Space technology fails; Harry Potter game

I just don’t know what the world is coming to, what when a site as prominent as mine can post the wrong date and leave it up for two days without anyone emailing to bitch about it. I would have expected more from you. Of course, the “you” in that statement is mostly me at this point, and I didn’t even notice the mistake until just now when I was adding the page to the daily archives. I will hold myself to a higher standard in the future, or not, depending on my mood.

• Something that I have been hoping to write about for a week now still has not seemed to happen. I am talking about that multi-billion dollar device that is now in orbit around Saturn, and the spectacular images I was expecting it to be sending back to earth. After a week in orbit this is the best it can do? I have seen better images of Bigfoot or the Loch Ness Monster. I was expecting images more like those that are being sent back by the Hubble Telescope, which, while beautiful, are hard as hell to find a hard link to, I have linked to a half a dozen so far but the links just never work when I try to click them. If you really want to see some unbelievable images of space just do a quick yahoo image search for Hubble Telescope, simply amazing.

Shouldn’t technology have advanced at least some since the ’60s when we first started shooting crap at the moon? How is it possible that something that was sent into space only six or seven years ago can be sending back images that look like they were done on a Spirograph? Sure they have to travel millions of miles and the such, but come on! If we were going to spend billions of dollars on the technology to get this thing all the way to Saturn, don’t you think we could have gone the extra couple of bucks to get a color camera? I could take a close-up photo of the grain pattern in a block of wood and come up with images as good or better than what is coming back from Saturn.

I am just a bit disappointed with the results so far, that’s all. Perhaps it will be like what happened with the initial launch of the Hubble Telescope and there will be some minor problem that can be repaired to make the images more vibrant. I sure do hope so, I have been waiting to see these images ever since I heard of the launch all those years ago. Not that I am a space-nerd so much, just that the images captured in space can be so far out of the ordinary that they really seem to be more a fine work of art than something happening randomly…The current photos are also art I guess, just art done by blind people with only one crayon.

• Today was the first day of the new grocery ditributor era at work. The truck showed up an hour and a half early, which is a major plus, as the old distributor always showed up late, or later, if at all. The only problem with that is that I was just stepping out of the shower when I got the call. I do hate to make their drivers wait. I got there as quickly as I could and the two of us had finished unloading the merchandise in about thirty minutes. That is about how long it always takes, unless the load was particularly large or small. It didn’t seem so different at all.

Then something strange happened.

The guy gets off of the truck, comes onto the landing, and starts helping me check in all of the perishable items one at a time. This was something that the other company Never did. The new company requires it. I love that all the way around. There was a mispick (just like it sounds, wrong item) in the frozen and a short (just like it sounds, not there) in the dairy, and he gave us an immediate credit for them. He went further to give us the immediate credit for a bag of dog food that was torn and a case of condensed milk that had been damaged. Wow.

Here is how that last paragraph would have gone down with the old company. The driver leaves the second the stuff is off the truck. I find the short in the dairy section and call it in. The boss finds the mispick in the frozen section and calls it in. We put the damaged dog food and condensed milk off to the side and call that in. I write down everything that is wrong on a piece of paper along with case costs and item codes. The next week we should have a credit for the short, but often didn’t and would have to call again. The mispick and damaged items would be returned, though no paperwork ever changed hands (which is why we had to keep a running tally of it all), and within three weeks or a month the store would get a credit for it.

Being a small business it is difficult to keep track of all of this in the first place, but even worse is having the money already paid and having to wait for them to issue a credit. It often took three or four phone calls over the course of a month to get the money back. The system protects them as well since a case of cheese can easily cost $70 and if it is there it will have been checked in by one of their guys and one of ours, hard to dispute that. When you factor in that it only took the two of us about five minutes to check in all the perishable items and find the mistakes I just don’t know why the other company never did it.

One thing that was a bit irritating about the new company is that they had some of the profit margins all out of whack on the invoices. I should mention that the old company did not even tell you the unit cost on the invoice, let alone a suggested retail price or profit margin, so this was a small inconvenience. One that is also easily overcome with the boss figuring out what he wants to sell it for and me typing upc’s into the computer and changing retails. I am going to consult the company tomorrow to see if they can send us shelf tags of the items that we change the retail on, if they can’t I can still print our old tags out for the items, but, I think it would look a bit tacky to have two sets of tags going.

I am sure that talk of this is monumentally boring so I will move on.

• I have mentioned my newfound interest in Harry Potter in a couple of recent posts. The wife bought the first PC game based on the novels about a week ago. I started to play it on Sunday and had reached the final battle on Monday. It is a kids game, so I wasn’t expecting much, which is why I was so sorely disappointed.

I am about to do battle with the final “boss” in the game and I am missing half of the things that can be found along the way. To be fair, to myself, there were a few places that I was pretty sure that I needed to go, but the linear gameplay makes it so that if you go the wrong way first you can never go back the other way. If I were to play it through again (I say again as if I have ever beaten it) I am sure that I would be able to find more of those damn little cards that you are supposed to be collecting.

The thing that I really hate about the game is Quidditch. I am not horrible at games like F-Zero, I can do pretty well in flying simulation type games, but this Quidditch just kicks my ass. I think the biggest reason for that is the controls are on the keyboard and my old pc joystick won’t connect to either of the computers that we currently have. If you had the speed up/slow down buttons as well as all four direction keys on one of those it would be pretty easy I think. Even after having set the motion keys to “WASD”, like the old pc games I used to play, it still took me a lot longer than I would like to admit to win the damn matches. Mind you, they won’t let the other guys win, they will just wait forever if you don’t win.

Beyond that, the game is pretty fun for what it is. It is cute in places, makes you think a little bit, and could probably be completed perfectly by any six year old in the entire world. Let those little bastards try the original PitFall with an old Atari controller and we will see how good they really are. Of course they are releasing all of those old games for the hand held gaming systems now, but I doubt that any of those kids will ever be able to top my best of flipping the counter 4 times on Asteroids before my mom made me stop to come and eat a sandwich.

Independence day

I took a couple of days off, as you may or may not have noticed. No real reason for it, just didn’t feel like writing anything for the last couple of days. I suppose this is just a warm up period for next week, when I will be on vacation. I suppose I will likely write something down during our five days in Las Vegas, but I really doubt that I will try to upload anything, as there is a connection fee and per-minute surcharge from every major hotel on the strip, and we will be on the strip. There is also the matter that typing on the keyboard of a laptop computer really makes my wrists hurt, so I never do it for long, but that really won’t matter with the internet impossibility.

• Yesterday was the fourth day of July. That might not hold a lot of weight in most countries, hell even in the USA, but it is our symbolic day of freedom. I was really happy to wake up th is morning and find that there were no terrorist acts on the US soil. The threat of terroristic attacks has been on high for a long time now and what better day could the terrorists choose than our symbolic day of freedom?

Thankfully, the day has come and passed. In addition to no terrorist attacks, there were no firework related fatalities (at least none that I found on a news search). So that is a double wahoo for the day. There was an unfortunate spike in the “drunk driver’s” arrested over the weekend, but that is to be expected since 1) Every sober man knows that they shouldn’t drive on this weekend, and 2) every cop knows that same exact thing.

Locally, the fireworks display this year was by far the best they have done in the ten years that I have been living here. Normally the display will last a few short minutes, so by the time you hear the sound of the first, you are outside to see the light of the last, or so it seems. This year there were actual fireworks. Probably a twenty minute display. I had not seen so many since I was very young and living in Oregon. The only SNAFU to prove that it really is florence was the fact that after the big finale of the fireworks, after everyone waits ten seconds or so to make sure, one single one went up in the air popped, and fizzled out in green. So instead of the “grand finale”, we had the fizzle of green.

• I had rather a humorous conversation with my mother the other day. It seems that she can remember the celebrations of independence day, but she can’t really remember the injuries that I (and so I assume my brothers) sustained on that day. When dad and mom were together, so that would be until I was about six-seven years old, there was always a bucket of cold water nearby when we started to light our snakes and sparklers and the such. Snakes and sparklers are pretty lame though, so we started bending the sparklers and trying to see if we could make two or three headed snakes. I don’t remember exactly what happened, or exactly how, but I do remember that one of the sparklers got twisted to another sparkler and we lit it at both ends. This was the second time that I had gotten horrible burns on my fingers from one of them, the first being youthful idiocy as I just grabbed the wrong end. Are other families that different? Did I grow up in the only family where horrible burns were a part of the celebration?

Work stress; brief politics; brothels get approval stamps

Today was one of the worst days I have had at work in recent memory. I had not even actually gotten around to looking at the normal things that I needed to check before I was being demeaned, bitched at, and otherwise told that I was the shit that gets scraped off of the bare feet of malnourished children in third-world countries…Basically, at least.

This was all related to the great shelf tagging adventure, of course. As I have written in the past, I was not going to do anything that was going to lose the store money, I think I may have been a tad dishonest with that statement though. I knowingly did things that were going to cost the store money, just very small amounts. Say there are three different types of La Victoria salsa, one is priced 1.89, one 2.39 and one 2.49 (due to being received at different times), the new tags all read 2.29, so I change them all to that price. That is losing us, on a case of 12, 2.40 on the most expensive one, 1.20 on the middle one, but is also gaining us 4.80 on the lowest priced one. The net of that would be 1.20 profit over leaving them all at their current price. I am not completely stupid after all.

There were a couple of cases when I did make notable changes in price for a store loss. Those were done mostly for simplicity on items that we did not have much of. One particular instance was a little jar of mayonaise, we had three on the shelf, the new price was 30 cents lower than the old price, but getting the new price into the register with all the other changes would save me a lot of time in the long run. An intentional 90 cent loss, knowing that the product would cost us less in the future, knowing that it would save me the time it would take to change the price later, it is 90 cents FFS.

Another instance of my failure was in the cake mix area. I did not change a single price with the cake mixes or frostings while we did the change, the reason was that we never buy them except when they are on a really big discount. So I left all of the prices the same and started hanging up special signs in front of the new shelf tags that had vastly higher prices –But– (there always is a but, isn’t there) I did not realize that they had made price changes in the actual cash register to some of those items, this means that the price I saw on the tag and the price it scans at do not match. Okay that seems a little fuzzy, even to me, so I will explain.

The POS (point of sale) software that we have in the backroom sets the prices and prints the tags for all of the items that we have on the shelf. The price of an item can be changed on the register itself, but you will not have a tag for the item, and the price will revert back to the previous backroom price if it ever goes on sale; i.e. The tag for Betty Crocker White cake says 1.59 on the tag, that is the price in the backroom, if you change it to 1.29 at the register it will remain 1.29 until it goes on sale. Once it goes on sale a file will be made in the backroom to transfer the sale price to the register, when the sale file is removed it will go back to the backroom/tag price.

Blah, I am boring myself as I type this, so I am sure the reading of it is probably not going all that well either. Let us never speak of this again…until tomorrow.

• I have been quite curious about the Fahrenheit 9/11 movie, even wanted to go see it, but I think I have changed my mind. Everything that I have read, from every blog I can think of, says that there is no information in it that has not been in the political blogosphere for a very long time. Damn me for not watching cable news and, therefore, thinking that Bush Dubya is the steely-eyed, strong-handed leader that he would want you to believe. I voted for this jack-ass, but I kind of lost faith in him when he was doing his best to read a book for pre-schoolers when the 9/11 attacks happened -mind you, he wasn’t doing it very well.-

I suppose that was all part of his strategery for the war on terror. Pretend to be an illiterate fool, then prove everyone wrong by actually being an illiterate fool…Well played.

Had I been the leader of the free world, I likely would have tried to make the world perceive me as a strong leader, a leader who was the voice of the people. But, then, I am not the President and that means that I don’t really need any scapegoats…Enough said…

• I saw a very brief mention of some country deciding that it needed to go ahead and put quality stamps on their brothels. I am not going to try to look the story up again since the fact that the countries that do have brothels almost invariably have less sex crimes than in the U.S.. I say almost invariably only because I do not have statistics for every country on earth and I don’t want to be telling lies.

Prostitution is called the “oldest profession” for a damn good reason, it is. Imagine 20,000 years ago, when man was first starting to hunt, make fire, become human as we know it. Man comes back with the bounty of his kill, woman tries to find something to trade for it, man would rather have a few seconds with woman than anything that she offers, woman puts up a red torch to let the clan know that her naughty parts are for sale to the man with the most meat (in trade, not the pants). Woman gets the best cuts in exchange for laying on her back and taking it.

Could it have happened differently? Yes. Is it likely? No.

Males have known, all through the ages, that females possess that which they are searching for. Not just the fact that the female has an ‘inny’ while the male has an ‘outy’, no it is deeper than that. The woman can have offspring, while the male can not. Of course no one in the days 20,000 years ago knew about impregnation, but that is not the point. I bet the woman’s crotch has been for sale longer than the most ancient artifacts prove.

I really think that it is a liberation of sorts to have the woman charge the man for sexual services. It is ‘prostitution’, but it is also of her own choice. That is executing total control of your own body, if you want to use the control of your own body for the sake of financial gain, it is at your own risk.

I really think that the only reason the Greeks started having anal sex with their young men was to circumvent the strangle-hold that prostitution had on their society. Had there been more reasonably priced hookers we might think of some of the Greek rulers as marketing genius.

Prostitution works to help stop sex crimes, prostitution also helps to stop the spread of disease (in coutries where it is regulated). Do we, as Americans, only look down on it since it seems so easy as a solution? Do we want to do everything in the most difficult way possible?

Time will tell.

I hate my job

There was a lot of work-related crap going on yesterday that kept me from making a post. I certainly could have taken the time to inform you all of the day to day shit that happens, but as I told my wife about it (and the fact that she and I are rougly 2/3rds of my reading audience) I decided I would just let it go for the day. I suppose there could be a real reason why anyone else would care, but I have no idea who that person is, nor what the person is trying to do with the information.

A few updates, just in case you actually do read the site on a day to day basis. I have solved the cash register problem, the problem being that the memory was full and could not hold any new items, and have made it so that I can upload new items through the handset as usual. That is a bit of a bitter victory though, since that will likely result in having to do a full system purge at some point. By that, I mean that they will ask me to print the PLU list then walk around the store to find the ones that we still carry, then delete the rest. Since the process of taking out a single plu takes a couple of seconds, this could take a very long time. I am getting paid to do it, of course, so it is no sweat off of my nose, but the thing is that I am given just a few seconds per day to work on it, while they expect that I should be able to take care of the whole store in about an hour….or something…Given a full day to work on that alone, I could probably get rid of several thousand items that we no longer carry, which would keep the store operable for the next year at the very least, but I am not given that kind of time.

Much like the old adage says, they want it done yesterday, however, they wanted me to occupy my time in other ways the day before…Like scraping excess wax build-up off of floor tiles. Of course the fact that they wanted me to do that the day before will always slip their minds when they get back into the bitching about why the pc/cash-register communication seems sub-par. I actually asked the Male half of the owners of the store if I could work on the computer for a bit to delete some other items, he said, “not until you have finished all of the jobs that you started in the store”.

Keep in mind, at this point, that I can only add one new item to the register for every item that I have deleted. There is no way that I can add 20 new items to the register when I finally got the damn thing back to exactly even yesterday. I must delete one item in order to add a new item. So, why haven’t I added those fifty items in that little box? Becasue there is no way to do it. I really want to just clear the memory of the registers and start from scratch, because, honestly, they want me to add every single item that they stock, even if that item will never, ever, ever be in the store again. Then they have fun bitching at me about why their ‘bottom of the barrel’ registers just don’t seem to be able to handle all of the crap that they want me to put into it.

The average scale/scaner system today can hold about 4 times what is in our current system. I am not going to say that this particular fact makes our system less effective, but, I am going to say that you should only add the items that you are going to carry on a day-to-day basis.

If you never want to upgrade your system, you should certainly do your best to clean it out. If you are never going to give me five minutes alone with the machine, you should bitch about the fact that you bought bottom-of-the-barrel technology all of those years ago. I only work there, after all, and I do my best to keep their shoddy system working.

I have crap to work with. The company that sold them the POS software is now out of business, the company that owns the software for the register/pc communication won’t even talk to them/me/us, since them/me/us didn’t buy software support.

This is where I am supposed to explain why it is all good. That is not going to happen today. I had nothing to do with the registers reaching their maximum capacity, I have nothing to do with the decision to try to delete items until all is good again, that might all work well in the short term, but in the long term what have you gained when your gain was nothing?