement, wouldn’t it be true that the U.S. was also pretty directly involved in the 9/11 attacks? We did supply arms to Bin Laden in the eighties. Certainly giving them weapons would be worse than a hand-shake somewhere in the middle of Sudan, right?

To follow that same train of logic, everyone that has ever spoken to Bush must also be 100% behind the invasion of Iraq. If that is not the case then even his (Bush’s) latest cop-out isn’t going to hold any water. How ignorant can one be and actually make it into the oval office? Ask Dubya.

That is why I do not like to write about politics. I am too inclined to NOT believe what I see on tv. I am not very good at being an American since I like to form my own opinions as opposed to having them spoon-fed to me…Or, at the very least, put into the ‘mad cow burger’ that I am eating, while the government turns a blind eye.


So I didn’t post anything yesterday, yet that shouldn’t have been much of a surprise since I barely banged one out on sunday, and even then forgot to change my side-bar posts. It is not as if there is any real good reason why I just suddenly skip them, just sometimes I do not feel like it. That is a liberty that I have since there is absolutely no reason for me to do this site. There is no monetary obligation, no moral consciousness that I am overlooking if I skip. This site is purely for my amusement. As evidenced by my readership being in the very low single digits.

That all could be content driven of course, but as I have no content how will I ever know?

I have been reading a lot of news over the last few days. I must be doing something while I am not actively typing this out, right? And porn does grow tiresome after about so long, how many naked people must one see before they begin to understand that the shape of the vagina is always gonna be pretty much the same? The answer, in my case, is 1,364,771,122.5 (one of the photos had both sets of genitals).

But, the news, yeah there has been a hell of a lot of the stuff in the news over the last couple of days. A couple of articles got my ears perked, but not to the point that I actually wanted to cut and paste anything to discuss it in much detail. However I did find it pretty disappointing that Dubya is standing firm on the position that stem cell research is wrong.

I understand that Dubya was brought up about as far right as you can get, but the thought that one of his mentors, Ronald Reagan, died from one of the very dieseases that they are trying to use the stem-cell research to find a cure for is just a bit odd to me. His quote that “Life is a creation of God, not a commodity to be exploited by man”, I found particularly disturbing. If he believes that whole-heartedly, doesn’t that mean that the very Vice-President that he chose should be dead? Were it not for a quadruple bypass in 1988 Cheney would be dead now. At what point, in the twisted little mind of Dubya, does medical science become playing God? It seems that he is fine with it as long as it is used for prolonging life, but what about basic things like vaccines?

I bring up the vaccine thing only because that is where it get really easy to start hammering at the very religious, right-wing folks. A vaccine is something that is used to stop the spread of a deadly virus, yet, by biblical definition, the virus was created by GOD, doesn’t that mean that using a vaccine is playing GOD? If you are so sure of your faith, why don’t you go ahead and let your children die from diseases that could easily be cured by vaccines? Or, perhaps GOD will intervene and save your child. The virus is every bit as much alive as a fetus in the womb of a human in early pregnancy. There is no thought only rapid growth. In the case of the virus it will continue to grow until something stops it or the host dies, where the pregnant woman could carry the embryo to term and be rid of it. Any person who tries to argue that abortion is wrong should have to sign papers that explicitly forbid them to have any medical treatment for any life-form that occurs inside them. Say the person happens to get a cut and the cut becomes infected, the infection will spread without the intervention of either 1) GOD, or 2) Simple rubbing alcohol, yet that person should be made to not use the alcohol and see which way it goes. I mean to use alcohol to kill the infection would be “playing GOD”.

The way science and religion mix with the very religious, though, makes this a tough point to argue. In the infinite wisdom of the church, they have decided that GOD somehow meant that humans were a lot more important than any other form of life when he “Created man in his own image”. I am not a bilical scholar, nor am I inclined to believe that if there were a GOD he would favor one particular species. If the biblical GOD does exist, shouldn’t that mean that all life is precious, and further that if you swat a fly you are breaking one of the commandments that Moses was all in a rant about?

I am not inclined to read any book that is two-thousand years old, which has been re-written as many times by scribes, and take it as factual evidence that someone actually created every living being. Nor am I likely to further believe that preferential treatment should fall on the ones that were made in his likeness. If there truly is a GOD (by the defintion Christians) then every living being will go to heaven or hell. Does that mean that humans are necessarily better than the ants that we step on while walking on the sidewalk? Does that mean that there will be good cockroaches in heaven, while the bad ones go to hell? Then what about the viruses that were created by GOD, but ultimately destroyed by mankind, do they go to heaven or hell? The virus simply feeds off of the land that it is given (a human body), and populates until it eventually over-populates and can no longer feed, then (on that body) the virus is extinct. Is that any different than what the humans are doing to the earth, or is it a microscopic view of what is to become of us?

I didn’t actually think that I was going to go into a ‘ripping on GOD’ mode today, but the other thing that I thougt I would mention was the Supreme Court’s ruling about the “Pledge of Allegiance”. Funny thing how time can change one’s perspective…

When this story broke, what a year and a half ago, I was thinking that yes, the separation of church and state should certainly make this one a slam-dunk. Everyone and their sister knows (at this point) that the words “under God” were added to the original pledge in the fifties. Should have been a simple victory to get the ‘under God’ words ruled as unconstitutional. (in any other administration, maybe)

What really steams me about the Supreme Court’s decision is that they threw out the case on a technicality. Every court that heard the case, prior to them, had made a ruling, thus it landed in the highest court in the country. The fact that the justices of the “Supreme Court” don’t have the cajones to handle this one really pisses me off. I honestly don’t care whether the words stay in the allegiance or not, I just wish that they would have stepped up to say that either yes or no it could be there. The result of their action is that we are going to be hearing/reading about this same damn thing in another few years when the actual custodial provider for the child gets before the “Supreme Court”, since there is no way that any State-Level judge is going to overturn the ruling.

Not that I particularly care for the particular line “Under God”, but I do feel that it was a pretty useful one. I suppose the other options would be, “one nation, under the statue of liberty, with liberty and justice for all.” See, that one seems redundant. How about this one, “one nation, under the sky, with liberty and justice for all.” Not much power to that one. How about, “one nation, under Oderus Urungas, with liberty and justice for all.” Probably not enough Gwar fans out there to appreciate that one…

Wait, I have it. To summarize the entire US population, while still being faithful to the original pledge, it must be, “One nation, under the golden arches, with liberty and McDonald’s for all”. Enough said.